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Draft Outlook Of Starting Offensive Lineman In The NFL In 2015

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While I was compiling the Jets/Seahawks data yesterday, it got me thinking about the league as a whole.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I'm always interested in finding out how likely you are to draft a starter in each and every round. To compile that much data takes a lot of man-hours, so I decided to narrow it down to position groups. I wanted to know how many starting tackles, starting guards, starting centers were drafted in the first round, or the 2nd round or even, how likely are you to find an undrafted gem who would then go on to start for your team.

I didn't want this to be based on injury, I wanted it to be based on talent. So I went through every roster in the NFL and projected who their starters would be and put them all into categories. I didn't break it up between left tackle and right tackle or left guard and right guard, however it's safe to assume that most left tackles are highly drafted while most right tackles make up the undrafted contingent.

Anyway lets jump straight in to the offensive tackle numbers. There are 32 teams and two tackles on each team which means 64 starters in 2014, and here is where they were drafted:

Round Drafted Number of Starters in 2015
First Round 32
Second Round 8
Third Round 4
Fourth Round 4
Fifth Round 2
Sixth Round 0
Seventh Round 6
Undrafted 8

Tackles, specifically left tackle is one of the most highly drafted in the NFL and that shows with the data above. 50% of the starting tackles this year were selected in the first round. Over 62% were drafted in the first two rounds and only 12.5% of the starting tackles in the league went undrafted. So of the 64 players who will start at tackle this year, only 8 of them made it after going undrafted, which shows just how difficult it is for an undrafted player to come into the league and start at the position.

Now moving on to the guards in the league.

Round Drafted Number of Starters in 2015
First Round 13
Second Round 10
Third Round 17
Fourth Round 10
Fifth Round 3
Sixth Round 3
Seventh Round 2
Undrafted 6

Now this group is quite interesting. Most fans believe you can't draft a guard in the first round, it just doesn't offer enough return on investment to warrant it, and the NFL looks as though it agrees. 42% of starters at the guard position were taken in the 3rd or 4th round of the NFL draft as opposed to 36% that were taken in the first or second round. 17% of guards starting for their teams this year were taken in what I call the reach region (6th, 7th, and undrafted)

Finally we get to the Center position:

Round Drafted Number of Starters in 2015
First Round 6
Second Round 6
Third Round 4
Fourth Round 7
Fifth Round 2
Sixth Round 3
Seventh Round 0
Undrafted 4

I was actually surprised by the findings here. Centers need to be extremely intelligent with good foot quickness, good strength and flawless decision making. I thought we'd see a trend of first rounders here, but apparently not. This position is the most varied with more 4th round centers starting in comparison to centers selected in the 1st round. There were as many reach region starters as their were 1st rounders. Obviously there are only 32 of these jobs in the NFL but this was interesting to me.