Picking a right tackle at number two overall in the 2013 NFL Draft wasn’t a sexy idea when it first came out. Why would a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars “waste” their high draft pick by selecting a player at a non-premium position? The left tackle is where it’s at in the NFL. Just take a look at the free agent market and see the right tackles languishing in unemployment if you’re curious. There are some good players out there but even the best, like Andre Smith, can’t land a contract.
But is this stigma of right tackles not being a premium position actually accurate?
A recent article from the good guys at Pro Football Focus shed some light on the situation by publishing two tables:
Pressure Surrendered by Position 2012:
Pressure Surrendered by Position Five-year (2008-2012):
As noted in the article, centers that give up pressure hurt quarterback play the most, which makes sense. But, focusing on left tackle versus right tackle, we can see that the completion percentage of quarterbacks over five years is about the same whether the pressure is coming from the right or left tackle. In point of fact, more interceptions have been thrown due to right tackle pressure over the past five years resulting in a lower TD/INT ratio.
This is particularly relevant to the Jacksonville Jaguars as they gear up for the draft. Many mock drafts have the Jags taking an offensive tackle like Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher in the first round at number two overall. The early analysis of picking Fisher that early as a right tackle (assuming Eugene Monroe retains his left tackle position for at least a year) was negative. A lot of the discussion revolved around a right tackle, as a position, being less valuable than other positions that early in the draft. This is odd, when looking at the numbers, since left tackle is considered such a “premium position” that is worth high draft status but doesn’t have much difference in helping quarterbacks when facing pressure.
Based on the numbers presented, and I trust PFF to be accurate, it appears a right tackle is worth a high draft pick and should be on equal footing as a left tackle in terms of helping a team – a quarterback in particular. Left tackle may be a more taxing and difficult position to play but it appears that right and left tackles, as separate positions, both help fairly equally.
A big thanks to PFF for putting my mind at ease heading into the draft so I can relax and not worry about whichever position the Jags pick at number two overall. From right tackle to defensive end, I’m now fine with whomever. Now, is Geno Smith “the guy?” That’s something entirely different.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims