We all know that Dallas does not spend draft picks on offensive lineman. Jerry Jones spends the draft drooling in his pudding and as soon as a flashy new toy, (WR, RB) enters his field of vision no coherent thought or scout alive can stop Jerry from getting his precious.
Never mind the fact that in the last 5 years Dallas has spent 2 first rounders on the offensive line. Perception has set in and hardened, and that perception is Dallas ignores the offensive line.
But what do the numbers tell us? Well to begin with, the numbers tell us that when it comes to ignoring the offensive line the story begins and ends with Tampa Bay, (more on that in a second). They also tell us that, as far as the Cowboys are concerned, over the last 5 years the Cowboys have devoted a slightly above average amount of draft resources to the offensive line.
I have gone back over the last 5 years and crunched the numbers for every team in the NFL, looking for 5 things: Number of OL drafted in that time, the Average draft spot, the number of starters drafted over the last 5 years, the number of backups, and the amount of premium picks, (rd 1-3) and first round picks a team has devoted to the OL.
A quick note on methodology. I calculated average spot by averaging the draft spot of every offensive lineman drafted by a team, normed to 32 picks per round. This list does not include undrafted free agents. Starters and backups, (2nd string) were determined using rosters from ourlads.com
As I stated earlier, Dallas has devoted a slightly above average amount of resources to the OL over the last 5 years.
# Drafted 6.... 6.25
Avg Spot 103.... 119
Starters 2.... 2.03
Backups 1.... 1.6
Premium Picks 3... 2.46
1st Rd. Picks 2... 1.03
As you can see the only area that Dallas has really not met the league average is in the amount of backup lineman drafted but the average spot that we have drafted is significantly higher than the league average. Note if we were including UDFA we would come out even better with the addition of Leary and Costa. If you include them in our numbers then we bump the combined starters/backups to 5, with the league average at 3.6.
Of course none of this speaks to the actual quality of the players. But as far as actual investment goes, it is quite obvious that the tired old saw of Dallas only spending late round draft picks on it's line is untrue. As far as average draft slotting for picks only 6 teams scored higher than Dallas, (Kansas City, Miami, St. Louis, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and coming in at a surprising number 1...Jacksonville!). If any fan base has a right to complain about it's team not investing in the offensive line it's Tampa Bay. Over the last 5 years Tampa Bay has invested 1 draft pick on the OL...a lowly 5th rounder in 2009.
If you're interested in seeing more of the numbers, feel free to email me and I'll send the chart to you! I can't figure out how to import a chart on to this page, and it's not worth it to type out...but if you're interested I'll get you the information!