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Drafting All Pros: Offensive Line

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday we took a look at where the top offensive weapon talent was selected in the Draft. Today we will examine the offensive line. To make the elite list, a player must have made the AP's first or second All Pro team in the last five years.

Tackle

Player Round Pick
J. Long 1 1
J. Thomas 1 3
T. Smith 1 9
R. Clady 1 12
D. Brown 1 26
J. Staley 1 28
A. Whitworth 2 55
S. Vollmer 2 58
J. Peters UDFA 256

Average pick: 49

Median pick: 26

What sticks out?

Like wide receiver, teams do a pretty good job scouting tackles. The best almost all went early. These are very striking numbers. Four of nine were top fifteen picks. Six of nine were first rounders. Eight of nine were gone before the end of the second round. The idea of teams valuing protecting the blind side also proves correct. These premium players are all left tackles.

Guard

Player Round Pick
Z. Martin 1 16
M. Iupati 1 17
K. Long 1 20
L. Mankins 1 32
C. Snee 2 34
L. Vasquez 3 78
E. Mathis 3 79
M. Yanda 3 86
J. Evans 4 108
J. Sitton 4 135
C. Nicks 5 164

Average pick: 70

Median pick: 78

What sticks out?

There are a number of positions where people say, "Wait until the middle rounds. You can find top talent there." At some positions like running back, this seems overstated. At guard, it looks accurate. Here there are more players taken in the third round or later than there are in the first round. When searching for guard sleeper prospects, teams might look for unheralded college tackles who lack the athleticism to play tackle in the NFL but have enough to succeed inside. The five lowest selected players on this list played tackle for extended stretches in college.

Center

Player Round Pick
M. Pouncey 1 18
A. Mack 1 21
N. Mangold 1 29
T. Frederick 1 31
M. Unger 2 49
R. Kalil 2 59

Average pick: 34

Median pick: 30

What sticks out?

Never in a million years would I have guessed that center is such a premium position in the Draft. While great guards are relatively easy to find as sleepers, their interior line cousins, elite centers, all seem to be high picks. Nobody was outside the top sixty. I figured finding a great center would be at a higher premium than a guard. They do have to call out protections and get off the snap and into blocks. I didn't think finding a top one would require the same commitment as a tackle. It is apparently not easy to find a project and develop one into something great at the position. Maybe this shouldn't be a surprise due to the high intellect centers must show to make proper calls. Teams in the NFL are very good at preventing the best ones from lasting too long.