OL age and the NFL: 2013 edition

Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Where does your favorite team's offensive line rank, in terms of average age?

This will be my 4th year doing this study, and for the 4th straight year I've found a number of interesting results.

For this study I used Ourlads' depth charts, which are the most up to date depth charts that I’m aware of. I was in contact with the people at Ourlads, and more specifically, the person in charge of their depth charts, and he explained that his methodology of publishing accurate depth charts was similar to mine, in that he enlisted the help of people who cover all 32 teams. This time of year, he noted that there are sure to be errors deep into the 3rd strings, but he felt very good about the OL starters. Obviously, training camp performances and injuries could change the landscape of various offensive lines around the league between now and the start of the season, and there may be some differences of opinion in some cases, but for the most part this is what it should look like on Week 1.

Let’s just get right to the results by team, and I'll have some random analyses for each team afterwards. Ages as of September 9, 2012 (Monday of Week 1):

Rank Team Avg days on Earth Avg age
Oldest Jets 10,808 29 years, 7 months, 3 days
2 Giants 10,622 29 years, 30 days
3 Rams 10,576 28 years, 11 months, 16 days
4 Patriots 10,562 28 years, 11 months
5 Chargers 10,547 28 years, 10 months, 16 days
6 Saints 10,538 28 years, 10 months, 7 days
7 Texans 10,527 28 years, 9 months, 27 days
8 Eagles 10,488 28 years, 8 months, 18 days
9 Redskins 10,459 28 years, 7 months, 20 days
10 Panthers 10,417 28 years, 6 months, 6 days
11 Bears 10,294 28 years, 5 months, 5 days
12 49ers 10,256 28 years, 29 days
13 Bucs 10,228 28 years, 1 day
14 Broncos 10,223 27 years, 11 months, 27 days
15 Titans 10,214 27 years, 11 months, 18 days
16 Lions 10,214 27 years, 11 months, 18 days
17 Raiders 10,203 27 years, 11 months, 6 days
18 Colts 10,192 27 years, 10 months, 26 days
19 Ravens 10,175 27 years, 10 months, 9 days
20 Bills 10,141 27 years, 9 months, 5 days
21 Jaguars 10,086 27 years, 7 months, 12 days
22 Dolphins 10,045 27 years, 5 months, 30 days
23 Bengals 10,044 27 years, 5 months, 29 days
24 Seahawks 9,943 27 years, 2 months, 20 days
25 Browns 9,873 27 years, 11 days
26 Vikings 9,857 26 years, 11 months, 26 days
27 Cowboys 9,808 26 years, 10 months, 7 days
28 Falcons 9,688 26 years, 6 months, 7 days
29 Cardinals 9,491 25 years, 11 months, 25 days
30 Packers 9,481 25 years, 11 months, 15 days
31 Chiefs 9,349 25 years, 7 months, 5 days
Youngest Steelers 9,097 24 years, 10 months, 27 days

Random analysis, from the oldest team to the youngest:

Jets

Jets

The Jets hold the distinction of having the oldest projected starting offensive line in the NFL, although to be fair, if you compare this unit to the 2012 projected starting O lines last July, they would have been 7th. For example, last year the Ravens projected starting OL in July averaged almost 32 years of age. The Jets average a full 2+ years younger, and there are 9 other teams this year whose average age is within a year of the Jets.

Giants

Giants

The Giants had the oldest projected OL in July 2011. They won the Super Bowl that year. Last season, the Ravens had the oldest projected starting OL in July, aaaaaand... they won the Super Bowl. If the two New Jersey teams play in the Super Bowl this year... in New Jersey... um, yeah, nevermind. That's not happening.

Rams

Rams

The Rams have 2 of the 11 oldest projected starting OL in the league, and while Jake Long is only entering his 6th year, he's been banged up the last two seasons. The Rams have done an excellent job building their DL, and more recently, their secondary and offensive skill positions. The OL should be next.

Patriots

The Patriots’ front office has a reputation for being great at building their roster, and for the most part I agree. However, they have not done a good job finding offensive line talent. In the 5-year span from 2006 to 2010, the Patriots drafted a whopping 11 offensive linemen. Only one (Sebastian Vollmer) remains with the team. To be fair, most of the picks were in the mid-late rounds, but that is still a pretty atrocious hit rate.

Even with the Patriots getting 10 years younger at LT by going from Matt Light to Nate Solder, the Pats are still the 4th oldest OL in the NFL.

Chargers

Chargers

Heading into last season, the Chargers had the oldest roster in the NFL. The OL is no exception. By the end of the season, the Chargers will have 3 projected starters over the age of 30.

Saints

Saints

The Saints seem to always be strong along their interior OL, and even with losing Carl Nicks to the Bucs last year, they got solid play from Ben Grubbs, Brian De La Puenta, and Jahri Evans in 2012. Questions remain on the outside, but the interior guys should all still be reasonably close to their primes. The Saints will need to continue adding youth, which they began doing in this draft by adding Terron Armstead.

Texans

Texans

In the 2013 NFL draft, 9 offensive linemen were taken in the first round. They went early and often, causing teams later in the 1st round to reach for players that otherwise might have been 2nd rounders:

2013 OL draft

In 2008, a similar thing happened, when offensive linemen started flying off the board in the middle of the first round.

At the time, Duane Brown was considered somewhat of a reach, but 5 years later, the Texans look pretty smart with that pick. There's a legitimate argument that he's one of the two best players from that group above.

Eagles

After selecting Lane Johnson with the 4th overall pick, the Eagles’ OL now looks like this:

Eagles OL

It is an extremely athletic group. I'll explain:

Todd Herremans: Herremans is athletic enough to play 4 of the 5 positions along the offensive line, and he’ll be asked to play the position requiring the least amount of athleticism, at RG. That’s impressive, and Herremans is no slouch, athletically. But sorry Todd, you are the least athletic of the Eagles’ offensive linemen, by far.

