Yesterday, using highly accurate and complex equations and in a scientific deduction, I dissected the history of mid to late second-round selections and deciphered who the Raiders should take with the 48th selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. And history told us it had to be TCU's Marcus Cannon or Villanova's Ben Ijalana.
We've become so familiar and enamored with Mr. Cannon over the past month or so that we even had an in-depth discussion about his testicles.
So, I think it is time to get to know Mr. Ijalana a little better. Maybe not quite as well as the Cannon.
Ijalana dominated competition as a left tackle in college, but—being a Villanova grad—that competition was not of the highest caliber. Scouts were anxious to see him perform at the Senior Bowl against top level pass rushers, but that never happened. Ijalana could not participate due to a sports hernia, and with that he may have lost his shot at going in the first-round. It was the only game he missed in his college career.
At 6'3" many speculate his future in the NFL is at guard. This might not be the case though. Check out some of the National Football Post's Greg Gabriel's notes on Ijalana:
Ijalana is a bit short for a tackle at 6'3" but he has extremely long arms (36") that enables him to play like a 6'5" guy. He has good bulk (317 lbs) and plays with strength and power. ...He has good snap reaction and in the run game gets to his block with very good quickness. He is strong and powerful and is consistently able to get movement or put his opponent on the ground. He gets to the second level easily and can adjust to his target. I like the nasty attitude he plays with. ...He has a strong punch and I have seen him jolt opponents.
Overall this is a very talented player but still a bit raw. ...Some people think he should move inside because of his height but I don’t agree. With his quickness and long arms he should have no problem playing at tackle.
I bolded the nasty attitude, because in Hue Jackson's quest to build a bully the offensive line needs that nasty. Now, even If he can't make it as a tackle he will be of great value to the Raiders as a guard. And this transition should not be a problem. Here is CBS Sports' take:
His size and experience could keep him on the outside. Without being tested against FBS speed, many scouts see his ultimate pro position inside at guard, where his toughness, athleticism and strong hands (his background as a high school wrestler is apparent) should aid him in making a smooth transition.
Ijalana is an explosive athlete. He was not able to participate in the NFL Combine due to his surgery, but he put his skills on display at his Pro Day. He ran the 40 in the 5.1 range, posted a 27-inch vert and a 9' broad jump. Not bad for 320 pounds.
He has been projected as high the 31st selection, and as low as a late second-round pick. Wes Bunting of the NFP did report that Ijalana's stock may be falling:
A lot of teams have been turned off by the overall passive nature and mental make-up of Villanova OT Benjamin Ijalana. One scout told me "he’s an interesting character" and wouldn’t be shocked if he fell because of it.
If he is passive it does not show up in his scouting reports, or in his film. This quote has the classic feel of a lil' scout/GM gamesmanship.
The more I see of Ijalana the more I like him. I think he could easily develop into tackle material, and in the meantime he could contribute at guard. He has moved right behind Cannon on my wishlist for No. 48. My current No. 48 draft board looks like this: Cannon, Ijalana, Will Rackley (discussed last week) and Stefen Wisniewski. I would be celebratory blocking my furniture should the Raiders pick any of these four.
The more I look at this, the more I am convinced the Raiders should trade down. They could drop down ten slots or so, pick up an extra-third rounder, and still almost be guaranteed to have a shot at least one of these guys.