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Top-ten tackles from 2009 struggle in their second seasons

NFL_smith1.jpgMany league insiders believe that there’s only one way to find a high-end left tackle — at the top of the draft.  With some exceptions (like Jason Peters, a converted tight end who was undrafted), teams that need a quality left tackle have to rely on the first round of the draft, usually the top half of it.

Compounding the reality is the fact that, once a team finds a quality left tackle, the team rarely if ever lets him go.

With the success rate for most other positions a crapshoot in round one, left tackles typically represent safer picks, with guys like Robert Gallery (a bust at left tackle who has become a decent interior offensive lineman for the Raiders) being the exception not the rule.

But something happened in 2009.  Three left tackles heard their names called within the first eight picks.  Two of them — Jason Smith and Andre Smith — already have been moved to the less critical (and less lucrative) right side.  The third, Eugene Monroe, played left tackle in 15 games as a rookie, despite being benched at one point for Tra Thomas.

This year, Monroe is injured, Andre Smith is badly out of shape, and Jason Smith returned from a toe injury to be beaten repeatedly by Vikings second-string defensive end Jayme Mitchell on Saturday night.

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo doesn’t sound too concerned, yet.

“He’s behind everybody else in that regard and all of a sudden you put him out in a game and the speed of the game is completely different,” Spagnuolo said, in comments distributed by the team.  “So I think he’ll smooth that out.  I don’t think there’s any concern there.  He played well there over on the right side about four or five games in the middle of the season last year so hopefully he can get back in that groove.”

Still, the failure of Jason Smith to become a cornerstone left tackle underscores the challenges faced by a perennially bad team.  With the No. 2 pick in two consecutive seasons, neither Smith nor defensive end Chris Long have panned out.  And that only makes it harder for the Rams to eventually draft much lower in round one.

It remains to be seen whether Jason or Andre Smith can fulfill their potential, and whether Monroe can become the kind of anchor that Tony Boselli once was on the Jacksonville offensive line.  Either way, this trio from 2009 are tending to undermine the notion that great left tackles can be found at the top of the draft — and their teams currently look more than a little foolish for not pouncing on Michael Oher, who fell all the way to the Ravens at No. 23.

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26 Responses to “Top-ten tackles from 2009 struggle in their second seasons”
  1. jimmy_b says: Aug 15, 2010 3:44 PM

    Michael Oher did not fall to #23 – that is where he was projected.

  2. stefanovich says: Aug 15, 2010 3:46 PM

    Matt Light – 2nd round
    Michael Oher – 1st round, 23rd overall
    David Diehl – 5th round
    Marcus McNeill – 2nd round
    Flozell Adams – 2nd round
    Sebastian Vollmer – 2nd round
    and those are just active players.

  3. blbrad says: Aug 15, 2010 3:50 PM

    Oher was getting beat pretty bad by Tyler Brayton the other night.

  4. SomeFans says: Aug 15, 2010 4:07 PM

    2 words. Jake Long.

  5. gojev93 says: Aug 15, 2010 4:09 PM

    Eugene Monroe has never been benched. He was sick. There is a big difference.
    Also, he is nursing a mild injury and was held out just as a precaution. He will dominate this year.

  6. east96street. says: Aug 15, 2010 4:23 PM

    “whether Monroe can become the kind of anchor that Tony Boselli once was on the Jacksonville offensive line”
    Curious that you are so complimentary to Boselli, so many years after he retired, after going head to head with him over the Jacksonville naming rights fiasco. Me thinks the lawyer has shat his pants.

  7. Bill says: Aug 15, 2010 4:28 PM

    Tackle is the safest position to draft, and the Gallery example proves it — even though he was a bust at tackle, the Raiders still ended up with a decent starting guard. Compare that to their bust at QB, Jamarcus Russell.

  8. Massappeal says: Aug 15, 2010 4:39 PM

    Or Sebastian Vollmer in the second.

  9. Tre-nitty says: Aug 15, 2010 5:42 PM

    I said from jump that smith was trash. Teams need to stop listening to Mel kiper. All bs aside, the yr when revis and carriker were coming out, all signs pointed to the rams getting revis until kiper stepped in an said the rams should take carriker. I was pissed and still am. Oher was clearly better than smith but because Mel kiper said smith was a safer pick, dummy devaney went for smith. Check the tape of kiper for proof. The best thing happened this yr when kiper said clausen would be who he would pick if he were the rams. The rams took Bradford, which I know is the best thing because kiper is an idiot!!!

  10. BigSuede says: Aug 15, 2010 5:43 PM

    Oher was going to be taken at #10 last year by the niners (singletary love him)- but crabtree fell to them. Most mocks had Oher being picked in the top 15

  11. Tom Selleck says: Aug 15, 2010 6:44 PM

    Oher hasn’t looked all that good at left tackle.

  12. Steeler79 says: Aug 15, 2010 6:45 PM

    I watched the Rams game earlier today and Chris Long looked like a stud, I think he’s gonna have a big year

  13. Steeler79 says: Aug 15, 2010 6:46 PM

    I also think it’s waaaaaaaay too early to say anyone from the draft [i]last year[/i] hasn’t panned out.

