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    • michael89156

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      Position Progression: GuardProFootballFocus.comSam Monson | July 14, 2014 guard_zps0517a24d.pngThis week at PFF we are looking at the career progression of drafted players once they enter the league, and in this piece we turn our attention to offensive guards. We’ve looked at every draft pick of the PFF era and analyzed their expected progression based both on snaps and grade and the bottom line is you are doing well if your rookie plays at an above average level in his first season in the league. There isn’t a single position that projects first-year players to perform better than the league average and some positions project them far below it. Everybody is looking for immediate help from their rookie class, but the draft remains about building for the future, not necessarily the present. guard1_zps2c612fbb.gifMuch like what we saw for offensive tackles, the progression curve for guards is a steady climb through their first few seasons in the league, peaking with their fourth-year performances. Unlike tackle, however, even first-round guards cannot keep their heads above the average mark on average as rookies. First-round guards average a -1.0 grade as rookies, but quickly improve to an average of +13.6 in their fourth season. While there isn’t a huge difference between first- and second-rounders at many positions, the gulf between them at guard early on is massive. While first-rounders are average players compared to the rest of the league at the outset, second rounders are struggling badly on average. As rookies their average grade has been -10.1 and it takes until year three for them to climb above average. Best Case Scenario Despite an injury-plagued fourth season in the league the best case scenario when selecting a first round guard is Mike Iupati. The 49ers’ left guard has been a monster since being selected with the 17th pick of the 2010 draft, grading firmly in the double-digits every year until 2013. Iupati has a legitimate case to be seen as one of the league’s best guards and we would expect to see a return to that form in 2014, if healthy. While most guards, even first rounder, struggle in year one, Iupati posted a +16.4 as a rookie, following it up with a comparable sophomore season and then a jump in performance in year three. He was dramatically outperforming the average from the outset at a position that statistics suggest takes more adjustment time than conventional wisdom dictates. There are a few other success stories amongst guards in the study but none so pronounced as Iupati and none with the potential upside he still carries to improve still further. Worst Case Scenario I’m cheating a little here by including a player drafted in 2006 – a year before we have PFF data – but the career body of work we have for Davin Joseph is too stark to ignore because we don’t have grading on his rookie season. Joseph is the worst case scenario for a first-round guard because he is a player that didn’t just get cast aside as a busted flush early into his career, but somehow parlayed his consistently poor play into seven years of starting (not to mention two unfathomable Pro Bowl appearances). Not once in that stretch did Joseph earn a positive PFF grade overall for a season, coming closest in 2011 with a -1.4 grade overall. He missed out on the chance to build on that the next year through injury and when he returned in 2013 he was worse than ever before, ending the year with a -32.8 grade. In total Joseph managed to amass a -74.7 grade over his career starting with the Bucs, significantly worse than any other guard in this study, averaging a -18.7 grade each season of play. Swinging and missing on a first round guard is bad enough, missing and still making the run to first thinking you’ve hit a solid single is far worse. The Path Mode Trodden Many people still see the use of a first-round pick on an interior lineman as something of a waste, and if you’re drafting somebody that high he had better turn out great, but the data suggests that is pretty unlikely. In reality, the player you are likely to end up with looks far more like Ben Grubbs. As with the offensive tackle position we covered, the average first round selection at guard is still a player you would be happy having on your roster, but it doesn’t happen immediately. Grubbs graded negatively, though not disastrously as both a rookie and sophomore, accumulating a -8.1 grade over those two seasons, but then the light went on in year three and he hasn’t looked back since. From his third season onwards Grubbs has collected a +47.8 grade overall across multiple teams and schemes. It’s probably fair to say that Grubbs has outperformed the developmental average for the position at this stage, ending up a very good player rather than merely a capable starter or above average guard, but he remains the closest fit for the player you are most likely to acquire with a first round selection at the position. Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 1550

      Wow, I knew Davin was overrated….I didn’t realize he was THAT bad (except for this past season).

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 4623

      The unfortunate thing is guard is a position most fans don’t pay enough attention to that the team and media can tell you someone is good and people assume it to be true. The case of Davin Joseph is as if people said that Carnell Williams was one of the best running backs in football over the course of his career. Thankfully fans know what a good running back looks like so they wouldn’t be fooled by that but Davin lived on borrowed time for a number of years.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 1658

      Pfft, what does PFF know, thinking the 49ers have had good guard play while Bucs haven’t?

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 2594

      But he’s a probowler!

