Who are best offensive linemen?
The NFL Scouting Combine was characterized by astonishing athleticism, blazing speed and incredible agility. The draft prospects are getting bigger, faster and stronger. Nowhere was that more evident than with the offensive linemen. But who really are the best prospects?
There are lots of ways to measure QBs, RBs and WRs. QB ratings, completion rates, yards per carry and receptions are but a few of the myriad of measures we have for those positions. But there are far fewer objective measures for selecting offensive linemen.
Gone are the days when size alone was the most important factor in selecting linemen. Today's players are not only huge, they are also amazingly athletic. This increase in athleticism makes evaluating offensive linemen more challenging than ever.
There is usually an inverse relationship between size and athleticism. Typically, the biggest players are not the most agile. What makes for an ideal offensive lineman in today's NFL is having both superior athletic ability and size.
While watching the combine I had difficulty objectively ranking offensive linemen. The agility and strength drills provide a measure of athleticism, but not size. What's needed is a way to measure both. So I began experimenting with formulas and came up with something that I think is quite intriguing, a novel metric for measuring athleticism and size—the agility to size index.
Quite simply, if you take the bench press results add them to the vertical and broad jump, subtract the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle times, you get an nice measure of agility, speed and strength.
Where it gets really interesting though is when you divide that measure the body mass index. This produces a metric that captures athleticism and size in a single measure. It tells you how much athleticism you get for every unit of mass.
I plugged the numbers into the formula and got some surprising results. Some of the top draft prospects did not fare as well in this particular analysis.
A few caveats are in order. Not all the linemen participated in all the drills, so for the purpose of this analysis, I only included those who completed in each of the exercises.
Second, this is just one measure. On-field performance, experience and intangibles matter just as much. But I think the agility to size index might just be a valuable new tool for evaluating offensive linemen.
The results may surprise you. Let's see which draft prospects have the best results in the agility to size index.
All results via NFL.com.
Fragel ranks #1 on the agility to size index
At 6'8" and 308 pounds, Ohio State's Reid Fragel took top honors in the agility to size index. His 33 reps on the bench tell you how strong he is while his 30 inch vertical and 113 inch broad jump provide an indication of just how explosive he is.
His 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle times were only average among his elite peers. But when you divide his agility score by his 33.8 body mass index he comes out on top with a score of 4.69. He is very big, strong, and agile with very good speed.
Lane Johnson #2 in the agility to size index
Oklahoma's Lane Johnson came in second in the agility to size index. His 40-yard time was fantastic for his size at 4.72 while his three-cone drill time and 20-yard shuttle time were good at 7.31 and 4.52.
His 28 reps on the bench prove he has superior strength while his vertical leap of 34 inches and broad jump of 118 inches were among the best of the group. When you divide his agility score by his body mass index you get a result of 4.67. That's good enough for second place.
Eric Fisher ranked third in the index
Central Michigan's Eric Fisher is huge. He is also very fast and very strong. At 6'7" and 306 pounds, Fisher has a body mass index of 34.5.
He clocked 5.05 in the 40 yard dash, 7.59 in the three-cone drill and 4.44 in the 20-yard shuttle. He benched 225 pounds 27 times had a 28.5 inch vertical and a very impressive 116 inch broad jump. His agility to size index came in third place at 4.48.
Terron Armstead ranked 4th on the agility to size index
Terron Armstead may not have come from the biggest football powerhouse, but he is a football powerhouse.
At 6'5" and 306 pounds, he has a body mass index of 36.3. He clocked an astonishingly fast 40-yard dash at 4.71. His three-cone and 20-yard shuttle times were 7.62 and 4.72 respectfully.
He is very strong recording 31 bench-press reps and a 34.5 vertical leap. His agility to size index was 4.42 which was good enough to rank fourth.
San Jose State is in the non-AQ Western Athletic Conference (WAC). But don't let the fact that David Quessenberry didn't come from one of the dominant conferences dissuade you.
At 6'5" and 302 pounds, his body mass index is 35.8. His 40-yard dash of 5.08, three-cone drill of 7.49 and 20-yard shuttle of 4.45 are average for his peers. He is very strong with 25 bench press reps and also very explosive with a 29.5 inch vertical leap and 112 inch broad jump. His agility to size index was 5th best at 4.18.
Luke Joeckel Ranked 6th in the agility to size index
Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel has gotten a ton of media exposure. His outstanding play and performance at the combine have many draft watchers crowning him as a potential No. 1 pick.
But on the agility to size index he only ranks sixth at 4.07. He certainly has the size at 6'6" and 306 pounds. But his 40-yard dash was a slower than his elite peers at 5.30. His three-cone and 20-yard shuttle times were 7.4 and 4.68 respectively.
With 27 bench press reps, a 28.5" vertical leap and 106" broad jump, he has plenty of strength and explosiveness, just not the best of this top notch cohort. Is he really the best offensive lineman available? Not by the agility to size index.
Garrett Gilkey ranks 7th on the agility to size index
Proving yet again that some of the most talented big men can be found at small schools, Chadron State's Garrett Gilkey came in 7th on the agility to size index.
At 6'6" and 318 pounds he is one of the biggest linemen available. His body mass index was 36.7. He had a bit slower 40-yard dash, three-cone and 20-yard shuttle times at 5.33, 7.65 and 4.75 seconds respectively.
He recorded 28 bench presses, a 30 inch vertical leap and 108 inch broad jump. His agility to size index was 4.04 which was just behind Luke Joeckle.
Cornell isn't the first name that pops into mind when you think football. But J.C. Tretter should. At 6'4" and 307 pounds, his body mass index was 37.4.
But he is pretty fast for such a big man, clocking one of the better 40-yard dash times among the elite offensive linemen at 5.09 seconds. His three-cone drill time was 7.48 while his 20-yard shuttle time was 4.69.
Tretter is plenty strong producing 29 bench press reps. He is also explosive with a 29.5 inch vertical leap and a 109 inch broad jump.
His agility to size index is 4.02, which ranks him eighth among the ten best offensive linemen in this year's draft class.
Emmett Cleary is happy. He ranked 9th in the agility to size index
Boston College has a legacy of producing big offensive linemen and Cleary is no exception. At 6'7" and 316 pounds, he is one of the biggest in this years draft class. But he still very agile.
He clocked 5.21 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 7.81 seconds in the three-cone drill and 4.84 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle.
He benched 24 reps, recorded a vertical leap of 28.5 inches and and a broad jump of 108 inches. His agility to size index was 4.01.
After Cleary, there is significant drop off on the agility to size index. Vinston Painter (Virginia Tech), Earl Watford (James Madison) and Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina) tied for tenth place on the index at 3.82.
So there you have it, the best offensive linemen in the 2013 NFL Draft ranked by a novel metric—the agility to size index.