Does UGA under-recruit or under-develop offensive linemen?

Try to think of the last time going into the season that you thought “man, the offensive line is going to be a real beast this year.”  2010? How’d that work out for you? It seems like every year we go into the season hoping we stay healthy, hoping we can piece things together, hoping we can run the ball. Then in those years where we go into the season with high hopes, things fall short. 2005 seems like the last time we did anything worthwhile on the line.  One could argue 2007 wound up fine too. Still, that was 5 years ago.

 

Others seem to echo that we have consistent offensive line problems.  UGA fans complain all the time that we under-recruit or can’t develop offensive linemen. So I figured I’d try to see if there is any objective measure of UGA’s ability to recruit and develop talent.  I figure we need evaluations of talent by someone other than UGA coaches (Bobo!).  While high recruiting rankings may not be a guarantee of college success, others have shown they are very predictive.  So using a similar formula, I compared recruiting rankings to another non-UGA evaluator of talent, the NFL draft.

 

Here’s what I came up with:  I simply added up the number of OL recruited and stars each offensive lineman was given by Rivals.com rankings for each year since 2002 until 2008.  From that we can calculate a couple of things.

  1. Total linemen recruited
  2. Total stars
  3. Average stars per lineman.

 

Then I looked at whether those offensive linemen recruits got drafted and assigned a basic valuation depending on where in the draft they went, which I call an “NFL Point. ” A first round pick was given 7 points, a third round pick 5 points, and a seventh round pick 1 point.  This gives us several pieces of information:

  1. Total OL drafted
  2. Percentage of OL recruits drafted
  3. Total draft points
  4. Points per drafted OL
  5. Points per recruit

 

Then  to find out how a school is doing at developing talent as judged by recruiting rankings compared to NFL points, I divided the average recruiting star ranking of a team by the average NFL point per player recruit. I did this for UGA, Florida, LSU, and Bama. This is called “Stars/AvNFL” on the table.  I asked the internets which school has the most OL currently in the NFL, and got Texas. So I included them too.

 

Here are the results:

UGA FLORIDA LSU TEXAS BAMA
Total OL Recruits 33 24 30 23 23
Average Stars 3.333333 3.458333 3.466667 3.73913 3.26087
Total Drafted 6 4 3 3 3
Percent Drafted 0.181818 0.166667 0.1 0.130435 0.130435
Total NFL Points 24 15 14 12 17
Average NFL Point/Player Drafted 4 3.75 4.666667 4 5.666667
Average NFL Point per player recruit 0.727273 0.625 0.466667 0.521739 0.73913
Stars/Av NFL 4.583333 5.533333 7.428571 7.166667 4.411765
National Champs 2005-2012 0 2 1 1 2

(note: I didn’t do Auburn because I hate Auburn.  The Bama numbers may not have been the best choice since they were on probation and not at a Saban level during the time in question. He has had only one offensive lineman drafted that he recruited, and that kid was a 2009 recruit (the only 3 year o-lineman I found), so it is not included. The average star ranking for Saban’s OL recruits from 2007-2012 was 3.59. UGA’s during that time has been 3.36. Saban has recruited 22 OL, Richt 28 during that timeframe. It will be interesting to see how the draft results play out. )

From this table, we learn a couple of things:

  1. UGA recruited a LOT of offensive linemen from 2002- 2008, more than any of these schools
  2. UGA on average recruited a lower ranked lineman than Florida, LSU, and Texas
  3. UGA had more offensive linemen get drafted
  4. UGA had a higher percentage of linemen recruits get drafted than any other school
  5. UGA’s linemen were middle of the pack in terms of average NFL points per drafted OL

 

WHAT DOES THE STARS/AV NFL POINT STAT REALLY TELL US?

I have not been quite sure what to make of the Stars/Av NFL points statistic.  It would appear that a lower number indicates greater development ability. For instance, if Boise State recruited an average OL with 1 star, and they were drafted at the same rate as a school who recruited 5 star OL, then their Stars/AvNFL would be lower, indicating a superior ability to develop talent as judged by recruiting rankings and NFL scouts.  The table indicates UGA was superior by this measure to Florida, LSU, and Texas in developing talent. That seems reasonable given the number of draft picks and NFL points, particularly in light of the fact that our average recruiting ranking was lower than these schools.

 

The problem with this measure is Bama.  Our statistic suggests that Bama, who had 3 draft picks to UGA’s 6, was better at developing talent. Maybe they were. But the way the statistic is calculated seems to give a bias to a school with fewer OL recruits. Say two schools have the same average star ranking of recruits, but one school brings in 30 kids while the other brings in 10 over an 8 year period (talk about hoping to avoid injury!). Both schools start 5 on the line each week. Assuming equal performance on the lines and an equal number of kids drafted during the same period, the school with 10 recruits will obviously have a higher NFLPoint/recruit since each recruit got drafted.

