Our look at the intricacies of each position in the NFL continues and with this article we get to the real heart of the game—deep in the trenches with a look at offensive guards.
Last time we analyzed what to look for when watching offensive tackles play, and in truth, we all understand inherently what traits you need in an elite pass-protector at that position, but things get a little more esoteric in the middle, away from the edge defenders.
Guards were once an unheralded part of the offense, plugged in and seen as replaceable components that you didn't need to focus much attention on. If you lucked your way into a great one, that was good, but nobody was going to go out of their way to bring in an elite guy with big money. That changed with the blockbuster deal the Minnesota Vikings handed Steve Hutchinson to pry him away from Seattle (with the aid of a poison pill in the contract). That contract signaled the new wave of money that teams were prepared to spend on the interior of their offensive line and it paved the way to some serious dollars being thrown around.
All of that money has highlighted that even NFL teams seem extremely unreliable when it comes to accurately evaluating the play of interior offensive linemen, and some extremely average players have seen some crazy inflated contracts since that explosion of money.
But let's take a look at the traits those teams are looking for when they try and identify a stud guard.