2015 NFL DRAFT

2013 NFL Draft: CU's Bakhtiari, LSU's Faulk add to surprising OT class

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

For very different reasons, Colorado left tackle David Bakhtiari and LSU left tackle Chris Faulk are among the more surprising underclassmen to declare early for the NFL Draft.

Each, however, possesses the size, talent and success against high-caliber competition to warrant their respective decisions.

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The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Bakhtiari had established himself as one of the Pac-12's most physical and consistent offensive linemen over his three seasons at tackle for the Buffs. He started as a true freshman at right tackle before replacing 2011 first-round pick Nate Solder (New England Patriots) at left tackle as a sophomore. Although the lack of talent around him contributed to Colorado's recent struggles, Bakhtiari has been a relative bright spot, earning second-team all-conference honors each of the past two years and the No. 8 spot in NFLDraftScout.com's early rankings of the 2014 offensive tackle class.

"I've been contemplating this for a long time," Bakhtiari said in the official school release. "It didn't have anything to do with Jon Embree [former Colorado head coach] being fired. I had always intended to see where the NFL was going to position me after I submitted myself for the review ... The evaluation came back and had me in the second- to third-round range for a pick, but I also received some good feedback from Steve Marshall [Colorado offensive line coach] and Coach Embree, who spoke with several of their contacts around the league, and they thought I might even go a little bit higher, and that helped, too."

Although Bakhtiari may have been a surprise to leave school early because of the struggles of his team and his own relative lack of hype, Faulk's reported early exit from the LSU Tigers is surprising because the supremely gifted left tackle is coming off a torn ACL that ended his 2012 season after just one game.
Faulk will obviously have to prove his health to talent evaluators to warrant his leap but he'd reportedly been ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation. Besides just his health, however, scouts will also want to make sure Faulk is in shape, as the 6-6, 335-pounder has carried more weight across his middle than most of today's relatively svelte offensive tackles.
Despite his less-than-ideal frame, Faulk has demontrated surprising agility and the length necessary to perform well in the SEC, earning second-team all-conference honors in his first season at left tackle. His play, in fact, was so impressive that he ranked No. 24 on my personal Big Board entering the season.
Although neither Bakhtiari nor Faulk is likely to challenge Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel as the top pass blocker in the 2013 draft, their surprising leaps make the offensive tackle class one of this year's top position groups.
 
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