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Draft Capital Used By Position: OL

Regular readers know all about the Football Perspective Draft Value Chart, which is derived from the approximate value actually produced by draft picks at each draft slot. Over the next week, I will be showing how much draft capital has been used to select players at certain positions in every draft since 1990. This will allow us to see how much the league’s view on the value of a position has changed, while also giving us a visual insight into the volatility among the talent in draft classes is from year-to-year.

I will be staying out of the commentary for now, so I encourage you to post your thoughts. To make comparison across positions easier, I will be using the same scale for each position. Let’s look at the graph for offensive linemen:

It goes without saying that separating out OL by tackle, guard, and center has value. However, the data is a little clouded on that historically, and there’s obviously a good amount of overlap. Assuming there’s interest, I’ll take the time later in this series to do just that.

  • 2013 might have been the most OL-heavy draft in the study, but teams drafting O-linemen didn’t get great returns on their investments. Nine O-linemen were taken in the first round, including the first two overall picks. So far I would categorize them thus:

    Travis Frederick, C, Dal, 31st overall

    Above Average Players
    Kyle Long, G, Chi, 20th

    Average Players
    Justin Pugh, T, NYG, 19th
    DJ Fluker, T, SDG, 11th
    Eric Fisher, T, KC, 1st

    Below Average/Oft-Injured Players (But Still Somewhat Useful When Healthy)
    Chance Warmack, G, TEN, 10th
    Lane Johnson, T, PHI, 4th
    Luke Joeckel, T, JAX, 2nd

    Jonathan Cooper, G, ARI, 7th

    Six of the first 11 selections were O-linemen and not a one of them has lived up to his billing. In fact, their success goes in roughly reverse order from when they were drafted. I wonder if this is just the randomness of the draft, or if it illustrates that players who go to better teams are much more likely to do better themselves.

    • LightsOut85

      Coming from a Charger fan, Fluker needs to drop at least one tier. He may produce a highlight run-block (/feat of strength) every once & a while, but for the most part he’s been pretty bad. Moving inside to RG may have hid some of his deficiencies in space, but his number of mental mistakes didn’t improve.

  • Richie

    1990 was the low point. Interesting because that’s the year after Tony Mandarich was taken 2nd overall (and was a bust).

    But it wasn’t just him. There were 6 offensive linemen drafted in the first round in 1989. They combined for 0 All Pros and 0 Pro Bowls!

    The most accomplished of the 6 (by AV) was Andy Heck (61 career AV).

    Of course, in 1990 the NFL didn’t know that the careers would pan out so poorly. But was there enough evidence after just 1 year to make teams gun shy about drafting OL?

    In 1990, 2 OL went in the first round. Richmond Webb (who had a borderline HOF career) and Bern Brostek (who did not).