It wasn’t until late in the draft that the Vikings grabbed an interior offensive lineman, signaling that they will likely stick with the group that got them there instead of improving in the short term.

For that to bear out, Gossett should have reasonable upside as a late-round pick. For the most part, he bears that out. There were a few offensive linemen still available with better analytics scores, but it’s generally very difficult to find above-average workout and production scores in the late rounds.

As a pass protector, it’s very difficult to evaluate Gossett. Statistically, he gave up zero sacks with only three quarterback hits and six hurries (per Pro Football Focus) in 328 pass blocking snaps — 74th of 189 draft-eligible guards. That’s above average. On the other hand, his offense overall only gave up sacks on 2.1 percent of dropbacks — the lowest in the FBS.

That implies that his offense enabled better pass protection numbers — perhaps because of a quick-strike offense, an offense that moves the pocket a lot or a talented quarterback excellent at avoiding sacks.

To some degree, that is true; they run a play-action heavy option-based offense that has a good degree of quick throws, but it’s not nearly as gimmicky as a number of Air Raid or spread offenses. The “team sack environment” modifier still gives Gossett a bit more of a downgrade than her perhaps deserves.

Regardless, he ends up with a largely average score in production, with a run success rate that matches FBS average.

As an athlete, Gossett is outside the Vikings’ traditional mold by a small amount; they historically target guards with quick three cones and short shuttles as well as a good broad jump. Gossett meets two of those three thresholds, with a slower short shuttle than most of his peers in the class. He does, however, have a lot of size to work with as a guard and moves well for a player of his size.

Unfortunately, short shuttle and vertical scores correlate with guard performance in a big way, so he’s lost out on his athleticism score despite running a good 40, jumping far in the broad jump test and benching 37 reps.

His overall score of 85.2 may seem pretty poor, though there aren’t many offensive linemen either picked after him or in undrafted free agency with above-average scores — essentially there were two: undrafted lineman Skyler Phillips, who doesn’t have a production profile because he played in the FCS and undrafted Taylor Hearn.

Both LSU linemen (Will Clapp and Toby Weathersby) featured excellent production also terrible workouts. Clapp’s three-cone (8.04 seconds), short shuttle (4.92 seconds) and broad jump (8’1″) all disqualify him from Vikings thresholds, so he was likely very far down their boards. Weathersby’s scores (8.55 seconds, 5.38 seconds and 9’2″) were even worse.

So, as it stands, Colby Gossett was an analytically sound lineman to select in the fifth-round, even though he doesn’t have much data to suggest that he’ll be a top-tier lineman.

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.

PRODUCTIVITY SCORE: 99.8 | ATHLETICISM SCORE: 84.4 | AGE SCORE: 99.5

FINAL SCORE: 85.2


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Arif,

    Love the articles very informative. As always I appreciate your work.

    I was wondering if you could unpack this statement for me. “short shuttle and vertical scores correlate with guard performance in a big way,”

    How so?

    I wonder if you have seen this study from a few years ago?
    http://harvardsportsanalysis.org/2015/02/the-combine-actually-matters-part-2/

    According to this study which ties approximate value with combine metrics (which is I think a great way to evaluate the predictive value of these metrics) the short shuttle and vertical jump do not correlate to success for players at the guard position. 40 time, weight, bench press and 3 cone do, but none of the other tests had any correlation.

    Very curious as I know you take analytics very seriously and I think you do a great job with that, but your conclusions seem to be different than this study.

    The short shuttle was predictive for the center in this study, but not for guard.

    The vertical jump did not matter for any offensive line position.

    The vertical jump and the short shuttle are the least predictive metrics for players of all positions.

    Just curious about how you arrived at the idea that these metrics matter for guard.

    Thanks

    • Hello. I’ve seen that study and have disagreed with its conclusions for some time. I’m not completely confident with how we arrived at different conclusions but I have a couple of theories as to why that’s the case. The first is that the measuring stick they use — 3YrAV I think is a poor measure because AV for offensive linemen is a poor measure. One good example — admittedly an extreme — is that T.J. Clemmings’ AV his rookie year was 8, which puts him at 38th among all offensive linemen in AV that year, out of roughly 180. Instead, I used Pro Football Focus and second-contract guaranteed money value. The second part — I think — is that they only tested straight correlations instead of testing multiple regression for a combination of variables. The third thing I did, which is different than I’ve seen anyone else do, is to also test weight (and height)-adjusted variables. There’s an “expected” short shuttle time, for example to expect for players at each height and weight combination, and good numbers there do a better job correlating to overall performance. It’s not surprising, but players who weigh more tend to run slower short shuttles, but those who weigh more and run quick short shuttles really perform well. If HSAC had combined those variables and used a better independent variable to test against, I think they would have come to different conclusions. I also find it counter-intuitive that something would do well for centers but not guards.

  2. Arif thanks for the response.

    I agree with you that AV isn’t perfect. It depends on starts a lot and the Clemings example is a great one to illustrate that point.

    Generally a player starting means the player is good, or at least better than other players who are options to start, but not always.

    There are not many stats for offensive linemen by which to judge their performance by so AV is something that can be used for that, and it is additionally good as it allows one to make comparisons between players across positions, which is far from perfect, but that is mainly what I think it is designed to do. AV may be better for other positions than linemen.

    I agree that it doesn’t make sense that short shuttle would matter for centers but not guards.

    I would be interested to learn more about your study that shows short shuttle and vertical jump showing correlation to offensive lineman performance. Perhaps that would make for a good article for the future?

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