Jason Kelce: Since 1999, 132 centers have competed at the Combine. Here is how Kelce compares:

Kelce measurables

Lane Johnson: Since 1999, 343 offensive tackles have competed at the Combine. Here is how Johnson compares:

Lane Johnson measurables

Evan Mathis: Since 1999, 295 guards have competed at the Combine. Here is how Mathis compares:

Evan Mathis measurables

Jason Peters: Peters is listed at 6’4, 340, and worked out at the 2004 Combine as a TE. A sampling of what Jason Peters can do in space:

If Chip Kelly does indeed like athletic offensive lines, he’s got one. Injury concerns remain a major factor, but if this group is healthy, it might be the most athletic offensive line… ever.

Then again, the Eagles are one of two teams (the Giants being the other) who have 3 starters over the age of 30.

Redskins

Redskins

In 2011, the Redskins’ Week 1 OL starters missed 1593 snaps. That OL was a disaster. In 2012, with basically the same personnel to begin the season, swapping out an ineffective/injured Jammal Brown for a similarly ineffective Tyler Polumbus, they only missed 239:

Redskins OL injuries

That 2012 version of the OL paved the way for the Redskins to become the #1 rushing offense in the NFL (with a major hat tip to type of offense the Skins ran). They ran for 169.3 yards per game, and the OL was monumentally better than the 2011 version. Here are the ridiculous rushing numbers the Skins put up against NFC East opponents last year:

Redskins vs NFCE

That would be 195.8 rushing yards per game, as they steamrolled the Giants to the tune of 455 rushing yards, and the Cowboys to the tune of 423.

The Skins have nice depth in Josh LeRibeus, a 3rd round pick last year. I had a chance to watch LeRibeus play against the Seahawks in the playoffs last year, and I came away very impressed. For the better part of the day, he won his battles against a really good player in Brandon Mebane. However, their RT remains a major issue as it has over the last half decade, and their depth at tackle is weak. The Redskins need their good fortune of a healthy OL to continue.

Panthers

Panthers

Jordan Gross is the 2nd oldest starting LT in the NFL. He is still a very good player, but there's a good chance his decline is right around the corner.

Bears

Bears

Here's the Bears' OL continuity from 2012 to 2013:

Bears1

Yeesh. Then again, when your OL sucks as badly as the Bears' OL did last year, drastic changes happen. Expect more of the same.

49ers

49ers

For a team that is going to contend for a Super Bowl for a while, this is close to a perfect OL. Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis are continuing to get better, and Joe Staley is in his prime. Jonathan Goodwin is old, but centers age better than any other position along the OL. (The top 5 oldest projected OL starters are all centers).

Buccaneers

Bucs

In the last 4 drafts (30 picks), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not drafted a single offensive lineman. In Mark Dominik's tenure as a GM (36 draft picks), he has drafted one. And there's a reason for that: Dominik doesn't think he can evaluate college OL talent. Here's Dominik talking about his OL strategy last November (h/t to JoeBucsFan.com). Skip to around the 13 minute mark:

In case you're not an audio fan, here are Dominik's words, transcribed:

In my 30 draft picks I’ve had since being GM, I’ve only drafted one offensive lineman, but I've always tried to go find one off the waiver wire. We claimed (Cody) Wallace, we claimed (Ted) Larson. You try to work with some of the young guys. We’ve worked with (Demar) Dotson, who was a college free agent, and (Jamon) Meredith was a guy we were watching who we signed last year.
We always have our eye on the offensive line, but personally I like them to develop a little bit sometimes in this game, and then get a little more information, because college games are a lot more spread offense, and it’s a little bit harder to evaluate offensive linemen.

As currently constructed, the Bucs' OL is good. Donald Penn is a stud, and with Carl Nicks next to him, Tampa has one of the more impressive LT-LG combos in the league. However, Penn, Jeremy Zuttah, and Davin Joseph were all players that Dominik inherited.

Dominik is building his OL through waiver wire pickups, UDFA signings, trades, and overpriced free agents. Meanwhile, Penn, Nicks, and Joseph will all be 30 years old by the end of the season. It may take a few years, but if the Bucs' strategy is to completely ignore offensive line talent in the draft, it's only a matter of time before the Bucs' OL is terrible.

Broncos

Broncos

This is simply a very good OL, with one of the best LTs in the game. Dan Koppen messes up the average age, but for the most part this line is also very young. That's a great combo.

Titans

Before drafting Chance Warmack with the 10th overall pick and Brian Schwenke in the 4th round in 2013, the Titans largely ignored their OL in the draft. In the 5 previous drafts, they were one of just two teams in the NFL not to have drafted any offensive linemen in the first 3 rounds, and they picked just 3 offensive linemen overall.

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

Only 7% of their draft picks were offensive linemen over that span, second fewest only to the Buccaneers, who employ a GM who basically admitted he can’t evaluate college offensive linemen.

The Titans’ willingness to ignore their OL in the draft was somewhat justifiable, 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 retired. The Titans signed Andy Levitre away from Buffalo to a big contract (6 years, $46.8 million) to replace Hutchinson, and Warmack should be an immediate starter, with Schwenke competing for a starting job as well. Depending on whether or not Warmack and Schwenke pan out, there could be a window within the next 2-3 years in which this is a dominant group, but the Titans are still going to need to fill in youth behind the aging Roos and Stewart.

Lions

Lions

In 2012, the Lions opened the season with the 2nd oldest starting offensive line in the NFL. Despite that, the Lions OL has stayed remarkably healthy. For two straight years, all five of their aging starters logged at least 1000 snaps, which is remarkable, and perhaps a little lucky.

