2013 Combine O-Line Tale Of The Tape: Making Sense Of The Numbers

USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Combine kicked off for real yesterday, with the offensive linemen taking to the field to run their drills. And while there are tons of reports out summarizing yesterday's activities, not many sources are telling us what the numbers mean. We try to remedy that.

The first step in assessing Combine performance is to look at the raw numbers from the position drills. Sure, running 40 yards in a straight line doesn't tell you all that much about how a guy can play football, but when teams look at rookie prospects, one of the first things they look at is whether the player meets the physical prototype expected from the position.

Bill Parcells explained the rationale for this quite succinctly in a TV interview last year: For every position, there is a certain combination of physical measurables that has proven successful in the NFL, and deviating from this success model doesn't have high chances of success.

So the first step in looking at the numbers for the offensive linemen is to understand what NFL teams are looking for. A while ago, Gil Brandt published a set of target test results for Combine measurements. Here are the numbers for the interior linemen.

Drill Significance Guards/Centers Tackles
40-yard dash Speed over distance 5.3 5.3
10-yard split (40) Initial quickness 1.85 1.80
225-pound bench press reps Upper body strength 26 24
Vertical jump Explosiveness, leg strength 30 30
Broad jump Explosiveness, leg strength 8-6 8-6
20-yard shuttle Flexibility, burst, balance 4.55 4.65
3-cone drill Agility, change of direction 7.85 7.85

Overall, not much of a difference between the two positions, but the small differences in the numbers show that tackles need to be a little faster, while guards and centers have to be quicker and stronger.

Not much math involved in this assessment, as we'll simply sum up the number of target measurements a prospect meets. You'll usually only have a handful of prospects who meet every single target, and teams vary in the importance they place on each measurement, but the less of these targets a prospects hits, the less attractive he becomes to NFL teams.

The next table shows all the basic measurements for the offensive linemen at the Combine. By default, the list is sorted by the 'Targets Met' column at the very right which provides a tally of how many of the seven target measurements a prospect was able to meet. For your convenience, the table is sortable, so you can sort and re-sort to yor heart's delight. "Rank" indicates where a player is currently ranked on the CBSSports big board.

Offensive Linemen, 2013 Combine measurables (click column header to sort)

