The Super Bowl has been decided after the Kansas City Chiefs edged out the Philadelphia Eagles in Arizona to claim the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the second time in four years. The off-season now begins in earnest and all teams will be building their draft boards in an attempt to close the gap to the Chiefs at the top of the NFL.
There is a widespread notion that Super Bowl winners are built in the trenches, and if you look back at past Super Bowls you can see a trend where dominant line play was largely responsible for the success of the winning team. You can see the difference between the Chiefs’ triumph in 2022 compared to the onslaught Patrick Mahomes faced in 2020 in their defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Chiefs committed a lot of resources to their offensive line in the aftermath of the defeat and the fruits were there for all to see in the Super Bowl. Mahomes was largely untroubled in the pocket even with an injured ankle, and it allowed him to pick apart the defense with ease to guide his team to their second Lombardi Trophy.
The Eagles too used their offensive line to power their route to the Super Bowl, allowing Jalen Hurts to thrive in the game and throughout the last campaign. There is food for thought for teams at the top end of the NFL Draft given the lack of options available in free agency. In the 2022 NFL Draft, three offensive tackles were selected in the top 10. With the quality of the top players available, it could well happen again.
Skoronski replaced Rashawn Slater at left tackle at Northwestern in 2021 and has excelled at the position at the same level as his predecessor. Slater was selected 13th overall in the 2021 Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers and when he was on the field, he was a dominant player. Skoronski is very much in the same mold, producing sublime play against pass-rushers and carving out space in the run game. He can start from day one for any team in the NFL.
The Chicago Bears could look at him first overall and it would not be a reach. However, many teams in the top 10 such as the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans and Las Vegas Raiders would all improve their teams immediately by selecting Skoronski. There could even be movement from teams outside of the top 10 if he is still around by the eighth or ninth selection. Those teams at the top of the NFL Draft should not overlook the importance of offensive tackles.
The Eagles selected Lane Johnson fourth overall in the 2013 Draft, and he has been a lockdown presence on their offensive line for ten years. If one of the sides in the top ten does select Skoronski they could be in line for a jump toward Super Bowl contention in the mold of Philadelphia, who have prided themselves on the strength of their offensive line.
Bettors who are eyeing picks for the 2023 NFL season winner, as well as general managers, should be looking at the data from previous Super Bowls to see trends before wagering using bonus bets available from the leading sportsbooks such as FanDuel and PointsBet. Skoronski could tip the balance on the line to allow a side such as the Raiders or Cardinals to go from one of the worst outfits in the NFL to the cream of the crop.
Johnson is equally effective and comes out of another strong school in the form of Ohio State. He protected CJ Stroud and Justin Fields before him with great effect. He is the typical NFL offensive tackle. Johnson has played on the interior and on the edge of the line, but he seems most at home at left tackle. He has the athleticism to get the second level in the run game and is a strong anchor against pass-rushers.
NFL teams will probably look at both Skoronski and Johnson as the top two options at tackle, and you are splitting hairs on their quality. Depending on their preference, either could go in the top ten ahead of the other. Teams built more around their run game may target Johnson given his versatility for the Buckeyes. The Raiders could be in play at seven, although the Titans might move up from 11 to put Johnson ahead of Derrick Henry in their power-based system.
Skoronski is the more polished technician, but Johnson certainly has a high ceiling and has earned a lot of comparisons with elite tackles of NFL. Given his potential, it would not be a surprise to see him selected ahead of Skoronski, with teams prepared to gamble on his upside.
Jones has been a dominant force on the Georgia offensive line, powering over defensive linemen and linebackers to carve out space in the run game. He has been a large part of their back-to-back title wins at left tackle, opening huge roles for the Bulldogs. At 6ft 4in, he is slightly undersized for the position at NFL level, although there are plenty of success stories.
Two of the last Georgia tackles to have arrived in the NFL have struggled as Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wynn have failed to live up to the billing. Thomas did stage a remarkable improvement last season. He could be available more for teams outside of the top 10, with the Titans a great option and perhaps the Patriots, although they might be scared off after their experience with Wynn.
As ever in the NFL Draft process there are late risers, and Wright is a player who has seen his stock rise over the last couple of months. Wright was a multi-year starter for the Tennessee Volunteers and was considered a late first-round pick before the NFL Combine, but an impressive showing and a review of his tape has propelled his name forward in the minds of Draft experts. The 21-year-old locked down the right side of the Tennessee line for quarterback Hendon Hooker and put in a number of excellent performances over the course of the 2022 campaign.
His standout performance came against the Alabama Crimson Tide, where he kept Will Anderson Jr. at bay throughout the contest. Anderson is considered the consensus top pick in the 2023 Draft, so it highlights Wright’s quality that he was able to stonewall a player of his ilk. He should have few problems adjusting to life in the NFL, and he could sneak into the top 15 with the Patriots a possible destination at 14.
Selecting an offensive lineman in the first round is not a move that will have fans shouting from the rooftops. However, if you have the right players in place it can be a decision that can secure a title. Offensive linemen do the dirty work in the trenches to allow your skilled players to thrive.
The 2023 NFL Draft has a litany of options available at the top and teams interested in reaching the Super Bowl in the near future should definitely consider all of the players in our breakdown.