In March, the Lions lost both of their starting offensive tackles. LT Jeff Backus retired and RT Gosder Cherilus signed with the Colts as a free agent. Riley Reiff was drafted in the first round last year (23rd overall), and he will be taking over as the starting LT. There is a gaping hole at RT, and a slow-footed rookie in Larry Warford at RG.

I've seen a number of articles saying the Lions are the most likely team to go from worst to first. I'm far less bullish on the Lions, and a huge reason why is because this offensive line is going through a major change in continuity, and probably isn't going to be very good.

Raiders

Raiders

Hmm... What can I say about the Raiders' OL? It's not as bad as the rest of their team?

Colts

Colts

This is an odd group. The Colts only drafted 1 of the above, Anthony Castonzo. The rest are a mix of castoffs and free agent acquisitions. Being an Eagles writer for the last 3 years, I've watched Mike McGlynn. I've talked to Mike McGlynn. I like Mike McGlynn. But if I'm the Texans, I'm parking J.J. Watt over Mike McGlynn all day. Otherwise, despite its patchwork nature, I kinda like this OL.

Ravens

Ravens

Last July, the Ravens had the oldest projected starting OL in the NFL. When the season began, they wound up being younger than their projection, as Bryant McKinnie was not a starter Week 1. That projection also included Bobbie Williams, who only played 366 snaps on the season. This year, the Ravens are considerably younger. Williams is gone, and Matt Birk retired. They went from the oldest team in the league to the 19th oldest. But will they be as good?

Bills

Bills

The Bills lost their best offensive lineman in Andy Levitre, but this is still a nice group, and Cordy Glenn is only going to get better.

Jaguars

Jags

Luke Joeckel was drafted by the Jags #2 overall. On paper, it was far from a perfect fit. The Jaguars’ best player in 2012 was probably Eugene Monroe, who plays LT, the position you would have slated for Joeckel over the long term. In 1996, the Ravens had a good LT in place in Tony Jones. The Ravens were on the clock at pick number 4, and the best player on their board at that pick was Jonathan Ogden. They stayed true to their board and took the best player despite having a good LT in place. Ogden went on to 11 Pro Bowls, 9 All-Pro teams, a Super Bowl victory, and he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year.

That situation, however, was a little different. Jones was 30 years old, so it made sense to draft Ogden and put him at a different position (he played LG his rookie season), before moving him out to LT. After just one year, the Ravens traded Jones to the Broncos for a 2nd round pick, and Ogden became the Ravens LT for next decade+. In Jacksonville, Monroe just turned 26, and is entering his prime years. Monroe’s rookie contract expires at the end of the 2013 season, and he’ll be looking to cash in at "premium LT money," which he’ll get if his career trajectory stays on pace.

Still, the lesson to take away from the Ravens is, "Do you just take the best available player, even if it’s not the greatest fit?" After all, if the Jags are also trying to keep Monroe in the fold, they would essentially be drafting "just a right tackle" with the 2nd overall pick.

Former Ravens scout turned TV analyst Daniel Jeremiah recapped how the latest Ravens Super Bowl team was built. Within that piece, he noted the most important things to GM Ozzie Newsome:

1) "How will he fit in our locker room?"
2) "Does he help us beat the Pittsburgh Steelers?"

I can’t answer #1 about Joeckel. However, the 2nd question is very relevant. The Jaguars play in the NFC South with the Houston Texans, who employ the best defensive player in the game, JJ Watt. The Texans move him all over the line in their 3-4 defense, trying to get the best possible matchups for him that they can. If you have a significant weakness on your OL, the Texans will find it and let Watt exploit it. But it goes beyond Watt. Here is a list of AFC pass rushers who primarily line up on the left side, or are projected to next year, per Ourlads’ depth charts:

  1. JJ Watt (as noted already)
  2. Von Miller
  3. Mario Williams
  4. Terrell Suggs
  5. Justin Houston
  6. Lamarr Woodley
  7. Paul Kruger
  8. Jason Babin (although in fairness, Joeckel would only face Jason in practice)
  9. Carlos Dunlap
  10. Rob Ninkovich

Those guys can get after the QB, right? Gotta protect both sides.

One more quick note: The Jags have the oldest (Brad Meester) and youngest (Luke Joeckel) projected starting offensive linemen in the NFL.

Dolphins

Dolphins

The Dolphins' selection of Dion Jordan was one of the more entertaining moments of this year's draft. Here's video of the pick, complete with the "OHHHHHHH!" after Jordan was announced.

When the Dolphins traded up, I think most people assumed the pick would be Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson. After all, at the time, the Dolphins were looking at Jonathan Martin as their LT, and a gaping hole at RT. The thought of Martin at LT has people terrified for Ryan Tannehill, because of moments like this...

Since the draft, the Dolphins added RT Tyson Clabo, so they should temporarily be OK on that side, but Martin will remain the LT. I absolutely loved the Dion Jordan pick for the Dolphins. He makes sense in their defense, and can be a chess piece they can move around. I'm certainly not disparaging the decision to move up and get him. However, it will be interesting to see if the Dolphins are playing with fire by hitching their wagon to Martin at LT.

Bengals

Bengals

First, a quick note: For this exercise, I used Ourlads' depth charts. They have Travelle Wharton projected as a starter, but they may have missed there, as Clint Boling can play, and a switch to Wharton seems like an unnecessary change in continuity. Still, to keep it uniform, I used Ourlads' charts.

OK, back on track...

Last season, Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 1094 yards and 6 TDs on 278 carries, for an average of 3.9 yards per carry. Without any context, those numbers look "OK." However, the Law Firm produced far less than he should have behind the Bengals’ stellar run blocking offensive line.

