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Raiders rebound with Barksdale

The Raiders follow up the Van Dyke head scratcher by trading back up into the third round to take LSU offensive tackle Joseph Barksdale. The Raiders sent a seventh round picks, number 219 overall and their second round pick in 2012 to the New England Patriots to move up and get Barksdale. That leaves them without a second round or a fourth round (Jason Campbell) pick next year. However, they will also get the Patriots fourth round pick, number 125, this year.

The Raiders seem to have taken the approach of knowing exactly what they want in this draft and aggressively going after their guy. They took the fastest guy at the combine yet again with their early round three pick.

Barksdale is one of those high risk, high reward guys we often speak of. He has all the tools to be an elite player on the NFL level but the biggest concern about him is work ethic. Throw in that he went to LSU and people could mistake that statement as being about JaMarcus Russell. But there is a big difference between a quarterback and an offensive tackle. Barksdale is seen as a guy who does the minimum and that minimum will be a lot greater in the NFL so he could rise to the occasion.

Barksdale was a 2010 selection for the second team All-SEC. He is a four year letter winner that started the final 39 games of his college career. On paper, Barksdale has everything you want from a right tackle at the next level.

Barksdale played both left and right tackle for the Tigers and never had a redshirt season, as he played in 14 games as a true freshman. Barksdale has all the tools to be considered a top notch tackle in this draft, but there are some questions surrounding his work ethic. More than likely, this kid will play right tackle for the Raiders and if they can get him to put in the work, he certainly could be one of the steals of the draft.

He initially came to LSU as a defensive tackle and was switched to offensive tackle early on. Barksdale told the story behind the switch.

“When I first got there, the defensive tackle position was pretty deep … I went to coach Miles early and told him I wanted to help make an impact on the team, and he told me – he knew I would be a pretty good defensive tackle, but he said I could be a pretty good offensive tackle as well and suggested moving to offensive tackle because we were pretty thin at the time. So it was pretty much to help the team out.”

He has Long arms, solid mass, and at 6’4” 323 lbs., he fits right into the new power scheme expected to be employed by Hue Jackson this year. There may not be a more experienced offensive tackle in this draft being that Barksdale played against the SEC competition and the players he played against in practice.

Even with all of his experience, Barksdale has only just begun to scratch the surface of his potential. The Raiders coaches are going to have to find a way to convince him that if he works for it, he can be a Pro Bowl-level player in the big leagues.

Hue Jackson wouldn’t commit to Barksdale playing tackle although he did say he will play on the right side. Either tackle or guard makes sense for Barksdale. If Langston Walker is not brought back, tackle seems like the obvious position. If not then, whether he plays at guard will depend on how Bruce Campbell’s development is coming along.

Barksdale talent isn’t as mature as second round pick Stefen Wisniewski, but if the Raiders can get the most out of these two guys along the offensive front then they could have a decent offensive line for the first time in I don’t even remember how long.

They are still in the hunt for guards, as Hue Jackson said Wisniewski will play center for the Raiders. And with trade to acquire the pick they used to get Barksdale, they will have another pick in the fourth round to work with. Aside from these two offensive linemen drafted today, the Raiders only have a handful of offensive lineman under contract for 2011. Getting these guys early in the draft is huge moving forward.