Have you ever drooled over a draft prospect thinking they would be a perfect fit, only to watch McBeane and Co. inexplicably skip right over your crush when their next pick came up? Maybe it was because that player didn’t fit what the Buffalo Bills were looking for in terms of measurables, those combine numbers we all salivate over like the 40 Yard Dash.
Measurables are nowhere close to the full picture when it comes to evaluating a prospect, but there are simply certain physical realities to playing a game versus other large and fast humans that can’t be ignored. That’s where baseline measurements come into play.
Years ago, Bill Parcells did a draft special with ESPN, and he went over some of the physical measurements of the average player in the league by position. Parcells went over how different measurements mean different things to different positions, but the point was that these measurements do in fact play a part in how NFL teams are valuing and assessing draft-eligible players.
For the last few years, Guard has been one of the weakest position groups on the roster. Beane brought in Roger Saffold, but that is effectively only a one year deal. Bills Mafia was saved from a collective week-long fit of hyperventilating when Beane secured Ryan Bates through 2025. But, overall, he played 24.5% of the regular season snaps and should not be considered a proven commodity at this time. Ike Boettger will be coming off of a torn Achilles and will probably spend significant time on IR. Mitch Morse has been healthy for a couple of years, but his concussion history has not disappeared. Jon Feliciano went to the Giants in free agency. Cody Ford is a disappointment with an uncertain future.
In other words, the Buffalo Bills certainly have long-term needs at IOL and C and might have short-term needs there as well. Who could they consider to fill this need in the draft? To answer that, we start by looking at who the Bills have rostered.
The chart below is the average combine-style measurements for each rostered IOL during the McBeane Era (2017-2021). Most of this data comes from Relative Athletic Scores, operated by Kent Lee Platte at RAS.football (@Mathbomb on Twitter), some comes from Mockdraftable, and the rest comes from searching various pro day results. The bottom line is that these are the measurements from the players the Bills have rostered, and that should give us some indication of the players Beane would look to acquire.
The blue line is the average of all five years of the McBeane Era. The red line is the range (meaning) of all the measurables available throughout that time; these are the extreme ends in either direction.
We could start examining the top available IOL in this year’s draft against that range. Let’s see what that looks like.
Examining the IOL Prospects
According to Dane Brugler of The Athletic, these are the top seven IOL and three of the top five Cs available in the 2022 NFL Draft:
1. ZION JOHNSON – Boston College
2. KENYON GREEN – Texas A&M
3. DARIAN KINNARD – Kentucky
4. JAMAREE SALYER – Georgia
5. LUKE GOEDEKE – Central Michigan
6. MARQUIS HAYES – Oklahoma
7. SEAN RHYAN – UCLA
1. TYLER LINDERBAUM – Iowa
2. CAM JURGENS – Nebraska
5. LUKE FORTNER – Kentucky
Why skip #3 and #4 to get to Luke Fortner? Because I like Luke Fortner.
Here’ how they compare to the Bills’ range:
- Yellow highlights indicate a result that falls within the Bills’ range.
- Green highlights indicate a result better than the Bills’ range.
- Red highlights indicate a result worse than the Bills’ range.
Note: “Worse” and “better” don’t have the ring of highly technical accuracy, but those terms are more applicable than simply “higher” or “lower” because the desirable end of each metric is relative. A “lower” 40 time is better, but a “lower” bench press count is worse. This allows for visual consistency in the chart.
At first glance, most everybody falls within range for every measurement. That’s not really handy for focusing our draft research or sounding super smart on draft night. What went wrong? Range. Range takes in those far extremes. Consider that last year’s seventh round pick, Jack Anderson, was the first IOL/C on the team with arms shorter than 32 inches. He’s the player that pushes the Range that low, and he’s no longer on the team.
(For a quick explanation on standard deviation, check out this article: http://sportsroc.us/cb-or-not-cb/)
Using Standard Deviation
Looking at one standard deviation in either direction from the overall average (mean) generates results that encompass about 68% of all the Buffalo Bills’ rostered IOL in the McBeane Era.
For example, Kenyon Green’s measurements are worse than 68% of players the McBeane Era Bills have rostered at IOL in Arm Length, Vertical Jump, Shuttle, and Bench. On the flip side, Zion Johnson exceeds those measurements in Hand Size, 10 Yard Split, Vertical Jump, Broad Jump, 3-Cone, Shuttle, and RAS Score.
The next chart looks at 2 standard deviations from the average (mean). Ultimately, that just means we are now looking at 95% of all the players the Bills have rostered in the McBeane Era. It eliminates the extreme outliers (like Anderson’s shorter arms), while not being as narrow as the 68% chart.
You might notice that Height has been removed. That’s because I’ve gone back and forth on how I’ve formatted Height between simple inches, feet/inches, or the draft style so many times the data has become pretty useless. That’s something I’ll have to straighten out for next year.
Can We Predict Who the Buffalo Bills Draft?
More importantly, what do these charts tells us about whom the Buffalo Bills might draft? Nothing, really. The Bills might still draft Kenyon Green. Then why even bother with all of this if the Bills ignore their own parameters? If the Bills draft Green, it tells us they like the other parts of his evaluation so much that they are willing to set aside their statistical norms, and that would be an intriguing piece of information.
Most importantly, the numbers in the orange columns will let you compare other IOL/C prospects you’re considering or evaluating. It won’t tell you who the Bills will or will not draft because of the multifaceted aspects of prospect evaluation, but we now have a better idea of what measurables Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott believe can operate within their system.
You can find my write-up on CBs here: http://sportsroc.us/cb-or-not-cb/.
If you’d like to get a copy of the spreadsheet, DM @LowBuffa on Twitter with your email, and I’ll send it out.
In the time remaining before the draft, I’m planning on posting the range and standard deviations for WR next Thursday, the first day of the draft. You’ll be able to find them on the Buffalo Fanatics site, on Twitter by following @LowBuffa, or searching #BillsMeasurables on Twitter.