Dating back to 2003, there have been 28 Pro Bowl OTs (a number of them made multiple appearances). I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at where all of those players were drafted in order to get a sense of how likely it is for a team to uncover an elite OT either late in the draft or outside it. Admittedly, the Pro Bowl is not a perfect measure of skill, and it’s possible that the shear visibility of being drafted early helps a player get to the Pro Bowl. However, for a high-level look and hypothesis formulation, it suffices.
Although I expected the results to skew heavily to rounds 1 and 2 (they should if NFL talent evaluators are actually good at their jobs), I was very surprised by the severity of the actual results:
Seen above are the amount of Pro Bowl players ordered by the round they were chosen in. With such a small sample size, I think its reasonable to assume the odds are not greater of finding a Pro Bowl OT in round 5 than in round 3; we can chalk that up to chance. However, it does show something fairly useful. That is, if your goal is to have a Pro Bowl OT, you really need to draft one in the first round.
I’m going to take a similar look at several other positions and see if the distribution is as severe (my guess is that there are only a few positions as skewed).
Regardless, it certainly suggests that it is very difficult to put together an elite offensive line (assuming OTs are most important in the endeavor) without the use of high draft choices.