DANNY EDIT: Just wanted to front page this as long as we're talking about the right tackle position being addressed in the draft. Thanks to Carl for the great write-up.
The interior of the Seahawks' O-line is often considered by many Seahawks fans to be the biggest need heading into this draft, and for good reason. The Seahawks need to improve the talent in that area. There isn't much discussion about the right tackle position, mostly because many are optimistic that Stacy Andrews can serve as a stopgap at right tackle, and most fans focus their draft attention on other areas of needs, such as quarterback and cornerback, again, for good reason, because those needs are more urgent and pressing, so oftentimes discussion of drafting a right tackle is few and far in between.
Today, that discussion is going to be focused entirely on that, or rather, a very specific prospect that you should/must/need to know, Joseph Barksdale, who can be available in the later rounds.
Barksdale is a hugely underrated offensive tackle. For whatever reason, and I do not know why, he is just not getting a lot of recognition in this draft, though I have suspicions that it is because most project his future in the NFL as a right tackle, dropping his stock even though he is arguably the best right tackle prospect in the country. He is projected to go anywhere between the third and fifth rounds likely the fourth round, though he deserves to be considered as high as the second round. If the right tackle position were regarded nearly as highly as left tackle, or even center, Barksdale would be amongst those discussed as first round prospects.
At 6'5", 325 pounds, with his reach of 36 inches, Barksdale has the ideal size for a tackle. The bulk of his size and power are mostly in his legs, though he isn't without considerable upper body strength. He has both the raw athleticism and refined techniques to start on day one in the NFL and man the right side for the long term. Barksdale played in 53 games and started the last 39 games in a row for Louisiana State University, dating back to the beginning of his sophomore season. He is one of the most experienced tackles in this class, and it shows. His technique is one of, if not THE best in this draft class.
Never missing a game to injury, Barksdale played right tackle for the majority of his career. He switched to the left side after Ciron Black graduated and went to the pro's.
I first became aware of him in the LSU vs. Alabama game last year, in which I recorded the game to watch some more of Mark Ingram and to scout Patrick Peterson. The thing about watching film like this, you end up noticing other players, too. As the game wore on, I began to notice that whoever Alabama had at right end was not getting past LSU's left tackle. Not knowing his name, I kept on watching him anyway.
I no longer have the game recorded because I moved to a new residence, and had to turn in the DVR box because it wasn't under my name, so I couldn't go an rewatch the game to highlight everything.
But in watching him, I saw a player who could get up and out of his stance before the defender consistently and make it look easy. His knees were always bent. He had fluid footwork, if not fluid lateral movement. His hands were constantly on a defensive end, never letting one get by him without contact. He was always in his stance and never panicked or lost patience. And he had what looked like long enough arms. And a very willing cutblocker. Knowing that he was a good cutblocking tackle, I decided to keep an eye on him for future scouting. Unfortunately though, I did not see another LSU game for the rest of the season.
After that game though, being surprised to see that LSU had another good LT to keep an eye on so soon after Ciron Black graduated, someone that I hadn't heard of yet, I decided to look him up. I had assumed that he was a young player, someone to keep an eye for a couple of years down the line, but lo and behold, he was a senior, very much a draft-eligible prospect. I had found that his name was Joseph Barksdale and that he was LSU's starting right tackle for the two years prior, having switched over to the left side for his senior year.
Even without that game, I found a couple of internet videos to illustrate the player that Joseph Barksdale is. (I wish I had the Alabama game to show you guys, because he impressed me more in that game than in the Texas A&M game that I am linking you to).
In the LSU vs. Texas A&M game, you can see many of his strengths:
- He's very quickly off the line and into his stance.
- Fluid and rather light on his feet, though he doesn't have the most fluid lateral movement. (As a projected right tackle, that is perfectly OK).
- Strong hand placement and hand punches; hand and feet technique are among the best in this clas
- Arms are almost always extended. Very rarely see his elbows bent. Can generate a considerable push off, forcing defensive ends to overpursue.
- Knees are almost always bent.
- Very patient, great instincts; knows when and where to position himself; isn't easily fooled.
- Great balance.
- Handles bull rushes extremely well. Doesn't often get pushed back.
- Usually keeps his feet moving.
- Can block in zones or man.
- Negates swim moves very well.
- Very rarely false starts (which makes his anticipation off the snap even more incredible).
In the Texas A&M video, you don't get to see his ability to mirror and countermove very much, but it is easily one of his strengths because he can block defensive ends that try to cut inside or use jab steps and maintain pace with them, though, at about the 5:22 mark you do get to see him do that.
I'll admit though, Texas A&M sometimes went with some nickel packges and 2-4-5 formations where he squared off with smaller (but faster) guys, helping him look better. Still, he displayed his tools and talent.
The only negatives that I can find about him is that sometimes he doesn't finish his blocks - that "to-the-whistle" mentality - and when he gets into the second level, which he does regularly, he doesn't have that nasty instinct to hulk-smash anything that he can find (though on occasion he does, which he does at the 6:43 mark), something that is considered huge in the ZBS, where second-level blocking is integral to the ZBS scheme.
Going a little further, he isn't the best where lateral movement is concerned. While he doesn't get beat in the Texas A&M video and he oftentimes forces defensive ends to overpursue the edge, you can see that from time to time, he will get beat by those who can get off the snap before he does and excel on beating tackles off of the edge, like an Osi Umenyiora or DeMarcus Ware type of rusher. While he consistently gets a push, he doesn't really display strong run blocking, and I don't know if that's due to a lack of power or leveraging. Could be both. I've not been able to put my finger on it. And sometimes he misses assignments, but hey, even Jordan Gross missed assignments from time to time.
Despite the list of weaknesses, his positives far outweigh his negatives, and his negatives are very much correctable. Getting him in the fourth round would be great value.