Should the Green Bay Packers Pick an Offensive Tackle No.1? – Stats say NO! All Green Bay Packers All the Time

It’s as close to fact as you can get; the Green Bay Packers’ No. 1 item on their “things we need” list is a left tackle to protect their franchise quarterback for years to come. Is there anyone out there that can truthfully dispute that statement? Anyone?

Sure, a bookend OLB to pair with Clay Matthews and some DB help (CB, S, ANYTHING!) would be great. A real punter would be great. Those are all things I want to see happen, as well.

However, with often-injured unrestricted free agent Chad Clifton on a downward career slope,  the all-important left tackle position must be addressed NOW. With any luck, the Packers will be able to bring Clifton back for at least one more year and draft a potential LT of the future.

The question is, will they be able to get that player at pick No. 23 in the first round and should they even try?  Stay with me, I’ll explain what I mean.

Thanks to the friend-making machine known as Facebook, a Packer fan named Andy Tisdel alerted me to a blog post he had written. Andy had done some great research, identifying all of the starting left tackles in the NFL in 2009 and noting  what round they were drafted in. While you can read the post to get the full details, the end result was predictably that just over 50% of the starting left tackles in the NFL in 2009 were drafted in the first round.

So the Packers should draft an Offensive Tackle  first, right? Not so fast. I had a feeling that if we dug a little deeper into the numbers, we might get a different answer.

Let’s take a quick look at the players in question and where they were drafted:

Colts: Charlie Johnson (sixth)
Titans: Michael Roos (second) Pro Bowler
Texans: Duane Brown (first, No. 26)
Jaguars: Eugene Monroe (first, No. 8 )
Steelers: Max Starks (third)
Browns: Joe Thomas (first, No. 3)  Pro Bowler
Ravens: Jared Gaither (fifthl)
Bengals: Andrew Whitworth (second)
Jets: D’Brickashaw Ferguson (first, No. 4) Pro Bowler
Patriots: Sebastian Vollmer (second) [Starter on IR: Matt Light, (second), Pro Bowler]
Dolphins: Jake Long (first, No. 1) Pro Bowler
Bills: Jonathan Scott (fifth)
Chargers: Marcus McNeill (second)
Raiders: Mario Henderson (third)
Chiefs: Branden Albert (first, No. 15)
Broncos: Ryan Clady (first, No. 12) Pro Bowler

Bears: Orlando Pace (first, No. 1) Pro Bowler
Packers: Chad Clifton (second)
Lions: Jeff Backus (first, No. 18)
Vikings: Bryant McKinnie (first, No. 7) Pro Bowler
49ers: Joe Staley (first, No. 28)
Cardinals: Jeremy Bridges (sixth)
Rams: Alex Barron (first, No. 19)
Seahawks: Sean Locklear (third) [Starter on IR: Walter Jones, (first, No. 6), Pro Bowler]
Cowboys: Flozell Adams (second) Pro Bowler
Eagles: Jason Peters (undrafted)  Pro Bowler
Redskins: Levi Jones (first) [Starter on IR: Chris Samuels, (first, No. 3), Pro Bowler]
Giants: David Diehl (fifth) Pro Bowler
Saints: Jermon Bushrod (fourth) [Starter on IR: Jammal Brown, (first, No. 13), Pro Bowler]
Buccaneers: Donald Penn (undrafted)
Panthers: Jeff Otah (first) [Starter on IR: Jordan Gross, (first, No. 8), Pro Bowler]
Falcons: Sam Baker (first, No. 21)

Using the starters that were on IR rather than their replacements, the results tabulate as follows:

Round Drafted:
1st round: 17
2nd: 5
3rd: 2
4th: 1
5th: 3
6th: 2
7th: 0

Undrafted/supplemental: 2


Out of the 17 first round picks, 15 were selected 21st or higher. Only 12% of those first round tackles were drafted in the range where the Packers will be selecting.

Now let’s look at only the best of those left tackles; those that have made the Pro Bowl:

Round Drafted:

1st round: 11
2nd: 3
3rd: 0
4th: 0
5th: 1
6th: 0
7th: 0
Undrafted/supplemental: 1


11 out of 16 (70%) of Pro Bowl left tackles were drafted in the first round. And even more significantly, 8 of those 11 (73%) were top-10 picks. Of the other 3, none were selected below No. 13.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: (for those of you whose heads are swimming right now)  Only 2 current starting left tackles were selected in the first round range where the Packers will be picking. More starting left tackles were selected in the later rounds and more Pro Bowl tackles were selected in the second round.

