6'6". 350 pounds. Those are the measurements of a Pro Bowl Offensive Tackle, right? The answer is probably and maybe someday. There probably is a Pro-Bowl RT in the NFL that size. There is also a true freshman at LSU that is that size. His name is Vadal. Vadal Alexander.
I bet Vadal Alexander likes pancakes. I have nothing to confirm that, but I just bet he does. Based on the LSU roster, he's the heaviest person on the team. He's been at LSU since January, and he is reportedly already making his presence felt. Currently he's slated to be the no. 2 RT on the depth chart. It's hard to say whether he would see the field before Josh Dworaczyk, who took 1st team RT reps in place of Alex Hurst. There's two facets to this which are promising. A) He's performed well enough to justify playing time. B) There seems to be no concern about his size/conditioning.
After the jump, I take a Vadal-Alexander sized bite out of the pancake stack of his potential.
Before the jump, I offered an awful lot of insightful analysis: a) Vadal is big. b) Vadal probably likes pancakes. c) Vadal plays football for LSU. What more do we need to know, really? Well here's Vadal pancaking:
Vadal Alexander Buford HS 2010 (via hsfprof)
To keep this fresh, let's try something else, cool? Cool. Below I will list attributes I like and dislike and give you a time stamp in the video to what I'm talking about.
0:08 - Stands straight up
0:11 - Quickly gets to second level and deposits smaller foe into the dirt. Block finisher.
0:42 - Good pad level, locks on and doesn't relent.
0:50 - Plays through the whistle
1:09 - Lunges and his upper body is overextended. Good strength, but won't work at the next level.
1:45 - Good power at the point of attack.
2:18 - Good recovery after getting beat initially. Drives his man away. Just enough block.
2:38 - Plow job
2:54 - A taste of his athleticism. Footwork isn't always the best, but here he's really light and agile for a big boy.
4:16 - Sissy punch
4:32 - Good lateral movement.
5:05 - Bad all around. Bad pad level. Bad engage.
5:19 - Much better punch.
All in all, there's a lot to like here. He's massive and he likes to punish his victims. He reminds me a bit of Herman Johnson, but I think he may have a little more athletic ability. He's a bit of a plodder at times. I know, I know, he's 350 and doesn't need to run a 4.4, but contrast that with someone like La'el Collins, who moves very well.
His HS team ran behind him A LOT. That speaks to his ability to open holes. He does show some craftiness on plays where he comes in too high or doesn't engage well. He loves contact, and he loves playing through the whistle. Those attributes will make him a grinder. There's little HS tape on his pass blocking, but he wasn't especially good when called upon. The fact that he's got heavy feet makes pass blocking more difficult.
At some level, I think he may be a better Josh Williford. Similarly built guys (tall and heavy), and both excel at drive blocking but aren't as successful when being asked to pull/trap/block downfield. Alexander can do some of that, but you aren't going to build a zone blocking scheme around the guy. Nimble isn't exactly his forte. That being said, Rich Trickett did offer him, so there's that. He's a tailor made right side of the line player in our system. He very well could be our starting RT next season.
It will be really interesting to see what the coaching staff does with Alexander this season. Saying he's ready to play and actually playing him are two different things. We found that out with La'el Collins last season. From an experience and longevity stand point, it makes sense to give him a RS, since he won't be taking away snaps from the established Alex Hurst. Then again, he enrolled early for a reason.
He seems to be established as the no. 2 RT, but what does that mean? Do we really think Collins was our 4th or 5th best guard last season? I don't, but he didn't play a snap. Will Miles be content to use Josh D. and Jonah Austin to spell Hurst and finish out games? Or will Vadal see the field this season, in preparation for his future. I could see this going either way, but signs seem to point to him getting playing time.
High End: 3-year starter with All-Conference potential.
Low End: Adequate starter, a la Alex Hurst.
Realistic: I think he'll start for three years. He'll be a good right tackle who is a particular force in the running game. Pass blocking will need major improvement.