[Ed. Note] We are in the process of adding several writers here at The Silver Bullet, and growing beyond just being a father-son operation. This means more content for you. So we would like to introduce Ken Kohl. Ken's been around the blog for awhile now, and we got smart and finally asked him to write. You can read all about him here.
I’ve wanted to do this for some time, probably going back 6-8 years, but it was brought to a head for me this year. In the last decade or so, I’ve been uncomfortable with Ohio State’s offensive line play. I just haven’t bought into linemen sporting the "belly-over-belt" look that we’ve seen under Bollman. For background, I’m a Baby Boomer, and my earliest recollections of Ohio State football are Bob Ferguson and Tom Matte. In terms of offensive linemen, the pinnacle was Dave Foley and Rufus Mayes. So aside from the play calling this year, I was curious about Bollman’s performance in his stated responsibility: offense line. Unlike Marc Antony, I come not to bury Bollman, nor to praise him.
This must have crossed a few folks minds, because their have recently been two excellent posts related to this as Ramzy at 11W and Scott Dame at The O-Zone have recently written excellent articles related to this.
This post takes a look at Ohio State linemen that have been drafted into the NFL. This is based on the assumption that NFL GM’s have some idea of talent, and regardless of college performance these players were thought highly enough of for a GM to spend a draft pick to acquire. To do this comparison, I looked at some “horizontal” and “longitudinal” numbers to see how Bollman compared against his contemporaries and his predecessors as an offensive line coach. I had two “measures of success”: number of linemen drafted and number of linemen drafted in the 1st round. This may quantify and qualify the end results. Regardless of how “good” a recruit was going into the system, did he emerge “good enough” that an NFL GM would draft him? I want to stress that this is a comparison, not an analysis.
I, and possibly a lot of other people have the feeling that Bollman can’t coach himself out of a paper bag. Let’s take a look and decide for ourselves.
So, what do the numbers indicate? Frankly, I was surprised that we had as many drafted as we did. Peeling back the numbers a bit, the story changes slightly. Although our numbers compare somewhat favorably to the other schools, we have not had a lineman drafted since Kirk Barton in 2008. The last thee years (recent memories) have not been kind to us. Additionally, of the 9 linemen drafted in this period, 4 have been centers. It breaks the mold of tackle-centric line play; which may explain a few things in terms of the quality of actual and perceived line play.
That’s the quantitative. For qualitative, our only 1st round pick in this period was Nick Mangold in 2006.
Now, for Jim vs. History, I broke draft years into two comparable 10 year segments, as well as a trailer of 7 years. The trailer was due to me arbitrarily going back to the 1975 draft year, and that’s that way it fell out.
In draft period 1992-2001 (lookin‘ at you Coop), we had 3 linemen drafted, 2 of which were 1st rounders. From draft years 1982-1991 it was 10/2 and from 1975-1981 it was 8/3. Whatever we were doing in late 70’s was definitely working.
Contrary to my expectations, the number of OSU linemen drafted under Bollman’s was higher than I expected. He didn’t compare as unfavorably as expected against his peers nor his predecessors.
I think you have to take this in light of the two recent articles that I mentioned earlier by Ramzy and Scott as well as my pre-article bias. Ramzy’s conclusion was that OSU’s offensive performance was pretty dismal with Bollman’s approach. Pretty solid evidence. Scott’s conclusion in assembling his NFL roster is that OSU’s offensive linemen are a weak link when compared as a group to other positions. Again, pretty solid conclusion IMO. Taking these two articles together, it’s pretty easy to conclude that Bollman’s lines have not been world beaters at a college level. Evidently, from the perspective of NFL scouts/GM’s, Bollman’s charges seem to be considered as "OK, but no great shakes". To be honest, particularly how OSU alums have contributed to the NFL at other positions, the "no great shakes" is a bit disappointing.