I happened to watch a lot of Bengals games last season since they played all the NFC East teams. I watched their games against non-NFC East opponents to prepare for the NFCE games, and obviously, I watched them when they played the NFC East. In doing so, while they weren't stellar in pass protection, I came away thoroughly impressed with the right side of the Bengals’ OL, who opened up gaping holes with regularity. Here are some still shots I compiled throughout the course of the season:

Those kinds of gaping holes were common. Green-Ellis is a nice role player. He’s a tough runner, and more often than not he’ll fall forward. However, he doesn’t break many tackles, and his speed/elusiveness is non-existent. Here’s a funny tweet from NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling about Green-Ellis that I remember from last season:

It was actually 48, just in case you were wondering.

Marvin Lewis has been the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals since 2003. In his first 5 years on the job, the Bengals selected two running backs, both within the first two rounds, and both with disastrous results:

Bengals - Irons-Perry

Those are career numbers, by the way. Perry was a bust, while Irons tore his ACL in the preseason of his rookie season and never received a single carry in the NFL. And then of course there was 1995 #1 overall pick Ki-Jana Carter, one of the biggest busts in NFL history. Perhaps that made the Bengals a little gun-shy about drafting a RB high. How gun-shy? Since 2007, the Bengals had not selected a running back higher than the 6th round until the 2013 draft, when they bucked that trend an selected Giovani Bernard in the 2nd round.

I'm eager to see what Bernard can do behind this line.

Seahawks

Seahawks

The Seahawks' OL reminds me a little bit of the Jets OL, when the Jets were good. In 2006, the Jets drafted LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson (4th overall) and Nick Mangold (29th overall) in the 1st round. While those Jets teams won largely because of their defense, Ferguson and Mangold were a huge part of the Jets' success in the run game. In the two seasons the Jets went to the AFC Championship Game, they finished 1st and 4th in rushing, respectively. 2009 was Ferguson's and Mangold's 4th season in the NFL.

In 2009, the Seahawks drafted Max Unger 49th overall to be their center. The following year, they drafted Russell Okung 6th overall to be their LT. In Unger's 4th season in the pros, the Seahawks finished 3rd in the league in rushing, with a hat tip to Russell Wilson adding almost 500 yards from the QB position.

However the big difference between those Jets and Seahawks offensive lines...

Brandon Moore, Damien Woody, and Alan Faneca / Matt Slauson >>>>> James Carpenter, Paul McQuistan, and Breno Giacomini. And it's not even close.

The Seahawks have Okung and Unger to build around on their OL, but there's still work to be done. On an otherwise loaded roster, I'd be very worried about the right side of that line if I were a Seahawks fan.

Browns

Browns

I am a huge fan of this OL. Obviously, Joe Thomas is one of the best LTs in the game, and Mitchell Schwartz turned in a really nice rookie season, while Alex Mack is a very good center. They could stand to be better at guard, but that's nitpicking. This OL young, and very good. Perhaps Top 5 in the league.

Vikings

Vikings

The Vikings' OL reminds me a little bit of the Browns' OL, in that it's young, and strong at LT-C-RT, although I do like the Browns' OGs more. I'm not going to pretend that I studied the Vikings' OL thoroughly last season, as it's easy to be distracted by Adrian Peterson doing what he does. But whenever a guy runs for 2100 yards and 6 yards per carry, the OL is doing something right.

Cowboys

Cowboys

If you were a regular reader of my old website, you probably know what’s coming here. But since most of you aren't, let's just post it again... The Cowboys OL timeline!

2008-2009

With an aging OL in place, the Cowboys had a total of 18 draft picks in 2008 and 2009. With those 18 picks, they selected one offensive lineman, Robert Brewster. Brewster is no longer with the team.

2010

In 2010, the Cowboys drafted one offensive lineman, Sam Young, in the 6th round. Young, like Brewster, is no longer with the team. They headed into the 2010 season with the oldest offensive line in the NFL. Leonard Davis celebrated his 32nd birthday just before the start of the season, with Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier celebrating their 32nd birthdays shortly thereafter. Andre Gurode was 31. The one player that was still relatively young was the 26 year old Doug Free, who was taking over at LT for the departed Flozell Adams, who was 35.

The Cowboys were the overwhelming favorites to win the NFC East that season, but in what should have been a fairly predictable outcome, the offensive line went into a sharp decline and the the offense sputtered. It didn’t help that the defense was surprisingly bad. They finished that season 6-10.

2011

The following offseason, Jerry Jones made the obvious decision to cut bait with Colombo, Davis and Gurode, three players that were playing poorly and making far too much money. The Cowboys were, in a way, forced into "going young" along their OL. For the first time in 20+ years as the Cowboys’ GM, Jones spent a first round pick on an offensive lineman, scoring the extremely talented Tyron Smith out of USC. They would take a couple more offensive linemen in the 4th and 7th rounds, grabbing David Arkin and Bill Nagy, respectively. They also locked up Free to a long term deal, paying him $32 million over 4 years. It appeared that after years of ignoring the OL, it was finally becoming a priority, albeit way too late.

To begin the season, the Cowboys started two rookies: Nagy at LG, and Tyron Smith at RT. They also plugged in 2nd year player Phil Costa at center. Kosier was moved from LG over to the right side to be sort of an "offensive tackle whisperer" for Smith. In one offseason, they went from the oldest offensive line in the league to one of the youngest.

With so many new and unproven players inserted into the lineup, the Cowboys’ offensive line once again sputtered all season, this time even more predictably than in 2010. Smith had a great rookie year, but the two other new pieces, Costa and Nagy, both had brutal seasons. Costa’s poor play lasted 16 games, while Nagy’s bad season was cut short in Week 6, when he was lost for the season with a broken ankle. Kosier’s decline and health issues continued. Free, meanwhile, was a major disappointment, having a surprisingly bad season. The Cowboys were learning that turning over a full offensive line in a short amount of time isn’t exactly easy. They hit with one player, missed with two, and were heading into 2012 once again needing to scramble to find answers.

