Colorado offensive tackle David Bakhtiari is a highly-athletic player who will be downgraded because he’s only 6-4, 299 pounds. Actually, some teams have told Bakhtiari that they think he needs to play an interior line position.
Even the greatest of NFL organizations seem to have a poor understanding of correlation and causation. Almost every team still regularly runs the ball too much because it’s correlated with winning, failing to understand that it’s actually hurting their chances of success. Teams often make the same sort of mistake in draft evaluations, searching for players who match a particular prototype, even if that prototype isn’t designed for NFL success.
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One such trait that scouts seek in offensive tackles is height. Tall offensive tackles have performed well in the past, so it must be a smart move, right? Well, it turns out that height is only correlated with success for offensive tackles and not necessarily a cause of it. In reality, taller players typically have long arms, and tackles need long arms to fend off rushers.
Bakhtiari is a “short” offensive tackle, but he also has very long 34-inch arms. With such length, his height really shouldn’t be a concern; actually, it could help with leverage, especially in short-yardage situations. I’m certain Bakhtiari will fall too far because of a trait that won’t even hurt him in the NFL.
On tape, Bakhtiari shows quickness and good overall athleticism. He can get to the second level, and he uses his explosiveness to even play with power off of the line. Bakhtiari actually plays well in short-yardage situation because of his quickness and leverage, which might surprise some people at his size.
Bakhtiari plays intelligently; he understands angles and does an awesome job of using defenders’ momentum against them. He displayed a combination of athleticism and power that few linemen in this class can match.
NFL Comparison: D’Brickashaw Ferguson
Ferguson is taller than Bakhtiari, but again, height is an overrated trait for offensive tackles. Both Ferguson and Bakhtiari are very athletic, and I even think Bakhtiari can be more of a power player than Ferguson.
Bakhtiari figures to go in the second or third round. If teams view him as I do, there’s no way he’ll make it out of the second.
Fit In Dallas
Lots of teams will want to move Bakhtiari to guard, but I think that’s a mistake. He can and should play offensive tackle in the NFL, and I think he can play on either side. He’d be an excellent candidate to replace Doug Free.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.