FanPost

Offensive Linemen: Digging The Trenches.

Clady_ryan2_medium

via prod.static.broncos.clubs.nfl.com

You watch the big guys put the hand down and dig the cleats into the turf, preparing to hold their ground. It's not an easy task. They have everyone on the defense scheming on how they can circumvent that wall of bodies. It could be a line backer who is looking for a way, or a safety from time to time, but they know that the guys right in front of them will be doing their best to beat them.

Franklin_orlando2_medium

via prod.static.broncos.clubs.nfl.com

The problem is that once they get set they can't move, and the D-Line can move around and take advantage of that fact. They must have nerves of steel to keep from drawing a false start penalty, and the defense does their best to cause them to jump. These big men have the most difficult job in the NFL, and the only credit they get is based upon an absence of negative stats.

Kuper_chris_medium

via prod.static.broncos.clubs.nfl.com

No wonder they stick together as a unique fraternity, a group of men who are the only ones who truly understand the job they are asked to do, and the only group that is largely overlooked by the stat masters. Sacks against, false starts and holding calls are the stats they get, and you can bet that they don't want stats to show up next to their names. A clean stat sheet is what shows these guy are elite!

Beadles_zane2_medium

via prod.static.broncos.clubs.nfl.com

Some rather interesting things showed up in how these guys are drafted. Tackles take preference by a large margin in the early rounds, and guards dominate the 7th round. The majority of centers are selected in the last three rounds, and the majority of the centers who become super stars are not found in the first two rounds.

Walton_jd2_medium

via prod.static.broncos.clubs.nfl.com

The following comparison gives the details based upon the round selected with the different positions separated. This group covers the 10 year period from 1998 (the year of the oldest tenured O-lineman) to 2007.

What the numbers below represent is explained by this example: 28 (7*) 4/C means that 28 players were selected in that round during the ten year period with 7 still remaining on a roster in 2011, and a total of 4 players cut in camp who never played and NFL game. You can see that of the 28 first round tackles selected, none were cut in camp and 12 remained on a roster last year.

..................1st Rnd.....2nd Rnd.......3rd Rnd.........4th Rnd..........5th Rnd........6th Rnd.........7th Rnd

Tackles.......28 (12*).....24 (10*).....27 (12*) 1/C.....23 (9*) 5/C.....26 (5*) 5/C....33 (9*) 12/C....28 (3*) 9/C
Guards........09 (4*).......19 (8*)......18 (5*) 2/C........23 (8*) 2/C.....28 (7*) 4/C....18 (6*) 4/C......43 (5*) 16/C
Centers.......04 (3*).......07 (5*).......06 (2*)...............09 (2*)............11 (4*) 1/C....12 (1*) 8/C......19 (3*) 7/C

79 tackles vs. 46 guards & 17 centers were taken in the first 3 rounds. Round four is dead even at 23, along with 9 centers, and the last three rounds end with 87 tackles, 89 guards & 42 centers. This caused me to flash back to the way the defensive line was drafted and then it all made perfect sense. Since DE's were always preferred in the higher rounds, it follows that OT's must be found to counter that emphasis.

I'm wondering if that has had any negative affect on the quality of the defensive tackles and guards that are fielded by the NFL each year.

The following tables show the group combined to simplify the percentages for comparison. The first table shows the cut rate per round.

Round......Qty Selected.....CUT in Camp

1st....................41....................00
2nd...................50....................00
3rd....................51....................03 (06%)
4th....................55....................07 (13%)
5th....................65....................10 (15%)
6th....................63....................24 (38%)
7th....................90....................32 (36%)

It seems like an unusually large number get cut in the 6th and 7th rounds without ever getting a real good shot. It is a well known fact that lineman's positions on both sides of the ball take some development time, and so this is puzzling to me as to why so many are selected and immediately dumped. Is this a case where better scouting would negate a substantial amount of what seems to be trial and error?

This table shows the break down of this group based upon the number of years they've played. (415 total players selected.)

