PROS: Has good size and strength. Is physical and shows mean streak, and finishes his blocks. Uses his size well as a run blocker, showing ability as a drive blocker. Also is effective in pass protection because of his size, able to engulf some smaller defenders. Works best in a short-area, able to deliver a good punch. Shows enough athleticism that he can pull somewhat and block on the second level, able to get seal against linebacker.
CONS: Has sloppy footwork and technique in pass protection. Will cross his feet and has trouble adjusting in space to the quick, inside move. Struggles when matched up against speed rushers. Will lose his balance. Gets too much depth or not enough on his pass drops. Doesn't always play with great pop off the snap. Will whiff on some blocks on the second level as he can be very lumbering there.
OVERVIEW: Black is a massive tackle that was effective at LSU mainly because of his size. He's probably destined to move inside on the next year, but with coaching can also be an effective tackle.
NFL FORECAST: I think the easiest way to get early contributions from him is to play him either at guard or right tackle. He's just too inconsistent and sloppy to let him play at left tackle early on. But I do believe that if he can be coached up, his technique improved, he can be a competent left tackle. I wouldn't want him protecting my $50 million investment at quarterback. But I think he could get by there as a stopgap down the road. He'll be plagued by a lot of false starts and give up his fair share of sacks, but I think he could perform at that position on a level comparable with an average starter. Some teams will move him inside, which will hide many of his flaws in pass protection, and also beef up their interior ground games. But honestly, I think his best NFL position will be right tackle. In pass protection, he'll be better inside. But because he isn't going to be great pulling and blocking on the second level as other guards, I don't see him excelling there. I think with some refinement, his size and potential as a run blocker on the outside makes his value higher at right tackle. He'll still have his issues in pass protection on the outside, particularly early on. But he is one of those players that I think can be coached, and will improve his technique. I wouldn't want to start him right away, as I think a year of sitting the bench would really help him. But I think by his second year he should be able to handle a starting gig. But whether it's at guard or right tackle, I think Black will fit well on a team that wants to run the ball a lot and be a solid starter.
ATL FORECAST: While I think Black probably has greater upside than Clabo on the right tackle spot, I'm not sure he is quite good enough to beat him for the starting job any time soon. So it's probably smartest for the Falcons to groom him as a guard, with an eye on him being a possible replacement for Blalock in 2011 at left guard. There he can upgrade the ground attack, and while I don't think he'll be great in pass protection on the inside, I do think he can be competent. At worst, if Black made no major improvements, I think he'd be as competent a starter as Blalock is today. And if he did make the necessary improvements, I think he could be a good starter. He'll be like the rest of the Falcons linemen, nothing special, but capable of getting the job done.
VALUE: Whether a team projects him as a guard or tackle, he isn't worth much more than a third or fourth round pick. I'd take him in the third as a right tackle prospect. Probably wait until the fourth as a guard.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
PASS BLOCKING: 2.5
RUN BLOCKING: 4.0
MEAN STREAK: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.