Rank Player POS Height Weight 40 yds 10 yds Reps Vert Broad 20 S 3 Cone Targets met
6 Fisher, Eric OT 6072 306 5.05 1.70 27 28.5 9'08" 4.44 7.59 6
11 Johnson, Lane OT 6060 303 4.72 1.61 28 34 DNP 4.52 7.31 6
98 Armstead, Terron OT 6046 306 4.71 1.64 31 34.5 9'04" 4.72 7.62 6
121 Quessenberry, David OT 6047 302 5.08 1.72 25 29.5 9'04" 4.45 7.49 6
167 Fragel, Reid OT 6075 308 5.14 1.76 33 30 9'05" 4.68 7.62 6
434 Painter, Vince OT 6042 306 4.95 1.69 32 30.5 8'01" 4.56 7.71 6
22 Cooper, Jonathan OG 6021 311 5.07 1.74 35 27 9'00" 4.84 7.78 5
53 Long, Kyle OT 6061 313 4.94 1.68 DNP 28 8'11" 4.63 7.83 5
88 Schwenke, Brian OC 6030 314 4.99 1.68 31 26.5 9'00" 4.74 7.31 5
92 Pugh, Justin OT 6044 307 5.14 1.67 DNP 28.5 8'07" 4.63 7.45 5
141 Tretter, J C OG 6035 307 5.09 1.7 29 29.5 9'01" 4.69 7.48 5
177 Gilkey, Garrett OT 6057 318 5.33 1.72 28 30 9'00" 4.75 7.65 5
243 Hawkinson, Tanner OT 6052 298 5.07 1.69 DNP 28.5 9'04" 4.51 7.52 5
245 Watford, Earl OG 6033 300 5.06 1.73 24 30 8'11" 5.00 7.77 5
309 Cleary, Emmett OT 6067 316 5.21 1.77 24 28.5 9'00" 4.70 7.81 5
323 Becton, Nick OT 6052 323 5.20 1.76 19 29.5 9'01" 4.57 7.77 5
57 Bakhtiari, David OT 6042 299 5.09 1.79 28 25.5 8'05" 4.74 7.70 4
172 Thornton, Hugh OG 6032 320 5.11 1.71 27 DNP DNP 4.63 7.45 4
216 Baca, Jeff OG 6033 302 5.03 1.68 DNP 26.5 DNP 4.44 7.26 4
217 Brown, Braden OT 6053 310 5.20 1.74 26 28 8'04" 4.70 7.43 4
1 Joeckel, Luke OT 6060 306 5.30 1.81 27 28.5 8'10" 4.68 7.40 3
64 Watson, Menelik OT 6051 310 5.29 1.80 DNP 24.5 8'07" 5.01 8.31 3
127 Bailey, Alvin OG 6031 312 4.95 1.74 27 DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
179 Wagner, Ricky OT 6057 308 5.17 1.77 20 31.5 8'05" 4.91 7.94 3
210 Herman, Eric OG 6041 320 5.25 1.84 36 28 7'11" 5.09 7.99 3
288 Barker, Chris OG 6025 305 5.25 1.77 29 27.5 8'03 4.77 8.09 3
333 Johnson, T J OC 6042 310 5.33 1.83 32 25.5 8'00" 4.74 7.83 3
346 Madsen, Joe OC 6033 310 5.20 1.84 25 25 8'02 4.83 7.60 3
368 Bond, Travis OG 6057 329 5.27 1.80 22 22.5 8'02 4.96 7.85 3
438 Kugbila, Edmund OG 6041 317 5.31 1.82 23 22.5 8'09" 4.65 7.72 3
477 Milhim, Stephane OG 6036 314 5.23 1.73 DNP 28.5 8'08" 4.87 DNP 3
3 Warmack, Chance OG 6020 317 5.49 1.83 DNP DNP 9'02" DNP DNP 2
55 Frederick, Travis OC 6035 312 5.58 1.85 21 28.5 8'01" 4.76 7.81 2
69 Warford, Larry OG 6030 332 5.58 1.92 28 22.5 8'00" 5.10 7.78 2
201 Foketi, Manase OT 6050 318 DNP DNP 25 23.5 8'06" 5.06 8.11 2
223 Stankiewitch, Matt OC 6026 302 5.43 1.84 27 24 7'08" 4.96 7.90 2
276 Gaines, Rogers OT 6060 334 5.24 28 23 DNP 5.24 DNP 2
406 Devey, Jordan OT 6065 317 5.25 1.78 DNP 24 8'02 4.77 7.91 2
577 Mady, Lamar OG 6020 317 5.48 1.84 35 23 7'11" 4.82 8.07 2
112 Faulk, Chris OT 6050 331 DNP DNP 25 DNP DNP DNP DNP 1
118 Mills, Jordan OT 6050 316 5.37 1.77 20 28.5 8'05" 4.88 8.10 1
183 Cave, Braxston OC 6032 303 5.33 1.87 DNP 25.5 8'02 4.71 7.81 1
197 Lonergan, P J OC 6032 304 5.38 1.79 25 DNP DNP DNP DNP 1
258 Weaver, Jason OT 6043 313 5.44 1.80 23 21 7'10" 5.07 8.23 1
290 Marquardt, Luke OT 6080 315 DNP DNP 31 DNP DNP DNP DNP 1
330 Johnson, Oscar OG 6052 331 5.49 1.83 DNP 22 7'04" 5.06 8.06 1
348 Wetzel, John OT 6070 315 5.46 1.83 22 25 8'09" 4.81 7.90 1
538 Johnson-Webb, J. OG 6050 313 5.37 1.83 17 23 7'08" 4.74 8.12 1
745 Allen, Zach OG 6020 332 DNP DNP 32 DNP DNP DNP DNP 1
24 Fluker, D J OT 6045 339 5.31 1.83 21 DNP DNP DNP DNP 0
49 Thomas, Dallas OT 6050 306 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 0
52 Jones, Barrett OC 6040 306 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 0
79 Aboushi, Oday OT 6053 308 5.45 1.89 17 23.5 8'04" 4.84 7.92 0
114 Winters, Brian OG 6040 320 DNP DNP 9 DNP DNP DNP DNP 0
130 Holmes, Khaled OC 6030 302 DNP DNP 13 DNP DNP DNP DNP 0
136 Nixon, Xavier OT 6060 321 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 0
157 Williams, Brennan OT 6060 318 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 0
320 Jackson, Mark OG 6053 328 5.65 1.88 20 20.5 7'07" 5.03 8.07 0


That's a lot of numbers to look at. But if you only focus on the "Targets met" column on the far right, you'll see the players that match the NFL prototype for the position - or not. You've got to like guys who hit five or more of the target measurements, and you've got to wonder about the guys who hit less.

Case in point: Luke Joekel, despite participating in all drills, only met three targets, while fellow top tackle prospects Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson ticked off six out of seven boxes. Joekel may not be a lock to be the top tackle taken anymore. Of course, Joekel still has his Pro Day to correct the Combine numbers, and there's always game tape. Overall though, being successful in the NFL is about more than simply ticking the right boxes, so let's look at a couple of different metrics to better understand the Combine performance.

