John Clayton has a theory about offensive lines. His theory is that if and offensive line allows each of its five starters to reach age 30 of older (a combined number of 150), then the team has an extremely limited amount of time in which to be effective. In his mailbox, Clayton notes that a couple years ago the Chicago Bears allowed their line to get extremely old, and are now paying the price for that. The Detroit Lions are also on the verge of letting that happen.
This is only a theory, but theories are nearly always based on tested hypotheses. While far from fool-proof, this theory is a good rule of thumb, and it truly only makes common sense. This is why I delved into further investigation on how the Falcons offensive line stacked up against this theory.
By using the Falcons’ 2011 starting lineup of Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Todd McClure, Joe Hawley and Tyson Clabo, the combined age is 143 years. The numbers are slightly skewed, as Todd McClure is 35, well above the benchmark of 30. We also have a very young individual in Hawley who started at Right Guard. Will Svitek also spent much of the season at Left Tackle, and is 30 compared to Baker’s age of 27. Another key person to look at is the recent Falcon draftee Peter Konz out of Wisconsin. At only 23, Konz adds more youth to this team.
The best indicator of what the Falcons 2012 offensive line would be was mentioned in a piece I wrote based off the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter. The 1st team offensive line that he reported was composed of Baker, Blalock, Hawley, Garrett Reynolds, and Tyson Clabo. If I had to guess, Peter Konz will eventually win the Right Guard position and you could insert Konz in place of Reynolds. When you make that change, the combined age of that starting o-line would be 131 years. That is extremely low. There is an elder statesman in Clabo, but he is only 30, and Blalock (who I believe is the most consistent of the Falcons lineman) is still only 28. Lets also not forget that Baker has not performed to expectations at LT.
The Falcons projected O-Line is very young overall, but there are clearly spots that will need to be addressed in the next four or five seasons. That being said, this unit could end up being the strength of the team, and a team who wins in the trenches rarely loses.