Monday, April 19, 2021

Carl Barzilauskas—Still Jets Top Rookie Interior Defensive Lineman?

 By John Turney 
Since 2003 the Jets have invested a lot of draft capital in defensive linemen that player 3-4 end and move inside on passing downs (defensive interior guys) or just interior players with a couple exception (Vernon Gholston and Quinton Coples)

In 2004 it was Dewayne Robertson (4th overall) and in 2011 Muhammad Wilkerson was the 30th overall pick. Then, in 2013, Sheldon Richardson was 13th overall, two years later it was Leonard Williams with the 6th overall pick. Finally, in 2019 the jets took Quinnen Williams with the 3rd overall pick. 

All five were super talented and all had good rookie seasons, obviously some better than others. Robertson, Richardson, and L. Williams were All-Rookie picks, Q. Williams made the PFJ Second-team and some other honorable mentions. 

Also, Carl Barzilauskas made the UPI, NEAPFWA, and Football Digest  All-Rookie teams. He really was a big deal that year. 

He was the New York Jets first-round (6th overall) pick of the 1974 NFL Draft (out of Indiana) and earned a starting job right away the first Jets defensive tackle to do that in nine years. He reportedly signed a three-year contract that was "worth $650,000" which was huge back then, in fact, purported the second-largest in NFL history at the time. Just huge, as was his physical size for the day (6-6, 285) and he ran well, in the 4.8-4.9 forty range. 

There was heavy bidding for Barzilauskas' services by the New York Stars of the WFL who already had signed John Elliott, who played out his option with the Jets in 1973. So, clearly, Barzilauskas go paid.

So, for 1974 at least, the Jets had to be pleased. He led the club in sacks and though the stats were not available at the time the coaches had to see the film of him making plays in the backfield. A review of the play-by-plays shows he made at least 11 run stuffs (tackles for loss) and likely a couple more due to the fact some of the playoby-plays are not as detailed as one would hope. 
Stfs = tackles for loss
Since we at PFJ count sacks and stuffs the same way, i.e. the same "accounting method we can add them together for plays for a reasonable look at comparing plays behind the line of scrimmage.
It is interesting to note that after all these years none of the tremendously athletic dudes surpassed Carl. He still has the most stuffs, in fact, and the second-most sacks and the most combined. Pretty good. 

Barzilauskas' career apexed in that year, though he likely gained experience and skills he just never got much help and later had some injuries so he never matched the production of his rookie year. But, in the hidden tapestry of NFL history, it is worth noting that a 1974 first-round pick arguably nad the best rookie season of any defensive interior players among some very, very tough competition. 

Way to go, Carl. 

No comments:

Post a Comment