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 2829

      Early in his career he was a legit pro-bowler. Snubbed in 2007, made it rightfully so in 2008. Started falling off in 2010, became over-rated because of the contract. But that’s what happens when you let good players get to unrestricted free agency. People don’t realize how significant his 2012 injury was. He’s just hanging on as a fringe NFL player but deserves more respect out the door from the fans than he was given. Instead they take what PFF says as uncontested truth, eventhough they’re just a bunch of European guys with a NFL Game Rewind account and a website. No playing or coaching experience. Don’t understand and don’t even have the plays.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 4623

      Early in his career he was a legit pro-bowler. Snubbed in 2007, made it rightfully so in 2008. Started falling off in 2010, became over-rated because of the contract. But that's what happens when you let good players get to unrestricted free agency. People don't realize how significant his 2012 injury was. He's just hanging on as a fringe NFL player but deserves more respect out the door from the fans than he was given. Instead they take what PFF says as uncontested truth, eventhough they're just a bunch of European guys with a NFL Game Rewind account and a website. No playing or coaching experience. Don't understand and don't even have the plays.

      1. He was bad well before 2012. How do you think he got injured? He got steamrolled by Ron Brace. 2. If PFF doesn't have the plays, how do they know that Mike Iupati and Ben Grubbs are good? Why did they only get it wrong with Davin Joseph?

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 2829

      Early in his career he was a legit pro-bowler. Snubbed in 2007, made it rightfully so in 2008. Started falling off in 2010, became over-rated because of the contract. But that's what happens when you let good players get to unrestricted free agency. People don't realize how significant his 2012 injury was. He's just hanging on as a fringe NFL player but deserves more respect out the door from the fans than he was given. Instead they take what PFF says as uncontested truth, eventhough they're just a bunch of European guys with a NFL Game Rewind account and a website. No playing or coaching experience. Don't understand and don't even have the plays.

      1. He was bad well before 2012. How do you think he got injured? He got steamrolled by Ron Brace. 2. If PFF doesn't have the plays, how do they know that Mike Iupati and Ben Grubbs are good? Why did they only get it wrong with Davin Joseph?

      I said he started falling off in 2010. Doesnt mean he wasnt a good player 2006-2009.Grubbs and Iupati are obviously good, but playing on elite teams have given them a league wide "seal of approval". Davin was on some dog chit teams, through no fault of his own. I don't follow what PFF says about other team's players, I just read what's posted on here. But they've come up with some of the wall BS about the Bucs, like how Quincy Black and Stylez White were supposedly so good. The 2009 game vs Dallas was the second best game I've seen a Bucs O-line play (#1 was vs Vikings in 1998) and they gave them a cumulative grade of like -7.0

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 648

      i love Gruden but he was a horrible judge of talent. Not saying the GM isn’t guilty but god he had some awful drafts.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 4623

      I said he started falling off in 2010. Doesnt mean he wasnt a good player 2006-2009.

      Coincidentally, PFF graded Joseph considerably higher 2007-2009 than 2010 and after. Sounds like you agree.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 2829

      What was his grade in 2007? Should have been around +20

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 3341

      Looked like Tarzan, played like Jane. Easily fooled the simpletons.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 499

      The unfortunate thing is guard is a position most fans don't pay enough attention to that the team and media can tell you someone is good and people assume it to be true. The case of Davin Joseph is as if people said that Carnell Williams was one of the best running backs in football over the course of his career. Thankfully fans know what a good running back looks like so they wouldn't be fooled by that but Davin lived on borrowed time for a number of years.

      To be fair, his slide was gradual and he started out fairly well the first couple years. His decline was slow so it went unnoticed for the most part. Many saw his play slipping a little, but most didn't see how drastic it was without comparing his early years to his final years. One year to the next didn't seem like much of a difference because it was a gradual decline.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 10626

      The kick in the nuts is him being a 1st round pick. If he was a late rounder, or even undrafted, different story. He never could live up to that 1st round billing, and seeing he is 30 now, he probably never will.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 6677

      The kick in the nuts is him being a 1st round pick. If he was a late rounder, or even undrafted, different story. He never could live up to that 1st round billing, and seeing he is 30 now, he probably never will.

      the real kick in the nuts was giving him a second contract.  A very lucrative one at that.  Oh, and resigning His BFF Trueblood to get him to sign it was the purple nerpal.

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    • Anonymous

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      Somehow Scott and Mark continue to rate him as one of the best Bucs of all-time .He is in their top 25 and they drafted him 18th overall in their ALL Buc Draft.

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    • brycen54

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      Post count: 636

      Well it's not like the Bucs have some proud tradition of great offensive linemen. There's Gruber and that's about it. Anyone else we've had that was good was only good for a short while.

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