Statistically it’s a small sample size (Your mileage may vary and past performance is not a guarantee of future results ). But based on these figures, the chances of the Packers selecting a starting left tackle at the No. 23 pick is 12%. The chances of them selecting a future Pro Bowler is 0%. Yes, not one of the Pro Bowl tackles above selected in the first round went later than No. 13. Ironically, according to these numbers, they have a much better chance of finding a Pro Bowl tackle in the second round.

Sooooooooooooo, do the Packers still select an OT at #23 in the first round? What do YOU think?


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Jersey Al Bracco is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for You can find more of Jersey Al ’s articles on several sports web sites: NFL Touchdown , Packers Lounge , Packer Chatters & Bleacher Report .

28 thoughts on “Should the Green Bay Packers Pick an Offensive Tackle No.1? – Stats say NO!

  1. This analysis furthers the theory of trade down you wrote about previously. Trade out of 23 and pick up more picks in the 2nd and 3rd for areas of need (OL,CB, etc). The question is whether Thompson will go with the old standard “best available” at 23 and select a position that doesnt need a lot of help. QB, for example.

  2. Head swimming? It drowned.

    Good, stuff, Al.

    My opinion (not worth much): Get Cliffy back for a year, and then draft Bruce “This is my boomstick” Campbell and let him mature for a year.

  3. I agree. Barring a major debacle at the top of the draft order, I don’t think the Packers are going to find their left tackle of the future at pick #23. Like Al wrote in an earlier post, they should try and trade down so they would have more opportunities to find quality players in rounds 2-3.

  4. If there’s a suitable tackle at 23 we should pick him up. Plenty of players do a good enough, sometimes better, job and don’t make the pro-bowl.

  5. Great stuff. I think the numbers also suggest that if you aren’t going to get your LT in the first 2 rounds, you might as well not bother drafting one.

  6. John,

    Yes, trade-down looks like the best scenario. But can the Packers find a partner? Someone of great value to another team would have to fall. As I said in that first Draft Analysis article you referred to, Seattle and New England, both with a lot of picks would be the prime candidates.

  7. Max: Who will be our trading partner?

    Ted’s Brother: Do you have beady eyes and stand with your legs crossed too?

    Ryan, Looks like about a 33% chance of getting a starting LT after the first two rounds. And a 6% chance of landing a future Pro Bowler.

  8. New England loves to wheel and deal around the draft. And do you think Belichick and co. are happy after the last few season’s disappointments? No way. Anything for their quick turnaround, and #23 could be it.

  9. John, They have accumulated 3 2nd round picks, and with their woes on defense, maybe this is the year they look to move up instead and nab a guy they love.

  10. I disagree with you analysis.

    It doesn’t take into consideration that this draft is one of the deeper, if not the deepest draft ever.

    The CBA made pretty much every Junior that had a chance come out this year, to skip a rookie cap.

    So, usually, you’re right, you probably won’t find the franchise LT after the top-15 picks. If so many juniors (not just OTs) hadn’t come out, then we wouldn’t be able to find one.

    But with so many juniors out, in this draft I believe you can.

    Prospects like Campbell and Brown are too raw to start. But their athleticism and overall ability puts them as future franchise LTs.

    And chances are one of them at least will be available at #23, even further by some projections.

    1. RS;

      You can’t really disagree with the analysis – facts are facts. However, you could say you think this year will go against the percentages. That’s fair. That’s why I added the disclaimer: “Your mileage may vary and past performance is not a guarantee of future results” All I’m doing here is presenting some stats. I’m not maiking a judgment.

      As for projections, there are many different ones. For example Mike Mayock projects 4 OTs will go in the first 9 picks. In that scenario, this year would probably tend to follow the statistical trend in the article.

  11. I think the sample size is not too small. I think your very informative analysis provides us with real insight. Al, you are truly a genius.

    What that says to me is unless the Packers trade up, way up, they don’t have a chance of getting the All-Pro caliber player at that position. The numbers don’t lie. There is a chance you might get lucky in round 2 and blind lucky later in the draft.

    One thing I’d like to see is how many of the lower round guys developed into average to above average players (I know it would be subjective and virtually impossible to accomplish). My feeling is that the Packers don’t need an All-Pro guy at LT, although that would be great. What they need is stabiltiy at each position (Note: see last 8 games 09).

    Hence, tade down and try and pick up some good players so they can dump Breno the Statue and No talent Barbre MOW.

  12. Ron,

    LOL – Breno the statue…

    Yes, if I had no job or family, I would spend a few days and go back and look at every starting left tackle over the last decade. That would be a good sample size. As it is, Andy Tisdel did most of the hard work here, I just took the data and analyzed it more finely.

  13. How did you know my head was swimming? lol.

    I’ve learned more from you, Aaron and the guys at Packergeeks about technical things than I ever thought I would be able to learn. Still lots more to go, but it’s fun to read all this detailed analysis.

