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2016 NFL offensive line projections: Detroit Lions still in last place for RAS

It's easy enough to look back on previous years and try to identify problems, but what happens when we try to look ahead? Which teams got better, which got worse along their Offensive lines? Can you figure it out by just looking at athleticism?

We attempted to answer if overall athleticism on the offensive line led to NFL success and were not able to come up with a definitive answer. We were, however, able to paint a pretty clear picture that a lack of athleticism will lead to NFL failure. Using an Average of the Relative Athletic Scores for all five players on the 2015 offensive lines for all 32 teams, we were able to show that an overall lack of measurable athleticism contributed to a poor running game, poor pass protection, and in general a lack of wins.

It's important to remember that RAS, or Relative Athletic Score, is only a measurement of athleticism using combine and pro day data. It doesn't take into account tape. So you will end up with individual players who do very well but scored very poorly and you will have players who measured in the upper echelon but can't play football well. That's true of any metric you choose. In general, however, the best players also tend to be the best athletes and the best athletes tend to measure well. What we looked at before, and what I'm looking at today, is how that metric can be applied on a larger scale, to see if it can translate into NFL success. So before we get into the projections, here are a few notes on how RAS has been shown to correlate to success for offensive linemen on an individual level.

To get the average RAS that will be included in these tables, we simply averaged all five of the starting linemen. While 5.00 is considered an average score for any position, the average starting OT actually scored a 6.23 out of 10. The average guard scored 6.34, while the average center scored only a 5.56 or just above average. Measurable athleticism has been shown to have a very large correlation to success for both guards and tackles, and almost none for center. The averages for those positions bears that out.

There aren't a lot of great metrics to show success for offensive linemen, but one way we can look at it is using Pro Bowls. Since 2000, there have been 24 offensive tackles who had qualifying RAS that made a Pro Bowl. Of those, 88 percent, or 21 players, measured above average with only three who did not. Guard follows a similar trend, with 16 of the 21 Pro Bowl guards who qualified having scores above average. Center, as I mentioned before, doesn't have as big of a correlation, and only eight of the 14 centers who qualified were above average, just over half. So on an individual level, a player with a higher than average score is more likely to be a recognized, good player than one whose score is below average.

Without further ado, here is the projected 2016 offensive lines in their entirety. This includes all player's individual scores as well as the average, and it is ranked based upon that average. Note that players with a dash "-" did not have a qualifying RAS.

