Forget Matthew Stafford!

Tony PetersContributor IMarch 26, 2009

DETROIT - FEBRUARY 05: Offensive lineman Alan Faneca #66 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates late in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL at Ford Field on February 5, 2006 in Detroit, Michigan. The Steelers defeated the Seahawks 21-10.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Wondering who your team will select in the draft? While an offensive lineman doesn't always seem like the sexiest pick, it is rarely a poor choice. It is essential for a team's running game. Everyone knows it is important to protect the QB as well. The question is, how important?

After crunching some statistics from last season I attempted to answer this question.  While the information listed below may not necessarily allow us to fully understand the intricacies of pass protection we can draw some conclusions from it.

First off...out of 32 NFL teams eight teams allowed more than 40 sacks upon their acting field general, they include Detroit, Cincinnati, San Fransisco, Pittsburgh, New England, Minnesota and Jacksonville. 

So if you are a fan of one of these teams and are hoping they pick a QB in the draft, you may want them to patch up that line first. In fact, the average passer rating of these eight teams is a meager 78.3 percent.

For an example of what a 78 percent QB performance looks like, Kyle Orton had a 79.6 percent last year, JaMarcus Russel 77.1, and Tyler Thigpen 76.0. The other 24 teams combined passer rating average is 86.9.

For an example of what a 86.9 percent passer-rating performance looks like, Eli Manning 86.4, Donovan McNabb 86.4, and Jay Cutler 86.0. 

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This is not a cut and dry analysis other factors may affect things and there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, New England allowed 48 sacks, yet Matt Cassel posted an impressive 89.4 QB rating...hmmm...maybe Kansas City has something there! 

On the other side of the coin, Tennessee allowed 12 sacks, yet Kerry Collins posted a pedestrian 80.2, and the Cleveland Browns did a satisfactory job of protection holding defenses to only 24 sacks yet Derek Anderson only achieved a pathetic 66.5 passer rating.

Lastly you will notice Pittsburgh was in the list of the underachieving eight, yet they managed to win the Super Bowl!

This also brings up the question...Are some of us being a bit harsh on our Quarterbacks? Maybe if San Fransisco's line didn't part like the red sea and allow a league leading 55 sacks, they could settle on a starting QB.

Perhaps Carson Palmer could stay healthy if Cincinnati could patch up the line. Oakland just missed the 40 sack line by allowing 39 this year; I'm sure JaMarcus wouldn't mind a little help. 

Minnesota Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson may benefit from a little more assistance as well.  Lets not forget about Detroit and the 52 sacks Kitna, Orlovsky, Culpepper or whom ever won the Detroit QB lottery that week shared. 

Whatever your team decides to do come draft day, I wouldn't mind seeing my team pick up a nice, big, red-meat eating offensive lineman maybe a couple of them!


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