2012

The Cowboys’ plan of attack for the OL in 2012, as usual, puzzled me. First, they signed OG Mackenzy Bernadeau, a player that had a couple bad seasons in 2009 and 2010 in Carolina, who then lost his job in 2011. The Cowboys then went out and signed 30 year old Nate Livings, a player that Bengals fans by and large were more than happy to see leave. With Livings and Bernadeau in place, the team felt comfortable cutting Kosier. On the outside, the Cowboys flip-flopped Smith and Free, with Smith moving from RT to LT, and vice versa. No offensive linemen were drafted.

Heading into 2012, the Cowboys had an almost complete lack of continuity along their OL:

Cowboys OL continuity

Costa was lost for the season early on, Livings played better than expected, Mackenzy Bernadeau did not play well, and Doug Free’s contract now looks like a horrible mistake, as he was bad for the second straight year.

The team still has next to no depth along the OL, and one of the worst C-RG-RT combos in all of football.

And so... at the 2013, the Cowboys reached for C Travis Frederick. For the last 3 years, I have railed on the Cowboys for not drafting offensive line help. And yet, I hate the pick. Worse, I hate the strategy. The value the Cowboys received in landing an extra 3rd round pick by trading back from 18 to 31 was awful, but we won't get into that right now. For now let’s focus on the pick itself:

1. Travis Frederick’s physical measurables are terrible.

At the 2013 Combine, he ran a 5.58 40 time. Only one player was slower. And not only is he slow, but he only did 21 reps on the bench press. That was worst among centers in this draft. To be fair, just because a player tests well at the Combine doesn’t mean he’s going to be a good football player. Conversely, players who test poorly aren’t automatically destined for failure.

However, there is something to be said for the Combine, and players with measuarables as bad as Frederick’s aren’t going to have much upside. What you see is what you’re going to get, and not much more.

2. Centers can be found late in the draft.

Of course, that statement can be made for almost any position and I think it sounds foolish when people apply it to Tom Brady, but I think it applies heavily to RBs and centers. For example, who are the 5 best centers in the NFL, and the 5 worst? I can’t answer that since I haven’t evaluated them all, and while I hate to do this, I’ll use ProFootballFocus’ 2012 rankings as a crutch. Note the draft positions of each grouping of the Top 5:

PFF 5 best

And the Bottom 5:

PFF 5 worst

Only 1 of the top 5 was drafted before the 6th round. Three of the bottom 5 went in the 2nd round or higher. I can understand using a high pick on one of the Pouncey brothers, who had outstanding game tape, but for a big-bodied anchor guy with a lot of tenacity, but extremely minimal room for growth? Those players are a dime a dozen.

3. Is it really a "safe pick?"

I’ve seen the argument made that this is a "safe pick," in that while Frederick’s ceiling may be low, his floor is high. What that means is that Frederick may not ever be a physical athletic marvel, but he is almost guaranteed to be at least a serviceable starter. Why? Is there any reason to come to the conclusion that there’s no chance he’ll be a complete and total bust? Why is it a "safe pick?"

4. His game film is OK, but nothing special.

Here are two games that DraftBreakdown.com cut up of Frederick. Minus good measurables, you would expect to see a dominant player on game tape. In fairness, these two games are I have to work with (I’d prefer to see more), but with what is provided here, this was not anything remotely close to a dominant player at the collegiate level:

  1. Frederick vs. Stanford
  2. Frederick vs. Michigan State

Travis Frederick will upgrade the Cowboys’ offensive line. From Day 1, he’ll be better than Phil Costa, who simply couldn’t hold his ground against stronger DTs. Frederick will anchor well in pass pro, and he’ll be better in the run game. He also could potentially play some guard. He may even go on to have a good NFL career.

But being better than Phil Costa or Mackenzy Bernadeau isn’t good enough for a 1st round pick.

Frederick’s limited upside, the value of the center position, the player’s underwhelming game tape, and the fact that there isn’t even some kind of magical guarantee that it’s a "safe pick" makes this a terrible use of resources, especially when the Cowboys could have gotten the 5th rated player on their board at 18.

Falcons

Falcons

For a team that is very close to playing in a Super Bowl, it was a curious move letting Tyson Clabo walk, and trusting Lamar Holmes to take over at RT. The Falcons know a lot better than I do if Holmes is ready. We'll find out soon.

Cardinals

Cardinals

Well, they drafted Jonathan Cooper, which is a start. Still, I think I can sum up the Cardinals' OL succinctly...

Carson Palmer came out of retirement to play for the Raiders, and now behind this mess of an OL.

Packers

Packers

The Packers are doing something very interesting this season. In 2012, their starting OL looked like this:

Packers OL 2012

In 2013, they'll replace Jeff Saturday with Evan Dietrich-Smith. But look at the rest of the line in 2013 compared to 2012. The left side is moving to the right, and the right side is moving to the left:

Packers OL 2013

I guess training camp will be heavily dedicated to footwork.

Chiefs

Chiefs

The Chiefs were tied for the league lead in turnovers last season, with 37. They threw the 2nd most INTs, with 20. Only the Cardinals threw more, with 21. When Andy Reid took over in Philadelphia way back in 1999, LT Tra Thomas was entering his 2nd year in the NFL. In the Eagles’ heyday under Reid, they didn’t throw many interceptions:

Eagles INTs

The 3 bad years of note above are 1999, 2005, and 2008.

  • In 1999, Donovan McNabb was a rookie, and he split time with Doug Pederson.
  • In 2005, McNabb got hurt, and guys like Mike McMahon had to play QB.
  • In 2008, Tra Thomas was clearly a declining player, and it would turn out to be his last year in Philly. He would spend one bad season in Jacksonville before retiring.

In other words, when the Eagles had McNabb and Thomas in place, they averaged just 14 INTs per season, or less than 1 per game, and only 12.3 if you exclude 1999, 2005, and 2008.

