The Oakland Raiders were widely criticized for taking LSU tackle, Joe Barksdale, too early in the 2011 NFL Draft. Not only that, but it came with a pick that was acquired via a trade they were widely criticized for making. And on top of all of that he was drafted for a position that the Raiders currently do not have a person under contract to play. Needless to say all eyes are going to be on Barksdale.
I am going to be posting a few things on Barksdale and the rest of the draft choices, but I wanted to start off by examining who the Raiders chose Barksdale over. After all, it is easy to say, "Oh I don't like that pick," or, "They reached for that pick," but it is another to actually present different options.
Now, the first thing I noticed was another offensive tackle did not go off the board until after the Raiders had made Chimdi Chekwa their next selection. That means there is very high plausibility that Barksdale would have been around at their next selection. He had very similar grades to the linemen selected in the fourth-round. This would have freed up the Raiders to take a corner a selection earlier, and used their fourth-round pick on Barksdale. Take the jump....
Between the draft board time the Raiders selected Barksdale and Chekwa Texas corner, Curtis Brown, and West Virginia corner, Brandon Hogan, were taken. Hogan is considered more of a zone coverage defender, and he was also dogged by character concerns. He would not have been a good fit.
Brown on the other hand is a little more interesting. He has very good cover skills, and was projected as high as a second-round selection. He is about an inch shorter and five points lighter than Chekwa. However, he was likely never on the Raiders radar as he ran a 4.51 40 at the Combine. Another player worth mentioning is Cal safety Chris Conte. He went off the board with the very next pick.
There were only two offensive tackles taken in the fourth-round. They were Indiana's, James Brewer, at No. 117 to the Giants and Clemson's, Chris Hairston, No. 122 to the Bills. Ultimately, this is going to be the real comparison for Barksdale. Will he outperform these two linemen, and do you agree with his selection over these guys?
All three of them are around the same size, and they are not exceptionally athletic. Here's a quick look:
James Brewer, 6'6", 323 pounds, 35.4" arms, didn't perform the bench: Among offensive tackle prospects he was rated eighth by Scouts Inc and 22nd by the National Football Post and ninth by Walter Football.
Brewer is considered a work in progress. He has bad foot work and he is a bit lumbering. He is also not that powerful for his size. He is incosistent in run blocking and susceptible to edge rushers. He has less than average awareness, and can play with an edge but that is inconsistent. In short, Brewer is more potential than current reality.
He is strong, and not very mobile. He uses his hands well, but has bad footwork. He is not the most physically dominating lineman. He is considered to be much more pro ready in the run game than in pass protection. He is much better with his hands than with his feet. He does not seem to have the best awareness.
We've already been over Barksdale's scouting reports. So, let's just compare them. First, I am just throwing Brewer out. I really don't get why anyone would view his potential to be greater than Barksdale or Hairston.
Barksdale and Hairston is a good comparison. And, I'd be willing to bet the Raiders ended up deciding between these two, and they are similar players.
I did not see any questions of effort for Hairston as I did with Barksdale, and he may be a bit more ready in run blocking. However, Barksdale seems to have a better kick-slide and with slightly longer arms you have to give him the advantage in handling edge rushers. He also seems to grade better in awareness.
The biggest edge for Barksdale is the fact that he just spent three years starting in the SEC, and that right there is going to get him closer to being pro ready than the ACC Alum, Hairston.
In the end, I like the Raiders choice of Barksdale at tackle considering the tackle prospects available when they selected him. But given the option that he would be around later, I would have preferred the Raiders had taken Curtis Brown instead of Barksdale and then taken Barksdale instead of Chekwa.
Here's to hoping Barksdale proves me right, and Chekwa proves me wrong.