When teams take an offensive linemen in the draft, their fans don't exactly go wild. It's not a sexy pick. But you can't win at any level of football without a good offensive line. So let's look at BetOnline 2015 NFL Draft props for that position.
Franchise quarterbacks will always trump any other position and will go No. 1 overall in any draft. Quarterback is the most important position in any sport. Do you remember the 2013 draft? It was incredibly weak in terms of quarterbacks. Some thought that none would go in the first round. Only one did: Buffalo took Florida State's E.J. Manuel at No. 16 overall. Most everyone panned that choice as a reach and that looks accurate now as Manuel's career already is in jeopardy, at least in Buffalo.
So because there were no great quarterback or receiver prospects that year, it was a very unusual draft that was heavy on offensive linemen in the first round. Kansas City took Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher No. 1 overall. The jury is out on him. Jacksonville grabbed Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel at No. 2. He might be good. Philadelphia nabbed Oklahoma's Lane Johnson at No. 4 and he was very good as a rookie but suspended four games last season. North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper went No. 7 overall to Arizona and the jury's out on him too. Other first-round picks at the position: Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker at No. 11 to San Diego, Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh at No. 19 to the NY Giants, Oregon guard Kyle Long at No. 20 to Chicago (a great pick it turned out), and Wisconsin center Travis Frederick at No. 31 to Dallas (another very good pick).
Last year, the offensive line group wasn't considered nearly as good. St. Louis took Auburn tackle Greg Robinson at No. 2 overall and he didn't play a ton as a rookie. Atlanta selected Texas A&M's Jake Matthews at No. 6 and his rookie year was cut short due to injury. Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan was the No. 11 overall pick by Tennessee, Notre Dame guard Zack Martin at No. 16 to Dallas (he was the best rookie lineman and to think they nearly took Johnny Manziel), and Tennessee tackle Ja'Wuan James at No. 19 to Miami. Still many questions among those guys but it still looks like a better group than 2015.
Grading The 2015 Class
One guy stands above the rest and could/should be the only Top-10 pick among the linemen in this year's NFL Draft: Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff. ESPN's Mel Kiper ranks him No. 6 overall on his board and NFL.com's Mike Mayock at No. 8. As a senior playing left tackle, Scherff won the Outland Trophy given to the country's most outstanding interior lineman. He started all 26 games during his final two seasons. Scherff is a monster in the weight room and should be a good run-blocker from Day 1. He needs some work on pass protection as he has below-average arm length.
Other potential first-round picks are LSU tackle La'el Collins, Miami (Fla.) tackle Ereck Flowers, Florida tackle D.J. Humphries, Stanford tackle Andrus Peat and Florida State center Cameron Erving. Collins was going to attend the draft but left Chicago to meet with authorities in Louisiana. They want to talk to him about the death of Brittany Mills in Baton Rouge. Collins knew the woman and apparently they once dated but he's not considered a suspect. Certainly NFL teams are going to want to look into that before taking him.
Offensive Linemen Props
Scherff is the -205 favorite to be the first tackle taken, followed by Peat (+350), Collins (+600), Flowers (+900), Humphries (+1200), Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings (+3300) and Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi (+4000). Ogbuehi would have been ranked higher if not for an ACL injury suffered in the Liberty Bowl against West Virginia.
On the NFL odds for the first guard to be picked, South Carolina's A.J. Cann is the -130 favorite followed by Duke's Laken Tomlinson (+150), Alabama's Arie Kouandjio (+1200) and Florida State's Tre Jackson (+1200). Finally, the 'over/under' for total offensive linemen taken in Round 1 is 6, with over a -125 favorite.
NFL Picks: There's no question that Scherff goes first so jump all over that. Most mock drafts I have seen have five linemen going in the first round so go 'under' that prop with your NFL picks. And both Kiper and Mayock have Tomlinson as the top-ranked guard over Cann so take Tomlinson.