Much has been made about the departures along the LSU defense this season, but not much attention has been paid to the offensive line where the team must find a new left tackle in 2013.
Chris Faulk surprised some when he declared for the NFL draft after missing all but one game in his junior season after he sustained a knee injury in practice. He would have been a potential All-SEC performer this season, but now the Tigers have to consider other alternatives.
His replacement last year, Josh Dworaczyk is also gone after exhausting his eligibility leaving the team with three options.
The first option could be moving right tackle, Vadal Alexander over from right tackle where he started as a true freshman last year. However, at 6-5 and 325-pounds, he may not have the quick feet and agility required to play the left tackle position right now.
The next option could be sliding left guard, La’el Collins over to left tackle where he played in high school. Collins came to LSU as a top-10 recruit in the nation with the promise of a future in the NFL awaiting him, but he looked pretty good at guard last season and the team may elect to keep him there.
The reason why I don’t think either of those options will work is because the team will then have to replace another starting lineman, so unless injuries cripple the depth of the line, I don’t think either will happen.
The option that I think is most viable is turning to redshirt freshman, Jerald Hawkins or true freshman, Ethan Pocic to serve as the blindside protector for quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Pocic is an early-enrollee and will have the benefit of competing at spring practice to fight for a starting spot. Both he and Hawkins have the prototypical frame for a left tackle at 6-6 and 290-pounds and both are light on their feet.
Some schools may be nervous about starting a left tackle with that little experience, but then again other schools don’t have two talented freshmen like Pocic and Hawkins to choose from.
This is a battle that will be hotly contested right up to the first game of the season, but my bet is that Hawkins gets the nod initially in spring, but Pocic gets the job after summer practice.