The Chiefs traded for Alex Smith, and while some people think the compensation for Smith’s services may have been too high, at the very least Reid is getting a QB who will protect the football. Smith threw 10 INTs, total, the last two seasons combined (26 games). That is outstanding. Of course, he had Pro Bowl LT Joe Staley and easily one of the best offensive lines in the NFL protecting him.

Branden Albert will be playing this season under the franchise tag, at about $9.8 million. If they tag him again next season, his pay will jump to around $12 million.

Additionally, should the Chiefs decide to let Albert walk next offseason and if Jeff Allen can live up to the potential the Chiefs envisioned when they drafted him in the 2nd round, here’s a snapshot of the Chiefs projected starting OL heading into 2014, with the ages (by the end of the 2013 season) and draft position of each player:

Chiefs

That would be an average age of 23.8 and an average overall draft position of 48.4. This OL can grow together and form a long-standing continuity that is rare.

The Chiefs had 6 Pro Bowlers last season. They have some nice pieces in place on defense. If they can stop turning the ball over, they could be legitimate contenders in the AFC West. Additionally, the Chiefs only have 3 players who are over 30 years old.

With the Raiders in the process of turning over their entire roster, the Chargers having the oldest team in the NFL as of September 2012, and the Broncos eventually losing Peyton Manning, the Chiefs are in a prime position to rule the AFC West within the next 2-3 years. Fisher and that young ascending OL can be a major piece to that puzzle.

Steelers

Steelers

If you scroll up to the Titans' write-up, you'll see that from 2008-2012, the Steelers drafted the most offensive linemen in the NFL, so it should be no surprise that the Steelers have the youngest OL in the league, with 4 projected starters under the age of 26.

And finally, here is every projected starter in the league, in age order:

