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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Around The Draft: Joel Bitonio

Hitting the shadow of the draft now, so only a few left of these to do.

Nevada OT Joel Bitonio is a riser. I've seen OTs show up as very athletic and gain draft spots, and I haven't always been a believer. Walter Jones was a key player who showed up OK on film, ran fast and worked out fast, but I didn't buy in - Jones was a top 6 pick and just went into the Hall Of Fame.

But that's history, and history isn't always kind to fast OTs.  Bitonio - 6'4, 300 - was the fastest player at the 10 and 20 yard mark of the 40 yard dash, and finished at 4.97.  Playing in a versatile Nevada scheme and recruited by Chris Ault, the 'father' of the pistol that now consults for a living for NFL teams, Bitonio is also versatile - he's played guard and tackle.  He has a mean streak that shows him succeeding when he locks on. He enjoys finishing plays, seems tough and durable.  For his size, he's an excellent run blocker.

Some scouts have concerns about his size - they prefer a few inches taller, I guess, but he's 6'4.  The issue that provides is whether his arm length is enough (attacking the DL before he can get to you, providing a massive wingspan to get around, and so on).  That doesn't bother me, though.  I read he can get off-balance because he reaches - explained that he stops moving his feet occasionally.  That bothers me a little more.

It's bizarre that Bitonio went from a guy that needed to play some guard at the Senior Bowl (where he did well) and taking snaps at center, to being a guy who's creeping toward the first round.   To me, he's possibly topped out, but his floor is that he's gonna be one of your five best linemen and can probably start at LT anyway.

I don't value him at 28, but the tea leaves point to him being in that area suddenly.
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