Even with the top players in this group and the draft just one day away, I believe there are still a lot more questions then there are answers regarding this critical need position.
I didn't feel that way back in 2006, but after viewing Boston College tackle B.J. Raji perform during the 2008 season, there was no doubt in my mind that he was clearly the top player Nationally at the position. At times I likened his initial get off quickness, power and ability to literally destroy blockers to that of former Clemson and NFL star tackle Chester McGlockton, but as was the case with the latter, few of BJ's problems to professional clubs lies between the hash marks.
What is hearsay and what is the truth is not for me to determine, but if a club is satisfied with the answers to the question they have posed to him, I believe baring injury he has a chance to become a dominant professional player and play this game for a very long time.
I didn't like what I saw early on with Perria Jerry of Ole Miss' game, but found out later he was not near 100% physically for the first third of the season. Later in the year, I really liked what I saw with this player. I'm not certain he's a two gap player, but I really liked his initial quickness to beat blocks and get upfield, his use of hands and playing leverage. I thought he shed blocks well and was quick to locate the football. On his pass rush, I thought he had explosive quicks and was nifty footed. He has strong hands to grab cloth and was effective at varying his rush moves. I would have hoped this player was a tad bigger and stronger, but overall I really liked this players' overall game.
I knew very little about Jerron Gilbert of San Jose State until viewing him at the East West game. First off, he is big as a house; he plays with good leverage and has the feet, quickness and strength to play affectively either as a 4-3 tackle or as a 3-4 end. I thought his pads had a tendency to get a tad high and and he needs a great deal of work as a pass rusher, but I him as a rotational player early with a chance to become a very steady professional.
I saw Missouri's Evander Hood basically as a 3 technique, who relies predominately on his quickness. He plays with good leverage and showed the ability to stretch things out pretty good inside. I liked his contact balance and effort, but I felt he was very limited as a pass rusher. I would describe Evander as steady rotational type player, who did what I thought was a good job vs the double team and stacking inside. Should play a very long time based on the lack of quality inside defenders.
Dorell Scott of Clemson has been a three year regular that has been a solid contributor. He's a big man and surprisingly very strong was a very disruptive when he managed to keep his pads down. Will at times get too straight legged and get pushed around some (too much blocking surface). As a pass rusher, he was pretty much a bull rusher who is going to need a great deal of work and development in this area. In my four game exposure, I didn't see what I would consider so much as a pressure let alone a legitimate sack.. Overall I saw him as a three technique, but I also don't think he would be out of place at the nose.
Fili Moala of USC is an adequate athlete who plays his butt off on every snap. I would have liked for him to be a little more productive, but effort goes a very long way at this critical position. He lacks refinement as a pass rusher and was not really productive in that area, but as a run player he was able to come off the ball, control people with his hands (stack) and occupy on the inside. There may be some physical issues that would limit this player, but if cleared medically I see him as a rotational contributor.
Ricky Jean-Francois of LSU was without question the absolute best player on the field in the National Championship victory back in January of 2008; quite a feat when one considers the fact that he missed the entire 2007 season due to an academic disqualification. I didn't see the same fire and consistency in his play in 2008 (playing in LSU's rotation), but make no mistake about it, this guy is a big hand fighter with quickness, balance and play strength. He's not really a seasoned player in terms of experience and his post season workouts were very ordinary, but he showed me in the biggest of all games that he can be a dominant football player.
East Carolina tackle by way of the University of No Carolina Khalif Mitchell has as much ability as anyone in this group and for that matter in the entire NFL, but something is just missing in his overall play. He has too much athletic ability not to play, but if it were me making the decision, I would draft him with the thought of playing him on the other side of the football. With his feet, quickness and body control. I have a belief, he has a chance to develop into a dominant left tackle.
|1||Raji, B.J.||Boston College||6014v||337v||5.13v||1.17|
|3||Gilbert, Jarron||San Jose St||6052v||288v||4.84v||1.21|
|9||Brace, Ron||Boston College||6030v||334v||5.47v||1.39|
|12||Mitchell, Khalif||East Carolina||6050v||318v||5.08v||1.50|
|15||Walker, Vance||Georgia Tech||6017v||304v||5.33v||1.65|
|17||Hill, Sammie Lee||Stillman||6037v||329v||5.15v||1.72|
|Richard, Darryl||Georgia Tech||6024v||303v||5.04v||1.90|