Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Following up on the offensive tackles
By Mike Sando
The Seahawks and 49ers could be in the market for an offensive tackle in the first half of the draft's first round.
The pecking order for tackles can be open to interpretation. Andre Smith wasn't a consensus Top 10 choice heading into the 2009 draft, but the Bengals saw him in that manner, and that is all that mattered. They selected him sixth overall.
Seattle holds the sixth pick this year and I've heard increasing chatter about them targeting Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams in that spot. Analysts Nolan Nawrocki and Rob Rang both have Williams going to Seattle at No. 6 in their latest projections.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. saw Williams as a right tackle when we discussed the position in November. I followed up with Muench this week and wanted to share some of his thoughts.
Mike Sando: Could Williams make sense for Seattle that early?
Steve Muench: I talked to one scout recently who said he thought Williams was the best tackle on the board. That is not my opinion.
Mike Sando: Who do you see as the best tackle in the draft?
Steve Muench: I think talent-wise it is Anthony Davis, who from what I understand is dropping big-time. People are very concerned about how hard he is going to work after getting that first paycheck. I would not take him first. I also have concerns about Russell Okung. I like how tough he is. I really like how he is just physical. He does a good job riding guys past the edge. But I don't think he is an elite athlete like some of the other guys we have seen come through. He has a hard time sinking his hips, which could affect his ability to anchor and change direction. I would like to see him play lower at times.
Mike Sando: Let's get back to Williams.
Steve Muench: He has really kind of surprised us with how athletic he has looked, but he has had a hard time with speed rushers off the edge. That is why we have said he is better at right tackle. Him running a great time at the combine, frankly, doesn’t change that for me. He is a tough kid. He is not as long as Okung. If you asked me, I think Okung might start at right tackle as a rookie and then develop into a very good left tackle. whereas I think Trent Williams is going to be a Pro Bowl right tackle for years.
Mike Sando: The Seahawks would have to like the fit for their zone scheme to take Williams that early. Another prospect, Bryan Bulaga, has been rated everywhere from early first round to down in the 20s.
Steve Muench: I think he has some work to do in terms of technique. He gets caught flat-footed in pass protection and that gives him a hard time with athletic rushers. Spin moves give him some problems because of that. The thing I love about him, he is not a great athlete but his balance and ability to absorb is really, really good. He doesn’t have to be in perfect position to hold his ground all the time. You'll see guys running full speed into him and he will just stone them. The jury is still out because he is a younger kid.
Mike Sando: What you're saying, basically, is that this is yet another draft class without a great tackle prospect.
Steve Muench: These guys are not as athletic as a Joe Thomas. There is no Joe Thomas. Bulaga is not elite in that sense, but he has a chance to be a very good NFL player. Davis is dropping. Bruce Campbell is interesting because he is such a freak with his workouts. The sky is the limit, but he does not have a lot of experience at Maryland. He is just a three-year starter. He has had problems staying healthy. He is an interesting prospect, but not a guy I would touch that early in the first round.
Mike Sando: How early might Davis make sense?
Steve Muench: He is one of the more fascinating picks. He becomes an interesting pick there at No. 13, where the 49ers are picking. Davis is more of a left tackle. He is so talented in terms of value. If Mike Singletary sits down with him and thinks he can make him work, great. Otherwise, it could be Vernon Davis going the wrong way.