Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Xavier Fulton
Xavier Fulton (OT)
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 302
College: Illinois
Conference: Big Ten
Hometown: Flossmoor, IL
High School: Homewood-Flossmoor
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Round: 5
Pick (Overall): 19 (155)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: The Bucs take a chance on the former defensive lineman-turned-offensive tackle prospect. As a large man with an outstanding frame, Fulton has intriguing potential as a developmental tackle prospect. He's a player to keep an eye on.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

A former defensive linemen, Fulton suffered a knee injury in 2005 that turned out to be very beneficial in his career. While rehabilitating from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the redshirt junior was approached by the coaching staff about the idea of moving to the offensive line. With his naturally large frame, long arms and large hands, his athletic skills seemed to make him the ideal fit as a pass blocker.


Having arrived on the Illini campus as a 270-pound freshman, the now 300-pound junior was up to the task. He took over left tackle duties in 2007 and rapidly progressed, going on to earn second-team All-Big Ten Conference honors from the league's coaches, despite his relative inexperience as a blocker.


At Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Fulton was a nationally ranked defensive lineman. He was rated one of the Top 25 players in the state of Illinois by Insiders.com, Rivals.com and ESPN. He added All-Area honors from the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown and Star Newspapers, adding All-Region recognition from Super Prep.


As a senior, Fulton recorded 98 tackles (58 solo) with 7.5 quarterback sacks. He added 17 pressures, blocked three field goals, recovered three fumbles and deflected five passes.


Illinois landed Fulton, who as a true freshman ended up starting the final three games at right defensive end, appearing in a total of eight contests while sharing time with junior Scott Moss. Fulton recorded six tackles (three solo), added two quarterback pressures and deflected a pass.


Fulton manned the right defensive end position for the first seven games of the 2005 season, but suffered a left knee ACL tear vs. Penn State, sitting out the rest of the campaign. He delivered 13 tackles (six solo) with an assisted sack and two stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also posted three pressures with a pass break-up and blocked one kick.


While recovering from knee surgery at a pace slower than expected, the staff decided to grant Fulton a medical hardship for the 2006 season. He returned as the starting left offensive tackle in 2007, picking up All-Big Ten Conference honors. He switched from jersey #98 he wore as a defensive end to #68 as an offensive tackle, as he delivered 78 knockdowns and nine touchdown-resulting blocks for an offense that ranked fifth in the nation in rushing (256.77 yards per game). He allowed just two quarterback sacks, as the front wall ranked second in the conference in sacks allowed, surrendering just 1.23 per game.


The Illini offense changed from a ground-oriented attack in 2007 to a more pass-friendly scheme in 2008. Fulton started every game, but was limited late in the year by a shoulder dislocation suffered vs. Iowa. The shoulder again popped out, limiting his snaps the following week vs. Western Michigan, but he gamely played in the final two contests.


Fulton struggled with the new offensive game plan, as he managed six touchdown-resulting blocks and 71 knockdowns. But, the opposition managed to register 9.5 of the team's 25 sacks allowed over the left tackle area. The team saw its rushing attack fall to 169.5 yards per game, but the aerial show ranked 20th nationally and led the league with an average of 269.33 yards per game.


High School

Attended Homewood-Flossmoor (Ill.) High School, playing football for head coach Tom Bailey...Rated one of the Top 25 players in the state of Illinois by Insiders.com, Rivals.com and ESPN...Added All-Area honors from the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown and Star Newspapers, adding All-Region recognition from Super Prep...Recorded 98 tackles (58 solos) with 7.5 quarterback sacks, seventeen pressures, three blocked field goals, three fumble recoveries and five pass deflections as a senior.


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Analysis

Positives: Naturally large man with the frame to add at least an additional 10-15 pounds without a significant loss of quickness. Raw, but possesses rare tools. Lacks consistency with his initial quickness off the snap, but gets excellent depth in his kick slide to protect the edge as a pass rusher. Natural knee bender who plays with balance. Still learning to use his hands effectively, but flashes explosiveness in his hand punch and the ability to turn and sustain. Athletic enough to block on the move. Hustles to the second and can even reach the third level. Only beginning to scratch the surface of his talent after spending the first three years of his career at defensive tackle.


Negatives: Raw. Only made the transition to the offensive line in 2007 and was surrounded by experienced line mates and ultra-athletic skill position players, aiding in his development. Too often late off the snap for a player of his athleticism. Relies on this athleticism, rather than technique, to control his man and can be walked back to the quarterback when he plays too high, exposing his chest. Flashes a good initial pop in run blocking, but is not a masher. Good athleticism, but can get out of control blocking on the move, allowing his assignment to evade him. Legitimate durability concern: Torn ACL ended his 2005 season prematurely and forced Fulton to take a medical redshirt for the 2006 season. Struggled with a shoulder sprain throughout the second half of the 2008 season.


Compares To: LEVI JONES, Cincinnati -- Fulton is an impressive specimen, even though he still needs to address glaring strength deficiencies. He has very good foot quickness to impact the outside running game and won't fit in every scheme (best as a zone blocker) due to his lack of power. For a former defensive player, he lacks aggressiveness but is sure to impress a few teams with his athletic ability. Don't overlook durability concerns, along with very inconsistent performances, which should draw questions as to whether he can ever develop the field savvy needed to play at the next level.


Injury Report

2005: Suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee vs. Penn State (10/22), missing the final four games vs. Wisconsin, Ohio State, Purdue and Northwestern.


2006: Granted a medical hardship while recovering from his 2005 knee injury.


2007: Left the Indiana game (9/22) in the third quarter with a right ankle sprain, but returned to the contest after several series.


2008: Suffered a shoulder dislocation in the third quarter vs. Iowa (11/01)...Returned to start the following week vs. Western Michigan (11/08), but missed most of that contest when he again dislocated the shoulder.


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