1. Kirwan Explosion Index: [BENCH PRESS REPS + VERTICAL JUMP + BROAD JUMP = EXPLOSION NUMBER]

First proposed by Pat Kirwan, this is a simple addition that adds up the number of bench press reps with the broad and vertical jump values. Technically, you can't just add reps, inches and feet into one aggregate number, but so be it.

What this number gives you is an idea of the explosive strength of a lineman. An explosion number over 70 is considered a very good result. But since only five prospects exceeded 70, we'll make an allowance for this draft class and assume that anything above 65 is still good.

2. Explosive Power: (VERT+3.5*BROAD)*(WEIGHT/HEIGHT)/3000

This is a metric that was developed, as far as I know, by Tony Wiltshire, a writer for BuffaloBillsDraft.com. Where about half of Kirwan's Explosion Index (KEI) is made up of upper body strength, the Explosive Power metric focuses on lower body strength relative to a player's physique.

This metric gives you a good idea of how strong a lineman is off the snap and the amount of pure physical force he can generate out of his legs. If you think of the KEI as horsepower, then think of the Explosive power metric as torque. A value over 1.05 is elite, a value over 1.0 is excellent, and anything over 0.95 is still very good.

3. Lateral Agility: [40-YARD DASH TIME - 20-YARD SHUTTLE = LATERAL AGILITY]

This number uses the differential between the 40-yard dash time and the 20-yard shuttle to get a better feel for the lateral agility of a player, as the differential provides information beyond simple long speed and short-area quickness. Generally speaking, a player who notches a .50 or better is considered to have outstanding lateral agility, a quality highly sought after in interior linemen who usually operate in very tight spaces.

4. Speed Score: [(WEIGHT * 200) / (40-TIME ^ 4) = SPEED SCORE]

Not all players are created equal, and it doesn't make a lot of sense comparing 40-times of players who may have a weight difference of 60 pounds. The Speed Score takes into account both a player's time in the 40-yard dash as well as his weight.

The ratio was initially developed for running backs, but works just as well for linemen. The multiplications look complicated but actually give each measurement roughly equal weight and ensure that an average score (for running backs) comes out at about 100. The higher the resulting number, the better the combination of size and speed in a player. A good score for an offensive lineman is 90 or higher.

The formula also allows us to put the 40-times of Terron Armstead (306 pounds, 4.71 forty) and Lane Johnson (303, 4.72) in perspective. Their pound-for-pound speed would be the equivalent of a 200-pound RB running a 4.235 (Armstead) or 4.254 (Johnson) forty time. Mind boggling.

The table below summarizes the four sets of figures above for the 2013 linemen. The figures in bold show where a prospect exceeded the figures outlined above, the column on the far right shows how many of the four targets a prospect exceeded.

Offensive Linemen, 2013 Combine additional metrics (click column header to sort)

