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NFL Offensive Lines by Draft Position

One of many experimental iterations ...

Lanky Livingston

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NFL Offensive Lines by Average Draft Position

So, a comment from a poster on this site (Bulldog's Twin, I believe) about our OL being Trent Williams and a "bunch of guys" got me thinking - how do the Redskins rank compared to other teams in terms of average draft position of our OL? Is it as bad as that post made it seem? Note - this post is for information purposes only, it was something I found interesting.

The results may surprise you. I took all data from Pro-football-reference.com, augmented with ESPN.com's data when PFR didn't have a starter. These are also starters for 2011 without taking into account injury. The Redskins have the 10th highest-drafted OL in the league, and are the 2nd highest in the NFC East (behind the Giants).

First, the average draft position of the 5 OL starters, ranked from lowest to highest (* indicates playoff team):

1 Miami Dolphins 1.4
2 Detroit Lions* 2.2
3 San Francisco 49ers* 2.2
4 Baltimore Ravens* 2.4
5 Denver Broncos* 2.6
6 Oakland Raiders 2.6
7 New York Giants* 2.8
8 Cleveland Browns 3
9 Jacksonville Jaguars 3
10 Washington Redskins 3
11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3
12 Seattle Seahawks 3
13 Pittsburgh Steelers* 3.4
14 Buffalo Bills 3.6
15 San Diego Chargers 3.6
16 New York Jets 3.8
17 Carolina Panthers 3.8
18 New England Patriots* 4
19 Chicago Bears 4
20 Houston Texans* 4.2
21 Green Bay Packers* 4.2
22 Tennessee Titans 4.4
23 Philadelphia Eagles 4.4
24 Cincinatti Bengals* 4.6
25 Minnesota Vikings 4.6
26 Dallas Cowboys 4.8
27 Arizona Cardinals 4.8
28 Kansas City Chiefs 5.2
29 Atlanta Falcons* 5.4
30 Indianapolis Colts 5.6
31 New Orleans Saints* 5.6
32 St. Louis Rams 6.6

Five of twelve playoff teams were in the top 7, Six of twelve were in the bottom half of the league, with the Falcons and Saints being in the bottom 4! Does this mean the Saints and Falcons simply drafted OL better than anyone else?

New England, Cincinatti, Houston, New Orleans, and Atlanta all had undrafted FAs on the OL (Pats and Bungles had two each), Detroit was the only team with 4th round and higher picks on their team.

Further interesting analysis: Left Tackle (2.8) and Left Guard (3.4) were the two highest drafted positions, center (4.5) and right guard (4.4) the two lowest drafted, with RT (3.8) in the middle. This surprised me, as I assumed the tackles would be the top two drafted positions.

Redskins starters:
Trent Williams - 1
Kory Lichtensteiger - 4
Will Montgomery - 7
Chris Chester - 2
Jammal Brown - 1

Steelers, Bengals, Colts, Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Packers, Saints and Panthers all had zero free agent linemen (all home grown). The NFC East had by far the most FA OL (Redskins had 4), the AFC West and NFC South tied for fewest with 2, respectively.
 

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Burgundy Burner

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Very interesting. Thanks for taking the time and effort to compile this list and statistics.

It looks like the Redskins are doing the right thing. Many of us have been talking about how a good QB will make this line look a lot better. Time will tell, but it is hard to argue these points when the stats are staring you in the face.

One other note. We did take three OL in this draft. We took one last year (Hurt) and he did well in the last few games of the season. He'll provide quality depth this season and beyond. Willie Smith was an UDFA last year and we added a couple of UDFAs this year.

I'll wait before passing any kind of judgment on this group of OL. We are a lot younger along the OL and we have more depth too.
 

Henry

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Nice post. A blog-worthy effort in my opinion.

A couple things. First of all, free agents that were drafted high, didn't pan out as expected for one team and were then picked up by another team need to somehow get factored in. Acquiring Brown isn't really the same as drafting a player in the first round, for example.

Also, on the OL depth is fairly important. I realize that's a whole 'nother huge post of stat-crunching, but it does need to be taken into account. I think we are moving in the right direction in that aspect of the line, for what it's worth. The starters I'm more concerned about. We'll see how our younguns pan out.

