NFL Analysis


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Critical Objectives for 2024 First-Round Offensive Tackles to Succeed in Their NFL Rookie Seasons

Los Angeles Chargers tackle Joe Alt (76) wears a Guardian helmet cap during organized team activities at the Hoag Performance Center. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

How do you define success as an NFL rookie?  

It’s not an easy question to answer. It depends on where they were drafted, the expectations that come along with that, their projected contribution to the team, the circumstances, and the situation they find themselves in.

Essentially, it’s different for everyone. With that in mind, let’s attempt to define a good start for the record eight offensive tackles taken in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Defining Success for 1st-Round Offensive Tackles

JOE ALT, Los Angeles Chargers

Make a Smooth Transition to New Position

As the first tackle off the board at pick No. 5, Joe Alt’s expectations are high, and rightfully so. He is coming off a highly decorated career at Notre Dame and was the first pick of the Jim Harbaugh era in Los Angeles. 

Harbaugh had the best offensive line in college football in his final three years at Michigan and has made it abundantly clear in words and actions that the big guys are his top priority with the Los Angeles Chargers. Right or wrong, the pressure is on Alt to perform at a high level from Day 1.

He will play on the right side to begin his NFL career after playing left tackle at Notre Dame. That’s not an impossible transition, but it is more complicated than people realize. His stance will be different. His weight transfer will be different, and he’ll use the opposite limb as his dominant inside hand.  

Eagles LT Jordan Mailata once said it’s “like wiping your behind with your other hand…you can get the job done, but it’s not going to be pretty.”

That pleasant visual aside, Alt will be in the spotlight all year and doing it with the increased difficulty of switching sides. Just being a solid starting right tackle would be a success for Alt this year, with anything more than that being icing on the cake. 

Tennessee Titans first-round draft pick JC Latham fields questions from the media at the team’s Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park facility in Nashville, Tenn. USA TODAY Sports.

JC LATHAM, Tennessee Titans  

Make a Smooth Transition to New Position

This sounds familiar. JC Latham is a top-10 pick at a huge position of need for a team placing a high priority on the offensive line. Like Alt, Latham is also switching positions as the former Alabama right tackle will flip to the left side under the tutelage of esteemed coach Bill Callahan.

Latham has more power than Alt but is not quite as polished, so his transition to QB Will Levis’ blindside might be more of an adjustment than Alt’s. Like Alt, if Latham can be a serviceable left tackle in Year 1, that would be a successful campaign and a massive upgrade over what the Tennessee Titans had in 2023.

OLU FASHANU, New York Jets  

Be Ready When Inevitably Called Upon

Interestingly, the third of the eight tackles taken off the board is not expected to start, but that is where the former Penn State star finds himself heading into training camp. Olu Fashanu is behind two accomplished veterans, LT Tyron Smith and RT Morgan Moses.

That doesn’t mean it was a wasted pick in a win-now year for New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas — far from it. Smith and Moses are not exactly spring chickens, and there’s a high likelihood that Fashanu will be called upon at some point.  

Like Alt and Latham, Fashanu’s job isn’t easy because he will need to be ready to perform at a high level for a team with sky-high playoff expectations without getting all the reps that come with being the starter from opening day. Thankfully, Fashanu has the type of maturity that should help tremendously.

New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Taliese Fuaga (75) looks on during the rookie minicamp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports.

TALIESE FUAGA, New Orleans Saints

Hold Down the Fort in a New Spot

It’s kind of wild how many of these first-round tackles have to switch positions, right? The New Orleans Saints had to draft Taliese Fuaga because their first-round pick from a couple of seasons ago, Trevor Penning, has not gotten the job done, to say the least. 

Fuaga finds himself in the same position as Latham and Alt. He, too, is switching sides and learning on the run as a starter in a new spot. If he can give the Saints some stability, it could be huge for QB Derek Carr and the New Orleans offense in their first year with new offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak.

AMARIUS MIMS, Cincinnati Bengals

Stay Healthy and Learn

Amarius Mims is in a similar category to Fashanu since the Cincinnati Bengals have a couple of offensive tackles who are the likely starters in Orlando Brown Jr. and Trent Brown. Adding Mims gives Cincinnati three of the largest specimens in the NFL. It also allows Mims to learn before being thrust into action. That’s a huge positive, given his limited playing time at Georgia due to catching the injury bug.

That said, it could be Mims’ time at tackle if either starter goes down. Ideally, he would get to stay healthy and learn from the two accomplished veterans before starting in 2025.

TROY FAUTANU, Pittsburgh Steelers

Hold Down the Fort in a New Spot

Add Troy Fautanu to the list of rookie offensive tackles being asked to switch to the other side of the line. After slicing and dicing defensive ends for several years at left tackle for the Washington Huskies, the Pittsburgh Steelers are asking him to switch to the right side.

At least one—and potentially several—of these position switches won’t go well. The hope in Pittsburgh is that it isn’t Fautanu. The Steelers continue to invest in their offensive line, hoping to take the next step on offense with a new coordinator in Arthur Smith and quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Justin Fields.

Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Jordan Morgan (77) exercises during minicamp. Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports.

JORDAN MORGAN, Green Bay Packers 

Find Your Position

Jordan Morgan is in a unique position among this year’s crop of offensive tackles. For one, it surprised some that he got taken in the first round. Secondly, unlike the others, he doesn’t know yet what position he will play with the Green Bay Packers.  

Morgan trained at guard, and both tackle spots during OTAs and minicamp. Green Bay would like nothing more than for Morgan to exhibit the same impressive versatility they have with Elgton Jenkins and Zach Tom, each of whom can play all five spots.

If Morgan can play at least four spots or find a home as a starter at any of those positions, this will have been a good first year for him.

TYLER GUYTON, Dallas Cowboys 

Don’t Try to Replace a Legend

All Tyler Guyton has to do is replace a future Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor member and potential Hall of Famer who manned the left tackle spot for the last 13 seasons. No big deal, right?

It’s wild that the last of the eight first-round picks at offensive tackle might have the most pressure, but that’s where Guyton finds himself, given the guy he is replacing and the Cowboys’ annual Super Bowl hopes. Guyton can’t try to be Tyron Smith because the odds he can play at a similar level to a guy who made the All-Decade team in the 2010s is improbable. 

Dallas will be thrilled if Guyton can perform well enough to avoid being a liability, and if that’s the case, you will have to say his rookie season was successful.