How frequently has your team drafted OL talent in the last 5 years

A few days ago, we published a timeline of the Cowboys’ unwillingness to appropriately fix their offensive line over the last 5 years. Buried deep within that post was a chart that showed how frequently all 32 teams draft OL talent. That post focused on the Cowboys, but I think there are a lot of other interesting things to analyze within that chart, especially leading up to the 2013 draft, which is loaded with talent along the OL. Here’s the chart, with some observations on other teams around the league following behind.

The last 5 years:

Team Total picks OL drafted 1st 3 rounds Total OL drafted % of picks on OL
Steelers 42 5 10 23.8
Packers 42 2 9 21.4
49ers 38 3 8 21.1
Broncos 44 4 9 20.5
Bills 45 3 9 20
Colts 40 3 8 20
Eagles 51 1 10 19.6
Saints 26 1 5 19.2
Redskins 43 3 8 18.6
Falcons 38 4 7 18.4
Ravens 39 4 7 17.9
Chargers 34 1 6 17.6
Texans 40 3 7 17.5
Panthers 41 2 7 17.1
Dolphins 41 4 7 17.1
Patriots 48 2 8 16.7
Cardinals 37 0 6 16.2
Chiefs 44 5 7 15.9
Bears 38 2 6 15.8
Vikings 38 2 6 15.8
Jets 27 1 4 14.8
Raiders 34 4 5 14.7
Bengals 48 2 7 14.6
Giants 37 1 5 13.5
Lions 38 2 5 13.2
Cowboys 39 2 5 12.8
Browns 40 3 5 12.5
Seahawks 42 4 5 11.9
Rams 44 3 5 11.4
Jaguars 31 3 3 9.7
Titans 43 0 3 7
Buccaneers 37 1 2 5.4

• The Giants have ignored their OL in a similar fashion as the Cowboys. However, they’ve won 2 Super Bowls in the last 6 years, despite terrible OL play in the most recent Super Bowl season. This basically makes Jerry Reese immune to criticism in the way the Giants were built.

• There are arguments to be made for drafting (or not drafting) offensive linemen heavily. The Packers, Steelers, and Giants all won Super Bowls in the last 5 years without stellar OL play. However, if you look at the chart above, exactly half of the NFL’s teams have drafted at least 7 offensive linemen in the last 5 years. 10 of the 12 playoffs berths in 2012 were occupied by teams within that group. Only 2 teams that drafted 6 or less made the playoffs.

• The Eagles were always known for drafting OL talent under Andy Reid, and to some degree that’s true. If you look at the chart above, you’ll see that no teams drafted more total offensive linemen than them over the last 5 years. However, they did not use high picks on the OL during that span. Only two teams (the Cardinals and Titans) drafted fewer offensive linemen (0) in the first 3 rounds than the Eagles (1). And that “1″ was Danny Watkins.

• Over the last 5 years, as noted in the last bullet point, the Cardinals and Titans drafted no offensive linemen in the first 3 rounds in the last 5 years. The Cardinals had 14 picks in the first 3 rounds the last 5 years. The Titans had 16. The Titans’ willingness to ignore their OL in the draft is a little more forgivable, since they found both of their bookends in the 2005 draft (Michael Roos and David Stewart), and both are good players. However, Roos and Stewart are both 30, and G Steve Hutchinson is 35. They’re going to have to address it this draft, I would think. The Cardinals, however, have no excuse. Their OL has had major holes for the last half decade, and they haven’t adequately addressed it in the draft. If your OL stinks and you continue to ignore it in April, it’s going to continue to stink. It’s not rocket science.

• The Buccaneers have drafted a shockingly low 2 offensive linemen in the last 5 years, and only one since GM Mark Dominik became the GM 4 years ago (Xavier Fulton, 5th round, 2009). Since Dominik took over, just 3% of their draft picks have been offensive linemen, and the one guy he did draft is now in the CFL. They’ve drafted no offensive linemen… at all… in the last 3 years. The site JoeBucsFan.com explained why:

Dominik explained that he’s only drafted one offensive lineman among his 30 draft picks and that’s because he believes it’s typically better to see an offensive linemen on some level of the pro game before committing to them.

