FanPost

Observations Of The Best Offensive Lines In 2011

I want to take a look at the best passing offensive lines and figure out who the best teams are and what the average draft position is for each team. This comparison will come from starting players to depth in an attempt to break down how some of the best players in the game are added to the best offensive lines. In this research I will break down the statistics of each of these teams and the positions as a whole to help us better understand how a line can be put together.

So this isn't a, 'Hey lets grab the best guy out there' post, but a different strategy by looking at how and where elite teams have addressed their needs.

The weakness in this study will be that I’m only doing this for this year (as it will take plenty of time to put just one year together. Maybe if I decide to do this year after year, or go backwards to study, this will become a stronger study). There are other variables such as elite quarterbacks that will skew statistics. For this reason I am taking only the top 10 passing offenses. I would like us to have the best of every aspect of the game I think a top 10 passing offense would be a good next step. Taking the top 10 passing offenses also helps equalize variability by having an elite QB.

The offensive lines that I broke down are the Patriots, Saints, Packers, Giants, Lions, Chargers, Cowboys, Steelers, Eagles, and Falcons. (Best is subjective terminology, but I went with the consistent best stats in passing categories). I chose this route because if the big guys are doing their job up front then the other members on the team have the best chance of creating these stats (again subjective).

There were four main categories that I wanted to observe to identify how these teams built their respective offensive lines. The first two categories go hand in hand -- round and draft spot. This will help identify when these players were drafted. The draft number is used to help pinpoint the position in the round that would be best to develop a player at a specific position. I used the category ‘Drafted by’ to help determine whether the players are developed in house, or if they were free agents. The numbers closest to one mean they were more consistently free agents. The numbers closer to 0 mean they were more consistently developed in house. The last category is the amount of NFL experience. I suspect that the amount of experience that is on the line will help tell a story about the other statistics.

So let us begin:

First let us look at the teams as a whole:

Team Round Draft # Drafted by: Experience
Saints 4.75 145.5 0.25 5.375
Patriots 4.625 139.125 0.375 6.125
Packers 3.5 119.8333 0 4
Eagles 4.111111 152 0.222222 4.888889
Giants 3.666667 99.66667 0.555556 6.222222
Lions 3.125 95.25 0.5 6.5
Chargers 4.5 154.7 0.1 5.2
Cowboys 5.222222 160.1111 0.333333 4.666667
Steelers 4.777778 146.1111 0.222222 3.888889
Falcons 4.888889 148.2222 0.222222 5.888889
AVG 4.316667 136.0519 0.278056 5.275556

What we find out by this is teams like the Cowboys get their offensive linemen later in the draft. These numbers are most likely skewed as a couple of their linemen this year are rookies, and undrafted free agents (UDFA’s were labeled with as an 8th round pick, and +1 from the Mr. Irrelevant pick). The Cowboys also have a relatively low score which shows most of the players are developed in house (any higher and I would consider this as an even mixture of free agents and home talent .33-.66). If I apply the standard deviation from these stats it also tells me that the Saints, Patriots, Steelers and Falcons wait later in the draft for their offensive lines. While, the Packers, Lions, and Giants acquire their offensive linemen earlier in the draft.

The Giants and the Lions are teams that have drafted offensive linemen relatively low in the draft. The linemen on these teams also have a relatively even mixture of players drafted and free agents. The experience on these teams is also relatively high. The only other team that has an even mixture of draftees and free agents is the Patriots. The experience level of the Patriots is also pretty high for this list. This suggests that if you are going to get free agents that they have a little over 6 years of experience.

The Packers have gone a different route of trying to develop all of their offensive linemen in house. In doing so the Packers invested plenty of stock in draftees early in the draft.

So how do the Chiefs matchup?

--------------------------(-Round/-- Draft #/-- Drafted/-- Experience)------------------------------------------

Chiefs

5.5

165.375

0.125

4.625

The Chiefs average offensive line is usually found after these teams in the draft, but by using standard deviation this is by an insignificant amount. We are a team that likes to develop our offensive line in house. I did count Lilja as he started off with us… The overall experience level is right near the middle on the lower side. This suggests to me with some tweaking and given more time together that this team could easily be in the top ten offensive lines of 2012.

In order to find out where we might go to tweak the line lets explore how we compare to these teams at different positions on the line.

