Everyone knows (or should know) how deep the offensive tackle class is for the 2014 NFL Draft. Guys like Jake Matthews (Texas A&M), Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama), Taylor Lewan (Michigan), Cameron Erving (Florida State), Antonio Richardson (Tennessee), James Hurst (North Carolina) and Seantrel Henderson (Miami) are all either locks to be first rounders or are viewed as high second rounders.
Everyone knows the first three guys on this list are not only shoo-in’s for the first round, but also the top 10. With Richardson, Hurst and Henderson all looking like the bubble guys, we’re left with Erving, whom many scouts call the most physically gifted tackle in the class. Yes, Erving will be a first rounder, but can he crack the top 10?
The first thing to answer is the physical part: is he physically a legitimate top 10 caliber player? The short, easy and right answer is yes. The second thing we need to look at is to take a very rough look at who might be picking in the top 10 (yes, I know we’re only at Week 2 of the NFL season, bear with me). Here’s where it gets fun.
Everyone knows the Oakland Raiders will be picking at or near the very top of Round 1. No way Jose’ does Erving go top two, not with guys like Jadeveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater on the board. Yes, they could certainly use a tackle opposite Jared Veldheer, but this isn’t the spot to find him. The Jacksonville Jaguars? Maybe, but it would depend on what they do with Eugene Monroe after this season. If I was going to speculate, I’d doubt he’d go here, as I believe Monroe is going to re-sign, and they still have the second overall pick from the 2013 NFL Draft opposite of him in Luke Joeckel.
The New York Jets? Ok, I could see this. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is a rock on the left side, and they have a glaring hole on the right side with Austin Howard. There’s still hope fifth round rookie Oday Aboushi could be the guy, but he’s not even close, in terms of ceiling, to that of Erving. Cleveland Browns? Eh, I don’t see this happening. They already have the best tackle in the game (Joe Thomas) on the blind side and Mitchell Schwartz, who the coaching staff loves, on the right side. It’s possible they could slide Schwartz inside to make room for Erving (like the Minnesota Vikings sliding Charlie Johnson inside to make room for Matt Kalil), but there’s other needs they’ll probably prioritize higher.
Arizona Cardinals? I could absolutely see Erving fitting in there. Put Erving on the left side, keep Bobby Massie on the right, and either dump Levi Brown or push him inside. Only thing? I doubt Arizona will be picking low enough to snag Erving.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! First off, the Bucs have a fantastic interior offensive line with Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah and Davin Joseph, but are atrocious on the outside with Donald Penn (really?) starting on the blindside and Demar Dotson starting on the right. Plus, they’re going to be a fringe top 10-picking team this year, especially with Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints finding their groove again, and the NFC South as a whole looking stacked.
Will Erving go top 10? Obviously it’s way too far away to know, but at this very early stage it looks possible. Even still, it’s not the talent that will dictate whether or not Erving will go top 10, but who comprises it.