FanPost

Tom Compton: A Future Hog at Swing or Right Tackle?

It makes good sense to find a cagey veteran offensive tackle, a player who doesn't have the stamina to play full games or seasons anymore. You make him your swing tackle. He's not going to have to start very often. He'll have the experience that allows him to come off the bench and perform acceptably from both a right-handed and left-handed stance, despite getting limited reps in practice. That's something a young gun just can't give you.

The problem with this is while our swing tackle may fit the former description (over the hill), he doesn't fit the latter description (performing at an acceptable level.) We desperately need a swing tackle and a right tackle as soon as possible.

So maybe a guy like Tom Compton is the answer. Throw him into the fire, and see how fast he develops when he's pitted down in and down out (down and out) against NFL-level competition. Jacoby and Bostic were unheralded (to put it mildly) when they came out of college. Yet look how they turned out.

I've often read that of all position groups offensive linemen have the highest Wonderlic scores, and no other position group even comes close. Offensive linemen are playing positions where smarts and technique are critical. Put another way, their smarts and technique are every bit as important as the strength, quickness and arm length measurements taken at the NFL Combine. So shouldn't we be able to take a smart, sizable, athletic guy and develop him into a solid tackle in a zone blocking scheme?

I decided to do a quick analysis, hoping to convince myself that we could/ should be able to do just this. I wanted to prove to myself that great offensive tackles are made as often as they are drafted. I wanted to document a pattern where lower round guys develop frequently into some of the league's best tackles due to the extensive knowledge and elite training/ technique and competition they experience after getting drafted.

So I looked at the 10 highest rated (by Pro Football Focus) offensive tackles this season and each of the previous four. Here's what I discovered about the original draft position of the most recent 5 seasons' elite tackles.

Draft Position of the League's Top 10 Rated Tackles (Cumulative Totals for Seasons 2008-2012):
Round 1: 54%
Round 2: 22%
Round 3: 6%
Round 4: 10%
Round 5-Free Agency: 8%

damn...definitely not what I was hoping for. The success rate of guys taken in the 2nd round is less than half that of 1st rounders. Drop below the first 2 rounds and you might as well drop off a cliff.

Should our opinion of Tom Compton be lessened by the fact he was cut at the end of training camp, passed over by every other club, then placed on our practice squad where no other team has bothered to claim him? Should we be pessimistic about his chances given the fact he came from a "less than dominant" program (South Dakota) that rarely faced top competition. Should it sway our opinion that Tom was passed over in the draft by every NFL team until the Redskins dumpster dived for him in the 6th round?

The stats say yes.

One thing about those stats though, is they don't show the middle tier of tackles. I only looked at the top 10 of the 60 tackles who play at least half the snaps each season. (Yes, it's approximately 60 each season, not 62 or higher.) I need to perform this research on the guys in the middle of the pack.

The stats ignore something else. It always comes down to the individual, what they make of themselves and not what fans make of them early on. Compton has NFL size (6'5", 314) and athleticism. He posted the fastest 40 time of all tackles at the NFL Combine. (Not a bad attribute for a guy slated to play in a ZBS and keep up with a RG3-led no-huddle offense.) Compton is from an off-the-radar program, just like Fletcher and Alf were. (Some guys have a way of always raising their play to the level of their competition or even above.). The coaches and a few guys on this site saw something in Compton. So tell me. Is this just extreme wishful thinking on my part? The stats say one thing yet I tell myself another.

Maybe this is the reason why: Mike Shanahan has been in the league many years. He (or at least Alex Gibbs) consistently was able to have success with low round offensive linemen. In fact, if we look at his most successful linemen of all time, as measured by Pro Bowls, look at their draft positions. It turns out they weren't highly drafted:

Center Tom Nalan, an All Pro for 5 seasons was a 7th rounder.
Keith Bishop, G-C, a two-time All Pro, was a 6th rounder.
Center Casey Weigman, a one-time Pro Bowler was a free agent.
LT Tony Jones, a one-time Pro Bowler was a free agent.
G-C Mark Schlereth, a Pro Bowler one season in Denver, was a free agent.

Are the coaches correct in viewing Tom Compton as a good prospect/ project? The only thing I'll bet on is that he's too raw to activate and we won't see him on the field this season.

My statistics listed earlier were built looking at each of the most recent 5 seasons' highest rated offensive tackles. Here's Each Season's Top 10 Offensive Tackles as rated by PFF this season and each of the previous four. Listed after each name is the team, round and year they were drafted.

'12
Eugene Monroe JAX Round 1 '09
Andrew Whitworth CIN Round 2 '06
William Beatty NYG Round 2 '09
Joe Staley SF Round 1 '07
Duane Brown HST Round 1 '08
Branden Albert KC Round 1 '08
Orlando Franklin DEN Round 2 '11
Anthony Davis SF Round 1 '10
Cordy Glenn BUF Round 2 '12
Ryan Clady DEN Round 1 '08

'11
Jason Peters Phi FA '04
Tyson Clabo ATL FA '04
David Stewart TEN Round 4 '05
Tyron Smith DAL Round 1 '11
Eugene Monroe JAX Round 1 '11
Duane Brown HST Round 1 '08
Joe Thomas CLV Round 1 '07
Bryan Bulaga GB Round 1 '10
Andrew Whitworth CIN Round 2 '06
Eric Winston HST Round 3 '06

'10

Andrew Whitworth CIN Round 2 '06
Jake Long MIA Round 1 '08
Kareem McKenzie NYG Round 3 '01
D'Brickashaw Ferguson NYJ Round 1 '06
Doug Free DAL Round 4 '07
Marshal Yanda BLT Round 3 '07
Jordan Gross CAR Round 1 '03
Joe Thomas CLV Round 1 '07
Ryan Clady DEN Round 1 '08
Tyson Clabo ATL FA '04

'09
Joe Thomas CLV Round 1 '07
Jake Long MIA Round 1 '08
Willie Colon PIT Round 4 '06
Damien Woody NYJ Round 1 '99
Vernon Carey MIA Round 1 '04
David Stewart TEN Round 4 '05
D'Brickashaw Ferguson NYJ Round 1 '06
Jeff Backus DET Round 1 '01
Jon Stinchcomb NO Round 2 '03
Sebastian Vollmer NE Round 2 '01

'08
Damien Woody NYJ Round 1 '99
Matt Light NE Round 2 '01
David Stewart TEN Round 4 '05
D'Brickashaw Fersuson NYJ Round 1 '06
Michael Roos TEN Round 2 '05
Willie Anderson BLT Round 1 '96
Vernon Carey MIA Round 1 '04
Joe Thomas CLV Round 1 '07
Jeremy Trueblood TB Round 2 '06
Jared Gaither BLT Round 5 '07

BTW, for anyone lamenting us letting big Willie Smith go, my advice is stop! He was horrible in the Raiders victory this past weekend despite the offense's stats (the Raiders rushed for 120 yards and the QB was sacked only once.) But if you watched or watch (NFL Short Takes) the game, you'll see just how awful Willie was. (Willie is the exact same guy we all knew, or worse. He's an average run blocker and putrid pass blocker. Don't worry for a second he suddenly turned a corner. He hasn't and there's no reason to believe he ever will.)

Tom_compton_washington_redskins_v_chicago_mszredqwzbel_medium

via www4.pictures.zimbio.com

Compton-cousins-via-kirkcousins8-on-twitter_medium

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