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By The Numbers

NFL Draft Analytics for OL

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: February 23, 2019, 12:37 pm ET

Offensive Guard


As you can see, offensive guard is a pretty difficult position to address with analytics. I think it’s because it’s a position that a player can get away with not being overly athletic. I’d guess that it’s more about toughness and smarts, rather than about speed and acceleration -- at least relative to other NFL positions. But let’s see if there are trends in the data that aren’t being picked up in correlational studies.



Not a ton to grasp, but the most elite offensive guards (0.60 AV/G or above) have historically had times of under 8.00 seconds. The offensive guards who beat the 7.50-second mark have a better hit rate than the rest of the field as well.



Not a ton can be pulled from the 40-yard dash, but I suppose taking a cutoff at 5.30 seconds is wise since only two of the offensive tackles with over 0.60 AV/G ran slower than that. Let’s see if size-adjusted 40-yard dash has better results:



That’s a little better, but it’s still not very helpful. However, the top-end offensive guards have speed scores above 77. That’s the lower threshold if you’re looking for a high-end guard. Once we get up to the 100-speed score mark, then we are dealing with elite athletes, but the results are all over the place. Most of this is just noise, to be honest.



I just don’t see anything here at all. Athleticism just doesn’t seem to be overly important at the position. I’ll be leaning on composite rankings for offensive guard a lot more than other positions. It’s also another time to mention that we should buy low on players who only performed mediocre at the NFL Combine. People and teams overreact, and it’s a great opportunity to trust the rest of the evaluation since there’s little to zero evidence that shows that these tests have any predictive power at this position.





There’s basically no correlation to anything here, so let’s move on to the other graphs.



I’d love to hear an explanation of how the 40-yard dash matters for centers. There’s literally nothing that I learned from this graph, outside of the fact that it’s all just noise and it’s meaningless. Once again, it’s not a position that necessary needs elite athleticism since so much of it is about blitz pickups and communication. It’s more about football IQ than how fast you run or how far you jump, but let’s continue.



When we adjust for size, the chart is just as hectic. In fact, the slower centers have performed better than faster players, which just shows how noisy these tests are at this position. Fade the speed tests for centers at the NFL Combine, and buy low on the players who don’t perform well.



Once again, this is showing that centers who have worse broad jump number perform better. While I don’t actually think that is true, it’s an indicator that the test doesn’t predict early NFL success at all.



I’m not going to explain the same point over and over again. Nothing changes with bench press.



1) The NFL Combine is more important for offensive tackles than guard or center because it’s a position that is more reliant on athleticism. Tackles have to move their feet to adjust to defensive ends and blitzers in a way that isn’t seen often at guard or tackle. If an offensive tackle doesn’t test well at the NFL Combine, that’s bad news. For offensive guards and centers, it’s not nearly as important.


2) Relative to other positions, the NFL Combine has been far less predictive for offensive lineman. It’s a position that relies on football IQ more so than other positions, and the NFL Combine doesn’t test that.


3) Since there isn’t a lot of data for on-field college performance either, it’s a position group that analytics people need to trust scouts on. Until there are improvements with tracking, I’m going to put more faith in composition rankings relative to other positions.


4) Offensive guard and center are two positions where we should be buying low on players who struggled at the NFL Combine. There are numerous examples of a bad athletic prospect having NFL success, so if a player falls one round, then we should be buyers.