Rank TM Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle Average
1 PHI Jason
Peters, 8.32
Allen
Barbre, 8.75
Jason
Kelce, 9.35
Brandon
Brooks, 10.00
Lane
Johnson, 9.92
9.27
2 CLE Joe
Thomas, 8.29
Joel
Bitonio, 9.36
Cameron
Erving, 9.09
John
Greco, 5.59
Alvin
Bailey, 8.56
8.18
3 IND Anthony
Castonzo, 8.62
Jack
Mewhort, 5.69
Ryan
Kelly, 9.29
Hugh
Thornton, 9.26
Denzelle
Good, 6.99
7.97
4 TAM Donovan
Smith, 6.94
J.R.
Sweezy, 9.46
Joe
Hawley, 4.81
Ali
Marpet, 9.8
Demar
Dotson, -
7.75
5 ATL Jake
Matthews, 8.89
Andy
Levitre, 3.36
Alex
Mack, 7.79
Chris
Chester, 9.43
Ryan
Schraeder, 9.11
7.72
6 NYJ Ryan
Clady, 8.13
James
Carpenter, 7.25
Nick
Mangold, 8.57
Brian
Winters, 7.48
Breno
Giacomini, 6.67
7.62
7 ARI Jared
Veldheer, 9.97
Mike
Iupati, 4.60
A.Q.
Shipley, 6.69
Evan
Mathis, 9.97
D.J.
Humphries, 6.07
7.46
8 GNB David
Bakhtiari, 4.82
Josh
Sitton, 9.33
Corey
Linsley, 8.7
T.J.
Lang, 9.19
Bryan
Bulaga, 4.96
7.40
9 LAR Greg
Robinson, 9.02
Rodger
Saffold, 8.83
Tim
Barnes, 7.92
Jamon
Brown, 9.26
Rob
Havenstein, 0.92
7.19
10 CIN Andrew
Whitworth, 8.16
Clint
Boling, 7.15
Russell
Bodine, 6.28
Kevin
Zeitler, 6.51
Cedric
Ogbuehi, -
6.74
11 KAN Eric
Fisher, 9.67
Jarrod
Pughsley, 7.49
Mitch
Morse, 9.03
Laurent
Duvernay-Tardif, -
Mitchell
Schwartz, 0.68
6.72
12 CHI Charles
Leno, 5.39
Cody
Whitehair, 7.38
Hroniss
Grasu, 6.82
Kyle
Long, 9.53
Bobby
Massie, 4.28
6.68
13 DAL Tyron
Smith, 9.19
Zack
Martin, 8.22
Travis
Frederick, 1.17
La'El
Collins, 5.94
Doug
Free, 8.73
6.65
14 TEN Taylor
Lewan, 10.00
Quinton
Spain, 8.76
Ben
Jones, 2.99
Chance
Warmack, 1.31
Jack
Conklin, 8.54
6.32
15 NEP Nate
Solder, 9.76
Shaq
Mason, 8.83
Bryan
Stork, 1.49
Tre'
Jackson, 0.47
Sebastian
Vollmer, 9.95
6.10
16 SNF Joe
Staley, 9.86
Zane
Beadles, -
Daniel
Kilgore, 5.34
Joshua
Garnett, 6.78
Trenton
Brown, 1.87
5.96
17 NOS Terron
Armstead, 9.43
Tim
Lelito, 7.02
Max
Unger, 3.38
Andrus
Peat, 8.76
Zach
Strief, 1.17
5.95
18 MIN Matt
Kalil, 8.02
Alex
Boone, 6.99
Joe
Berger, 4.61
Brandon
Fusco, 7.99
Phil
Loadholt, 1.33
5.79
19 HOU Duane
Brown, 7.37
Xavier
Su'a-Filo, 7.75
Nick
Martin, 5.71
Jeff
Allen, 2.51
Derek
Newton, 4.91
5.65
20 BAL Eugene
Monroe, 2.68
Ryan
Jensen, 6.11
Jeremy
Zuttah, 7.83
Marshal
Yanda, 8.29
Ricky
Wagner, 2.93
5.57
21 WAS Trent
Williams, 9.32
Spencer
Long, -
Kory
Lichtensteiger, 2.34
Brandon
Scherff, 9.63
Morgan
Moses, 0.89
5.55
22 SEA Garry
Gilliam, 9.02
Rees
Odhiambo, 2.95
Patrick
Lewis, 1.88
J'Marcus
Webb, 5.85
Germain
Ifedi, 7.62
5.46
23 CAR Michael
Oher, 2.66
Andrew
Norwell, 3.62
Ryan
Kalil, 8.51
Trai
Turner, 5.5
Mike
Remmers, 5.55
5.17
24 DEN Russell
Okung, 6.75
Max
Garcia, 3.44
Matt
Paradis, 3.51
Robert
Myers, 2.82
Donald
Stephenson, 8.94
5.09
25 NYG Ereck
Flowers, 4.39
Justin
Pugh, 8.03
Weston
Richburg, 4.74
Bobby
Hart, 0.97
Marshall
Newhouse, 6.64
4.95
26 SDC King
Dunlap, 5.04
Orlando
Franklin, 5.69
Matt
Slauson, 7.47
D.J.
Fluker, 2.71
Joe
Barksdale, 3.28
4.84
27 BUF Cordy
Glenn, 3.77
Richie
Incognito, 8.56
Eric
Wood, 8.12
John
Miller, 2.25
Jordan
Mills, 1.36
4.81
28 MIA Branden
Albert, 5.53
Dallas
Thomas, -
Mike
Pouncey, 3.18
Laremy
Tunsil, -
JaWuan
James, 5.66
4.79
29 JAX Kelvin
Beachum, 0.7
Mackenzy
Bernadeau, 7.79
Brandon
Linder, 4.03
A.J.
Cann, -
Luke
Joeckel, 5.93
4.17
30 OAK Donald
Penn, -
Gabe
Jackson, 3.99
Rodney
Hudson, 0.45
Kelechi
Osemele, 5.69
Austin
Howard, 5.37
3.88
31 PIT Alejandro
Villanueva, -
Ramon
Foster, 0.5
Maurkice
Pouncey, 2.86
David
DeCastro, 7.32
Marcus
Gilbert, 2.82
3.38
32 DET Riley
Reiff, 3.55
Laken
Tomlinson, 3.39
Travis
Swanson, 2.92
Larry
Warford, 1.28
Taylor
Decker, 5.45
3.32

Yes, Detroit Lions fans, your team still holds that bottom spot. Based on the most likely starting offensive line for 2016, the only new player is Taylor Decker, and he replaces Michael Ola who had the highest RAS for the line in 2015. The slight bump from adding Decker wasn't enough to push the Lions out of last place, and nobody else fell far enough to make it any less concerning.

In 2015 there were only six teams whose average RAS was below 5.00, which for this metric is considered average. Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins,Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and Detroit Lions were those six teams, in order from least bad to worst. Of these teams, only the Raiders finished higher than 21st in any PFF category, while only the Steelers finished with a winning record. Also, with the exception of the Steelers, each of these teams finished in the bottom 10 for rushing. Oakland and Pittsburgh ranked 11th for sacks allowed, while the other four teams ranke 21st or lower (Tennessee was dead last). It was pretty clear that no matter what metric you used, teams that ended below that 5.00 line as a group tended to be some of the worst blocking teams in the NFL.