The prevalence of the spread offense in college has made it more challenging to effectively scout O-linemen, Dominik said, and Dominik pointed to successes with Ted Larsen, Demar Dotson and Jamon Meredith.

“Personally, I like them to develop a little bit in this game and then go get a little more information about [them,] “ Dominik said of studying young linemen prospects after the draft. “So if you can be more meticulous, have a mindset as we do as an organization, and Greg’s 100 percent on board which is fantastic for us, you go find them.”

Wow. For one, I think a very easy counter argument that can be made here is that it’s typically better to see ANY player on some level of the pro game before committing to them.

In reference to Ted Larsen, Demar Dotson, and Jamon Meredith, those were three players that were picked up off the scrap heap. Dotson starts, and is a nice player. Larsen has started 27 games over the last 3 years, but is a player that you would look to upgrade the first chance you got. Ditto that for Meredith, who got his first real action this season.

Otherwise, the Bucs have Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah, and Davin Joseph, which is a nice trio, but are all holdovers from the previous regime. They also have Carl Nicks, a great guard, but one the Bucs had to throw $47.5 million at over 5 years to get him to come to Tampa, and as previously mentioned, Demar Dotson. That’s the projected starting 5 in 2013 as it currently stands, which isn’t bad. However, going forward, if I understand the strategy correctly (and maybe I don’t), the Bucs are going to rely on overpaying really good offensive linemen on the open market, and filling in the rest with scrap heap guys because their GM isn’t comfortable evaluating college OL prospects? Good luck with all that when the holdovers from the previous regime begin their decline, Bucs fans.

• The Jaguars drafted a punter in the 3rd round last year. So that’s what they’re up to.

• The Browns are interesting. They’ve drafted the OL with less frequency than all but 5 teams, but that kind of makes sense for them. They drafted Joe Thomas 3rd overall in 2007 (not within the last 5 years), and have used Top 40 picks on Mitchell Schwartz and Alex Mack, both of whom have panned out. So while they haven’t drafted in bulk, they’ve used rich resources on their OL, and have one of the better OL units in the league. They just haven’t had a QB worth protecting.

• Since Bruce Allen took over as GM with the Redskins prior to the 2010 offseason, the Redskins have drafted 7 offensive linemen. That ties them with the Steelers for the most in the NFL.

• Not OL related, but the Eagles have had more total draft picks (51) than any team in the league over the last 5 years. They were followed by the Patriots, with 48. The Saints had the least, with 26, followed by the Jets, with 27.

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  25. SamWitwitky says:

    The Eagles have NOT drafted a lineman in the top 3 rounds in the last few years.

    (Some other things, but no linemen)

  26. [...] Kempski at Blogging the Beast found that the Eagles have only drafted one offensive lineman in the first three rounds since [...]

  27. [...] How frequently has your team drafted OL talent in the last 5 years – Blogging the bEast i would've pasted it, but it usually looks like crap when i do . Reply With Quote [...]

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  29. Tanya Cash says:

    Awesome data. I overlaid your data with win% over the last 5 years to determine if there’s a relationship. http://sportsdataviz.com/visualizing-frequency-of-drafting-ols-by-nfl-team-in-the-last-5-years/

  30. [...] came across an interesting table of stats depicting how aggressively (or not) NFL teams have drafted OLs over the past 5 years. Here’s [...]

  31. [...] .@Jimmy_Beast looks at how frequently NFL tms draft O-Linemen.  Packers, Steelers, Giants won Super Bowls wo heavy investment; however, half tms drafted 7 or more, 10 of 12 of last yr’s playoff tms.  Eagles under Reid drafted often but in later rounds.  Cardinals, Titans, Buccaneers barely any.  Link [...]