Rank
Player POS Height Weight Expl. Indx Expl. Power Lat. Ag. Speed Targets met
1 Joeckel, Luke OT 6.60 306 64.3 0.92 0.62 77.6 1
3 Warmack, Chance OG 6.20 317 n.a. n.a. n.a. 69.8 0
6 Fisher, Eric OT 6.72 306 65.2 0.95 0.61 94.1 4
11 Johnson, Lane OT 6.60 303 62.0 0.52 0.2 122.1 1
22 Cooper, Jonathan OG 6.21 311 71.0 0.98 0.23 94.1 3
24 Fluker, D J OT 6.45 339 n.a. n.a. n.a. 85.3 0
53 Long, Kyle OT 6.61 313 n.a. 0.93 0.31 105.1 1
55 Frederick, Travis OC 6.35 312 57.6 0.93 0.82 64.4 1
57 Bakhtiari, David OT 6.42 299 61.9 0.85 0.35 89.1 0
64 Watson, Menelik OT 6.51 310 n.a. 0.87 0.28 79.2 0
69 Warford, Larry OG 6.30 332 58.5 0.89 0.48 68.5 0
79 Aboushi, Oday OT 6.53 308 48.8 0.83 0.61 69.8 1
88 Schwenke, Brian OC 6.30 314 66.5 0.96 0.25 101.3 3
92 Pugh, Justin OT 6.44 307 n.a. 0.93 0.51 88.0 1
98 Armstead, Terron OT 6.46 306 74.8 1.06 -0.01 124.4 3
118 Mills, Jordan OT 6.50 316 56.9 0.94 0.49 76.0 0
121 Quessenberry, David OT 6.47 302 63.8 0.97 0.63 90.7 3
127 Bailey, Alvin OG 6.31 312 n.a. n.a. n.a. 103.9 1
141 Tretter, J C OG 6.35 307 67.6 0.99 0.4 91.5 3
167 Fragel, Reid OT 6.75 308 72.4 0.96 0.46 88.3 2
172 Thornton, Hugh OG 6.32 320 n.a. n.a. 0.48 93.9 1
177 Gilkey, Garrett OT 6.57 318 67.0 0.99 0.58 78.8 3
179 Wagner, Ricky OT 6.57 308 59.9 0.95 0.26 86.2 1
183 Cave, Braxston OC 6.32 303 n.a. 0.86 0.62 75.1 1
197 Lonergan, P J OC 6.32 304 n.a. n.a. n.a. 72.6 0
201 Foketi, Manase OT 6.50 318 57.0 0.87 n.a. n.a. 0
210 Herman, Eric OG 6.41 320 71.9 0.93 0.16 84.2 1
216 Baca, Jeff OG 6.33 302 n.a. 0.42 0.59 94.4 2
217 Brown, Braden OT 6.53 310 62.3 0.90 0.50 84.8 1
223 Stankiewitch, Matt OC 6.26 302 58.7 0.82 0.47 69.5 0
243 Hawkinson, Tanner OT 6.52 298 n.a. 0.93 0.56 90.2 2
245 Watford, Earl OG 6.33 300 62.9 0.97 0.06 91.5 2
258 Weaver, Jason OT 6.43 313 51.8 0.79 0.37 71.5 0
276 Gaines, Rogers OT 6.60 334 51.0 0.39 0 88.6 0
288 Barker, Chris OG 6.25 305 64.8 0.92 0.48 80.3 0
309 Cleary, Emmett OT 6.67 316 61.5 0.95 0.51 85.8 2
320 Jackson, Mark OG 6.53 328 48.1 0.79 0.62 64.4 1
323 Becton, Nick OT 6.52 323 57.6 1.01 0.63 88.4 2
330 Johnson, Oscar OG 6.52 331 n.a. 0.81 0.43 72.9 0
333 Johnson, T J OC 6.42 310 65.5 0.86 0.59 76.8 2
346 Madsen, Joe OC 6.33 310 58.2 0.87 0.37 84.8 0
348 Wetzel, John OT 6.70 315 55.8 n.a. 0.65 70.9 1
368 Bond, Travis OG 6.57 329 52.7 0.85 0.31 85.3 0
406 Devey, Jordan OT 6.65 317 n.a. 0.84 0.48 83.5 0
434 Painter, Vince OT 6.42 306 70.6 0.93 0.39 101.9 2
438 Kugbila, Edmund OG 6.41 317 54.3 0.88 0.66 79.7 1
477 Milhim, Stephane OG 6.36 314 n.a. 0.97 0.36 83.9 1
538 Johnson-Webb, J. OG 6.50 313 47.7 0.80 0.63 75.3 1
577 Mady, Lamar OG 6.20 317 65.9 0.86 0.66 70.3 2

These numbers are by no means a definitive assessment of how good a given prospect is. They are just one of the many pieces of information that teams put together to assess and grade a prospect. Last year, the only two interior offensive linemen (I didn't do the calculation for tackles last year) to beat all four metrics were David DeCastro and Kevin Zeitler, and it's no coincidence the two were the top two guards drafted, with the 24th and 27th pick respectively. Here are a couple of observations about this year's draft class:

1. Based on his Combine performance, Eric Fisher is the best tackle in this year's draft class. Some people might argue that Joekel's game film trumps Fisher's, and that may well be true, but if I had to put money down on who I thought would have the smoother transition to the NFL, I'd put it on Fisher. I'd also put money on Jonathan Cooper and Brian Schwenke.

2. Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Larry Warford have been popular names in Cowboys Nation, but I'd move them down on my big board. Sure, you'll hear arguments about how a player plays much more powerful than he showed at the Combine, or that a guy may not have run fast but has really quick feet, perhaps you'll hear how a guy has a phenomel reacton time that doesn't show up in the Combine drills. That may all be true. But would you bet your first or second round pick on it?

3. I'll take the ripped guy over the fat guy any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Our own Tyron Smith is the prototype of what a modern offensive lineman looks like. Some interesting players in the same mold who put up very strong numbers are Terron Armstead, David Quessenberry, Kyle Long, Vince Painter or Reid Fragel.

4. The latter are intriguing under-the-radar prospects: Reid Fragel played tight end at Ohio State through his junior season and only converted to OT as a true senior. The almost completely unkown Vince Painter has a 4th-5th round grade, according to our resident scout Birddog26:

Painter is a former DT who converted to RG his sophmore season and then to OT his junior season. He has been an outstanding special teams player who was just named starter on the Oline this season. He is still very raw with his technique and mechanics and will need time to develop on the Oline but can come in and contribute on ST right away. He is an Alex Albright/Jeremy Parnell type prospect who shows great athleticism but will take a couple of years to really see what you have in him.

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