You know why I love the NCAA Tournament? Outside of the Cinderella stories, uniqueness of the spectacle and marveling at the poise of kids my age, I mean. I love the NCAA Tournament because it bridges the gap between NFL free agency and the NFL Draft. When this tournament is over, we'll be less than two weeks away from Draft Day 2009 here at Buffalo Rumblings.
We've been delving into draft stuff pretty heavily in these parts. Naturally, considering the current state of the Buffalo Bills' roster, we've spent most of our time talking pass rush, offensive guards and tight ends. There are two rock-solid prospects out there that don't get a lot of discussion in these parts, however, that are now the subject of this week's edition of YouTube Saturday.
Boston College DT B.J. Raji is, by leaps and bounds, the best defensive tackle available this year. The 6'1", 337-pound senior is a powerful bowling-ball type player that has proven very difficult for one lineman to block. He's getting a lot of attention as a 3-4 nose tackle from teams in the Top 10, but there's an outside shot (a remote one) that he slides - and he spent most of his time at BC playing in a 4-3.
Raji is a fantastic athlete for a man his size; the only downfall with this kid is a questionable motor. There aren't many safer bets in this year's draft; considering the age of Marcus Stroud and the need to constantly improve the run defense, Raji makes sense for the Bills, even if they're craving talent at other positions.
I know what you're thinking. "Michael Oher is an offensive tackle, and the last time I checked, Jason Peters is still a Bill!" Strictly speaking, that's true. But there are a handful of scouts who believe that the 6'4", 309-pound Oher can play guard at the NFL level as well - in fact, Oher broke into the college ranks as a guard at Ole Miss. Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe and even Andre Smith are the big names at tackle, but it's Oher that sits atop my list. I consider him the best lineman available this year - he's versatile, athletic, and though he reportedly has motor issues like Raji, a good coach will turn this kid into a perennial All-Pro.
We're not sure what's going to happen with Peters and his contract negotiations. I would be far more than satisfied if the Bills elect to take Oher if he's available, plug him in at left guard, and get him reps at tackle to protect themselves against Peters potentially leaving. And if they sign Peters, then Oher can still play and be considered the long-term replacement for Langston Walker on the right side. That might actually be one of the more brilliant maneuvers the team could make in April.
Thoughts on Oher and Raji are encouraged in the comments section.