Good stuff though.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Nice post. A blog-worthy effort in my opinion.

A couple things. First of all, free agents that were drafted high, didn't pan out as expected for one team and were then picked up by another team need to somehow get factored in. Acquiring Brown isn't really the same as drafting a player in the first round, for example.
Yeah, Redskins are definitely at the bottom when it comes to self-drafted starters. Only the Rams have as many (4) as we do, Oakland has 3, and most other teams have no more than 2. Also, a FA moving doesn't always mean they "didn't pan out," could just have taken more money. But a lot of the UDFAs were free agents, and they probably fit in to the "didn't pan out" category. Would take a lot of research to figure that out!

Otherwise, not really sure how to factor that in - I'm open to suggestions!

Also, on the OL depth is fairly important. I realize that's a whole 'nother huge post of stat-crunching, but it does need to be taken into account. I think we are moving in the right direction in that aspect of the line, for what it's worth. The starters I'm more concerned about. We'll see how our younguns pan out.

Good stuff though.
Depth is important - was gonna get into that when I had time.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Also, I forgot to put this in the OP, but UDFAs were counted as an "8" in the draft-position average. Made sense to me, but if someone has an argument against it, I'm willing to listen.
 

Lanky Livingston

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I don't think Trent Williams has earned such "name recognition"

I also think draft position for OL is over-rated.
The comment was meant to signify that we had Trent Williams as a high draft pick, then a bunch of guys off the street. At least that's how I took it.

And I don't disagree about draft position being overrated - The top 2 rushing offenses last year, Denver & Houston, were 15 spots apart on this list.
 

China

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I'm not surprised left tackle has such an overall high draft position. Try to find Pro Bowl left tackles that were not drafted in the first round. There aren't many. Jason Peters comes to mind.
 

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LB Goff was released (injury waiver) a short time ago and an OL was added to the roster.
 

servumtuum

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Interesting analysis, Lanky. I wonder if a confounding variable that might factor in could be Shanahan's criteria of looking for ZBS fits in terms of physical qualities; size, speed/quickness, mobility/agility...etc.?
 

Rymanofthenorth

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a few things
1-a guy who was drafted mid round or early and then cut and resigned shouldnt count as anything more than a free agent. otherwise its extremely misleading, we got lick because nobody else wanted him and chester has not performed like a 2nd rounder.

2- teams that run the same system for a few years can take flyers on guys who fit the system, great teams find those guys in the late rounds.

3-drafting high means you sucked the year before drafting high for several years usually means you sucked at drafting too.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Yeah, there are an infinite amount of caveats that can be applied to any analysis. But in that scenario how do you grade a Chris Chester? He wasn't retained because they had a better option, but he played well when given the opportunity in Baltimore.
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Lanky Livingston

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Re-ran the numbers (still only looking at the five starters), except replaced free-agents draft position with an 8 to reflect FA status to see how the numbers changed:


1 Denver Broncos 2.6
2 New York Giants 2.8
3 San Francisco 49ers 2.8
4 Pittsburgh Steelers 3.4
5 Cleveland Browns 3.6
6 San Diego Chargers 3.6
7 Miami Dolphins 3.8
8 Jacksonville Jaguars 3.8
9 Carolina Panthers 3.8
10 New England Patriots 4
11 Detroit Lions 4
12 Baltimore Ravens 4.2
13 Green Bay Packers 4.2
14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4.4
15 Seattle Seahawks 4.4
16 Buffalo Bills 4.6
17 Cincinatti Bengals 4.6
18 New York Jets 4.8
19 Tennessee Titans 5
20 Kansas City Chiefs 5.2
21 Arizona Cardinals 5.2
22 Philadelphia Eagles 5.4
23 Indianapolis Colts 5.6
24 Houston Texans 5.6
25 New Orleans Saints 5.6
26 Oakland Raiders 5.8
27 Dallas Cowboys 5.8
28 Atlanta Falcons 5.8
29 Chicago Bears 6.2
30 Minnesota Vikings 6.4
31 Washington Redskins 6.6
32 St. Louis Rams 8


This is more what I was expecting, and probably a more accurate portrayal of the attention focused on the OL. I will update this with average draft pick spent on O-Linemen overall (including non-starters).
 

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