With the 2013 NFL Draft set for April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NFL.com draft analyst Josh Norris is identifying the top prospects available at every position. Today, he presents an overview of the best offensive linemen. For a complete list of the rest of the positions, click here.
1. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan: I give Fisher a slight edge over fellow highly touted lineman Luke Joeckel, mainly based on comfort in his evaluation. No, Fisher didn't play in the SEC, but isolating him against any level of competition highlights great posture, an athletic lower body and an aggressive attitude to finish. Projection: First round
2. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: Joeckel presents a nice case study, mainly because he protected the blind side first for a true pocket passer in Ryan Tannehill and then for a mobile running threat in Johnny Manziel. The footwork to mirror is there, along with the quick hands needed to punch and control his opponents. Projection: First round
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: The converted quarterback is still growing into his frame and technique, but there are so many natural elements to Johnson's game. He tends to duck his head on first contact, but he's able to mirror, absorb and redirect thanks to great athleticism. Projection: First round
4. Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: There's plenty more to Armstead than his outstanding workout at the NFL Scouting Combine. The mobility he showed there translates on the field when he's pulling in space or using his quick feet to stick in front of his opposition. As long as he gets stronger on first contact and tightens up his technique, Armstead can start on the left side. Projection: Second round
5. D.J. Fluker, Alabama: Fluker has been receiving plenty of first-round consideration, but I wonder about the speed of his pass set and whether he can consistently stay in front of rushers. Though he has lost weight and is blessed with amazing arm length, there are questions. Projection: First round
6. Menelik Watson, Florida State: I don't think Watson's perceived on-field athleticism translated to workouts. Still, he has a strong first punch with the length to control -- once he's in a balanced position. Getting there is the issue; Watson's footwork and posture can be very ugly. Projection: Second round
7. Reid Fragel, Ohio State: Fragel isn't getting enough attention. The former tight end has good agility and a nice mean streak, though that nasty demeanor can also get him into trouble in terms of overextending. He needs to be more patient with his posture. Projection: Third round
Interior offensive linemen
1. Chance Warmack, Alabama: Among the players eligible for this draft, Warmack was the most consistently dominant in 2012, a power guy with sound technique who brings it on every snap. At Alabama, he occasionally lost on counter moves when he'd fail to mirror, but instances of that happening were few and far between. Projection: First round
2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina: A different kind of guard compared to Warmack, Cooper is exceptionally mobile and will dominate at the second level. He was asked to lose weight in 2012 to keep up with an up-tempo offense; a dip in strength against counter moves followed. Projection: First round
3. Larry Warford, Kentucky: A pure power guard, Warford wins despite his poor technique thanks to brute strength and some surprising short-area athleticism. If you want to be impressed, check out his matchup against Missouri's Sheldon Richardson last season. Projection: Second round
4. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee: If possible, I would put Thomas and the two prospects who follow him on this list in both offensive line categories. Thomas was an excellent left tackle in 2011, showing the knee bend and extension to absorb and redirect. Moved inside in 2012, he continued his solid play. Projection: Second round
5. Kyle Long, Oregon: Long, who is new to the position, shows a blocker's mentality, wanting to finish off runs with force. That same mindset can get him into trouble in terms of overextension or positioning; even so, Long seems to be on the path to becoming a starter. Projection: Second round
6. Justin Pugh, Syracuse: Much has been made about Pugh's lack of length, but since he works well in tight spaces, I'm not worried. He also shows nice bend in terms of sticking with the latch while handling counter moves. Pugh will likely get looks at left tackle and guard. Projection: Second round
Follow Josh Norris on Twitter @JoshNorris.
The word is the Dolphins are more interested in Joeckel or Fisher than they are Johnson. To get either of those 2 kids, it probably means getting to #3 and the Raiders. There is a good chance that the Lions will take an OL at #5.
IF the Dolphins trade up, I like Joeckel, as he is READY now. Fisher and Johnson may have more upside, but Joeckel is not far behind.
My preference would be to stay pat or move down. Terron Armstead and Menelik Watson are guys I like a lot. There is buzz that Watson could go in the late 1st round, but if he makes it to the 2nd round, he and Armstead are nice choices to look at.