  32. immynimmy says:

    Wow, I just realized we have the most picks in the past 5 years with 51

  33. TylerD says:

    To Derf’s point when the Giants had a killer O-line it consisted of a LT that was a 5th rounder a LG who was an UDFA a center who was a FA (and was an UFDA coming out of college) a RG who was a 2nd round pick and a RT who was a FA pick up. Only one high draft pick on the whole line and they were one of the best lines in football for a few years.

    1. DerfDiggy says:

      Exactly… I’d make the argument that Jerry isn’t a good talent evaluator when it comes to the OL… More than anything else.

  34. gotpong says:

    Pretty interesting to see majority of teams at the top are consistently competitive while the majority of the teams on the bottom are not.

  35. Skinsational says:

    Lol, I’m curious how you knew to find that article about the Bucs. Great stuff.

    1. Thanks. A couple months ago I had an interview to be a Bucs writer, so I studied up on them. I remember reading that their GM doesn’t feel comfortable drafting OL. I have no idea if the article I linked to was the article or not, but that just stuck with me because I do so many OL posts.

      Didn’t get the Bucs job :(

      1. Deer Antler Spray says:

        Their loss

      2. HAHAA!! says:

        BEST MOVE THE BUCS HAVE MADE IN YEARS!!! HAHAAHAAAAAHHAAAAAAA!!!!!!

  36. Dan in Philly says:

    Worth a mention the Eagles traded one of their first round picks to get Peters.

  37. Sejo28 says:

    Lol well i think that horse is dead now Jimmy.

    1. Ha, well, technically, this post wasn’t about the Cowboys even though they were mentioned at the top.

      But even still, that horse may be dead, but my love for criticizing the Cowboys for ignoring the OL has been renewed in the last few days. I have a lot of new readers since last year, so I owe it to them to bludgeon that horse some more, ha. And if the Cowboys don’t address it in this draft… Hoo boy.

      1. DerfDiggy says:

        Draft isn’t the only way to invest in a position of need. It’s the easiest to fit your argument… But jerruh has long invested in picking up OL through Free Agency.. It hasn’t worked lately obviously.. But beating a dead horse is exactly what you’re doing. Whether you feel the draft is the best well to pull from or not(and the Cowboys woes would back that up)…. It’s simply not the only way to acquire players.

        Cowboys have invested in the OL. I’d actually be interested in how they rank in regards to the rest of the league as far as signing OL Free agents over the last decade. Or a combination of both drafts and FA acquisitions…

        Research that for us.

        1. Just in general (not necessarily talking about the OL specifically), how are the best teams in the NFL built?

          A) Through the draft

          B) Through free agency

          This question is of course open to everybody.

          1. DerfDiggy says:

            You’re missing my point. Not drafting a position doesn’t equate to ignoring it. That’s been your angle through the years. While you’ll get no argument from me it’s probably the most successful path… Its also not the only path.

            It’s not just you though. These articles always read… “Jerry ignores the OL”… Well no… He spends a great deal of money on the OL because he’s not able to hit during draft day…. It’s not ignored at all. Just not effectively hit.

            1. If you want to argue semantics, then OK, he doesn’t “ignore” it. That’s just my vernacular. But he sure as hell doesn’t value it. We can agree there, right?

              1. YOU FOOL!! says:

                It’s not SEMANTICS GENIUS!!! There is a DEFINITE difference between the two, you “elite” blogger, lmfao!!

              2. DerfDiggy says:

                In respect to drafting…. Yes let’s agree:)

        2. ct17 says:

          Is signing Davis, Livings, and Bernadeaux an investment, or a ploy to put local all-you-can-eat restaurants out of business? Philly with Mathis and Peters and the Giants with O’Hara and McKenzie made better investments.

      2. EGREGIOUS!! says:

        PATHETIC self-serving bias revealed!! Way to be journalizin’…son.

        Epic shame and FAIL!!

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