2017 NFL Scouting Combine: OL Athletic Metrics

Since the agility drills for the running backs have not been released yet, except for Christian McCaffrey. I will put all of my focus on the offensive line athletic data. Now many draft analysts have proclaimed this offensive line class to be weak, but it is only weak in the sense that we have more high quality guards than high quality tackles. And a few high quality guards who teams view as tackles. More on that at a future date.

All of the offensive linemen will be covered more in depth once I release my NFL Scouting Combine Analytics Guide. But to supplement those profiles let’s discuss a bit about what data can say about offensive linemen. First off, forget everything you have ever been told or read about offensive line data. Seriously, every tidbit about what matters or doesn’t matter whether spoken from a NFL scout, analyst or the god of the NFL as well. Forget all of it.

Because most of the stuff you were told matters, or doesn’t matter was probably wrong. So let’s start with the basics. Offensive linemen have three big athletic metrics to pay attention to. The first is explosiveness. That is the vertical and broad jump, which determines how quickly and powerful an offensive linemen can potentially get out of their stance. And I add the caveat of potentially, because bad footwork and poor tech can limit any lineman no matter how much explosive power they have.

The second athletic quality is speed. And I’m not talking about the 10-yard split. In fact, the 40-yard dash has higher correlations to success on the line than the 10 or even 20-yard split at every non-QB position including the offensive line. Why? Because the 10-yard and 20-yard split are more a measure of explosiveness and timing than actual speed.

A better measure of speed would be everything after the 20-yard split. Which is a project I’m currently working on. Because again, the 40 isn’t measuring how fast a football player is traveling in 40 yards. It’s getting a sense of the relative speed of a prospect and using distance to determine that. There is more to unravel here, but the basic fundamental here and the most predictive metric on the offensive line is speed.

Getting from point A to point B faster than your opponent is a practical explanation of the importance of speed in various schemes. But the last athletic metric and one of the more important ones is the flexibility metric. The SS/3C has long been seen as a measure of quickness, but it speaks largely to hip/ankle flexibility. And on the offensive line, hip and ankle flexibility when it comes to leverage is everything. Classic low man wins foundation.

All three of these athletic measures determine how explosive a prospect is, how fast they are and how flexible they are. Speaking to potential, which is a word that can get coaches fired. However, when you find linemen who are coachable with correctable issues, and one or more of the athletic traits mentioned above you can get a Hall of Famer.  Nobody has a perfect system for evaluating offensive linemen. But athletic metrics are a step in the right direction to find the proven athletic traits that make special linemen.

Making your process more focused on testing and retesting your theories on the position. Versus sticking to your philosophies that in some cases only worked due to luck. There is a lot more to discuss about the offensive line, but all you need to know are explosiveness, speed and flexibility are important metrics. And here is how the Combine group performed.

offensive-line-thresholds

The best performances were by Garett Bolles, Forrest Lamp and Ben Braden. With a bunch of others who had well rounded days. Like Taylor Moton, Cam Robinson and many other big name players. I will get into more of what these numbers mean for each prospect and their various other variables in my Combine Analysis Guide. But the chart above should be pretty self-explanatory.

You want players hitting all of the All-Pro/Pro Bowl thresholds vs. Starter or Fail thresholds. Also the “Fail” threshold means that a prospect put up an athletic score where there hasn’t been a single long-term starter with a score that low. That’s a legit red flag I’d be worried about. So take a look at the chart, let me know if you have any questions by contacting me at james_cobern@yahoo.com or @Jimetrics. I will be posting more tomorrow with the RBs, DB weigh-in and WR/TE athletic testing. And of course good night.

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