I watched him at the Senior Bowl, taping the practices and looking at them when I had more time. First impressions were negative. Bitonio really struggled early in the week. Not as inept as Billy Turner looked, but clumsy and ineffective.
I was admittedly dubious of him because I've spent so much time in that region of the country. The trenches aren't exactly high caliber in the Mountain West area. I emphasized that when we drafted Shawn Murphy in the 4th. You've really got to be careful. It's very easy for a marginal player to stand out in that level of competition, with so much finesse in the running game. Nevada virtually never asks its linemen to drive block out of a power set.
Bitonio grew on me later in the week. He made obvious adjustments depending on who he was lining up against. He was noticeably quicker off the snap when he faced a speed guy. The power guys gave him more trouble.
Still, I'm very hesitant to take a player like this, considering where he figures to fall in the draft. I'm a big believer that the tape doesn't provide the full story. It's easy and imperative to make the logical adjustments, regardless of what the tape indicates. In this case, Bitonio was not highly rated out of high school. Nobody was wowed by his athletic ability at an early age. He was scheduled to attend UC Davis until Nevada offered a scholarship at the last minute. Then Bitonio redshirted early in college. He's a 5th year guy from a lesser conference. Prior to the 2013 season he was on the Mountain West second team forecasts.
That's just not what I'm looking for in an early round. I want blue bloods who have been demoted, not clods who are forced up the boards. Too many premium guys could be available in Bitonio's stage of the draft. JuWaun James was heavily recruited by all the top schools, originally committing to Alabama before Lane Kiffin swayed him to Tennessee. I remember attention toward him on Canes boards before he showed no interest. It's a different position but Kareem Martin could be there. He was hotly pursued by schools like Clemson and Virginia Tech. Heck, one of my favorites, Kyle Van Noy, could be sitting there unclaimed. He was a superstar this time last year. Let the guys who fixate on recent tape and ignore the big picture be blatantly wrong, like so frequently, and have a gem like Van Noy fall into your lap. I'll throw out a name like Kirksey from Iowa. He's going to be making smart decisions and plays, whether it's on special teams or at linebacker. He's considerably better than the kid we took from Florida last year. Kirksey reminds me of an early '70s-type Dolphin.
Guys like Bitonio are fine if you get them a round or two later than projected. That's probably their rightful level anyway.
Kyle Van Noy is very intriguing, seems like a 1st rd talent to me, well round and brings a pass rush- imagine him and Dion Jordan at OLB and adding James Gayle to the roatation at DE. If we go WR in the 1st and Van Noy and Ju'Wuan James are sitting there at #50 who would you take?
Andrews is close to the Alabama program because he's based out of Birmingham.
Plus he's one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the world.
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Take BPA from OT, WR, MLB, and CB or S. This strategy will make you a playoff time over the first 3 rounds. FA will clean up the rest.
No expert here, but the reason why I am pounding my fist on the table for Bitionio rather than Kouandijo or Moses is because I believe his versatility would allow us to put the 5 best OL on the field. Not to mention that Kouandijo has a bum knee and Moses has issues with motivation. Providing he can play OT, I suppose if Martin is there he should get the nod because he has a solid history of play and is rated higher, but if not Bitonio is a very similar player although he does need to get stronger. Another nice thing about Bitonio is his arms are 1" longer than Martin's and he is slightly more athletic. I also like that they say he plays with vinegar and has a nastiness about him.
I think people get too caught up in what conference a player played in....when he faced Anthony Barr & Demarcus Lawrence on an Island he fared very well.
I see him as very similar to Zach Martin and would have no problem with him being a trade down target.
Courage....is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway....John Wayne