It’s taken until the second week in April, but finally Joel Bitonio is getting the attention he deserves.
I wrote this piece on February 27th suggesting Bitonio would be a good fit for Seattle. We first mocked him to the Seahawks on March 5th and if you missed this article the first time — check out how uncanny the comparison is between Bitonio and Logan Mankins.
If they’re going to draft an offensive lineman early — it’s going to be someone with plus athletic skills and upside who can play multiple positions. It also probably needs to be a player who can fill in at left tackle and potentially one day replace Russell Okung if he can’t be resigned after the 2015 season (as discussed here).
I’ve seen some online scouting reports knocking Bitonio’s arm length and consigning him to a role as a pure guard. I’m not sure they realise he has the same arm length as 6-7 Taylor Lewan (33 7/8 inches) and he has longer arms than Jake Matthews (33 3/8 inches).
Not only that — he tested just as well at the combine as the top 3-4 tackles. His 9.6 in the broad jump ranked #2 behind Lewan and just ahead of Greg Robinson. He beat both of those players in the three cone (7.37) and had the second best vertical jump amongst offensive lineman.
He had the fourth best forty yard dash (4.97).
For me the question isn’t whether he’s an option for Seattle at #32 — it’s whether he’ll even last that long. I’m a big Zack Martin fan — but I’m yet to hear any logical explanation as to why he’s a consensus top-25 pick and Bitonio ‘might’ sneak into the first.
Aside from the athletic positives — his versatility will be attractive to the Seahawks. He could easily start in year one at right tackle or left guard. You open up the competition in camp and let Alvin Bailey, James Carpenter, Michael Bowie and Bitonio fight for two spots (plus any other rookies you add to the roster).
In this scenario, Bitonio also becomes your backup left tackle.
They don’t have to go in this direction (drafting a tackle early) even if he lasts until #32. I feel like they’ll be more than comfortable drafting a couple of tackles between rounds 2-7 and letting Carpenter, Bowie and Bailey compete for the guard spot. For those sleeping on Carpenter — check out this photograph he posted on Instagram today. He’s never been in better shape.
There’s tackle depth in the draft this year — meaning they could look at a talented receiver class in round one or potential wild card options such as Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier (who I think will be a top-25 pick, but you never know…).
But I still expect a rush on receivers in round one. And if that happens, it could make for a relatively easy decision at #32.
I’ve also included two trades in the top ten this week. I’ll do a broader trade-mock with multiple deals within the next couple of weeks.
|#1 Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)
He’s elusive for a 4.93 runner. He extends plays. Bortles is a very creative quarterback. Houston’s offense is set up for a big rebound year if they find a solution here.
|TRADE #2 Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Doesn’t it just seem inevitable? Thomas Dimitroff and Les Snead are close. The Rams want to move down. The Falcons need a pass rusher like Clowney.
|TRADE #3 Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
The Lions appear to be enamoured by Watkins. They also want to set up a dominant passing game. The Jags might be willing to move down for a reasonable price.
|#4 Greg Robinson (T, Auburn)
Just take the best player on the board. Robinson would dominate at right tackle or guard. Make the offensive line your identity and run the ball.
|#5 Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo)
I suspect they’d love a shot at Watkins. They might look at Mike Evans. Or they might try and get a pass rusher who can have a quick impact.
|TRADE #6 Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
Jeff Fisher knows the Matthews family. They’ve seen Mack and Watkins leave the board. The pick makes sense in this scenario.
|#7 Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Josh McCown had Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey last year. If they’ve signed McCown to start, give him Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans this year.
|#8 Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
He won countless awards in college, had major production and lit up the combine. Mike Zimmer might see Geno Atkins in Donald.
|#9 Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
The addition of Mike Williams gives Buffalo some breathing space to add another offensive lineman at #9.
|TRADE #10 Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
Having dropped down from #3, the Jaguars get a fantastic competitor to lead their offense. I suspect Gus Bradley will love Manziel’s fiery character.
|#11 Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida State)
Not a huge need but this is all about value. Benjamin would make a great tandem with Kendall Wright. He possesses freakish upside.
|#12 Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
Finding more targets for Eli Manning has to be a priority. It’s easy to forget how dominant Lee was in 2012.
|#13 Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State)
In the NFC West you need speed at linebacker. Pairing Shazier with Alec Ogletree would add to St. Louis’ terrifying front seven.
|#14 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
They’ve added Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen up front, now they need to improve the secondary.
|#15 Odell Beckham Jr (WR, LSU)
Receiver is a big need for the Steelers. They need someone who can come in and have a quick impact. Out of all the WR’s in this class, Beckham Jr is best served to hit the ground running.
|#16 Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA)
I wouldn’t draft Barr this early, but the Cowboys are stuck without moving up or down. After bringing in Henry Melton, they need an edge rusher. They have no alternative.
|#17 Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
Getting another big target who can work the seam will be attractive to Baltimore. It’d also be good value in this spot.
|#18 Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State)
They need to keep adding playmakers. Rex Ryan will get the defense going. The offense can’t rely on just Eric Decker. It needs a spark.
|#19 Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
Miami needs to keep repairing its offensive line. Branden Albert is a good start. Why not add a bookend here with Moses slotting in at right tackle?
|#20 Ra’Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota)
They don’t have a lot of remaining needs — apart from finding a long term answer at quarterback. Even so, Hageman is a value pick at this point. They can add a developmental QB later.
|#21 Donte Moncrief (WR, Ole Miss)
They invested free agent money in the defense. That could mean a receiver here — because their options are a little depleted these days. Moncrief has a ton of upside.
|#22 Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana)
A physical, competitive receiver who run blocks superbly and competes for the ball in the air. He’ll make Nick Foles look good by winning plenty of 50/50 throws.
|#23 Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
With the receivers leaving the board early the Chiefs might look at safety in a scenario like this. Pryor would be a nice compliment to Eric Berry.
|#24 Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
A player who divides opinion. A year ago he would’ve been a high pick. It wouldn’t be a shock if he’s the first corner off the board.
|#25 Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
They need to bring in a nose tackle. Nix isn’t Dontari Poe or B.J. Raji in terms of athleticism, but he can hold the point and absorb blockers.
|#26 Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
There’s a lot of talk about Carr and the Browns — so I’m going for the ‘no smoke without fire’ approach here. Twitter loves Teddy Bridgewater, but Carr might have the higher upside.
|#27 Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
Nearly benched last season and overrated after a great combine. He is the ideal athlete for the position though — and that could keep him in the first round.
|#28 Zack Martin (T, Notre Dame)
I’m not sure how Carolina has allowed a situation to occur where they’re suddenly desperate at receiver and the offensive line.
|#29 C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)
This could be a good spot for a team trading back into the first. New England have gone after Alabama linebackers in the past and could use Mosley inside.
|#30 Martavis Bryant (WR, Clemson)
Has a little Randy Moss to his game. Could excel playing in a power offense with a big-armed quarterback. He’ll beat you deep and can be an X-factor.
|#31 Chris Borland (LB, Wisconsin)
Denver needs a tone setter. A leader. A guy who flies around. This would be a smart move. You want this guy on your team.
|#32 Joel Bitonio (T, Nevada)
Terrific player. Compares favourably to all of the top offensive tackles in this class. Can play on the left or right — and could be another Logan Mankins at guard.