  14. fordlaw says: Aug 15, 2010 7:37 PM

    However, Oher plays a superior RT, a position to which he should return.

  15. H8R says: Aug 15, 2010 7:55 PM

    Oher did have problems with Breyton but it was the first preseason game… Andre Smith hasn’t even sniffed the starting line-up.

  16. comment_submission_error says: Aug 15, 2010 8:13 PM

    jimmy_b says:
    Michael Oher did not fall to #23 – that is where he was projected.
    Got nothing to add here…just wanted to see it again.

  17. AttackRaven says: Aug 15, 2010 8:30 PM

    I think its hillarious for all these EXPERTS that post here to “evaluate” players as having looked sensational or having looked bad from a series or two in a pre-season game.
    Let’s see how the Superbowl Bound Jests look tomorrow night. According to Big Mouth Rex they have a pro bowl player at EVERY position.

  18. brasho says: Aug 15, 2010 8:33 PM

    Tre-nitty says:
    August 15, 2010 5:42 PM
    I said from jump that smith was trash. Teams need to stop listening to Mel kiper. All bs aside, the yr when revis and carriker were coming out, all signs pointed to the rams getting revis until kiper stepped in an said the rams should take carriker. I was pissed and still am. Oher was clearly better than smith but because Mel kiper said smith was a safer pick, dummy devaney went for smith. Check the tape of kiper for proof. The best thing happened this yr when kiper said clausen would be who he would pick if he were the rams. The rams took Bradford, which I know is the best thing because kiper is an idiot!!!
    ++++++++++++++++++
    You moron, Kiper doesn’t influence teams’ draft boards, teams’ draft boards influence Kiper.

  19. brasho says: Aug 15, 2010 8:35 PM

    stefanovich says:
    August 15, 2010 3:46 PM
    Matt Light – 2nd round
    Michael Oher – 1st round, 23rd overall
    David Diehl – 5th round
    Marcus McNeill – 2nd round
    Flozell Adams – 2nd round
    Sebastian Vollmer – 2nd round
    and those are just active players.
    ++++++++++++++++
    Donald Penn was undrafted.

  20. 100 no's and 1 yes still mean yes says: Aug 15, 2010 8:40 PM

    Your saying oher hasn’t played that good yet you’ve only seen him there in one game? U a NFL scout or something it’s the 1st week of pre season I love how u guys are calling these kids career over after one rusty performance lol everyones a talent evaluator now

  21. joetoronto says: Aug 15, 2010 8:44 PM

    With the success rate for most other positions a crapshoot in round one, left tackles typically represent safer picks, with guys like Robert Gallery (a bust at left tackle who has become a decent interior offensive lineman for the Raiders) being the exception not the rule.
    *********************************************************
    “A decent interior lineman”?
    Gallery would start on the majority of teams in the league, he much better than “decent”.

  22. mwcarolina says: Aug 15, 2010 8:47 PM

    “Oher was getting beat pretty bad by Tyler Brayton the other night.”
    yeah, well i think Brayton will play better this year and Oher will be fine in time
    “Tackle is the safest position to draft, and the Gallery example proves it — even though he was a bust at tackle, the Raiders still ended up with a decent starting guard.”
    Disagree here. Gallery being a bust at tackle didnt help the Raiders because it took more time to find another left tackle. yes Gallery is a good guard, BUT he was supposed to be a can’t miss tackle, almost a sure thing, he wasnt that, although, he’s not a bust at guard.

  23. mikeylikesit says: Aug 15, 2010 9:21 PM

    Eugene Monroe had the flu in the early part of the season, and 1 week he lost something like 10 to 15 pounds because of the flu. That’s why he missed 1 game last year.
    Monroe sat out the 1st preseason game because of a minor injury if you would even call it that. But go ahead and try to mislead readers into thinking he has some sort of injury problem.
    Seriously, a 10 year old with internet access can write more accurate stories than this guy.
    Then he tries to hype up Oher like he’s a stud? The same guy that got worked for 2 sacks in his 1st preseason game. Yeah All-Pro LT in the making.

  24. sharkattack says: Aug 15, 2010 9:54 PM

    Two BETTER words: Joe Thomas
    Top left tackle in the league, hand’s down no questions asked.
    Do you think the Dolphins would trade Jake long for Joe Thomas, straight-up? Hell yes they would, and no one would call them stupid, or wrong.

  25. jj jones says: Aug 15, 2010 10:49 PM

    “The third, Eugene Monroe, played left tackle in 15 games as a rookie, despite being benched at one point for Tra Thomas.”
    Monroe was never benched in favor of Thomas. Thomas took some snaps in week one last year versus the Colts. But I think Monroe was ill.

  26. patpatriotagain says: Aug 15, 2010 11:53 PM

    Vollmer was moved to RT because Matt Light was a turnstile over there. Vollmer is a swing tackle and will be back on the left side as soon as the team finds a capable RT. In his rookie year he shut down some pretty good DE’s on the left side. most notably Dwight Freeney who said after the game, that vollmer was the best LT he had seen to that point of the season (week 10)

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