In order to best compare these tackles, I've taken to making tables to rank them based on the typical roles of an offensive tackle.
Castonzo Carimi Smith Solder Sherrod Run Block 2 1 3 4 5 Pass Block 1 3 2 5 4 Speed Block 4 3 1 5 2 Strength Block 3 1 5 2 4 Athleticism 3 5 2 1 4 Versatility 3 1 2 5 4 Upside 3 4 2 1 5 Floor 2 1 4 5 3 Average 2.625 2.375 2.625 3.5 3.875
Just looking at my rankings (and you all can feel free to make your own; this is just my opinion), I actually have Carimi as the highest ranked tackle of these five. That surprised me as I was expecting either Castonzo or Smith to be towards the top. I have Castonzo, Carimi and Smith as top 25 picks, Solder as an end of the 1st pick, and Sherrod as a beginning of the 2nd pick. I don't think Smith is a Patriot-type tackle, even though he excels against speed rushers, because he is inexperienced and is too much of a project for a first round player. Carimi and Castonzo, with four years of experience, seem like Patriot-prospect players, with Castonzo bringing the brains and Carimi bringing the brawn. It depends on the attitude the Patriots want to bring to their offensive line, but I would be happy if they drafted either of those two.
Let's look at some additional tackles after the jump!
Marcus Cannon, TCU - Cannon has the size of a nose tackle and could help the offensive line by being a mountain. At 350 lbs, he won't be able to pull and might be forced back in to play as a guard. [2nd round]
James Carpenter, Alabama - Carpenter is a quietly solid prospect. He is far from elite in any category, but he has solid technique and comes from a Pro Style offense. He has limited upside, but he'll be a solid contributor at the next level. [2nd-3rd round]
Orlando Franklin, Miami - Franklin is slow off the snap and, despite four years of college experience, is not polished at all. He can play either guard spot and may be suited at right tackle where he can use his elite frame. Miami has been under-teaching its players lately and they have great potential. [2nd-3rd round]
James Brewer, Indiana - Brewer is going to try and follow in Rodger Saffold's NFL footsteps. Brewer's continuously injured and lacks an attitude, but he's technically sound and be solid with more experience. [3rd-4th round]
Marcus Gilbert, Florida - Gilbert's played both guard and tackle spots and he's played them well. He's a darkhorse prospect who is a solid run blocker and pass blocker. He comes from Florida's offense, though, so he's a huge work in progress. Worth a look in the middle rounds. [4th round]
It's clear that the top talent will be gone in the first 40 picks of the draft, but Gilbert could be a surprise pick by the Patriots. If the franchise hopes to find a tackle of the future, they should use a first round pick on Carimi or Castonzo because they provide a solid combination of "play now" and "elite in the future." Other prospects have limited upside or they just aren't ready to play in the NFL. If I were GMing the Patriots, I would trade up from 28 to try and grab an elite OT prospect.