So what can they do to raise that score up? Well, for the Lions it was fairly simple, but I wanted to go a step further. I wanted to project a 'best case' scenario, something that took into account the draft and free agency to look at what the best possible lineup could be. I did this from a play and value perspective, not just a RAS perspective, so as to not artificially raise the score in some unrealistic way. As a completionist, I couldn't just do this for Detroit. So I reached out to the SB Nation community and others I know from social media to find out what a Best Case Offensive Line would look like for all 32 teams. It's important to note that this was best case from those who know their teams, not just picking the highest RAS and taking a stab at it. In some instances, the best case OL actually has a lower average RAS than the regular projected line. In any case, here is that list for every team.

Rank Team Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle Average
1 PHI Jason
Peters, 8.32
Isaac
Seumalo, 7.11
Jason
Kelce, 9.35
Brandon
Brooks, 10
Lane
Johnson, 9.92
8.94
2 IND Anthony
Castonzo, 8.62
Jack
Mewhort, 5.69
Ryan
Kelly, 9.29
Hugh
Thornton, 9.26
Denzelle
Good, 6.99
8.54
3 CLE Joe
Thomas, 8.29
Joel
Bitonio, 9.36
Cameron
Erving, 9.09
John
Greco, 5.59
Shon
Coleman, -
8.08
4 TAM Donovan
Smith, 6.94
J.R.
Sweezy, 9.46
Joe
Hawley, 4.81
Ali
Marpet, 9.8
Demar
Dotson, -
7.75
5 ATL Jake
Matthews, 8.89
Andy
Levitre, 3.36
Alex
Mack, 7.79
Chris
Chester, 9.43
Ryan
Schraeder, 9.11
7.72
6 NYJ Ryan
Clady, 8.13
James
Carpenter, 7.25
Nick
Mangold, 8.57
Brian
Winters, 7.48
Breno
Giacomini, 6.67
7.62
7 GNB David
Bakhtiari, 4.82
Josh
Sitton, 9.33
Corey
Linsley, 8.7
T.J.
Lang, 9.19
Bryan
Bulaga, 4.96
7.40
8 NEP Nate
Solder, 9.76
Shaq
Mason, 8.83
Bryan
Stork, 1.49
Jonathan Cooper, 6.85 Sebastian
Vollmer, 9.95
7.38
9 WAS Trent
Williams, 9.32
Spencer
Long, -
Austin
Reiter, 9.09
Brandon
Scherff, 9.63
Morgan
Moses, 0.89
7.23
10 LAR Greg
Robinson, 9.02
Cody
Wichmann, 8.9
Tim
Barnes, 7.92
Jamon
Brown, 9.26
Rob
Havenstein, 0.92
7.20
11 HOU Duane
Brown, 7.37
Xavier
Su'a-Filo, 7.75
Nick
Martin, 5.71
David Quessenberry, 8.73 Derek
Newton, 4.91
6.89
12 CIN Andrew
Whitworth, 8.16
Clint
Boling, 7.15
Christian Westerman, 4.61 Kevin
Zeitler, 6.51
Cedric
Ogbuehi, -
6.86
13 CHI Charles
Leno, 5.39
Cody
Whitehair, 7.38
Hroniss
Grasu, 6.82
Kyle
Long, 9.53
Bobby
Massie, 4.28
6.68
14 DAL Tyron
Smith, 9.19
Zack
Martin, 8.22
Travis
Frederick, 1.17
La'El
Collins, 5.94
Doug
Free, 8.73
6.65
15 SEA Garry
Gilliam, 9.02
Mark
Glowinski, 8.86
Patrick
Lewis, 1.88
J'Marcus
Webb, 5.85
Germain
Ifedi, 7.62
6.65
16 KAN Eric
Fisher, 9.67
Parker
Ehinger, 6.61
Mitch
Morse, 9.03
Laurent
Duvernay-Tardif, -
Mitchell
Schwartz, 0.68
6.50
17 DEN Russell
Okung, 6.75
Max
Garcia, 3.44
Matt
Paradis, 3.51
Connor
McGovern, 9.7
Donald
Stephenson, 8.94
6.47
18 ARI Jared
Veldheer, 9.97
Mike
Iupati, 4.60
Evan
Boehm, 1.43
Evan
Mathis, 9.97
D.J.
Humphries, 6.07
6.41
19 TEN Taylor
Lewan, 10
Quinton
Spain, 8.76
Ben
Jones, 2.99
Chance
Warmack, 1.31
Jack
Conklin, 8.54
6.32
20 SNF Joe
Staley, 9.86
Zane
Beadles, -
Daniel
Kilgore, 5.34
Joshua
Garnett, 6.78
Trenton
Brown, 1.87
5.96
21 BAL Ronnie
Stanley, 4.07
Ryan
Jensen, 6.11
Jeremy
Zuttah, 7.83
Marshal
Yanda, 8.29
Ricky
Wagner, 2.93
5.85
22 BUF Cordy
Glenn, 3.77
Richie
Incognito, 8.56
Eric
Wood, 8.12
John
Miller, 2.25
Seantrel Henderson, 6.12 5.76
23 NOS Terron
Armstead, 9.43
Tim
Lelito, 7.02
Max
Unger, 3.38
Landon
Turner, 0.7
Andrus
Peat, 7.59
5.62
24 DET Taylor 
Decker, 5.45
Laken
Tomlinson, 3.39
Graham
Glasgow, 7.47
Joe
Dahl, 7.99
Riley 
Reiff, 3.55
5.57
25 SDC King
Dunlap, 5.04
Orlando
Franklin, 5.69
Max
Tuerk, -
Matt
Slauson, 8.12
Joe
Barksdale, 3.28
5.53
26 NYG Ereck
Flowers, 4.39
Justin
Pugh, 8.03
Weston
Richburg, 4.74
Bobby
Hart, 0.97
Marshall
Newhouse, 6.64
4.95
27 MIN Matt
Kalil, 8.02
Alex
Boone, 6.99
John
Sullivan, 5.45
Mike
Harris, 2.72
Phil
Loadholt, 1.33
4.90
28 MIA Branden
Albert, 5.53
Dallas
Thomas, -
Mike
Pouncey, 3.18
Laremy
Tunsil, -
JaWuan
James, 5.66
4.79
29 JAX Kelvin
Beachum, 0.7
Mackenzy
Bernadeau, 7.79
Brandon
Linder, 4.03
A.J.
Cann, -
Luke
Joeckel, 5.93
4.61
30 CAR Michael
Oher, 2.66
Andrew
Norwell, 3.62
Ryan
Kalil, 8.51
Trai
Turner, 5.5
Daryl
Williams, 0.95
4.25
31 OAK Donald
Penn, -
Gabe
Jackson, 3.99
Rodney
Hudson, 0.45
Kelechi
Osemele, 5.69
Austin
Howard, 5.37
3.88
32 PIT Alejandro
Villanueva, -
Ramon
Foster, 0.5
Maurkice
Pouncey, 2.86
David
DeCastro, 7.32
Marcus
Gilbert, 2.82
3.38

