Top 5 O-line prospects

Alabama tackle tops the list, but Texas A&M could have another first-rounder

Originally Published: May 17, 2013
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider

Cyrus Kouandjio Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesCyrus Kouandjio anchored the left side of Bama's line in 2012.

The 2013 NFL draft will, in the short term, be considered the year of the offensive lineman.

• Two offensive tackles were taken at picks No. 1 and 2, something that had never happened before.

• Three tackles were taken among the first four picks, again unprecedented.

• A guard hadn't been taken among the top 10 picks since 1997, and two were taken among the top 10 picks in 2013.

We didn't see a record number of offensive linemen taken in Round 1, but the priority placed on the position at the top of the board was remarkable, with six of the first 11 picks coming from the offensive line.

For the first look at the offensive line class for the 2014 NFL draft, I'm going to combine the position groups (tackle, guard, center) within the top five, simply because based on positional value, the group is dominated by tackles; that way you get a better sense of how teams evaluate the position. In fact, the one player among the top five who will be listed as a guard actually played all of 2012 at tackle and is moving back inside for 2013.

What's impressive about this group is that even with the run on linemen in the recent draft, I think at least three of the guys below would have gone in the first round, and perhaps as high as No. 1 overall depending on how they fared during the evaluation process.

1. Cyrus Kouandjio, Junior, Alabama

He effectively held down the left side of the Alabama offensive line in 2012, allowing only 3.5 sacks and providing a consistent push in a dominant running attack. And he did this as a 19-year old. Kouandjio is just a natural at the position, with quick feet and the ability to both absorb pass-rushers and simply ride them out of the play, and he has good straight-line power as a run-blocker.


To see the rest of Mel's top five o-line prospects for the 2014 NFL draft, plus to gain access to all of Insider's NFL draft content, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst