The Cleveland Browns selected Joe Thomas with the third overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, going just a hair before the San Diego Chargers would have had a chance to pick him at 30. Oh well. Maybe Thomas can help the Chargers with their tackle situation in a different way.
Specifically by helping determine if there’s a “next Joe Thomas” at the top of this Thursday’s NFL Draft.
This week, Thomas posted his evaluation on the top four tackles on Twitter:
Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, and Jedrick Wills.
The Chargers are picking sixth overall and although they signed Bryan Bulaga and may now have slightly bigger needs, there are rarely opportunities to find young franchise left tackles, which remains one of the most important positions in football per nearly anyone you talk to. LA could justify drafting any four of those tackles but the odds that all four of those tackles become consistent long-term starters is basically zero.
Consider that the tackles taken after Thomas were Levi Brown at five and Joe Staley at 28. Two out of three is actually really good, and it is probable that someone in this class is the “next Levi Brown,” the former Arizona Cardinals pick who played five mediocre seasons at left tackle. Thomas and Staley had different careers than that. In fact, Staley is still going.
The top 4 guys are all worthy of a "Top 5" grade...it's a loaded draft for tackles.— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) April 20, 2020
I'm hesitant to rank them, because they are all excellent, but gun to head ranking "fit for the Browns" is as follows:
1) Mekhi Becton
2) Jedrick Wills
3) Andrew Thomas
4) Tristan Wirfs https://t.co/oGGjNQWFyj
How important would it be for the Chargers to come out of this draft with the next Thomas or Staley? They’ll need to evaluate all the options and Thomas did that himself on Twitter, so what did he think?
1. Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Thomas favored Becton slightly more than Wills and clearly above the other two. It was very close between Becton and Wills, calling them “1a” and “1b.” He sees Becton as having the highest ceiling in the group with that he’s already quite good in run blocking.
2. Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Next is Wills, who he says has the best technique of anyone in the class and is the most NFL-ready.
Wills Pros; change of direction, ability to create power, ability to stop power quickly, mobility, technique is clearly the best in the draft, size— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) April 20, 2020
Cons; if you watch a lot of his tape, he has had some mental lapses with penalties and getting lulled to sleep by lesser opponents
3. Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Thomas calls Thomas a good athlete with good technique, just that he isn’t quite as polished in run blocking and pass protection as the first two.
4. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
Thomas calls Wirfs “extremely strong” but that he has “heavy” legs. He still calls him a great player and that he may start at guard to open his career, as many have already speculated. Would the Chargers prefer to have someone more ready to start at tackle right now?
(Wirfs continued): Overall, a great player who likely will be a tackle long term, but might be best suited to start at guard because of less than perfect mobility and suddenness. A mauler (good) but those types sometimes struggle to keep up with the athletes you see on the edge— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) April 20, 2020
A huge hat-tip to reddit user /u/bandoot for breaking down Joe Thomas’s tweets into an easy-to-read format.
Do you agree with Thomas?