For the Lions, removing Travis Swanson as a starter is almost a certainty in some fans' minds. We here at Pride of Detroit are mixed on the subject, but it is neither out of the realm of possibility nor anything resembling crazy talk. What may give some pause to this 'best case' projection is the replacement of Larry Warford with Joe Dahl. Warford has been a stalwart blocker on the offensive line since he stormed onto the scene as a rookie, but has been plagued with injuries since that time. While Dahl played tackle and left guard in college, in Jim Bob Cooter's scheme he would be more suited to the right guard position. His lack of length probably prevents him from being an option at tackle, and his inexperience with run blocking concepts probably keeps him away from the left side where Laken Tomlinson was drafted as much due to his intelligence and football acumen as he was his blocking style.

The important thing with this projection is that it gets the Detroit Lions out of that sub 5.00 average that was indicative of so many bad teams in 2015. That alone wouldn't be enough to improve the Detroit Lions as either a pass or run blocking team, but it's possible it could provide enough push to get them over the hump. It could also be a huge disaster, as that would mean three rookies on the offensive line. Bob Quinn has shown with his selections of Decker, Glasgow, and Dahl that he has a dedication to making the offensive line better and more athletic. The best guess projection for the offensive line is a baby step in the right direction, the 'best case' outlined above is jumping both feet first without a net.

What do you think, Detroit Lions fans? Do you think it's enough to simply become more athletic, or do you feel something else is the cause of the team's offensive woes? Have any better projections you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments who you think would be the best options. For a fun little bonus, here is the team's entire offensive line group and what their RAS is, you can figure out the average from that.

Player Name Position RAS
Graham Glasgow OC 7.47
Gabe Ikard OC 7.92
Travis Swanson OC 2.92
Joe Dahl OG 7.99
Chase Farris OG 2.62
Geoff Schwartz OG 4.93
Laken Tomlinson OG 3.39
Larry Warford OG 1.28
Andrew Zeller OG 9.56
Taylor Decker OT 5.45
Cornelius Lucas OT -
Michael Ola OT 5.12
Riley Reiff OT 3.55
Corey Robinson OT 5.75


This post first appeared on Pride Of Detroit, A Detroit Lions Community, please read the originial post: here

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2016 NFL offensive line projections: Detroit Lions still in last place for RAS

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