    I wish we could get someone Jordan Gross-like though. There’s a first round OL pick that paid off in spades.

  14. Mike Mayock is good, but he had Eugene Monroe as the #1 OT last year, and this year he has Earl Thomas ahead of Eric Berry at S…

  15. Interesting. Both you and Andy did great job compiling this stuff and writing about it. I refuse to place a lot of stock in it, however. I’d be interested to see how many OL flameouts occured by draft position, too. My ultimate belief that the draft is a complete crap shoot. We’re dealing with human beings, not mechanical parts. Too much variability. I think Thompson’s past performance drafting from this position might be a better indicator of the future. So I’m prepared to see either a trade back or the drafting of some position(s) that are not a high priority to us fans, a la Jordy Nelson and Brian Brohm.

  16. Ruppert, I can always depend on you to look at all sides. You are correct. A more complete analysis would look at every tackle drafted in the last 10 years and see what percentage of first-rounders, etc. make it versus those that don’t. Of course, I don’t have a few spare months right now. Maybe when I retire and have nothing else to do……

  17. I didn’t mean to slight the work you did. It’s very good. As a one-time math major who eventually switched, I know that, purely mathematically, it just can’t make sense that performance would actually be better in a lower set of picks. This is one of those mathematical things where, the bigger the sample size, the more the results would end up in a “normal” or assumed distribution. In this case, that would be that the higher the pick, the better chance for success. I mean, higher rated players get drafted higher. Higher rated players have a better chance of success. Unless one of those two assumptions can roundly be proven to be inaccurate, that’s really about all there is to it…mathematically. The reason I’m curious as to the flameouts is really just to see the total number of OT draft picks by draft slot. Is it possible that there just aren’t as many OTs drafted in the last half of the first round because they’re all “reached for” or snatched up sooner than they should have been. It’s easier for a GM to explain why, drafting at slot 20, he drafted everybody’s 32nd rated guy, the OT, just because it’s such a high visibility position. Now, if you own pick 40, it’s a little tough to justify reaching for the 55th rated guy, the OT, because if it were that big a need, you probably would have drafted OT with your 1st round pick. We should probably be looking for human-specific reasons behind this…like the one I mentioned above, or something like scouts put an inordinate amount of time scouting the top 5 OL, but slack off after that until they look for that 5th round “gem.” But now I’m rambling…good stuff, Al.

  18. Ruppert,

    All that stuff went through my head, as well, but I had to narrow things down to get an article out of it. I wasn’t a math major, but as a Bio/Chem Major, I did take right through Diff. Equations. Of course, it was many years ago…

  19. no, draft an OT. there’s some solid prospects that will fall down to us. we need it. clifton’s got nothing left.

  20. With the uncertainty of the CBA & the league making a rookie wage scale one of the main talking points in the attempted new CBA, this draft is as deep as ever with all the underclassmen entering. Don’t reach for an OT unless the Packers are 100% sure that he will be a success.

    That makes trading down the best option IMO unless one of the Packers big targets falls to them at a 23.

    Trade down into the beginning of round 2 while acquiring another top 100 pick.

    That would likely put that them with 2 picks in the top 60 & 4 total in the top 100. With the depth this year in the draft & the Packers ability to usually pick good players. I say go for it as I’m sure the Packers will get players with great upside & most likely Packer people, while still being able to help out early.

    Charley Casserly thinks this will be the best 1st round since 1983, so I could see some teams coveting that 23rd spot. It all really depends on what Ted thinks of the 2nd round prospects & the drop from them to the hand full of players that could be had at 23.

    Very interesting spot the Packers are in & if they stay at 23 then I would like Iupati or Graham if available. Iupati would be a beast at LG & with proper coaching could swing in at LT in emergency. Graham could give the Pack the opposite rushing threat with the similar non stop motor as Clay that would terrify opposing QBs til the whistle blew every play. A 2nd beast outside rusher would go a long way for the Pack IMO.

    Whats also interesting is that more & more teams are switching to the 3-4 which makes the specific 3-4 players more coveted. Will teams reach for those players because of the demand for them in the scheme? If teams start to reach for players in the first round will some of those top tier OTs slip to the beginning of the 2nd round? Lot of questions are going through my mind right now.

    UHGGG!!! The draft seems so far away & the season even farther. What makes it even worse is that we all want to see this team play so badly right now, because they seem SO CLOSE. Oh well, good things happen to those who wait. right? I sure hope so…

    GO PACK GO!!!

    2011 Super Bowl or Bust!

    1. Great comment, Good Kid.

      As I said in a previous article. Tampa and NE both have multiple second round picks, so they would be good candidates.

      I feel your frustration. the NFL off-season is brutally long…

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