 
But this brings up a more interesting debate:

 

Quantity v. Quality
UGA fans cry every year about all the OL we have that get hurt, leave, fail out, or ride around in Mudcat’s car.  But this is not all that surprising given the sheer number of kids we bring in. It would appear Richt’s philosophy is to recruit substantial numbers at OL, perhaps at the cost of quality, and see how things play out. Florida has recruited over 25% less linemen than us over time. The question becomes… which is better, quantity or quality? I don’t know the answer to this.

 

Summary -

 
Georgia has recruited more OL than any of the above schools from 2002-2008 (that pace appears to continue to this day).  Georgia has produced more NFL OL draft picks than any of these schools from those classes. Georgia outperforms these schools in developing NFL talent compared to recruiting rankings, though the value of this stat is questionable. In short, by these objective criteria one would not think UGA has a problem in developing offensive linemen. But as a UGA fan, it just doesn’t feel right.

 

Finally, I am not a statistician. I am an attorney who blogs some evenings. I don’t know how to determine statistical variation, or whether anything is statistically significant.  Anyone who wants to see my spreadhseet is welcome to see it, just let me know it the comments and I’ll zip it to you somehow. Any suggestions on how to improve this or look at other data is welcome, though I may let you do it yourself.

 

 

 

 

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12 responses to “Does UGA under-recruit or under-develop offensive linemen?

  1. Pingback: Wednesday morning buffet | Get The Picture

  2. We might have recruited more offensive linemen, but the problem isn’t totally in recruiting. Attrition has been a problem. How many have we recruited that have not made it on the field? Brett Benedict and Kolton Houston are two glaring ones that stick out to me right now, and if you look at it over the years there would be more. If we just had those two guys, I would feel 100% better about the season.

    • I agree with you entirely that we’ve had a lot of attrition, but by our OL numbers alone we almost have to have that much attrition. We’re like Bizarro Bama, except we don’t run our players off (and again, Bama does not recruit as many OL as we do).

  3. 2002 – 08 we had two different line coaches during that time as well. I’d be curious to know the numbers under Coach Friend also. The thing I don’t get is how three of our OL last year are now in the NFL, yet we couldn’t run the ball consistantly.

    Last point, it seems to me that we recruit a lot of Ol talent that are injured during their senior year in high school. That has been a trend dating back to the Donnan days.

    • It’s tough to run this on Friend because you can’t compare recruiting to NFL past 2008 yet. If we just ignore whether Friend recruited the kid, last year alone suggest Friend is doing a great job of developing talent.

      Still, the “talent” data does not explain why we seem to not be able to run the ball on a consistent basis.

      • Thanks for the work Spence. Probably the most informative story I have seen on our OL progam. I never would have guessed our overall numbers would have been that much more. I would also be interested in seeing the star rankings of Bama’s OL since Saban came onboard.

      • Happy to do it. Thanks for reading.

        In the text (not the table) I indicate sabans ol recruit ranking. It’s higher than UGAs but not off the charts.

  4. I believe tha UGA Offensive Line problems have been the combination of recruiting too many players which is selecting quantity over quality and when a recruit looks at UGA depth chart and sees the number of linemen on the team, they elect to go elsewhere, offering scholarships early like all teams and then have to keep that committment to an injured player that reduces training and playing time, strength and conditioning training has been lacking in the past, and in some cases, UGA has had linemen who have had difficulty picking up the offensive play book and were confused on their blocking assignments some of the time. I believe coaching has been adequate to very good, but some of these linemen appear to be carrying a little too much weight for their body frame which could cause fatigue later in the 4 th quarter of the games which has been apparent in the last few seasons and in the SEC Championship game in 2011 and in the bowl game against Michigan State on both the defensive and Offensive lines. In recent years, the UGA linemen across both lines have been heavier than most Pro Teams. More conditioning is emphasized in the Pros as the players have more time to devote to it and their bodies are more mature and the competition is greater. The College player still has to find time to attend classes and study to make their grades to stay eligible.

  5. Wow great work Spence. I would have never guessed the numbers played out like that. 2008 really springs to mind for a year I had high hopes for our OL. I think a lot of that sprung from our development of T. Sturdivant. Once he went down however, it seems like everything spun outta control…

    Great post. GO DAWGS!!!!!!!

  6. Great piece. Hard to believe the discrepancy between us and Bama with our recruiting on the OLine. Seems like they have bruisers each year there with this season being no exception. I liked your creative stats. If recruiting goes well this season on the OLine, I think our depth and starters could be nasty next season and after. GATA

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