Friday, May 9, 2014
Eyeing the Redskins' draft: Joel Bitonio
By John Keim
Now that the draft is finally here, need to wrap up this series. But still have a couple more guys to analyze. The reports are based on watching multiple games on draftbreakdown.com; I'll let you know when there is an opinion other than my own. I'm not a fan of having to only watch them off a TV feed -- you don't always get the best angle, or see all the players -- but it's the best I can do now and it helps provide a snapshot. The draft analysts -- especially those from ESPN.com, NFL.com and CBSSports.com -- help fill in the gap, especially in terms of where they are projected.
College production: Played 51 games in college and started 33.
How he'd fit: As a future right tackle, though I could also see a scenario where he eventually ends up at guard (but only if he fails at tackle). Has skills that translate to right tackle, but also has some question marks. Started at left tackle this past fall.
What I liked: Plays with an attitude; absolutely always looking for someone to block. Once he's done with his man, will look for another to block. Do not always see that in other linemen. Throwback to the Hogs era in terms of approach and demeanor. Will block to the whistle (drove Anthony Barr about 7 yards off the ball on one play against UCLA). Seems to be a good technician. Worked fine to the second level, something he'd have to do in the Redskins' run game. Saw him pull on a few occasions around right end. Showed good awareness on stunts, etc.; saw him blocking one defender, with an eye toward the gap inside him. When a blitzer rushed late, Bitonio picked him up. Blocked well to the inside, with power. Showed good balance, thanks to a strong base, to defend spin moves in college. Strong intangibles. Ran a 4.97 in the 40-yard dash.
What I didn't: Arm length just a shade under the magical 34-inch mark, so that could be a slight issue. Will have to be precise in part to compensate, though I don't know how huge a deal it will be for teams. Has good hands, but will need to be more consistent with keeping them high enough before contact. Would also sometimes get too wide with them and lose blocks. Lost leverage a few times in the run game because of this, including to Barr. Will need to be more consistent. Whiffed on a couple blocks against Fresno State; tough to say it's a speed issue considering he's fast but perhaps more about length on those plays. Does not have ideal size for a tackle (6-foot-4, 302 pounds).
Projection: Second round. Bitonio offers versatility, again with the ability to slide inside if he fails at tackle. If he does go inside, he'll be solid there for a while.