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Triple Take: Offensive Tackles

The "Triple Take" continues its look at the 2024 NFL Draft with a breakdown of the offensive tackles. The Steelers Radio Network trio of Matt Williamson, Dale Lolley and Mike Prisuta give their takes on the top prospects at the position.

The opinions of these Steelers Radio Network personalities do not reflect the views of the Steelers organization.

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Dale's Take …

Why stop at 5? Honestly, we could see as many as eight or nine offensive tackles taken in the first round this year in what is a banner year for the big men. Players such as Georgia's Amarius Mims, Oklahoma's Tyler Guyton and Arizona's Jordan Morgan couldn't make this list this year and easily would do so in most years. And the depth at the position goes well beyond those players, as well.

Sleeper - Christian Jones, Texas (6-5, 305 lbs.) - Jones followed up a good week at the Senior Bowl with a really solid NFL Scouting Combine, running a 5.04-second 40-yard dash and looking good in the drill work. He needs to continue to build his strength and work on his technique, but the physical tools are there for a potential mid-round steal.

#5 - Olu Fashanu, Penn State (6-6, 312 lbs.) - In this year's loaded tackle class, Fashanu would have benefitted from going to the Senior Bowl. As it was, he injured a quad while working out at the NFL Scouting Combine, which isn't going to help his cause in this group. Fashanu had a good season overall, but struggled mightily against Ohio State, which does cause some concern. Overall, he's a good prospect with his length and athleticism.

#4 - Troy Fautanu, Washington (6-4, 317 lbs.) - Heading into the Combine, there were questions regarding whether Fautanu would have to kick inside to guard at the NFL level due to length restrictions. But while his height isn't ideal, his arm length (34 ½ inches) is enough to play tackle in the NFL. A tough, physical player who isn't afraid to mix it up. And even if he doesn't work out at tackle, he could be a premiere guard in the NFL.

#3 - Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State (6-6, 324 lbs.) - Fuaga is surprisingly better in pass protection than he is as a run blocker. But he's not bad at either. Fuaga is a gritty player in terms of his hand fighting. He just keeps working. His arm length (33 ⅛ inches) isn't ideal, which hurts him on some outside pass rushes, but he's a smooth mover in terms of mirroring his opponent's rush.

#2 - J.C. Latham, Alabama (6-6, 342 lbs.) - Latham is built like a throwback guard, but moves like a tackle. The only thing that keeps Latham from being at the top of this group is that he's strictly a right tackle, though that doesn't matter quite as much in today's NFL. Latham is an easy knee bender and is as nasty as they come.

#1 - Joe Alt, Notre Dame (6-9, 321 lbs.) - Watching Alt move at the NFL Combine, you'd never know he is 6-9. The son of former Chiefs offensive tackle John Alt, he didn't make the move to offensive line until college, playing tight end and even hockey in high school. A pure left tackle, Alt will be a solid blind-side protector. The only negative is that his height could be used against him by some shorter NFL pass rushers. But he has the athleticism to overcome that.

Matt's Take ...

This class of offensive tackles is rare. Rare. It is simply loaded with top end talent. The first round of the upcoming draft should be littered with offensive tackles of varied styles and traits. Rarely does the NFL get infused with so much talent at this position in one given draft class. Again, this is truly rare. Narrowing this list down to just five names was nearly impossible, as another five players or so would compete for the top five in just about any other year. It is almost criminal that great talents Amarius Mims and Tyler Guyton couldn't quite crack this list, but that is how strong this class is.

Sleeper - Roger Rosengarten, Washington (6-5, 308 lbs.) - With all the crazy star power on Washington's outstanding offense, including fellow tackle Troy Fautanu, it was easy to overlook the steady play of Rosengarten at right tackle. He could stand to increase his upper and lower body strength for the run game and to better handle power rushers at the next level, but Rosengarten is a crafty and smart player with good quickness and agility. Even with the depth at this position, Rosengarten could hear his named called on the second day of the draft after a strong showing at the Combine.

#5 - Troy Fautanu, Washington (6-4, 317 lbs.) - Coming into the Combine there were some concerns as to whether had the desired length for an NFL offensive tackle. With a measured arm length of 34.5 inches, he checked that box and then some. The tape shows very little reservations about Fautanu's ability to thrive on the outside. Of course, he has a fallback plan to move to guard if tackle doesn't work out, but tackle is where Fautanu belongs. He has a nasty demeanor snap after snap with consistent leg drive, great hand usage, and fantastic overall athletic ability with impressive flexibility and agility.

#4 - Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State (6-6, 324 lbs.) - Fuaga's 33 1/8-inch arms aren't exactly what you like, but other than that, it is tough to find things not to love about Fuaga as a prospect. Fuaga is a punisher with an infectious playing demeanor as well as an excellent head for the game. He has very good foot speed, which shows up in pass protection as well as in his ability to get downfield in the run game. He also has a great get off with bad intentions. Fuaga is one of the best run blockers in this class no matter the run scheme. He too could be an outstanding guard if things didn't work out on the outside.

