Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) calls a play for guard David DeCastro (66) during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys won 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft, Positional Value, And Market Inefficiencies

I think we all understand that guard isn’t as important as, say, left tackle on the offensive line. And thus, finding a franchise LT is more important than drafting a guard, no matter how good. That makes sense, and I think we can all agree that this is what the position value is all about.

I just believe that we’ve reached a point where we’ve taken it too far. It’s gotten to the point where guards, no matter how good, are almost ineligible for first round consideration.

At this point, we’ve reached a bit of a market inefficiency that could almost be exploited. Seahawk fans should be able to appreciate the type of impact that a guard like Steve Hutchinson can have. We saw how much he meant to Seattle’s success, and exactly what happened when he left for Minnesota.

We’ve seen some truly special guards come through the draft in the last couple years. David Decastro a year ago (though he did hurt his knee and missed most of the season) and Chance Warmack this year are both rare prospects that look like they’re going to be all-pro candidates every year.

Decastro wasn’t taken until the Steelers grabbed him with the 24th pick. Long after lesser tackles were off the board. Warmack likely will suffer the same fate.

If you think about, what you have is a situation which helps the good teams stay good, and the bad teams struggle.

Unless you’re bad enough to get the top OT in a given draft class, or maybe the 2nd best one if the class has multiple top talents at the position, this idea of positional value means you’re likely to take a lesser OT, even near the top of the 1st round. Such an OT likely wont play up to their draft position and thus the team wont improve as much as they probably should.

On the other hand a good team that needs O-line help can sit there in their draft spot and take a certain pro-bowler later in the round, getting far more out of that draft slot than should be expected.

To a great degree, look at the QB position. How many Blaine Gabberts or Christian Ponders does the league need to see before they stop taking players with 3rd round grades early in the first round? CBs, DEs, WRs are the same.

And in the other direction, it’s not just guards. 4-3 linebackers, 3-4 defensive ends, safeties and centers all drop because of their position instead of the talent.

Like I said in the opening paragraph, it is important to remember that QB, CB and LT are more important to the success of a team than S, G, or MLB. I just think that the NFL has taken the positional draft value adjustment too far.

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