Crunching the Numbers: The Analytics Behind the Brian O'Neill Pick

The Vikings in the second round addressed the offensive line with Brian O’Neill, a player whose athleticism has kept him atop the tackle conversation throughout the draft process.

While there’s certainly a conversation to be had about O’Neill’s development curve, the data suggests a solid offensive tackle prospect overall, whether that’s now or two years from now.

O’Neill represents a solid combination of production and athleticism that good coaching should turn into a long-term starter in the NFL, especially because O’Neill will have time to develop — too many athletic offensive linemen enter the league at an older age, while O’Neill, at 22 years old, is closer to league average.

The Pittsburgh product ranked ninth in pass blocking efficiency of 195 draft-eligible offensive tackles in the FBS, per Pro Football Focus. He only gave up one sack, two quarterback hits and six hurries in 423 pass protection snaps — more than anyone else above him in pass blocking efficiency.

He wasn’t quite as successful as a run blocker, ranking 34th in run block success rater, but it’s certainly not a bad score. Both scores were even better in 2016 against an ever tougher slate of pass rushers.

After adjusting for his sack environment — essentially how easy it is to give up or prevent sacks — O’Neill ends up with a production score significantly above average, even though he’s only played on the offensive line for three years.

As an athlete, O’Neill offers even more. Of the 21 or so offensive tackles likely to be drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, he ranks 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th in his workout scores — the 40-yard dash, three cone, 20-yard split, ten-yard split, short shuttle, broad jump, vertical and bench press, respectively.

Even after adjusting for his significantly below-average weight, his scores are incredibly impressive. He nailed two of the three drills that project well for offensive linemen — the 20-yard split and short shuttle, while just missing a threshold for the broad jump. His athleticism score would move from just above average to near the top of the class.

Though some may not be comfortable with a player converting to a new position, it’s clear that his conversion from tight end to tackle was a great move for his career and a natural fit for what he can do. There have been some failures in the NFL from players in that background, like George Fant with the Seahawks, but there have also been some incredible successes, like Lane Johnson, Jason Peters and Nate Solder.

All analytic scores are meant to be read like an IQ chart, with 100 being average and every 15 points in either direction representing one large tier.



Had O’Neill jumped just a little further in the broad jump, his athleticism score would be 126.5 and the final score 118.4.

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