Rank Player Pos Team Birthday Days on Earth Age
1 Brad Meester C Jaguars 3/23/1977 13319 36 years, 5 months, 17 days
2 Jonathan Goodwin C 49ers 12/2/1978 12700 34 years, 9 months, 7 days
3 Dominic Raiola C Lions 12/30/1978 12672 34 years, 8 months, 10 days
4 Roberto Garza C Bears 3/26/1979 12586 34 years, 5 months, 14 days
5 Dan Koppen C Broncos 9/12/1979 12416 33 years, 11 months, 28 days
6 Bryant McKinnie LT Ravens 9/23/1979 12405 33 years, 11 months, 17 days
7 Jordan Gross LT Panthers 7/20/1980 12104 33 years, 1 month, 20 days
8 Scott Wells C Rams 1/7/1981 11933 32 years, 8 months, 2 days
9 Wade Smith LG Texans 4/26/1981 11824 32 years, 4 months, 14 days
10 Travelle Wharton LG Bengals 5/19/1981 11801 32 years, 3 months, 21 days
11 Harvey Dahl RG Rams 6/24/1981 11765 32 years, 2 months, 16 days
12 Nick Hardwick C Chargers 9/2/1981 11695 32 years, 7 days
13 Chris Myers C Texans 9/15/1981 11682 31 years, 11 months, 25 days
14 David Baas C Giants 9/28/1981 11669 31 years, 11 months, 12 days
15 Tyson Clabo RT Dolphins 10/17/1981 11650 31 years, 10 months, 23 days
16 Evan Mathis LG Eagles 11/1/1981 11635 31 years, 10 months, 8 days
17 Andrew Whitworth LT Bengals 12/12/1981 11594 31 years, 8 months, 28 days
18 Max Starks LT Chargers 1/10/1982 11565 31 years, 7 months, 30 days
19 Stephen Peterman RG Jets 1/11/1982 11564 31 years, 7 months, 29 days
20 Chris Snee RG Giants 1/18/1982 11557 31 years, 7 months, 22 days
21 Jason Peters LT Eagles 1/22/1982 11553 31 years, 7 months, 18 days
22 Logan Mankins LG Patriots 3/10/1982 11506 31 years, 5 months, 30 days
23 Nate Livings LG Cowboys 3/16/1982 11500 31 years, 5 months, 24 days
24 Erik Pears RT Bills 4/21/1982 11464 31 years, 4 months, 19 days
25 Khalif Barnes RT Raiders 4/21/1982 11464 31 years, 4 months, 19 days
26 Geoff Hangartner RG Panthers 4/22/1982 11463 31 years, 4 months, 18 days
27 David Stewart RT Titans 8/28/1982 11335 31 years, 12 days
28 Dan Connolly RG Patriots 9/2/1982 11321 31 years, 7 days
29 Michael Roos LT Titans 10/5/1982 11297 30 years, 11 months, 4 days
30 Todd Herremans RG Eagles 10/13/1982 11289 30 years, 10 months, 27 days
31 Chris Chester RG Redskins 1/12/1983 11169 30 years, 7 months, 28 days
32 Charlie Johnson LG Vikings 5/2/1984 11169 30 years, 6 months, 30 days
33 Will Montgomery C Redskins 2/13/1983 11166 30 years, 6 months, 27 days
34 Mike Breisel RG Raiders 3/14/1983 11137 30 years, 5 months, 26 days
35 Willie Colon LG Jets 4/9/1983 11111 30 years, 5 months
36 Donald Penn LT Bucs 4/27/1983 11093 30 years, 4 months, 13 days
37 Paul McQuistan RG Seahawks 4/30/1983 11090 30 years, 4 months, 10 days
38 Richie Incognito LG Dolphins 7/5/1983 11024 30 years, 2 months, 4 days
39 Kevin Boothe LG Giants 7/5/1983 11024 30 years, 2 months, 4 days
40 Jahri Evans RG Saints 8/22/1983 10976 30 years, 18 days
41 Zach Strief RT Saints 9/22/1983 10945 29 years, 11 months, 18 days
42 Jeromey Clary RG Chargers 11/5/1983 10901 29 years, 10 months, 4 days
43 Davin Joseph RG Bucs 11/22/1983 10884 29 years, 9 months, 18 days
44 Rob Sims LG Lions 12/6/1983 10870 29 years, 9 months, 3 days
45 D'Brickashaw Ferguson LT Jets 12/10/1983 10866 29 years, 8 months, 30 days
46 Justin Blalock LG Falcons 12/20/1983 10856 29 years, 8 months, 20 days
47 Doug Free RT Cowboys 1/6/1984 10839 29 years, 8 months, 3 days
48 Nick Mangold C Jets 1/13/1984 10832 29 years, 7 months, 27 days
49 Ben Grubbs LG Saints 3/10/1984 10775 29 years, 5 months, 30 days
50 Levi Brown LT Cardinals 3/16/1984 10769 29 years, 5 months, 24 days
51 Lyle Sendlein C Cardinals 3/16/1984 10769 29 years, 5 months, 24 days
52 Uche Nwaneri RG Jaguars 3/20/1984 10765 29 years, 5 months, 20 days
53 Alex Boone RG 49ers 5/4/1984 10720 29 years, 4 months, 5 days
54 Gosder Cherilus RT Colts 6/28/1984 10665 29 years, 2 months, 12 days
55 Sebastian Vollmer RT Patriots 7/10/1984 10653 29 years, 1 month, 30 days
56 Jermon Bushrod LT Bears 8/19/1984 10613 29 years, 21 days
57 Joe Staley LT 49ers 8/30/1984 10602 29 years, 10 days
58 Marshal Yanda RG Ravens 9/15/1984 10586 28 years, 11 months, 26 days
59 Brandon Albert LT Chiefs 11/4/1984 10536 28 years, 10 months, 5 days
60 Samson Satele C Colts 11/29/1984 10511 28 years, 9 months, 11 days
61 Joe Thomas LT Browns 12/4/1984 10506 28 years, 9 months, 5 days
62 Fernando Velasco C Titans 2/22/1985 10426 28 years, 6 months, 18 days
63 Will Beatty LT Giants 3/2/1985 10418 28 years, 6 months, 7 days
64 Mike McGlynn RG Colts 3/8/1985 10412 28 years, 6 months, 1 day
65 Kory Lichtensteiger LG Redskins 3/22/1985 10398 28 years, 5 months, 18 days
66 John Greco RG Browns 3/24/1985 10396 28 years, 5 months, 16 days
67 Ryan Kalil C Panthers 3/29/1985 10391 28 years, 5 months, 11 days
68 Tyler Polumbus RT Redskins 4/10/1985 10379 28 years, 4 months, 30 days
69 Corey Hilliard RT Lions 4/26/1985 10363 28 years, 4 months, 14 days
70 Chad Rinehart LG Chargers 5/4/1985 10355 28 years, 4 months, 5 days
71 Jake Long LT Rams 5/9/1985 10350 28 years, 4 months
72 Brian De La Puente C Saints 5/13/1985 10346 28 years, 3 months, 27 days
73 Carl Nicks LG Bucs 5/14/1985 10345 28 years, 3 months, 26 days
74 Sam Baker LT Falcons 5/30/1985 10329 28 years, 3 months, 10 days
75 John Sullivan C Vikings 8/8/1985 10259 28 years, 1 month, 1 days
76 Colin Brown LG Bills 8/29/1985 10238 28 years, 11 days
77 Duane Brown LT Texans 8/30/1985 10237 28 years, 10 days
78 Kraig Urbik RG Bills 9/23/1985 10213 27 years, 11 months, 17 days
79 Donald Thomas LG Colts 9/25/1985 10211 27 years, 11 months, 15 days
80 Breno Giacomini RT Seahawks 9/27/1985 10209 27 years, 11 months, 13 days