Years Played......# of Players.....% of total

00 year........................76..................18%
01 year........................17..................04%
02 year........................27..................07%
03 year........................28..................07%
04 year........................30..................07%
05 year........................39..................09% (21 still active)
06 year........................55..................13% (30 still active)
07 year........................34..................08% (21 still active)
08 year........................34..................08% (15 still active)
09 year........................28..................07% (14 still active)
10 year........................17..................04% (05 still active)
11 year........................16..................04% (10 still active)
12 year........................07..................02% (03 still active)
13 year........................04..................01% (01 still active)
14 year........................03..................01% (03 still active)

The 00 - 04 year players are all out of the league and they represent 43% of this group. The 05 - 09 year players (190) represent another 45% of the group and 53% of those guys are no longer playing. The 118 players who are still active from this group are just 28% of the players that were drafted during this ten year period.

The average years (AVGY) for this group is the highest of all positions thus far, and it seems to be for all 7 rounds. I will soon be able to bring you the side by side comparison of all the positions.

Round.....# Drafted......%@ 5+years.....%@ 8+years....%@ 11+years...........AVGY

1st.................41...............(40) 98%...........(21) 51%..........(06) 15%.............7.9 years (322 total years)
2nd................50...............(44) 88%...........(21) 42%..........(08) 16%.............7.5 years (373 total years)
3rd.................51...............(38) 75%...........(21) 41%..........(04) 08%.............6.4 years (325 total years)
4th.................55...............(30) 55%...........(11) 20%..........(04) 07%.............5.0 years (276 total years)
5th.................65...............(31) 48%...........(15) 23%..........(02) 03%.............4.7 years (303 total years)
6th.................63...............(26) 41%...........(07) 11%..........(02) 03%.............3.4 years (216 total years)
7th.................90...............(30) 33%...........(15) 16%..........(04) 04%.............3.4 years (304 total years)

The next list includes all the O-linemen who have survived for 8 or more years and were still playing during the 2011 season. Notice that none of the 8 longest tenured players were selected from the 1st round. The 2001 year draft was an exceptional year, and many of these guys have a chance to increase the percentages for their draft class.

Since the players selected for the center position are only 16% of the total, perhaps just the fact that 50% of the 8 oldest players below are centers says something about that position. 6 of 18 (33%) of the 11 years and older group are centers, and 11 of the 52 players below (21%) are centers.

Is it a coincidence, or is it representative of lesser competition at that spot? I'd love to hear your ideas on the subject because I can't understand what else could cause that. 44% of the 11+ group are tackles leaving the guards with 23% .

1998 14y

3 Olin Kreutz............C
6 Matt Birk...............C
6 Patrick Mannelly...T

1999 13y

7 Todd McClure.......C

2000 12y

2 Chad Clifton..........T
2 Brad Meester........C
2 Bobbie Williams....G
4 Cooper Carlisle.....G

2001 11y

1 Leonard Davis........T
1 Steve Hutchinson..G
1 Jeff Backus............T
2 Matt Light............. .T
2 Dominic Raiola......C
3 Kareem McKenzie .T
4 Roberto Garza......G
4 Ryan Diem............T
4 Floyd Womack......T
5 Russ Hochstein.....C

2002 10y

1 Bryant McKinnie....T
1 Marc Colombo......T
2 Andre Gurode.......G
5 Jon Goodwin........G
7 Kyle Kosier...........G

2003 9y

1 Jordan Gross........T
1 Jeff Faine..............C
2 Eric Steinbach.......G
3 Wayne Hunter.......T
3 Wade Smith...........T
3 Derrick Dockery....G
4 Montrae Holland...G
5 Ryan Pontbriand...C
5 David Diehl...........G
5 Dan Koppen..........C
5 Tony Pashos.........T
6 Reggie Wells.........G
6 Jeremy Bridges.....G
7 Scott Kooistra........T

2004 8y

1 Robert Gallery...... .T
1 Vernon Carey....... .T
2 Chris Snee............G
3 Nick Hardwick.......C
3 Max Starks............T
3 S. Peterman..........G
3 Sean Locklear.......T
3 Travelle Wharton...T
4 Stacy Andrews......T
5 Jacob Bell.............G
5 Jake Scott.............G
6 Rex Hadnot...........G
6 Kirk Chambers......T
7 Eugene Amano.....C
7 Scott Wells............G

My appreciation to http://www.pro-football-reference.com/draft/ for providing much of the above information.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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