Oklahoma lineman impressively moved to left tackle as a senior but is the type of powerful drive-blocker who can excel at guard in the NFL
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hadn't drafted an offensive guard in the first round in 24 years, and when they finally decided to dip back into that well, they took a left tackle.
That sentence may not seem to make any sense, but the Buccaneers' selection of Oklahoma mauler Davin Joseph certainly does. Though Joseph displayed an impressive amount of athleticism by switching to left tackle for the Sooners last fall, he proved in 2003 and 2004 that he is the type of powerful presence the Bucs covet for their interior line.
"I think naturally his best position is guard," said Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden, who was clearly thrilled to be getting another valuable piece for his running game. "He played left tackle for Oklahoma last year out of necessity. They lost a couple of guys and because of his athleticism, he moved out there and got it done, frankly, at left tackle. I see him naturally as an inside player; he is explosive, strong. In a pinch situation, if we need him to go out and play left tackle, he has proven he can do that. If we need him to go out and play right tackle, I am sure Davin would be willing to do that. But we [got him for] the right guard position and we are excited about it."
Can he lock down the big defensive tackles who populate the trenches in the NFL? Well, he was the heavyweight wrestling champion in the state of Florida as a high schooler, which seems like a good sign. In addition, Joseph moved back to guard for the week of practices at this year's Senior Bowl and did an outstanding job against Florida State's Brodrick Bunkley, a.k.a. the 14th overall pick in this year's draft.
The Buccaneers sent their coaching staff to lead the South team in the 2005 Senior Bowl, and loved the opportunity to get an up-close look at some of the best draft-eligible talent. Cadillac Williams was the most obvious product of that experience. The Bucs didn't get that same opportunity this year, but they obviously still made the most of their trip to Mobile. Gruden, in fact, made a point of getting very close to Joseph's one-on-one drills in practice.
"The Senior Bowl, the combine definitely helped my stock because I played my whole senior season at left tackle," said Joseph. "That was a chance for me to prove that I am a physical player inside and I can play with the big guys and get movement; be effective. Also, being able to display my athleticism at the combine, showing that I'm the most athletic guard in the draft really helped my stock a bunch. It was a lot of fun going through the process, meeting the guys. I'm glad it paid off."
Not all of Joseph's strength is in his legs and trunk, though he certainly packs plenty of that in a thick, 6-4, 311-pound frame. Scouts also rave about the Sooner's arms and, particularly, his hands. Gruden said that Joseph might have had the biggest hands in the draft, which helps linemen immensely in one-on-one duels.
"Power is power," said Gruden. "The game is played inside the numbers. You have got to have strong hands. You have got to have long arms for pass protections. If you can lock a defender out, it is a huge advantage."
The Bucs are also very high on those elements that can't be measured by Combine workouts.
"What most excites me is you can't measure what is inside of this man," said Gruden. "[He is] a very strong, very, very well-put-together, in-shape athlete who has tremendous heart and tremendous character; a very self-motivated man. It basically epitomizes what we want to put our offensive line together with."