Wednesday, May 09, 2007

First Round Linemen

Jesse Lamovsky has a really interesting article this morning on The Cleveland Fan website analyzing the performance of tackles selected as one of the first five picks of the NFL draft. Lamovsky looks at every tackle taken with one of those picks over the past 40 years. The conclusion: the Robert Gallerys and Tony Mandarichs of the world notwithstanding, tackles selected that early generally live up to their expectations.

I think a lot of people believe that you can win by signing free agent linemen and drafting offensive line projects in the later rounds. For the most part, that's the approach that the Browns have taken in recent years. Teams can definitely find value in those late round projects, but when it comes to offensive linemen, the best of the best have generally been first round selections.

The various NFL All-Decade teams provide the best evidence for that statement. If you look at the 1990s All-Decade team, you'll find that all four of the tackles on it were first round picks, as were two of the four guards on the team. Only one lineman, center Mark Stepnoski,was drafted beyond the second round. The same sort of thing is true for the 1980s All-Decade team. Six of the lineman on that team were first round selections, while only three were taken after the second round. Interestingly, even the 1970s All-Decade team had four first round offensive line selections on it, despite the fact that scouting college prospects wasn't anywhere near as sophisticated a process as it is today.

It's easy to fall in love with superstar running backs and quarterbacks, but if you want to win, get yourself some linemen first.

1 comment:

Bad Becks said...

Joe Thomas was the pick I was praying for all along. He was the safe and sensible pick. Even if he's a bust who can blame us for trying?

Assuming he's not, it makes the Quinn move even better considering he's likely to be standing upright a lil more often.