Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil projected as the first overall pick for most of the off-season. Then, just like that, he fell down the draft ladder.
The Los Angeles Rams’ trade for the No. 1 choice assures Tunsil will have to wait come draft day. But it won’t be long. He could go as high as third overall.
“Everybody wants to be the No. 1 pick,” Tunsil said. “Being the No. 1 pick would be great. But I’d love to play for any team. That’s been my goal since I was a little kid, man.”
Tunsil, a five-star recruit from Columbia High School in Lake City, Fla., started 26 games in three seasons at Ole Miss. He allowed only one sack in nine starts as a freshman.
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“He’s played a lot of football in the SEC,” Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s blocked a lot of good football players.”
Some scouts, though, do have questions. Although charges eventually were dropped, police arrested Tunsil last summer following a domestic dispute with his stepfather. He missed seven games in 2015 for accepting impermissible benefits and not being completely forthcoming with the NCAA when initially questioned.
Everybody wants to be the No. 1 pick. Being the No. 1 pick would be great. But I’d love to play for any team. That’s been my goal since I was a little kid, man.
Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil
Tunsil also was in the hotel room the night teammate Robert Nkemdiche, who faces marijuana possession charges, fell out of a window.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” Tunsil, 21, said. “Just humble yourself, man. Don’t be in too much trouble. Stay as low-key as possible.”
Tunsil returned last season just in time to face Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett in Tunsil’s first game. Garrett had six tackles and an interception, and Tunsil had a holding penalty, but Garrett had no sacks.
“Great player, man,” Tunsil said. “You had to come with your A-game to play against him. He’s a great player.”
The other concern with Tunsil is his history of injuries. He missed one game with a left knee sprain, two games with a torn right biceps, and he fractured his right fibula and dislocated his right ankle in the 2014 bowl game. He also had a shoulder injury that concerns some NFL team doctors for the long haul.
But Tunsil still projects as a top-10 pick.
Teams might draft four or five offensive tackles in the first round, but the demand for tackle help outweighs the supply in this class. The depth on the second and third days is average at best. The guard class is solid, and several centers have starting potential, led by Alabama’s Ryan Kelly.
The Cowboys’ offensive line didn’t play as well in 2015, but it remains the best in the business. Left tackle Tyron Smith has established himself as an annual All-Pro, making the team for the third consecutive season. Center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin joined Smith in the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive season. Right tackle Doug Free, 32, is the weak link on the line, but remains the unit’s leader. The changing of the left guard came in the middle of last season when La’el Collins replaced Ron Leary in the starting lineup. The Cowboys are deep at the position, too, with Leary, Joe Looney, Chaz Green, Charles Brown and Darrion Weems headed into camp fighting for backup jobs.
Top five offensive tackles
Laremy Tunsil, Mississippi, 6-5, 310, NA: He made 26 starts at left tackle in his career and projects as a likely top-five choice.
Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame, 6-6, 312, 5.20: He made 26 career starts at left tackle and 13 at right tackle.
Jack Conklin, Michigan State, 6-6, 308, 5.00: He made 35 career starts at left tackle and three at right tackle.
Taylor Decker, Ohio State, 6-7, 310, 5.23: He started the last 42 games, including 28 at left tackle.
Jason Spriggs, Indiana, 6-6, 301, 4.94: He started 47 games at left tackle.
Cody Whitehair, Kansas State, 6-4, 301, 5.02: He made 51 career starts at three different positions.
Ryan Kelly, Alabama, 6-4, 311, 5.03: He made 36 career starts at center.
Joe Haeg, OT, North Dakota State, 6-6, 304, 5.16: He has experience, having started 31 games at left tackle and 29 at right tackle.
Top Texas ties
Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M, 6-6, 324, 5.27: He continues the Aggies’ offensive line tradition, though he likely will go in the second round.
Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech, 6-5, 316, 5.16: He projects as a third-rounder after 38 career starts at left tackle and 13 at right guard.
Dominique Robertson, OT, West Georgia, 6-5, 324, 5.36: Robertson, projected as a fourth-rounder, started one game for Texas Tech in 2014 before transferring and earning Division II All-America honors.
Caleb Benenoch, OT, UCLA, 6-5, 311, 4.98: The Katy Seven Lakes product, who projects as a fourth- or fifth-rounder, had 31 career starts at right tackle and four at right guard.
Rees Odhiambo, G, Boise State, 6-4, 314, NA: The Mansfield Legacy product, who projects as a fifth-rounder, made 17 career starts at left tackle and eight at right tackle.
Spencer Drango, OG, Baylor, 6-6, 315, 5.27: Drango, who projects as a fifth- or sixth-rounder, made 48 starts at left tackle but will move to guard in the NFL.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT, TCU, 6-6, 320, 5.26: The Haltom product projects as a seventh-rounder after 31 career starts, including 13 at left tackle.
Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from CBS Sportsline draft analyst Dane Brugler.
April 28-30, Auditorium Theatre, Chicago
Schedule: Round 1, 7 p.m. April 28; Rounds 2-3, 6 p.m. April 29; Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. April 30.
TV: ESPN and NFL Network
1 Los Angeles Rams
2 Cleveland Browns
3 San Diego Chargers
4 Dallas Cowboys
5 Jacksonville Jaguars
6 Baltimore Ravens
7 San Francisco 49ers
8 Philadelphia Eagles
9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10 New York Giants
11 Chicago Bears
12 New Orleans Saints
13 Miami Dolphins
14 Oakland Raiders
15 Tennessee Titans
16 Detroit Lions
17 Atlanta Falcons
18 Indianapolis Colts
19 Buffalo Bills
20 New York Jets
21 Washington Redskins
22 Houston Texans
23 Minnesota Vikings
24 Cincinnati Bengals
25 Pittsburgh Steelers
26 Seattle Seahawks
27 Green Bay Packers
28 Kansas City Chiefs
29 Arizona Cardinals
30 Carolina Panthers
31 Denver Broncos
Note: New England forfeited 29th overall pick.