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Mock Draft Tips: Recent history shows fourth round is the sweet spot for guards

As part of an occasional series, Fanspeak will offer tips and best practices for its wildly popular and first-of-its-kind On The Clock draft simulator.

Today’s topic: Where do you rank the offensive guards?

Not sure where to rank the guards in your customized On The Clock big board?

Let recent history be your guide.

Since 2015, an average of 12 guards have been drafted, with four going in the first round.

The “sweet spot” the past five years has been the fourth and fifth rounds, where almost half of the guards have been drafted. The fourth round, in particular, has been kind to guards in recent years, with 17 drafted. However, those numbers were greatly impacted by the 2019 and 2015 drafts, when six guards were drafted in the fourth round those years.

This isn’t considered a particularly strong year for guards (and centers), with no consensus No. 1 player at the position. It’s also possible that a guard isn’t selected this year until the third round.

Clemson’s John Simpson is the highest-rated in the Fanspeak-Steve big board, ranked No. 41 overall. Simpson is the No. 66 prospect in the latest Fanspeak-Jake big board.

But, as is the case with both big boards, there’s a fairly significant dropoff after Simpson. Louisiana-Lafayette’s Robert Hunt is the next-highest rated guard in both big boards, checking in at No. 80 in the Fanspeak-Steve big board and No. 92 in the Fanspeak-Jake rankings.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com ranked the interior line class as the weakest of any of the positions in the 2020 NFL draft.

“Welcome to the weakest area of the 2020 draft,” Zierlein said. “This group could be bolstered a bit, depending on whether or not teams see tackles like Josh Jones and Robert Hunt as guards, but the fact remains that center and guard are an overall weakness of this class. … (T)eams looking for guard play might wait until the third or fourth round before they even consider making a selection.”


Jake Rigdon (jake@sydwriting.com) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.

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