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Nevada OL Joel Bitonio a name to know ahead of Senior Bowl

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
Nevada left tackle Joel Bitonio is regarded as a likely Day Two pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

There is always a sleeper that emerges from the Senior Bowl, and this year it may well be Nevada left tackle Joel Bitonio.

In the eyes of NFL scouts, however, Bitonio is anything but a sleeper.

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"I'm hearing from scouts that he is at least a top-three round offensive lineman," said Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage, the former director of player personnel for the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns general manager.

Bitonio started 38 consecutive games for the Wolf Pack, including marquee games against UCLA, Florida State and BYU this season. The Bruins have a top-10 pick in outside linebacker Anthony Barr, while Cougars outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy could also be selected in the first round.

And while Barr and Van Noy combined for 14 sacks this season, Bitonio did not concede a sack to either one.

"When he (Van Noy) was over Joel, I wasn't concerned about him," Nevada coach Brian Polian told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "You can print that. When Van Noy was over Joel, I'll bet on my guy. He did the same thing against Anthony Barr. I was concerned when Van Noy lined up on the right side."

Checking in at 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, Bitonio paved the way for a Nevada offense that showed good balance in averaging 250 passing yards and 179 rushing yards per game.

With one more chance to prove himself against the likes of Georgia Tech defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu, Bitonio is more than capable of emerging from Mobile, Ala. as a name everyone will know.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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