Monday, 5 October 2009

Rob Rang on Williams, Locker & Clausen

The Seahawks are down to the bare bones on the offensive line and fans are starting to ponder the potential options available in the 2010 draft. Well, it's not good news. Unlike last year when offensive tackle was undoubtedly the position of strength, the opposite could almost be said this year. I was largely unimpressed with Russell Okung (OT, Oklahoma State) when I saw him in week one and NFL Draft Scout's Rob Rang offered an uncomplimentary review of another touted senior, Trent Williams (OT, Oklahoma).

"Williams appears heavier and slower this year than last. Considering that he is making the transition from right tackle to left, if he had planned to alter his conditioning or size for this year, it should have been to get lighter and focus on his footwork."
- Rob Rang, NFL Draft Scout

I'm struggling to find an offensive lineman that can be pencilled in towards the top of the draft. Bryan Bulaga is possibly the last remaining hope. Getting footage of Bulaga has been increasingly difficult, an Iowa game was shown live on TV last week but he was absent with a thyroid problem. I've scratched around to find some small sample tapes and he looks like an athletic specimen. I'm not convinced he's the strongest though, although it's only brief glimpses he seemed content to hold his man at the point and never over powered anyone.

Of course it remains to be seen how this thyroid problem will affect Bulaga going forward. I'm led to believe he's lost quite a bit of weight because of it and he may miss more time in the future. He's only a junior and it wouldn't be a total surprise if he stayed at Iowa for his senior campaign. Having said that, there's certainly a space in this draft for a top OT. If he fits the bill, he may see a gap in the market.

Even still, those hoping for a solution at tackle or in the interior in 2010 may be left disappointed. It was unusual last year to see so many highly rated tackles and at the same time, a number of quality interior lineman.

Rob Rang was also a keen viewer of the recent Washington vs Notre Dame 37-30 thriller. He offered a pretty favorable review of Huskies QB Jake Locker in direct comparison to ND's Jimmy Clausen. Locker continues to see his stock rise rapidly:

"Locker demonstrated better accuracy as the game went on. One of the aspects that is so intriguing about him is that he is often a more accurate passer downfield than he is on short routes... In the minds of NFL scouts Locker flashed the more impressive physical ability and that is what will ultimately result in the higher draft selection whenever these two talented quarterbacks elect to make themselves eligible." - Rob Rang, NFL Draft Scout

This is a story worth following closely. I think there's a reasonable chance at least one of these guys will declare, depending on what happens to Sam Bradford between now and the end of the year. In a funny kind of way, I wonder if Bradford would be better sitting the season. The Sooners won't make a BCS title game now and Bradford won't win another Heisman. Like Jermaine Gresham, he may be best served hoping people have plenty of 2008 tape.


akki said...

So for now it sounds like Locker is the potential superstar with high bust factor, and Clausen is a lower ceiling starter like a Jason Campbell type. Perhaps Locker has much to gain from spending another year in college, while that might not be as true on Clausen.

The Seahawks kind of in a tough spot with OTs. I feel you pretty much have to draft one, or you risk falling into the same trap the Rams fell into - where you think next year's OL will be fine once Orlando Pace returns from injury. Only he repeatedly gets hurt 3 years running and when he finally gets back he's a shell of his former self. In the meantime you drafted no replacements to groom. Replace Pace with Jones in the equation and you might see a similar scenario if you're unlucky.

I believe that you have to look at OTs rather than OGs, for the primary reason that the OTs we have can all move inside to play, while the reverse isn't true. Reviewing the prospects for next year, it seems that there are several converted TEs in there that have a lot of experience to gain and a lot of upside, not unlike Jason Smith or Duane Brown (lesser degree) but one could emerge. Or they all could fail, but there are possibilities.

Rob Staton said...

There's always prospects who make a late, dramatic rise up the boards and if that's the case this year, maybe a draftable offensive tackle will emerge down the line. However, as things stand the draft may not be a solution if the Seahawks want an instant impact at OL. Bryan Bulaga could be the one to keep an eye on.


What are the chances that Clausen and Locker come out? The way I see it, for Clausen it all depends on Charlie Weis. If Weis is fired, Clausen would have to learn a new offense and a new coaching staff during his senior year. I think that would push Clausen to leave. On the other hand I see him staying if Weis sticks around. As far as Locker goes, I don't see him coming out. His team is just emerging and another year with a successful team will be hard to leave after what Washington and Locker have experienced.

Rob Staton said...

It's an interesting discussion point, USAFANARC.

I think the likelihood is that Charle Weis will not be fired. Notre Dame have done pretty well so far, should probably be unbeaten and they've taken a step forwards this year in my eyes.

Baring that in mind, Clausen could easily be convinced to stay for another year with the hope of really achieving something in 2010.

But here's the thing for both QB's - we have no idea what the prospects are being told with regard to contracts and the end of the current CBA in the NFL. If they see it as a last opportunity to cash in before a new agreement - and a potential rookie pay cap - then they may decide to strike while the iron is hot.

Locker has relatively low experience as a starting QB even in college. He's currently playing in a re-born team given life by their new coach. Now, the thing is, I'm not sure Jake Locker's stock is ever going to be higher than it is now. Everyone has that USC game on the brain and he nearly (probably should have) beat Notre Dame on the road. He might think that this is the best time to go not necessarily for his long term development, but financially. Personally, I completely understand why guys would think like that. Just ask Sam Bradford - he came back to school with the best intentions, but looks like missing a whole year anyway and possibly losing a considerable sum of money if he sinks in the 2010 draft.

It stands to be a deeper class of QB's this year, without one stand out candidate. If either Clausen or Locker feel they have a good chance of being top 10 picks they'll quite possibly declare.

Such is the momentum now regarding Locker, if he can keep things ticking over to the end of the year I think there's a highly likely possibility he'll declare for the draft. Call it a hunch, but I think Clausen will stay at Notre Dame. Still very early days though.