Very few first-round selections on the interior line are hitting their prime right now, mainly because the guard and center spots each boast only four selections from this round from 2006 to 2010. This pales in comparison to the past couple years that have seen David DeCastro, Kevin Zeitler, Mike Pouncey and Danny Watkins go at the guard spot alone.
Perhaps this change in tide is at least slightly influenced by the high success rate that the first-round interior lineman had in that span, with only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ Davin Joseph not playing among the league’s better players at his position. Then there’s the Kansas City Chiefs‘ Branden Albert, who excelled at guard before moving to left tackle and growing into that role as well.
Will these trends lead to 2013 NFL draft prospect Chris Warmack to becoming the first interior lineman taken in the top 10 since 1997?
In an attempt to evaluate how much value has been returned on first-rounders at this position in recent years, I’ve compiled each first-round selection from 2006-2010 (leaving out any player with less than three seasons of experience) and added a value rating relative to draft spot. Each pick is evaluated from -3 to +3 depending on value expected by draft slot versus value delivered and promise shown, and the bolded names went top 10.
Picks in the top 10 of the NFL draft are graded harsher than picks 11-32 due to the heightened value expected from the top. At the bottom of the spreadsheet I’ve included the composite “Safe Rating” value, evaluating the position’s overall return on pick position in recent years. This attempts to compare the risk involved in drafting each position at the top of the draft, not weighting how valuable one position is over another.