We have ranted incessantly about why it is better to draft Offensive Tackle instead of Wide Receiver in Round 1. We have given many reasons. Now we have another set of DATA that supports and demonstrates why it is far better to take the Tackle.
Since starting this blog in November of 2006, one of the primary “Rules to Winning in the NFL” was NOT to draft Wide Receiver in Round 1. I contended that “they are always available.” I have butted heads on this rule with the UltimateNYG draft analyst Wonder mildly– he agrees with the Rule, but wants to spell out the difference in his Julio Jones 6’3″ 220 lb ‘monster’ exception. He agrees that Offensive Tackle is better, but he wants to make the distinction that if he can get the full package of size, speed, and skills, he will take that rare WR. Essentially, if a WR is a 6’0″ tall 200 lb prospect (like Beckham or some of the other coveted prospects this year), he has considerably less interest and would rather wait until the end of Round 1, or Round 2 & Round 3. I, on the other hand, go back to first principles:
- QB / Protect QB / Rush the QB
- Very good Wide Receivers are always available in Free Agency, Round 2 & Round 3, and via Trade
Right now, there is a debate going on between Giants fans on Twitter between T Rashawn Slater and WRs Ja’Marr Chase and WR Jaylen Waddle.
This is the way a good GM thinks. QB T EDGE are scarce assets. WR is a freaking carousel, ALWAYS AVAILABLE, be it R2-R3, Trade or Free Agency. https://t.co/6SiDz5CzV8
— Andy Furman (@UltimateNYG) April 2, 2021
The problem with my proclamation is that I need the data to support the conclusion that Wide Receivers are always available. I knew this anecdotally, ie guys like…
Amari Cooper, Odell Beckham, and Brandin Cooks get traded
AJ Brown, Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf, Tee Higgins and Chase Claypool are available in Round 2+3
AND GUYS LIKE KENNY GOLLADAY ARE ALWAYS AVAILABLE IN FREE AGENCY.
We went back to the 2011+ Draft when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was done, which gave NFL GMs the 5th year option on their Round 1 draft picks. This is an objective measure stretching from 2011-2017 for how these picks perform. Additionally, we looked to see whether they were still with the team that drafted them.
The data supports the contention that all else equal, you build your franchise around these players. That is pretty stark that 43% of draft picks in Round 1 taken at Tackle are still with their original team. And the Wide Receivers are nearly ALL GONE. Let’s list them for emphasis.
Offensive Tackles still with the team that originally drafted them: Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Lane Johnson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, Brandon Scherff, Andrus Peat, DJ Humphries, Ronnie Stanley, Taylor Decker, Garett Bolles, and Ryan Ramczyk.
The threadbare Wide Receiver survivors? Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Devante Parker and Mike Williams.
We have argued that when you have assembled weapons like Golladay (btw, another Round 3 guy), Slayton, Shepard, Barkley, and Rudolph, why get yet another WR when you can keep Daniel Jones upright so that he can use these weapons??!! The way to leverage the skill players is to control the Line of Scrimmage. PROTECT QB.
The next time you hear an argument for a Round 1 Wide Receiver, remember it is not only what you get, but how long you keep them as the long term foundation of your franchise. Take the Offensive Tackle. It is not even close.