April 26, 2011 08:55 ET

First-Round Offensive Line Selections in Professional Football Draft Key to Quick Turnaround on the Gridiron

The 'New York Life Protection Index' Created by Sports Information Leader STATS Highlights Offensive Line Play, Showcases Its Value in the Early Rounds

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Apr 26, 2011) - According to the "New York Life Protection Index,"* pro football general managers may want to bypass taking the more popular skill position players and select an offensive lineman when the 2011 draft commences on April 28. A study of the New York Life Protection Index shows that investing a top draft pick in the O-line can provide a rich pay-off in the win column.

In fact, since 2006, more than 60 percent of teams (14 of 23) that drafted an offensive lineman in the first round and had him start 10 games increased their New York Life Protection Index, with 64 percent of those teams registering double-digit improvements. The New York Life Protection Index is an algorithm-based analysis of statistics based on the percentage of times a team successfully protects its quarterback and how often and effectively the team passes the football. Statistics such as sacks, quarterback knockdowns and hurries, passing attempts and yards (excluding yards after the catch), and penalties (including holding and false starts) are inputted into the proprietary algorithm and then a numerical index is assigned to each team.

In the last five years, the single largest year-to-year gain in the New York Life Protection Index was achieved by Cleveland in 2007. After drafting offensive tackle Joe Thomas with the third overall pick, the following season, Cleveland gained 42.8 Protection Index points and increased their win total from four to 10.

"This popular Index draws more attention to the unsung heroes on the offensive line, who don't typically get the focus on draft day," said Mark W. Pfaff, executive vice president, New York Life. "The Index shows that selecting a quality offensive lineman on draft day can make a significant difference in a team's overall success. No need to look further than the world championship team for proof: Green Bay drafted offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga, who helped increase their Protection Index by nearly 14 points en route to winning the world title."

Additionally, New York's Gang Green experienced similar success from the 2006 draft, where they picked two offensive linemen in the first round, tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson (4th overall) and center Nick Mangold (29th overall). The following season, their New York Life Protection Index jumped 30 points, which translated into 10 wins (up from four the previous season) and a playoff berth. New York's division rival, Miami, drafted offensive tackle Jake Long with the No. 1 overall pick in 2008 and saw its Protection Index increase by 8.4 points while posting an 11-5 mark and capturing the division title with Long on the field.

New York Life Insurance Company and STATS, the world's leading sports technology, data, and content company, teamed up last December to create the New York Life Protection Index, the first team ranking index that incorporates STATS' proprietary X-Info data -- including quarterback knockdowns and hurries -- to focus solely on each team's offensive line. The Protection Index featuring additional draft information, full season rankings and team notes is available at

Additional New York Life Protection Index draft highlights between 2006 and 2010 include:

  • On average, drafting an offensive lineman in the first round who subsequently started 10 or more games has resulted in an increase of 16 percent, or 6.2 points, in the Protection Index
  • Conversely, second and third-round picks increased their teams' Protection Index by just four percent the following season, or 1.5 Protection Index points
  • Recent top offensive linemen picks and how they've helped their teams:
    • 2010 tackle Trent Williams (4th overall to Washington): plus 12.3 in Protection Index points
    • 2007 tackle Levi Brown (5th overall to Arizona): an increase of 11.6 points Protection Index points

STATS is the world's leading sports technology, data and content company. The company passionately abides by a mission to revolutionize the way sports contests are viewed, understood and enjoyed. STATS' calling card consists of real-time scores, historical sports information, Associated Press editorial content, a turnkey fantasy sports operation and SportVU technology. Today, STATS' worldwide client network of media companies and professional sports leagues and teams utilize a broad spectrum of dynamic in-game broadcast presentations and virtual images, multimedia enhancements and game analysis and tactical coaching tools. STATS is owned jointly by the Associated Press and News Corporation, with corporate offices across the globe. For a complete tour of STATS' sports content portfolio and solutions, visit

About New York Life Protection Index
The New York Life Protection Index is the authoritative measure of a team's aptitude in pass protection. In today's football, the 'golden age' of passing, a pro football team's ability to protect the quarterback is a key attribute to winning games. The New York Life Protection Index was created by sports information leader STATS in partnership with STRATEGIC, a sports and entertainment marketing agency, to provide a composite gauge for this undervalued component of the game. While the New York Life Protection Index is calculated using a proprietary formula, the fundamentals are comprised of the length of a team's pass attempts combined with penalties by offensive lineman, sacks allowed and quarterback hurries and knockdowns. The New York Life Protection Index is updated weekly throughout the regular season and available at

About New York Life Insurance Company
New York Life Insurance Company, a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States** and one of the largest life insurers in the world. New York Life has the highest possible financial strength ratings from all four of the major credit rating agencies. Headquartered in New York City, New York Life's family of companies offers life insurance, retirement income, investments and long-term care insurance. New York Life Investments*** provides institutional asset management and retirement plan services. Other New York Life affiliates provide an array of securities products and services, as well as institutional and retail mutual funds.

Please visit New York Life's Web site at for more information.

* Registered service mark of New York Life Insurance Company.
**New York Life is the largest mutual life insurance company based on the Fortune 500, ranked within industries, Insurance: Life, Health (Mutual), Fortune magazine, May 3, 2010.
***New York Life Investments is a service mark used by New York Life Investment Management Holdings LLC and its subsidiary, New York Life Investment Management LLC.

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