I want to start by saying that this is my first post, so cut me some slack. With that being said, I am a firm believer that trading Branden Albert is a great move. I plan on backing this up with some numbers, but first I want to try to convince you with words alone. As fans we are always going to think our players are better compared to what an unbiased perspective might show. Case in point, Branden Albert is a solid left tackle. As a fan I have thought that Branden Albert is a great left tackle, the cornerstone of our offensive line. Once I really started to think about it though, and compared him to others, I realized that we would be fine without him.
Lets take a look at the left tackle position as a whole. If you were building a team from scratch, what would be the first position you would fill? The quarterback of course! The second however should be the left tackle spot, you need to protect that quarterback you just got. So if we took all the players in the league and started a draft with them to build your new team what would you do. Well, personally I would take Aaron Rodgers with my first pick. Then in the next round I would grab Joe Thomas, arguably the best tackle in the game today. Now put yourself in John Dorsey and Andy Reid's shoes, you just got hired on to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to the promised land. What's the first thing you do, you look at what you have and what is available and find that quarterback. In this case what we had wasn't working so they got Alex Smith, whether or not you agree with it (I do) this is the guy they saw fit to lead our offense. We just gave away 2 top picks in the next couple of drafts for him, now you need to protect that investment. Again, starting from scratch, you take a look at all your options to fill that left tackle spot. You see what's in house with Branden Albert, you watch film and evaluate what you have. Then you take a look at what's available in free agency and the upcoming draft where you have the first pick. Lets see, in free agency you have Jake Long. A better option than Albert, but with a high price tag. You look at the draft and see some very strong tackle prospects, compared to Albert they have a higher ceiling and a cheaper price tag, but are an unknown commodity. Why not keep Albert and take the top prospect?
In my opinion there isn't room for both, with a promising young talent in Stephenson in the works, you are going to have one guy sitting on the bench. We know Stephenson has some upside and would like to see that develop. We know Albert is starting quality, so that takes two spots on the line leaving our #1 pick on the bench. Or we start Albert and said #1 pick and leave a promising talent on the bench in Stephenson. With a close to $10 million price tag, there is no way Albert sits, so the way I look at it we are leaving young talent on the bench. So lets take a look at some numbers to see which is a better player to start on the line next season, Albert or Mr. #1.
I hope the following tables of data are easy to read, I dont know much about HTML, so the only way I know to put my excel tables on here is the good old copy and paste technique. I started to think, what is the likelihood of a 1st round tackle starting and performing at a strong level. I decided to look back at some stats of all the tackles taken in the first round in the last five years plus Albert since thats what we are trying to compare. Im not a big statistician so I didn't really have the knowledge to take an in depth look at run protection so I focused on pass protection. Plus Andy Reid's offense focuses heavily on the passing game so it makes sense to look at the passing side of things. Below is a chart of the 1st round tackles taken in the last five years, and some pass protection stats in each season since then.
The players are listed in order of when they were drafted, with Albert at the bottom. I went ahead and crossed out 4 of the tackles that I believe can be considered a bust. So out of 21 tackles taken, 81% of them have been consistent starters for their teams. Now we need to look at this as a comparison to Albert, for that I chose to look at only the players that have consistently started at left tackle. Including Albert that makes 9 players to compare. This chart is a little intimidating when trying to compare the players so lets consolidate it into a total over the last 5 years.
Thats better, the other thing we need to do to make a fair comparison is to look at the averages, not all of the players have been in the league for the last 5 years. Lets add that into it.
Now we have our 9 left tackles, and a fair comparison of them. Once I got this information put together I decided to do a ranking system. I went through each category and numbered them from 1-9 in order of the best to the worst (the lowest number being the best) I did this for each category and proceeded to add the three numbers together for each player. Then I used that to rank them with the lowest number being the best and highest being the worst. That looks like this.
Obviously Matt Kalil only has one year of experience so the verdict is still out on him long term. After looking at these numbers Albert looks like a very good option compared to the rest of the picks. So I thought that maybe we should keep Albert, then I decided to take the averages of all the players and compare them.
Since my excel color schemes don't copy over I had to use bold to show the above average numbers and italics to show the below average numbers. When looking at it this way, Albert is below average in two of the three categories. He isn't that far below average, but even average isn't something I want to settle for.
After comparing these numbers (and I know they don't tell the whole story) I feel that taking a chance on a tackle in this year's draft really cant be that much different than what we have with Albert, but the chance of them being much better than Albert is very possible. So you have to weigh the risk and reward with this scenario, the risk being that the draft choice may not live up to what Albert's production has been which seems like a low risk. The reward is getting a younger player that could end up being better than Albert plus at least a second round draft choice in compensation for getting rid of Albert. I like those odds. Let me hear your thoughts on the matter after seeing these numbers.
Thanks for reading guys!