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NFL

Trio of tackles loom large on draft day

| Friday, May 2, 2014, 11:21 p.m.

In the 1974 draft in which the Steelers landed four Hall of Famers, 14 of the 26 first-round picks were defensive linemen or linebackers. Only one was an offensive lineman.

Oh, how priorities have changed. Last year, the top two picks, three of the top four and nine in the round were offensive linemen, led by tackles Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel.

With teams desperate to protect quarterbacks who carry $120 million price tags, expect the run on offensive linemen to continue Thursday. Three tackles — Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan — should be off the board within the first 10 picks.

“It was a big boy draft (in 2013),” NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said. “This year, I would say the three offensive tackles that are consensus at the top of the board are rated higher than the two that went 1-2 last year.”

With defense such a priority to them, the Steelers likely won't go for an offensive lineman early on unless a top-rated one slides to them. But, unlike 1974, offensive linemen don't slide far these days.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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