We all know that thus far Vlad Ducasse has been a monumental disappointment. In wondering whether there was any hope for his ultimate development, I had a vague notion that Offensive Linemen take some time to develop, but I wondered whether the facts really bore that out. How long, really, is it reasonable to reserve judgment on Ducasse?
To begin to answer that question, I thought I'd take a look at the 2012 Pro Bowl Offensive Linemen and their development tracks. The results were eye-opening.
The Pro Bowl linemen in 2012 were as follows:
Of the above guys, Joe Thomas, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Ryan Clady, Jake Long, Ben Grubbs, Logan Mankins, Nick Mangold, Markice Pouncey, Joe Staley, and Davin Joseph were all 1st Round Picks. All started immediately and developed pretty quickly into top level Linemen.
The rest of the guys -- Marshall Yanda, Brandon Moore, Brian Waters, Chris Myers, Jason Peters, Jermon Bushrod, Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks, Ryan Kalil and Scott Wells, were all 2nd Round or later. Of these, only Evans and Nicks started right away.
Myers, Bushrod, Waters, Peters, Kalil and Wells didn't start regularly until their 3rd years. Moore did it in his 2nd year, Yanda not until his 4th.
Conclusion: Well, just that it's probably too early to write off Big Vlad. Now, I'm certainly not projecting Pro Bowl for Big Vlad based on the above limited analysis. But it would seem that the vast majority of Offensive Linemen who make it big really early are 1st Round Picks. Nearly all the Pro Bowl linemen who were picked after the First Round needed time to develop, on average about 3 years. Big Vlad is entering his 3rd year, went without offseason training last year, came in from a small school w/ inferior competition, and was jerked around playing different positions on the Line. He so far has looked lost, but maybe, just maybe Year 3 is the year to judge him by. If he is unable to dislodge the awful Hunter and start this year, it's probably safe to project bad things for Big Vlad's career. But if he is able to make big strides out of Training Camp and earn a starting spot, we may just yet all be screaming our heads off for Big Vlad the road grader. Here's hoping it's the latter scenario that prevails.