Let's get right into it: To evaluate the best offensive lineman I've created a five category scoring system. Each player will be ranked 1-15 in each category and the average will be presented in the sixth column. My first four categories represent the basic skills of a lineman: Burst, a player's ability to explode off the line and deliver that crucial first hit; Thrust, a player's ability to stand up a defender once contact has been initiated; BenchX, a combination of bench and arm length, this gives a crude idea of a players ability to lock up a defender and win hand fights; and Agility, this combines a player's 20 yard shuttle and three cone drill(when available), giving a good idea of a players lateral agility. Finally, in an attempt to balance this with conventional wisdom, their ranking according to Fox Sports. I don't think Fox is necessarily the premier talent evaluator, but, at this point, most rankings look pretty similar, so I thought Fox would suffice. The sixth column represents an average of how they ranked in each category versus the other 15. This is the player's cumulative score and what I chose to rank them by. For arguments sake, I put each prospect score based solely on my four "tools" in the seventh column. My numbers were accumulated using a simple hierarchy: Combine trumps Pro Day, therefore, for players like Ben Grubbs and Joe Staley whose numbers are solely taken from their Pro Day, you might want to apply a small discount. A brief commentary follows.
|Player||Thrust||Burst||Bench-X||Agility||Fox Ranking||Average||Raw Average|
|J. Blalock||128.28||173.41||40/33 1/8"||4.72/7.75||6||4.6||4.4|
|J. Staley||124.92||174.92||27/33 1/2"||4.4/7.09||4||4.6||4.75|
|D. Free||128.07||170.07||22/35 3/8"||4.53/7.38||9||6.4||5.75|
|J. Thomas||128.93||166.61||28/32 1/2"||4.88/7.95||1||6.6||8|
|B. Grubbs||115.70||176.70||35/32 3/4"||4.78/X||3||6.6||8.5|
|B. Frye||128.83||160.33||34/32 5/8"||4.4/7.5||14||7.6||6|
|A. Sears||127.14||171.88||21/33 1/8"||4.5/7.63||7||7.8||8|
|A. Barbre||122.47||170.45||28/33 1/2"||4.63/7.40||12||8||7|
|L. Brown||117.71||164.57||31/33 1/8"||4.89/7.87||2||9.4||11.25|
|A. Alleman||120.56||167.21||27/31 1/2"||4.65/X||8||10.2||10.75|
|A. Koets||121.67||166.29||20/33 1/2"||4.47/7.44||13||10.4||9.75|
Stats marked with an X could not be found. Ugoh's asterisk denotes that he injured himself during his forty at the combine and has since been unable to perform. Take that as you will.
As you can see Levi Brown is helped most by his Fox ranking. He'll make a good litmus test for this system over the next few seasons. If he vastly underperforms expectations, good, if not, then I'll have to figure out why. With that said, I would like to mention that I don't think one season, or even two seasons, will give us enough data to accurately judge these players' performance by. Offensive line is a tough position to get up to speed at in the NFL, and, naturally, players with better technique are going to be able to adjust more quickly than a very raw player like Jermon Bushrod. Speaking of Bushrod (giggle), his performance in my "Burst" category is tantalizing to say the least. I've heard some rumblings that he's a workout warrior, but, on the contrary, I'd like to see what he can accomplish with the resources and tutelage of a pro-club after having dominated at D2 Towson. He's, really, the ultimate sleeper in this group. Someone with raw talent who may explode on the NFL or fall flat on his face. Alleman would have ranked a lot higher if not for his alligator arms. That's going to be a tough handicap to overcome and not one that can be beaten by coaching or a good training regimen. Finally, you see that Thomas isn't considered a total bust, just over-hyped. I think that's a pretty accurate assessment.