Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff marveled over how rare it is for three offensive tackles to be considered among the top 10 prospects in the draft. Historically speaking, Dimitroff is right on point.
But if Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, and Michigan's Taylor Lewan all go in the top 10 of Thursday's NFL draft, as expected, it would mark the third time in the past six drafts that three offensive tackles have been selected in the top 10 picks. There's a strong chance the Falcons could be one of those drafting teams, considering offensive tackle is a pressing need.
Here are the three offensive tackles selected in the top 10 of the 2009 and 2013 drafts, with a little breakdown of each:
No. 1 -- Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs: The Central Michigan product struggled out of the gate while playing right tackle. He improved as the season progressed but struggled against power rushers. Fisher played in 14 games, starting 13. He missed three starts and was out for the playoff game against Indianapolis due to various injuries. Now, Fisher is recovering from offseason shoulder and sports hernia surgeries. He's been shifted to left tackle in preparation for the 2014 season.
No. 2 -- Luke Joeckel, Jacksonville Jaguars: The former teammate of Matthews at Texas A&M started the first five games but saw his rookie season come to an abrupt end with a broken ankle suffered against the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 6. Joeckel also had a hip injury that kept him out of some preseason action. Joeckel started as a right tackle upon joining the Jaguars but shifted to left when the team decided to trade Eugene Monroe last October. He played 272 offensive snaps.
No. 4 -- Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles: The former Oklahoma Sooner started all 16 games at right tackle his rookie season. He gave up seven sacks and 29 hurries during his first eight games, according to Pro Football Focus. For the season, he gave up 10 sacks and 57 pressures, according to PFF. He was a productive run-blocker as the Eagles, led by LeSean McCoy, had the league's top rushing offense at 160.4 yards per game.
No. 2 -- Jason Smith, St. Louis Rams: Smith, from Baylor, was drafted as a left tackle but was beat out by current Rams starting left tackle Rodger Saffold and became a big draft bust from then on. Smith played in eight games as a rookie (five starts), primarily at right tackle, before being placed on IR with a concussion. He suffered another concussion in practice the following season. Smith played three season in St. Louis before being traded to the New York Jets for tackle Wayne Hunter. Smith was released by the Jets and later by the New Orleans Saints and the Jets again. He is now a free agent.
No. 6 -- Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals: Smith, from Alabama, has come into his own after starting his career with a controversial contract holdout and fractured left foot during his first week of practice. Smith went on to play six games as a rookie, with one start. He suffered another foot fracture during his second season after taking over as the starting right tackle. His weight and conditioning were an issue earlier in his career, but the Bengals seem content with him now. Smith did have a brush with the law in 2013, being arrested for gun possession at the Atlanta airport. He received a three-year, $18 million contract last April, which was a bargain for the Bengals.
No. 8 -- Eugene Monroe, Jacksonville Jaguars: Monroe, from Virginia, played in 15 games as a rookie, starting 13 as the left tackle. He started 62 games in four-plus seasons with the Jaguars. After drafting Joeckel, Jacksonville traded Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a fourth- and fifth-round pick in next week's draft. Monroe wanted a fresh start and new the Jaguars viewed Joeckel as the left tackle of the future. In March, Monroe received a new five-year deal with the Ravens worth $37.5 million.