Mock Draft Spotlight: Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi

Who is the best tackle in the draft?  Carimi doesn’t hesitate giving himself that title.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Thursday, April 21st, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Categories: 2011 NFL Draft, Mike Duffy, Mock Draft Spotlight

Gabe Carimi doesn’t lack confidence. 

When asked who is the best offensive tackle in the Class of 2011, Carimi was quick to promote himself.

“I have a better resume of going against better talent than anyone else, so that makes me more (pro) ready,” Carimi said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I’m physically stronger and have more career starts and better knowledge of the game than any other tackle out there. That’s while I’m the No. 1 tackle.”

Technically, Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo has more starts (53), but Carimi’s resume does make him a solid candidate for the draft’s top tackle. 

The 6-foot-7, 314-pound Wisconsin product won the Outland Trophy last year, an award given to the nation’s best lineman.  Four years ago, Carimi replaced another Badger Outland winner in Cleveland Browns Pro Bowler Joe Thomas.

And, Carimi consistently performed well against some of the best competition in college football, most notable were four surefire first-round defensive ends Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn, Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan, Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward and Wisconsin teammate J.J. Watt.

Facing such challenges on a weekly basis has the mauling run blocker thinking he could play for a professional club immediately.

“I know I can play right away,” said Carimi, who benched 225 pounds 29 times at the combine.  “I feel that’s my best aspect over a lot of linemen, that I’m a draft-ready tackle.  That I’ll be able to play in the National Football League next year.”

The Ravens have been linked with Carimi in several mock drafts, including SB Nation and FootballsFuture.com, and could go after a tackle with the 26th-overall selection. 

But what position would Carimi play?

NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock is among a growing contingent of analysts who believe Carimi projects to be a right tackle, not the position he played in college.  Carimi also saw time at guard at the Senior Bowl for the first time in his career.

“I think there are questions with Castonzo, Carimi and [Derrick] Sherrod as to whether they can play on the left side,” Mayock said Wednesday in a conference call with national media.  “Castonzo, I think you can start on the left side and see if he can handle it.  He can definitely play the right side. 
 
“Carimi , I think is a right tackle only.  And I think you can do the same thing with Sherrod as you do with Castonzo.”

Adding Carimi could allow the Ravens to keep Michael Oher at left tackle and move Marshal Yanda back inside to guard.  Or, if Carimi can show enough athleticism to stick on the left side, Oher would have the opportunity to move back to the right.

Regardless, Carimi will play anywhere.

“Obviously, I think I can play left tackle. It’s up to the organization [and] what their needs and wants are,” said Carimi.  “I can play right tackle. If they have a left tackle locked down, I’ll be a backup at left tackle and they can put another guy at right tackle.”

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