Let me start this post off by saying that I am a huge fan of Pat Kirwan. For those that do not know it, he is the co-host of the show Movin\’ The Chains on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Before his radio gig, Kirwan spent eight years with the New York Jets, beginning as a defensive assistant coach and advancing to director of player administration, where he negotiated contracts and managed the team\’s salary cap. Before that he was an area scout for the Phoenix Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has also authored a fantastic book called Take Your Eye Off the Ball that I really suggest everyone read.
On Monday I was pretty much shocked when I read his article on Stanford guard David DeCastro. It was not the reasoning that he gave in the article that DeCastro could drop in the first round that shocked me, as much as it was his attempt to justify a few NFL combine measurables. In the article Kirwan states, “DeCastro ran a slow 40 at the combine (5.43) but he did demonstrate explosive skills with his vertical leap, standing broad jump and bench press. I like to add up the three scores; if the score hits 70 or better, you\’ve got an explosive player. DeCastro\’s three-score total was 72, which is very impressive for an offensive lineman.”
Now Kirwan did not say how much credence he gives this explosive ranking, but he did mention it in his analysis on DeCastro. That made it worth exploring in my eyes. Combine measureables are just that, measurables. You can\’t put too much weight into them. Combine stats and on the field drills are used to back up things that scouts and coaches see on film. If they see something that does not jive both good or bad, they will go back to tape to see if they missed something in regards to the way a player plays speed wise or in his agility or technique amongst other things. It is fun to see how far a player can leap and jump, how fast he can run, and how many times he can lift 225 pounds, but it is no reflection of how scouts, coaches and front office people stack their draft boards. Plain and simple it is not football; it is just the “Underwear Olympics” as Mike Mayock likes to say. The combine has its usefulness and it goes way beyond the measurables.
With that disclaimer out of the way, and being as Kirwan gave the rating some justification, I was curious as to how several of the first round offensive linemen over the years stacked up in their explosive rating that Kirwan outlined. I compiled in the table below the linemen drafted in the first round dating back to the 2007 draft. Of course not all of the linemen did the bench press, vertical jumps or the broad jumps during their combine appearances, so where needed, I used their Pro Day measurables. Where applicable I used the best result if they did both at the combine and at their Pro Day. All results were pulled from NFL Draft Scout.
Sorting these explosive ratings shows us that Russell Okung leads the way with a Kirwan explosive rating of 78.58. He was the 6th overall pick in the in 2010 NFL draft and second tackle drafted overall behind Trent Williams, who has a 66.55 Kirwan explosive rating. The results also show us that of the first round picks used in this study, only Jake Long, Levi Brown and Joe Thomas had a 70 plus explosive rating, and all of them were tackles. The highest guard on the list is Ben Grubbs with a 69.57 explosive rating.
You can probably see by now where I am going with this as Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey came in with a 59.11 explosive rating using the Kirwan formula. His twin bother Mike Pouncey finished even lower with a 57 rating. I need not remind you that Maurkice has been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. Looking at the list as whole, you can see the range is quite big and the average comes in at 63.4525.
While it is fun to play with numbers and derive the rankings from them, it certainly seems to be indicative of absolutely nothing. A mere workout warrior could dominate this rating with a solid bench press. New York Giants guard Mitch Petrus put up 225 pounds a total of 44 times at the 2010 NFL combine. When you add in his vertical jump and broad jump numbers to that number, he finishes with an 83.1 explosive rating. Petrus ended up being drafted by the Giants in the 5th round, 147th overall. So his explosive rating was certainly not worth anything.
Now I doubt that Kirwan just made this rating up for his breakdown on DeCastro, but I wish he would have gone more in depth at telling us how far down the food chain that this rating matters. Perhaps he will and perhaps I will call in to prod him to explain it further in the future. As it looks like right now, it is a stat that just backs up a few of the combine numbers of DeCastro only.
So that this post delivers some sort of reward for the research. Dating back to 2007 there have been just 7 interior linemen that have been drafted in the first round during that span with 4 of them being centers. 2 of those 4 had a last name of Pouncey. DeCastro most certainly will be drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft, as he is the top interior lineman, but I am in agreement with Kirwan that he could end up being drafted lower than many expect at this time. Could he drop to the Steelers at 24? We shall see, but I do not think it is out of the question. It does not look good however for the rest of the interior linemen in the 2012 class though and the status of Cordy Glenn depends on if teams see him as a tackle or a guard at the next level.