While the defense gets the publicity in Baton Rouge, LSU Left Tackle Chris Faulk has emerged as one of the top Offensive Tackle prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft. With his size and athleticism, he could be the first Tackle taken in April.
Size: Standing at 6’6 325, Faulk has the prototypical size to be a LT in the NFL. Cant get an exact length, but arms aren’t an issue for him. What sets Faulk apart from teammate Alex Hurst is that Faulk has the athleticism to fit into a Zone Blocking Scheme. He’s able to get out on the edge and get to the 2nd level, but also has the power to go get a man and drive block him 5 yards downfield. He doesn’t need to add weight to his frame, if anything could just tone or lose 5 to 10 pounds.
Technique: Probably one of the more impressive things with Faulk was his technique. Sometimes offensive tackles from schools that aren’t offensive line factories have average or poor technique. But when you watch Faulk you can see that he’s already got solid technique and the willingness to learn and improve on it. He plays with a very solid base and is able to anchor himself and not get beaten by a speed rusher. Looks to be more of a knee bender than a waist bender. Faulk’s hand placement was also very good on film as well, doesn’t tend to overextend against DE’s. Does a good job keeping hands inside the numbers, has a few times though he gets outside the shoulders and grab on. This was apparent in the national title game vs. Alabama where Faulk was able to stay in front of the blitzers that ‘Bama brought constantly. Teams will be very impressed with this facet of Faulk’s game.
Pass Protection: Faulk has a very good overall game, but his pass protection is his greatest strength. He uses a very good kick step to get his base solid, and then is able to keep his arms at a good even distance and not allow the pass rusher to get into his body. Watching Faulk against Florida, he used a very effective kick step to keep the fast DE’s of Florida away from his QB. He does need to improve his footwork though, it is very good but at times he does tend to cross over and get off balance. That is something that will need to be fixed when he moves to the NFL. I’ve watched around 6 LSU games and I come away impressed with Faulk’s pass protection every time. With the NFL being pass oriented now teams will put a higher premium on a player like Faulk who’s already a good pass blocker than someone like his teammate Alex Hurst who excels as a run blocker.
Run Blocking: If there is a “weakness” to Faulk’s game this would be it. While there isn’t anything wrong per se with his run blocking, there are a number of things that Faulk can improve on to be an all-pro type of OT. He has trouble at times locating blockers at the 2nd level and does look a little lost. Can’t tell if it’s just from play design, or just forgetting what is going on with the play. He does do a good job of locking onto the defender and getting him out of the way for a hole to open. The reason NFL teams will see him as a ZBS guy as well as a power/man guy is his ability to use his agility and foot speed to help block down on a DT, but also to get to the 2nd level and take out the LB. The biggest gripe I have with Faulk is his cut block ability and it was highlighted in one play in the national title game. Faulk used poor technique in trying to cut block the defender, who proceeded to just go right around him and get to Jordan Jefferson. When re-watching the film, you can see Faulk just lunged right to the ground in an attempt to cut the defender. Most of the time, the proper technique is to go to the hip area and then slide down the defender and cut him that way. It’s something that may not seem critical now, but teams will notice that on film and develop ways to attack that weakness of Faulk’s game. If that can be coached and Faulk learns to do a better job locating defenders then the sky is the limit for him as a complete OT.
Overall: Right now Faulk brings a lot to the table and is the #1 OT in the 2013 class. With his great size and athleticism he has everything teams look for in a tackle. The run blocking concerns are with merit, but over time and with proper coaching, they can be worked out and Faulk could become one of the top LT’s in the NFL. Some questions will be raised if he’s going to stay at LT, but they are truly ludicrous as he’s purely a LT and will be one in the NFL. I have a top 15 grade on Faulk and the only other tackle I have rated as high as him is DJ Fluker of Alabama, but right now I give the edge to Faulk in terms of technique and overall ability.