Day 1: Invasion of the offensive tackles

The depth might not be as good as a year ago, but the top of the class of draft-eligible offensive tackles is very strong again.

There are four offensive tackles that are considered possibilities to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. We’ll touch on each of these guys as they walk through the doors here and become available for interviews.


First up is Alabama‘s Andre Smith.


He checked in at 6-foot-4, 332 pounds, as he is intent on making sure that his weight is not an issue with NFL teams. He said 345 pounds is the heaviest he has ever been, so reports of his ballooning to 380, apparently, are exaggerated.


He has not decided if he is going to work out. He said he will decide tomorrow whether to go through the workout.


Thus far, he said he has spoken with the Redskins, Panthers, Saints, Jets and “a few others.” Will he be around when the 49ers select at No. 10? Doubtful.


He comes across as a decent kid. He was personable in dealing with the media. He said his father always told him to be pleasant off the field but the meanest, most tenacious player possible on the field. One of the questions about Andre Smith is whether he has the passion. He spoke often about how hard-working, as he tries to ease those concerns.


He admitted to making a “bad decision” when it came to his reported dealings with an agent that led to Alabama suspending him for the Sugar Bowl against Utah. The agent in question was reportedly Melvin Bratton, who works for DeBartolo Sports and Entertainment. (Yes, that DeBartolo.) But Smith ended up signing with agent Alvin Keels.


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The next man up was Jason Smith of Baylor.


He is quite an impressive man. He checked in at 6-foot-5, 309 pounds, and he is earned his Science of Education degree in May 2008. He said he is intent to not only show he is the best Smith in the draft, but the best offensive tackle, period.


Jason Smith played right tackle as a sophomore before shifting to left tackle the past two seasons. He is a former tight end (like Joe Staley), so he certainly has the athleticism.


“I take a lot of pride in physically assaulting somebody (on the field),” Smith said.


He said he has not yet spoken to the 49ers. Mike Singletary is a Baylor alum. Smith said he has not seen Singletary since he’s been in Indianapolis, but he did meet him during the season. Singletary attended Baylor’s homecoming when the 49ers had their bye week. “He’s a great guy,” Smith said.


Jason Smith promised he would be at training camp on time with whichever team that drafts him. He will take part in all the workouts. He said he is fine with man blocking or zone blocking. The only adjustment is that he did not get into a three-point stance much at Baylor, he said.


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And, then, there was Michael Oher of Mississippi.


Oher, of course, is the subject of Michael Lewis’ book, “The Blind Side.” Oher said he has not read the book. He said he talked at length to Lewis about the book, so he didn’t feel the need to read it. Hmmmm. OK.


Oher (pronounced OAR) is 6-foot-4, 309 pounds. He said he has not spoken with the 49ers, yet. At No. 10, he is likely to be available. That would be a mistake for the other nine teams, Oher said.


“I feel I’m the best at my position,” Oher said. He added that he proved it this season when he did not allow a sack. “I feel I’m a great left tackle.”


Oher is soft-spoken. He had a very difficult upbringing, as chronicled in the book. But he has really turned things around. He was named to the Dean’s List as a sophomore and has been on the honor roll at Ole Miss. “I’m a smart guy,” he said. Oher is about 15 credits shy of a degree in criminal justice.


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And, finally, Eugene Monroe of Virginia appeared . . .


Monroe checked in at 6-foot-5, 309 pounds. Monroe is ranked as the No. 1 tackle by Will he be available at No. 10? That’s doubtful, too.


Monroe is so good that he played left tackle as a junior at Virginia, while Branden Albert remained at left guard. Albert was a first-round pick last season, and started 15 games at left tackle for the Chiefs as a rookie.


“I would say at this point pass protection is one of my strengths,” Monroe said. “There are things I have to work on with the running game as well. I played right guard my freshman year in college and if I have to play the right side I’ll go right over there.”


Monroe said he studies the Seahawks’ perennial All-Pro Walter Jones. It’s not because he patterns his game after Jones. He said he tries to focus in on how Jones goes about consistently maintaining his footwork.


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