Crunching the Numbers: The Analytics Behind the Colby Gossett Pick

Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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.



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