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Weak draft for tackles


Alex Barron probably saved himself some money when he ran well at Florida State's pro-day workouts, but Barron's draft stock is almost certain to have dropped as a result of his decisions not to participate in either the Senior Bowl or the scouting combine workouts.

Barron, 6-6, 316, is the premier offensive tackle among a weak crop of tackles in this year's NFL draft. It's a combination that should make Barron a top-five pick, but there's speculation Barron may have fallen out of the top 10 due to his postseason unwillingness.

"He lost a lot of money," draft analyst Tony Pauline said.

Barron was invited to play in the Senior Bowl but didn't show up. Then he declined to work-out at the combine and left Indianapolis early.

On Tuesday, March 15, Barron turned in a strong pro-day performance in which he was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.88 and 4.82. His stock stopped dropping, no doubt, but how far will it have fallen and who might be the lucky recipient of that fall?

Pauline gushes at Barron's physical gifts. He has great size and terrific athletic ability. Barron is a natural left tackle who can shuffle and slide. The rap on him is that he tends to get lazy, but you can bet somebody is going to overlook that and focus on Barron's ability. It is top drawer in a bottom-drawer draft.

"It's a three-tackle draft. It's a decent guard draft and an OK center draft. It's just a bad tackle draft," Pauline said.

The other two tackles are Washington's Khalif Barnes and Oklahoma's Jamaal Brown. Barnes is a left tackle, which should make him an earlier pick than Brown, a true right tackle.

Barnes, 6-5, 310, is a great athlete who tests well and looks good. His reputation had been that of a top athlete but a mediocre player, but Barnes changed that this past season with a solid performance. He was sensational in the postseason, dominating practices at the Senior Bowl and turning in an eye-popping combine workout. He was the fastest tackle at the combine and produced a 35-inch vertical jump.

Some believe the Jaguars will be in the market for a tackle with the 21st pick of the draft. Mike Pearson suffered a major knee blowout last season. Though Pearson reports that his recovery is ahead of schedule and he'll be at full speed for the start of training camp, the popular theory is the Jaguars need some insurance at the critical left tackle position.

San Diego has the 12th pick of the draft and could become Barnes' destination, provided Barron doesn't fall to the Chargers. If Barnes clears the 12th pick, Pauline thinks the tackle could fall all the way to Jacksonville at 21.

Brown, 6-6, 313, is a classic right tackle; big, strong, powerful and dominant at the point of attack. He's a pure run-blocker who ran a 5.03 at the combine. The knock on Brown is that he doesn't finish his blocks, takes plays off and is too passive. Pauline thinks Brown is athletic enough that he could play left tackle down the road. Brown is a first-round prospect, too.

A guard, David Baas of Michigan, is the next-highest rated offensive lineman. Baas, 6-5, 307, is a big, powerful space-eater Pauline describes as a "poor man's Steve Hutchinson." Baas is not a motion guard; he's a pure road-grader who figures to be drafted in the top half of round two.

Guard Elton Brown, 6-6, 338, of Virginia will attract a team in the second round. Brown has first-round skills but lacks a killer attitude. He's overweight and lacks conditioning. He presented a sloppy body at the Senior Bowl, then went home with a mysterious knee injury.

Marcus Johnson, 6-6, 310, played guard at Ole Miss but is being projected for right tackle in the NFL. He's very athletic and productive and showed the ability to pull and trap at the Senior Bowl. Johnson needs to improve his playing strength. He's a late-second round guy, though his stock seems to be on the rise.

Alabama's Evan Mathis, 6-5, 308, is another guard who can play tackle. Mathis is tough, intelligent, versatile, fundamentally sound and showed well in the postseason. He had a good Senior Bowl and was outstanding at the combine. He's a late-second round prospect, too.

Ole Miss' Chris Spencer, 6-3, 310, is the top center in the draft. He's explosive and athletic but lacks strength at the point. He has major upside and will be the first center off the board, late in the second round.

North Carolina's Jason Brown, 6-3, 312, is the next-best center and figures to beat the first-day deadline. Brown has great weightroom strength and plays with it on the field. He makes up for a lack of athletic ability with great intelligence. Brown lacks mobility and is not good in space, but he's a steady, hard-working and dependable performer.

Syracuse's Adam Terry, 6-8, 300, will benefit greatly from the lack of tackles in this draft. Terry is a left tackle who's a solid pass-blocker. He needs to get stronger and improve his balance; not pretty but gets the job done. He's a first-day pick, too.

Other first-day prospects are right tackle David Stewart of Mississippi State, guard Adam Snyder of Oregon and center Ben Wilkerson of LSU.

Pitt left tackle Rob Pettiti, 6-6, 330, could attract a team on the first day, though most projections for Pettiti are for the fourth round. Pettiti "stoned" Boston College's Mathias Kiwanuka and Notre Dame's Justin Tuck last season, but Pettiti's stock fell hard in the postseason when he showed up at the Senior Bowl at 364 and left with an injury that also caused him to not work-out at the combine.

Tony Pauline is the publisher of, the internet's number one site for year-round coverage of the NFL Draft.

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