The case against drafting a tackle in Round One

With the release of Flozell Adams, many Cowboy fans have been thinking that Jerry Jones and Co. will now most certainly draft an OT in the first round of this year’s draft. Many fans have also said in order to get one of the best tackles in this draft we will need to trade up from the number 27 spot. And while I agree that most of the top-rated tackles will be gone by the time the Cowboys go on the clock, I disagree with the idea of trading up to get one.

In order to trade into the top 15 picks to snag a top rated tackle we will probably have to surrender our second round pick this year. This seems a high price to me. Now some of you may argue an elite LT is essential to winning games and ultimately a Super Bowl. After all, any knowledgeable football fan knows the offensive line is an integral part of the offense. It simply doesn’t matter how good your skill positions are if you can’t block. So it makes sense to try and get the best tackles… doesn’t it?

I decided to go back and look at the rosters of Super Winning teams since the year 2000. I specifically looked at who started at LT for these teams and found an interesting stat. The majority of starting LT’s on winning Super Bowl teams were NOT first rounders. In fact, the average pick for a Super Bowl LT since 2000 is 57.45. That’s a late second rounder.  Here’s the list of starting LT’s for Super Bowl winning teams since 2000:

09-10 Saints

Jermon Bushrod – Fourth Round Pick 125


08-09 Steelers

Max Starks – Third Round Pick 75


07-08 Giants

David Diehl – Round Five Pick 160


06-07 Colts

Tarik Glenn – First Round Pick 19


05-06 Steelers

Marvel Smith – Second Round Pick 38


04-05 Patriots

Matt Light – Second Round Pick  48


03-04 Patriots

Matt Light – Second Round Pick 48


02-03 Bucs

Romen Oben – Third Round Pick 66


01-02 Patriots

Matt Light – Second Round Pick 48


00-01 Ravens

Jonathan Ogden – First Round Pick 4


99-00 Rams

Orlando Pace – Round 1 Pick 1


Now some of you may cry foul here, since Jammal Brown would have been the starter for the Saints if not for an injury (Borwn was the 13th overall selection in the 2005 draft). But Bushrod did start more games last year, including the Super Bowl, so him starting did not prevent the Saints from winning the Super Bowl.  

Now the average draft position of these Super Bowl champions is 57.45, and the median is 48. Even if we only count Matt Light once, the average is 59.5 and the median is still 48. So what this tells me is good teams are able to find their OT’s in later rounds.

It also tells me you don't need an elite tackle to win the Super Bowl. Elite tackles are a luxury. If you have a top ten pick and a tackle is sitting there, you take him. But there is simply no need to overreach for a tackle. For Dallas, if there is a tackle there at 27 who has a first round grade, then Dallas would have to strongly consider taking him. But most of the projected elite tackles are gone by pick 15 - so don't hold your breath.

I also went back and looked at the tackles who have been taken in the top 15 of the draft since 2000, here’s that list.

2000 – Chris Samuels, Washington Redskins (3rd overall)

2001 – Kenyatta Walker, Tamba Bay Bucs (14th overall)

2002 - Mike Williams, Buffalo Bills (4th overall)

            Bryant McKinnie, Minnesota Vikings (7th overall)

            Levi Jones, Cincinnati Bengals (10th overall)

2003 Jordan Gross, Carolina Panthers (8th overall)

2004 – Robert Gallery, Oakland Raiders (2nd overall)

2005 – Jammal Brown, New Orleans Saints (13th overall)

2006 – D’Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets (4th overall)

2007 – Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns (3rd overall)

            Levi Brown, Arizona Cardinals (5th overall)

2008 – Jake Long, Miami Dolphins (1st overall)

            Ryan  Clady, Denver Broncos (12th overall)

            Chris Williams, Chicago Bears (14th overall)

            Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs (15th overall)

2009 Jason Smith, St. Louis Rams (2nd overall)

            Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals (6th overall)

            Eugene Monroe, Jacksonville Jaguars (8th overall)


Now, look closely and count the Super Bowl Rings. There is no need to take off your shoes in order to tally the rings here. Out of 18 tackles taken in the top 15, none appear on the list of Super Bowl starting LT’s. I know some do have Super Bowl rings, but again, none were starting in those games.


In my opinion, reaching for a tackle or trading up to get one in this year’s draft would be a huge mistake. There are plenty of tackles in this draft class who can be above average starters in the NFL. You don’t have to have an elite LT to win Super Bowls. And with Doug Free on the roster there is no need to panic to try and fill the LT spot.


The main point I'm trying to get across here is tackle seems to be a position you don't need top talent at to win Super Bowls. If the Saints can win a Super Bowl with a backup, then there seems to be no need to reach for a tackle in the first round. Again, if the value is there, you take it. But tackle is simply does not seem to be a position you have to force.


We can afford to let the draft come to us, do our homework on offensive lineman and select one or two in rounds 2-7 and be just fine.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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