Yesterday, I was reading C.E. Wendler's article titled The Monroe Doctrine in which he argues against drafting another offensive linemen with the Chiefs #3 overall pick. He makes the very valid point that by drafting Eugene Monroe, the Chiefs would have to move Branden Albert to the right side of the line. Serviceable Right tackles, Wendler argues, are relatively easy to find in the latter rounds of the draft and in free agency.
I agreed with him that for the Chiefs to draft a tackle with the #3 pick wouldn't be ideal. I've taken Eugene Monroe in a couple of mock drafts and even I don't particularly agree with the pick. It's that sometimes in mock drafts without trades, you get stuck taking a pick you're pretty sure won't happen in real life.
Then I caught a message board comment somewhere that went basically like this: "Has any franchise been dumb enough to use two consecutive first round picks on offensive linemen?" That also got me thinking. What sort of a precedent is there for teams using first round draft picks on offensive linemen in subsequent years?
I did a little research and found just over twenty historical examples of NFL teams drafting either a tackle, center or guard in the first round of the draft and then drafting another linemen the subsequent year. What trends or interesting facts did I find that that data? Admittedly, very few. It's tough to look at data like that, compare yardage increases or sack decreases over a certain time for example and really feel like you know what you're talking about.
Instead of trying to draw rigid statistical conclusions from these twenty or so examples, I want to talk about a few different situations of teams drafting linemen in consecutive years and how they turned out.
Once you take a look at those, let's start talking about how Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith would fit in KC.
Houston Oilers - G Bruce Matthews (1983) and G Mike Munchak (1982)
I'm going to start you off with the best example of what can happen when you draft two offensive linemen, guards no less, in the first round of the NFL draft.
Matthews and Munchak both ended up being Hall of Famers after being selected in the top ten of their respective drafts. Matthews played every position on the line at some point in his career and went to the Pro Bowl as a guard and a center. Munchak played left guard for the Oilers.
After enduring a few down seasons in Houston, Matthews and Munchak paired up to help lead Warren Moon and the Oilers to the playoffs every year from 1987 to 1993. Their offensive numbers were crushing. The Oilers were top ten in points from 1987 to 1993. Matthews finished his career with 14 Pro Bowl appearances. Munchak had 9 appearances in the Pro Bowl.
Warren Moon came to Houston in 1984, right as Matthews and Munchak were entering their second and third seasons. The addition of Moon, aided by the high draft picks Matthews and Munchak, gave the Oilers their longest period of sustained success ever. I want to use this example (and others) to emphasis how important and potent a top notch offensive line and a few skill players can be.
I also want to point out that this the absolute best possible example I could have picked out to show the possibilities of drafting two consecutive offensive linemen.
Atlanta Falcons - T Lincoln Kennedy (1993) and G Bob Whitfield (1992)
If the Bills in the early 80s was one of the best examples of drafting two offensive linemen, Atlanta drafing Lincoln Kennedy and Bob Whitfield is one of the worst examples.
This example shows what every team is afraid of- drafting a bust. Lincoln Kennedy was a super-size bust, quite literally in fact.
After being drafted 9th overall in 1993, Kennedy lost his starting left guard job after one season and never recovered. He played only three seasons for Atlanta before skipping around from Oakland to the Arena League.
Kennedy never did appear to fully interested in playing football. Again, this is part of the risk of drafting any player, not just offensive linemen in consecutive years.
On the flip side of this example is Bob Whitfield, who played 11 solid seasons at guard for the Atlanta Falcons. It's too bad that the tackle drafted a year after him didn't work out.
Cincinnati Bengals - T Brian Blados (1984) and T Dave Rimington (1983)
In 1983, the Bengals were coming off of a decent, albeit strike-shortened season. Long-time Cincy QB Ken Anderson was coming to the end of his career. Despite two statistically solid 1981 and 1982 seasons, the Cincy offense had been inconsistent at best over the last five years or so.
Enter Boomer Esiason in 1985. With Blados playing left guard and Rimington center, the Bengals averaged a top ten finish in points and yards for the next five years.
I know that the additions of these two offensive linemen isn't the whole story to Cincy's success. But I want to point out in this example how important it is to have a top skill player, like Esiason, who can truly take advantage of a solid offensive line.
So there are three examples of teams drafting offensive linemen in consecutive years. No real lesson here other than to say that this practice carries with it all of the normal player risks- injuries, comfort in the scheme, aloofness, etc.
If the Chiefs do end up selecting LT Eugene Monroe and moving Branden Albert to the right side of the line, there won't be any secret to their success. They both better end up being good players if the "bookend" tackle argument for Monroe is going to work.
I want to mention that "bookend" argument and it's one even I've made before. Just this little bit of research on o-linemen has me far from convinced that drafting Eugene Monroe automatically fixes our offensive line for a decade. Before you make that argument, look at the list below and see all of the busts out there.
This list below is the 20 or so instances I found of teams drafting offensive linemen in consecutive years. I intentionally left Victor Riley/John Tait out of my analysis so we can talk about them this morning.
|1983||9||Bruce Matthews HOF||G||HOU||1983||2001||7||14||19||296|
|1982||8||Mike Munchak HOF||G||HOU||1982||1993||2||9||11||159|