Lets start with right tackle:

---------------------------------(-Round/---- Draft #/---- Drafted/---- Experience)------------------------------------------

RT

AVG

2.9

84.1

0.1

4.1


Max

8

256

1

11


Min

1

9

0

1


STD

2.424413

82.42633

0.316228

3.381321

Taking the standard deviation from the average position we find out that taking a right tackle might not be the best idea in the first round. Yet 40% of the best offensive lines that I’m looking at have a first round right tackle. If we look at the draft # we find out that a first round right tackle could possibly be within reason to build an elite offensive line starting at this position. The standard deviation suggests that taking a right tackle with the number 3 position might be within reason. More often than not there is going to be a better player that presents itself at the number 3 position.

Tyron Smith at number 9 falls under this category and could be affecting the stats as he will probably flip to the left tackle. The average of the picks in the first round is 16, and there are 2 picks at number 17. So if there was a way that we were able to pick a tackle at 16-17 position by dropping back in the draft I would pull the trigger. That is if we needed to upgrade our right tackle.

Barry Richardson is in his fourth year and sits right at that sweet spot for these offensive lines. Using standard deviation we find that he slightly falls out of range of the draft number. Richardson’s years of experience should tell us by now if he is the guy at right tackle. These stats and our own eyes tell us that the right tackle must be upgraded this offseason. (Doing a quick peep… Richardson does fall into a good backup according to the backup role stats).

Now on to the right guards

---------------------------------(-Round/---- Draft #/---- Drafted/---- Experience)------------------------------------------

RG

AVG

4.4

133.5

0.4

5.9


Max

8

257

1

14


Min

1

23

0

1


STD

2.458545

89.40575

0.516398

4.175324

Using standard deviation we find that it is unnecessary to draft a right guard before the 12th pick in the 2nd round. Yet we also find that we should not wait until late in the 6th round. There are outliers like Brian Waters, and Ramon Foster that were undrafted. Watkins is another that is an outlier in that he was drafted in the first.

Pioli drafted Jon Asamoah in the 3rd round in 2010. Going by these stats this was the perfect place to draft a right guard. There were no backup positions to look up for right guard in particular. I will discus options later with left guard and/or interior line breakdowns.

Now for the centers

---------------------------------(-Round/---- Draft #/---- Drafted/---- Experience)------------------------------------------

C

AVG

4.4

151.6

0.2

6


Max

8

256

1

13


Min

1

18

0

1


STD

2.91357

100.0724

0.421637

4.163332

Again I’m using standard deviation to tell me where the starting point and end points to start drafting a new center. Pouncey is the only center that was taken in the 1st round on this list. Using standard deviation one would believe that taking a center that early is unnecessary. Taking a center in the 2nd round is where we would get the better value.

Ideally if we had a pick in the 19th range of the 2nd round (pick 51), we would be doing well. Lucky for us Hudson falls right at that cutoff. This shows that Pioli has once again done a good job of attempting to build the offensive line through the draft. The veteran Weigmann falls outside of every category necessary to build an elite offensive line. He has been a great mentor for Hudson, but his time is up.

Now to left guards

---------------------------------(-Round/---- Draft #/---- Drafted/---- Experience)------------------------------------------

LG

AVG

4.3

133

0.3

6.3


Max

8

263

1

9


Min

1

32

0

3


STD

2.311805

79.28009

0.483046

2.451757

The left guard position as you can see has similar stats as the right guard. When comparing the stats and level of play that Lilja has displayed this season we should consider drafting another guard/center in the draft. We might find out that Lilja has been playing with an injury this season which would explain his decrease in play. Weigman has play has drastically decreased this year so maybe this has effected the weaknesses in Lilja’s play. Regardless, with Weigman leaving we are going to need to find someone to fill the hole on the interior of the line.

Finially the Left Tackle

---------------------------------(-Round/---- Draft #/---- Drafted/---- Experience)------------------------------------------

LT

AVG

4

117

0.3

6.8


Max

8

256

1

11


Min

1

18

0

3


STD

2.325996

82.1

0.471495

2.823528

We already have a venture interest in Brandon Albert... What is interesting is that many of these elite offenses are finding diamonds in the rough during the later rounds. 60 percent found a franchise Left Tackle that was drafted at or after the 4th round. The only reason I make this point is because of the notion that is stated often "In order to have an elite offensive line you must have an elite left tackle" and "In order to have an elite left tackle one must draft one in the first round".

This post is getting to long for my liking so I will omit the interior line, and save it for another post. If this post is enjoyed and brings good discussion I'll do one that is much like it only on the best run offensive lines. (I can do a positional breakdown for overall and starting vs backup if others are interested).

So I have shown these stats… I know of other things to discuss with these stats but given the length of the posts left them out. Feel free to state the obvious. How do you believe that we should proceed? What do you like, and what would you like to see in the future?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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