Career Recap: After redshirting in 2009, Faulk saw his first playing time during the 2010 season. He made two starts at right tackle in the final two games of the year. Entering the 2011 season, the Tigers held a competition for the starting left tackle position after losing Joseph Barksdale to the NFL. Faulk won the competition and went on to have an excellent season.
Faulk did a very good job as a run blocker on the ground as the Tigers had a very effective trio of running backs. As a pass protector, Faulk did well against the lesser competition while holding his own against the elite pass rushers he saw. Even though Faulk was a better player than some of the First-Team picks, he was only named a Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2011.
2012 Season Outlook:
Faulk enters his junior season firmly entrenched as the left tackle for the Tigers. LSU is bringing back some nice talent in the backfield, so he should produce another good season of tape as a run blocker. The Tigers will be breaking in a new quarterback, but they have a run-first offense that will allow Faulk to bulldoze defenders at the line of scrimmage.
The 2012 season should present Faulk the opportunity to prove he is a shutdown pass blocker. LSU's schedule will have Faulk face good pass rushers when the Tigers take on Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama. If he excels in those games, he could easily be a First-Team All American.
It is clear that Faulk is a good athlete for such a big blocker. He excels in the ground game by using his sheer size to run down defensive ends. Faulk is athletic enough to hit cut blocks, get to the second level of the defense and hit kick out blocks. He is a better run blocker than many left tackle prospects.
Faulk has the potential to be a special pass protector. Overall, he played well last season, but against Alabama, Faulk had some challenges with the Crimson Tide's edge rushers. He has a strong base to stop bull rushes. Faulk has the length to shield the edge, and just needs to improve his technique in the pass drop to neutralize speed rushers. He also could get more sound with his knee bend. Faulk should be a better pass blocker in 2012 after gaining a year of experience in the SEC.
Even more so than during the games, Faulk gets a lot of good preparation for the NFL in practice. He goes up against two excellent edge-rushers in Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo on a daily basis. Those are two of the best pass-rushers in college football, and both are projected to be first-round picks. Seeing those pass-rushers constantly is better than going up against an elite player on an occasional Saturday. If Faulk refines his pass protection over the 2012, and potentially 2013, season, he could easily prove to be an elite left tackle prospect.
2013 Draft Expectations:
Faulk has the potential to be a high first-round pick. His physical skill set alone makes him a candidate to get drafted early. He has ideal size and length to play left tackle in the NFL. As long as Faulk continues to improve his pass protection, he stands a good shot of being a first-rounder in 2013 or 2014.
I really don't understand why you keep bashing the 49ers contracts. You have to overpay for guys when you have one of the worst rosters in the NFL. Beyond that, they have nearly $70 mill in cap space even after free agency, so what's the big deal if they overspend?