81 Alex Mack C Browns 11/19/1985 10156 27 years, 9 months, 21 days
82 Mackenzy Bernadeau RG Cowboys 1/3/1986 10111 27 years, 8 months, 6 days
83 Ramon Foster LG Steelers 1/7/1986 10107 27 years, 8 months, 2 days
84 Derek Newton RT Texans 10/29/1987 10107 27 years, 8 months, 2 days
85 Matt Slauson LG Bears 2/18/1986 10065 27 years, 6 months, 22 days
86 Ryan Wendell C Patriots 3/4/1986 10051 27 years, 6 months, 5 days
87 Eric Wood C Bills 3/18/1986 10037 27 years, 5 months, 22 days
88 Max Unger C Seahawks 4/14/1986 10010 27 years, 4 months, 26 days
89 Andy Levitre LG Titans 5/15/1986 9979 27 years, 3 months, 25 days
90 Michael Oher RT Ravens 5/28/1986 9966 27 years, 3 months, 12 days
91 Jeremy Zuttah C Bucs 6/1/1986 9962 27 years, 3 months, 8 days
92 Josh Sitton LG Packers 6/6/1986 9957 27 years, 3 months, 3 days
93 John Jerry RG Dolphins 6/14/1986 9949 27 years, 2 months, 26 days
94 Geoff Schwartz LG Chiefs 7/11/1986 9922 27 years, 1 month, 29 days
95 Evan Dietrich-Smith C Packers 7/19/1986 9914 27 years, 1 month, 21 days
96 Tony Berstrom LG Raiders 8/8/1986 9894 27 years, 1 month, 1 day
97 Ryan Clady LT Broncos 9/6/1986 9865 27 years, 3 days
98 Phil Loadholt RT Vikings 9/21/1986 9851 26 years, 11 months, 20 days
99 Zane Beadles LG Broncos 11/19/1986 9791 26 years, 9 months, 21 days
100 Andre Smith RT Bengals 1/25/1987 9724 26 years, 7 months, 15 days
101 Austin Howard RT Jets 3/22/1987 9668 26 years, 5 months, 18 days
102 Charles Brown LT Saints 4/10/1987 9649 26 years, 4 months, 30 days
103 Louis Vasquez RG Broncos 4/11/1987 9648 26 years, 4 months, 29 days
104 Eugene Monroe LT Jaguars 4/18/1987 9641 26 years, 4 months, 22 days
105 Mike Iupati LG 49ers 5/12/1987 9617 26 years, 3 months, 28 days
106 Shelley Smith LG Rams 5/21/1987 9608 26 years, 3 months, 19 days
107 Jared Veldheer LT Raiders 6/14/1987 9584 26 years, 2 months, 26 days
108 Garrett Reynolds RG Falcons 7/1/1987 9567 26 years, 2 months, 8 days
109 T.J. Lang RG Packers 9/20/1987 9486 25 years, 11 months, 20 days
110 Russell Okung LT Seahawks 10/7/1987 9469 25 years, 11 months, 2 days
111 Shawn Lauvao LG Browns 10/26/1987 9450 25 years, 10 months, 14 days
112 Jason Kelce C Eagles 11/5/1987 9440 25 years, 10 months, 4 days
113 Orlando Franklin RT Broncos 12/16/1987 9399 25 years, 8 months, 24 days
114 Marcus Gilbert RT Steelers 2/15/1988 9338 25 years, 6 months, 25 days
115 Nate Solder LT Patriots 4/12/1988 9281 25 years, 4 months, 28 days
116 Rodger Saffold RT Rams 6/6/1988 9226 25 years, 3 months, 3 days
117 Trent Williams LT Redskins 7/19/1988 9183 25 years, 1 month, 21 days
118 Jon Asomoah RG Chiefs 7/21/1988 9181 25 years, 1 month, 19 days
119 Brandon Fusco RG Vikings 7/26/1988 9176 25 years, 1 month, 14 days
120 J'Marcus Webb RT Bears 8/8/1988 9163 25 years, 1 month, 1 days
121 Anthony Castonzo LT Colts 8/9/1988 9162 25 years, 1 month
122 Amini Silatolu LG Panthers 9/16/1988 9124 24 years, 11 months, 24 days
123 Marshall Newhouse RT Packers 9/29/1988 9111 24 years, 11 months, 11 days
124 Gino Gradkowski C Ravens 11/5/1988 9074 24 years, 10 months, 4 days
125 Riley Reiff LT Lions 12/1/1988 9048 24 years, 9 months, 8 days
126 Kyle Long RG Bears 12/5/1988 9044 24 years, 9 months, 4 days
127 Byron Bell RT Panthers 1/17/1989 9001 24 years, 7 months, 23 days
128 Brian Bulaga LT Packers 3/21/1989 8938 24 years, 5 months, 19 days
129 Stefen Wisniewski C Raiders 3/22/1989 8937 24 years, 5 months, 18 days
130 James Carpenter LG Seahawks 3/22/1989 8937 24 years, 5 months, 18 days
131 Mitchell Schwartz RT Browns 6/8/1989 8859 24 years, 3 months, 1 day
132 Peter Konz C Falcons 6/9/1989 8858 24 years, 3 months
133 Gabe Carimi RT Bucs 6/13/1988 8854 25 years, 2 months, 27 days
134 Kelechi Osemele LG Ravens 6/24/1989 8843 24 years, 2 months, 16 days
135 Matt Kalil LT Vikings 7/6/1989 8831 24 years, 2 months, 3 days
136 Lamar Holmes RT Falcons 7/8/1989 8829 24 years, 2 months, 1 day
137 Rodney Hudson C Chiefs 7/12/1989 8825 24 years, 1 month, 28 days
138 Mike Pouncey C Dolphins 7/24/1989 8813 24 years, 1 month, 16 days
139 Maurkice Pouncey C Steelers 7/24/1989 8813 24 years, 1 month, 16 days
140 Bobby Massie RT Cardinals 8/1/1989 8805 24 years, 1 month, 8 days
141 Jonathan Martin LT Dolphins 8/19/1989 8787 24 years, 21 days
142 Brandon Brooks RG Texans 8/19/1989 8787 24 years, 21 days
143 Cordy Glenn LT Bills 9/18/1989 8757 23 years, 11 months, 22 days
144 Anthony Davis RT 49ers 10/11/1989 8734 23 years, 10 months, 29 days
145 Will Rackley LG Jaguars 10/18/1989 8727 23 years, 10 months, 22 days
146 David DeCastro RG Steelers 1/11/1990 8642 23 years, 7 months, 29 days
147 Jonathan Cooper LG Cardinals 1/19/1990 8634 23 years, 7 months, 21 days
148 Kevin Zeitler RG Bengals 3/8/1990 8586 23 years, 6 months, 1 day
149 Mike Adams LT Steelers 3/10/1990 8584 23 years, 5 months, 30 days
150 Lane Johnson RT Eagles 5/8/1990 8525 23 years, 4 months, 1 day
151 Trevor Robinson C Bengals 5/16/1990 8517 23 years, 3 months, 24 days
152 Earl Watford RG Cardinals 6/24/1990 8478 23 years, 2 months, 16 days
153 Justin Pugh RT Giants 8/1/1990 8440 23 years, 1 month, 8 days
154 Tyron Smith LT Cowboys 12/12/1990 8307 22 years, 8 months, 28 days
155 Travis Frederick C Cowboys 1/1/1991 8287 22 years, 8 months, 8 days
156 Eric Fisher RT Chiefs 1/5/1991 8283 22 years, 8 months, 4 days
157 D.J. Fluker RT Chargers 3/13/1991 8216 22 years, 5 months, 27 days
158 Larry Warford RG Lions 6/18/1991 8119 22 years, 2 months, 22 days
159 Chance Warmack LG Titans 9/14/1991 8031 21 years, 11 months, 26 days
160 Luke Joeckel RT Jaguars 11/6/1991 7978 21 years, 10 months, 3 days
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