Chris Faulk enters the 2013 NFL draft under unfortunate circumstances.
After entering his junior year at LSU poised to possibly cement his status as a high first-round pick, Faulk's season only lasted one game. He tore his ACL during practice in the week following LSU's season opener vs. North Texas, and didn't play another snap in 2012.
He wouldn't play another snap for LSU, period. Chris Faulk declared for the NFL draft following a 2012 season spent rehabbing.
The knee injury cost Faulk more than his junior season. It cost him the chance to answer numerous key questions for NFL scouts. The days of first-round hopes for Chris Faulk are long gone.
We always start with feet, because feet are the single most important attribute to analyze when judging NFL capability at the offensive tackle position. We're going to get the bad news out of the way really quickly in this scouting report—Faulk currently plays football like he has sandbags taped to his ankles. Faulk has a slow first step, and often an incorrect first step. He gets his legs tied up and is generally slow off the snap. Faulk leaves his feet too often, seemingly "giving up" on the play by throwing his body into cut-blocks.
Where will Chris Faulk be taken in the 2013 NFL draft?
Motor, Toughness and Power
As we'll get to in the run-blocking breakdown below, Faulk is a body-mover. He's not overly-powerful, but he just has a huge body that gets momentum behind it when getting upfield upon initial engagement. This is an unteachable trait, and one you only really know when you see it. Faulk, despite some of his obvious flaws, has it. That is important to remember. If Faulk is on the offensive—taking his power to another player—he flashes signs of great dominance. He doesn't latch on, but presents himself as a smothering presence. It is when the defender comes at him that Faulk starts to chicken-fight and gets his knee and hip flexibility exposed. Which leads to our next section...
Quickness, Agility and Balance
Besides feet (and, obviously, the state of Faulk's surgically-repaired knee), these three questions remain burning hottest atop the minds of NFL evaluators. Chris Faulk is not quick. He isn't agile neither. He likes down blocks and easy assignments that keep him in a tunnel. In watching Faulk's film, one cannot help but notice his knees. He does not bend them naturally. He has stiff hips and does not seem flexible. Still, Faulk does not seem "balky." He has an athleticism to him that sticks with evaluators, like there is something just underneath the surface that—again—has only "flashed" to this point.
Chris Faulk will need to start out in the NFL as a right tackle, and it is likely that RT will be the best position for him in the long run. As a pass-blocking LT, Faulk has one of the most under-developed kick slides of any prospects in this draft.
A kick slide should start out with a "kick" from the outside leg, and follow with a "slide" along the turf by the right foot en route to a reset move to counter the outside defender. Faulk sometimes doesn't even move his outside leg first, but still manages to hold up relatively well. It's impressive that a tackle could even somewhat-effectively execute his assignment without even starting out with a good power step, and this speaks to Faulk's potential.
Still, there are some things that can't be taught, and the type of feet that Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Terron Armstead have don't grow on trees. They didn't grow on Faulk, either.
In the run game is where we see Faulk's greatest potential for future dominance, and this play serves as a good illustration why. Faulk has a difficult assignment in this run play, coming to up the B-gap of the offense's left side. He must execute a combination block that starts with helping the tight end with the five-technique, then get upfield to cave the free linebacker back inside.
Faulk likes double teams, and the tight end, in this case, can certainly use the help. It is tough for even the best offensive linemen to get a player turned outside when the player is lined up on their inside shoulder—so obviously, it is even tougher for a tight end. Faulk's responsibility is to help the tight end with the five-technique until the tight end is in a position to where he can physically handle the defender on his own. Faulk needs to help in moving the defender's body to a position which makes it possible for a tight end to even comprehend getting him turned outside.
Faulk does such a good job here, and I love watching this play. When a tackle has a performance such as this on a run play, it gives the viewer a feeling of having watched an entire offense execute well. It's like the entire unit is gashing the defense—but what makes things appear this way is the person doing the leg work at the point of attack. Faulk has basically taken over the assignment and looks dominating. The tight end's effort reminds you of the guy holding the "light end" while moving a cabinet up a stair case.
The five-technique has been turned outside enough to where the tight end can now get inside positioning, and Faulk is off to bulldoze the elephant in the room—the linebacker who had been left free up until this point who is occupying the exact spot where the ball is scheduled to be coming. As mentioned previously, while Faulk does not have great feet, he has instincts and an unteachable "body-moving" motor. He sees his second target and engages properly, attacking the inside half of the man and keeping excellent leverage.
At this point, you can no longer see the linebacker. He has been smothered, and Faulk is to thank for this play beginning to look so well-designed.
Now it's just a dash for the cash.
Faulk has faults to his game, and it is unfortunate that he was not able to address them during his junior season. Many thought Faulk would return for his senior year in order to do just this, but alas, here we are, and Chris Faulk will not be playing at LSU ever again. Maybe he knows what seems obvious.
Chris Faulk has attributes that are unteachable, and also faults that cannot be un-taught. When evaluators dive this deeply into the tackle class of 2013, this much is clear. After watching hours of first steps and kick slides, evaluating knees and hips, the differences between prospects pop off the screen. Education is never a waste of time, but it is time for Faulk to get educated by NFL-level teachers. I'm not sure that too much development would have occurred at LSU had he chosen to stay another year. Maybe Faulk wasn't either.
There is something here with Chris Faulk, and at the NFL level, teams need body movers. Not every offensive tackle must be a Joe Thomas-type of tactician with his feet and impeccable model of pass-blocking supremacy. Some guys need to be bulldozers and earth-movers, plain and simple.
Chris Faulk has the type of talent that justifies a late Day 2 pick, and if he is available past the late-third round, it appears that one team will be getting themselves a bargain.