The rap duo Public Enemy had a single in 1988 called "Don't Believe the Hype." I'm reminded of that song every time I hear the draft gurus talking about the crop of Guards coming out in the 2013 NFL draft . Don't get me wrong - I think Alabama's Chance Warmack and North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper are going to be fantastic interior blockers. There aren't two safer picks in the draft this year. The problem is Guard is a devalued position in the NFL. The top base salary for a Guard in 2013 went to Chris Snee of the New York Giants with just 6.7 million. Uche Nwaneri of the Jacksonville Jaguars had the tenth highest salary among Guards in 2013 with 3.8 million. The highest QB made 20 million and the tenth highest QB made 8.4 million. The highest DE went for 14.3 million and the tenth 6 million. CB was 9.5 million / 5.5 million, and WR was 9.5 million / 5 million. Even the Offensive Tackle, who plays right next to the Guard, goes for 10.4 million / 5.0 million. So, it's simple - if we follow the money, we can see what positions owners and GMs value and which one's they devalue, and the Guard position is definitely a devalued position.
There were nine Guards who were Pro Bowlers in 2012, and only two, Logan Mankins and Mike Iuapati, were 1stround picks. There were two 2nd round picks - Chris Snee and Zach Beadles. Three players were 3rd round picks - Marshal Yanda (pictured to the right), Wade Smith, and Richie Incognito. And two Pro Bowlers were 4th rounders - Jahri Evans and Josh Sitton. Teams have been able to find good value in the mid to late rounds when it comes to picking Guards, thus allowing early picks to be spent on higher valued positions.
Two months ago I kept hearing the Titans at pick 10 was the likely landing spot for Guard Chance Warmack, but now I'm beginning to see mock drafts and hear analysts talking about Warmack going even earlier than that. I've heard Arizona at 7 at even Detroit at 5. If history is any indicator, Warmack is not cracking the top 15. There have only been seven Guards selected in the first round in the past seven years. The highest Guard chosen in that span was Mike Iupati by the San Fransisco 49'ers in 2010. None of the other six cracked the top 20. David DeCasro of Stanford was the Guard hyped up last year, and he wasn't chosen until
pick 24 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The last Guard to crack the top 10 was Chris Naeole who went the New Orleans Saints with the 10th pick in the 1997 draft. Not only did
Naeole disappoint by never making a Pro Bowl, future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez went three spots later.
So the next time the draft gurus, the mockers, and the analysts start talking about Guards - just remember what Chuck D and Flavor Flav said, and "Don't Believe the Hype."