#3 - Olu Fashanu, Penn State (6-6, 312 lbs.) - Fashanu seems to have lost a little steam. His worst outing of the season came late in the year against Ohio State, he didn't participate in the Senior Bowl, and pulled up with an injury quickly into his Combine workout. It was also revealed that Fashanu has a hand size of just 8.5 inches, which is extremely small for an offensive tackle and could hinder him in the run game. However, don't sell this guy short. He is a tremendous prospect and very could have been a top five pick had he come out of Penn State a year ago. There aren't many better athletes or pass protectors when entering the league than Fashanu. He has extremely agility and fast feet to go along with great body control, balance, and more than enough power. He is also still one of the youngest prospects in the entire draft.

#2 - J.C. Latham, Alabama (6-6, 342 lbs.)- Latham is a masher. He's the guy you run behind on fourth and one even though everyone in the stadium knows it's coming. His power is off the charts and Latham might be the strongest prospect from top to bottom in this entire draft. His eyes when picking up blitzes and stunts still need a little work, but he is surprisingly nimble and quick for someone built like he is without carrying too much bad weight. His drill work at the Combine was very impressive. Latham has huge powerful hands that he just controls his opponents with. He's a wrecking machine.

#1 - Joe Alt, Notre Dame (6-9, 321 lbs.) - Alt is a very polished prospect. His father was an NFL offensive lineman and Alt is a very intelligent player, even though he is only 21 years old. Alt started as a true freshman at Notre Dame. His Combine testing was outstanding, and he fits any offensive scheme at the next level. His extreme height could present problems against low to the ground NFL pass-rushers, but it was not an issue in college and his core strength and ability to bend makes it so he rarely loses such an leverage situation. Alt will go very early in the draft. If there were concerns in Alt's game, the Combine cleared those up, especially with his agility.

Mike's Take …

Any list of the Top 5 offensive tackles available, no matter the configuration, is going to leave off two or three deserving candidates, at least. Such is the depth of the class. "It's ridiculous," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah assessed. "It's unbelievably stacked and loaded." Added NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales: "The number that I'm hearing, people are expecting roughly eight tackles to go in the first round. It could be unprecedented, actually." It's a good year to need one for teams accustomed to needing to be in the Top 12 or 15 overall selections to find what they're seeking.

Sleeper - Javon Foster, Missouri (6-5, 313 lbs.) - He's a decorated sleeper given his status as a First-Team All-SEC performer and a Third-Team Associated Press All-American in 2023 (did we mention this is a deep tackle class?). And Foster backed up the accolades with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., particularly on the first day of practices, dominating at the line of scrimmage in the running game and the passing game. He moves well and has strong hands. "The word that kept coming to mind, 'square,'" NFL Network analyst Charles Davis observed, "staying square to the line of scrimmage, move people the right way."

#5 - J.C. Latham, Alabama (6-6, 342 lbs.) - Latham played right tackle at Alabama but has worked at left tackle during the pre-draft process. And he absolutely looks the part. "He's thick," NFL Network analyst Shawn O'Hara pointed out. "There's no other word for it." Latham is also strong and knows how to apply the "vice grips" he has for hands. "Once he gets attached to defenders, the pass rush is over," Jeremiah maintained. Latham has also been described as a mauler in the run game.

#4 - Olu Fashanu, Penn State (6-6, 312 lbs.) - Size, length and strength are attributes that allow Fashanu to anchor in the passing game and get to the second level in the running game. He's what a left tackle is supposed to look like. Fashanu is not a finished product but he was a two-year starter and a captain at Penn State. He could have been a first-round selection last year, perhaps even a Top 10 pick, but opted to return to Penn State and eventually graduate.

#3 - Troy Fautanu, Washington (6-33/4, 317 lbs.) - He's played some guard and there may be some teams that project him here. But more than likely he'll be a tackle with position flexibility attached. Fautanu's 31 career college starts include 29 at left tackle and two at left guard. And when he's on, he's awesome. "He's got some highlight film blocks that are just phenomenal," O'Hara insisted. Fautanu's mobility allows him to pull if necessary and get to the third level when such opportunities present themselves.

#2 - Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State (6-6, 324 lbs.) - Jeremiah described Fuaga as a "massive and physical, dominant run-blocker," and added, "You can't get through him in pass protection." More Jeremiah: "I think he's the best run-blocker in the entire draft. You see him get to the second level and literally fork-lift linebackers with one arm and dump them on the ground." In addition to his physical attributes, Fuaga possesses and plays with a nasty disposition and a determination to finish. He was a right tackle at Oregon State but is perceived to be capable of transitioning to the other side. Should Fuaga remain on the right side, he's projected to be a dominant player if that's where he remains. "There's nothing that I watched and said, 'OK, he can't do that,'" Jeremiah summarized. "To me he's plug and play, throw him in at right tackle and don't worry about that position for the next decade."

#1 - Joe Alt, Notre Dame (6-9, 321 lbs.) - His father John Alt was the 21st-overall pick in 1984 and went on to become a fixture at left tackle for the Chiefs (179 career games played). Joe Alt has been a three-year starter at left tackle for the Fighting Irish, and played the position well enough to be recognized as a First-Team Associated Press All-American, twice. And he won't turn 22 until February of 2025. Alt started out as a tight end and a hockey player but appears to have finally found his niche.