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Which Offensive Lineman Will Be First Off The Board?

April 23, 2018

Offensive line is one of the hardest positions to acquire talent in the modern-day NFL. As a result, all 32 teams will have their work cut out to make the correct decision in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Greg Robinson, Chance Warmack and Luke Joeckel are among the names that have been selected in the top-10 of the selection process in recent history, but have failed to make the grade.

No position has been effected more by the change in the collective bargaining agreement signed by the league and players in 2011 than offensive line. The lack of practice time has hindered their development, making the transition from the college game extremely difficult.

Quenton Nelson appears to be the outstanding candidate from the field on this occasion. However, the Draft has been anything other than predictable, especially with so many teams on the move this year to select quarterbacks. We’ll now breakdown the top candidate from the offensive line group to be selected first in the process.

Quenton Nelson

Nelson is the standout lineman

The 22-year-old has established himself as the elite prospect in the selection process for teams in need of an offensive lineman. He was truly dominant in the run game for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, mauling his defensive counterparts on the line off the ball. His pass-blocking skills were equally as fearsome, with the guard dropping a strong anchor in front of his quarterback. The Fighting Irish have a strong history of developing quality interior lineman. Zack Martin emerged from the school and was selected in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.

He has been named to the Pro Bowl every season since he was drafted by the NFC East outfit. If Nelson can have the same success as his predecessor at his position then the NFL team selecting him will have the middle of their offensive line locked down for the next decade. Cross out the top five for Nelson unless the Denver Broncos opt to pick in their slot. They have had a need for quality offensive lineman and Nelson fits the bill. However, if they pass, he should not drop far with the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers both in need of talent to protect Mitchell Trubisky and Jimmy Garoppolo respectively. Back Nelson to be selected first at odds of 1/14  with 888Sport.

Mike McGlinchey

McGlinchey played alongside Nelson on the line at Notre Dame – in fact he was alongside him at left tackle. Together the dup mauled the right side of opposing defences, allowing the Fighting Irish to thrive in the running game. McGlinchey was stout as a pass-blocker, although at times he did have issues with elite talent. At 6ft 8in and 312lbs he has the prototypical size of a tackle in the NFL, but may need more core strength to cope with the variation of rushers he will face in the league. The 24-year-old should be the first tackle off the board, although his stock has been hard to predict.

Usually elite prospects at his position would be snagged in top five. However, he does not quite have that level of talent, although Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Robinson have proved that evaluating offensive lineman is difficult for NFL teams. He’s unlikely to pass Nelson at the top of the Draft unless someone makes a move into the top 10 that has a desperate need at tackle. The 10-to-20 range is where you’ll probably see him snagged, although he has the best chance to dislodge his team-mate from the top slot at odds of 13/2  with 888Sport.

Isaiah Wynn

Wynn is a rare player that could succeed at both tackle and guard in the NFL. Last season he starred for the Georgia Bulldogs at the left tackle position. His uncompromising style saw him plough the road for Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, allowing the duo to thrive in the running game. He was a second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC selection in 2017 due to the high standard of his performances. Wynn provided solid protection for quarterback Jake Fromm in the passing game, allowing the freshman to settle into his role.

At 6ft 3in, he’s a tad short off the prototypical size of an NFL tackle. He has the weight, but there are few examples of players of his stature that have coped with the demands. As a result, any team looking to select him in the first round will be looking to slot him into the interior. Unless a team prefers Wynn over Nelson he’s unlikely to crack the top-10 unless the Bears and 49ers both line up offensive lineman.

Will Hernandez

It’s splitting hairs when comparing the talent of Hernandez and Wynn, at least from the quality of their college tape. Hernandez was a four-year starter for the University of Texas El Paso during his college career, excelling the run game with his huge frame. The 22-year-old clocks in just shy of 350lbs, highlighting his power, which saw him bench 37 reps at the NFL Combine.

His measurables will appeal to a lot of NFL teams, although the standard of competition at UTP will prevent him from challenging Nelson and Wynn to be the first lineman selected in the Draft. Stranger things have happened, although it would be surprising to see him picked before the 20th overall selection. The Carolina Panthers could be his landing spot at number 24 in the first round.

Kolton Miller

Miller is a wildcard in the first round as he could land anywhere. He has the upside to be the best tackle in the Draft, which makes him extremely valuable. However, Miller is not quite the finished article, lacking the polish of McGlinchey. He protected Josh Rosen’s blindside at the UCLA Bruins and performed to a high standard.

At 6ft 9in and 310 lbs he has the size and the athleticism to thrive in the NFL, with comparisons made to New York Giants’ tackle Nate Solder. Miller could well land at a spot in the first round where he has time to develop. Therefore he could even surpass Nelson, with great value at 40/1  with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Quenton Nelson To Be First Offensive Lineman Selected 2018 Draft
Thursday 26th April 2018 20:00 ET (Friday 27th April 01:00 BST)
Odds: 1/14

Mike McGlinchey To Be First Offensive Lineman Selected 2018 Draft
Thursday 26th April 2018 20:00 ET (Friday 27th April 01:00 BST)
Odds: 13/2

Courtland Sutton To Be First Wide Receiver Selected 2018 Draft
Thursday 26th April 2018 20:00 ET (Friday 27th April 01:00 BST)
Odds: 40/1

  • Kolton Miller
  • Mike McGlinchey
  • NFL Draft
  • Quenton Nelson
  • Will Hernandez

    About the author

    Eric Roberts
    Eric Roberts

    Sports Journalist

    Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.