Thursday, January 8, 2009

Decision Time: OT Eben Britton


Why Britton made the right decision to come out

1. On top of his game:
While the 6’5”, 310-pounder is leaving a Wildcat team that could be on the verge of becoming a contender in the Pac-10, there is very little left for him to do or prove. Britton had a solid season – he ended up on the 2008 All-Pac 10 Conference First Team a year after he was named to the second team. He has been a part of the best offensive line that Arizona has had in some time and ended up with an iron-man like 37 consecutive starts at tackle. He’s an outstanding pass blocker with very good balance and footwork, and is also pretty solid in the run game.

2. Why Risk it: With Tuitama leaving, there is a chance this offense could take a step back and Britton’s stock would take a dip if it does. So while he could always get a little out of another year, the reward doesn’t outweigh the risk. There is also the possibility of an injury that should not be discounted.

3. Power Vacuum: One of the biggest stories of the 2008 Draft was the tremendous number of offensive linemen taken in round one. Many of those linemen had a positive impact for the teams that drafted them in their first season – Jake Long in Miami, Ryan Clady in Denver, Sam Baker in Atlanta before his injury, and Gosder Cherilus in Detroit. As we all know, NFL teams will follow trends and while they won’t gorge themselves like they did last season, teams will likely look to fill the positions early. Britton will likely find himself drafted earlier than he might have been in another year by a team in need of a solid offensive tackle. He’s good enough to be drafted on the first day either way, but there’s a good chance he’ll get taken in the first by a team not wanting to risk missing out in another year of top end linemen.

Garda’s Take: Clearly given the title here, I think Britton is making a fine decision by leaving Arizona a year early. He’s received accolades from the coaches within his own conference as well as the scouting community. With a constant hunger for good, pass blocking linemen in the NFL, Britton is poised to be drafted in a good spot, perhaps better than he might even have been able to do had he waited a year and worked on his game.