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Jets 2021 free agency: Ranking the guards from best to worst

Joe Thuney
(Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Ranking 20 impending NFL free agent guards from best to worst, based on an accumulation of their 2020 statistics.

Using an agglomeration of three different key statistics, I ranked the 20 impending NFL free agent guards that logged at least 200 snaps in 2020. This is the eighth in a series of articles that will rank all of the qualified free agents at key positions of need for the New York Jets. I have already ranked 47 free agent wide receivers, 47 free agent edge rushers, 53 free agent cornerbacks30 free agent running backs, 28 free agent tight ends33 free agent linebackers and 31 free agent safeties.

The players were ranked according to their cumulative performance between pass protection and run blocking.

Here are the statistics used:

Pressure percentage allowed: The percentage of a player’s pass blocking snaps in which they were credited with allowing a pressure – either a sack, hit, or hurry.

Pro Football Focus pass blocking grade: PFF’s all-encompassing evaluation of a player’s performance as a pass blocker based on the grading of every coverage snap.

This stat effectively conveys the true quality of a player’s pass blocking regardless of the production he allowed. If a player gives up a sack after blocking for five-plus seconds, that sack is not his fault, and the coverage grade will reflect that by not blaming him (maybe even crediting him positively if the initial block was strong enough). On the other hand, a player can boost his protection numbers by playing in a quick-release offense where he logs “pass blocking snaps” in which he didn’t actually block anyone because the ball was released quickly. These pass blocking snaps rightfully receive no credit in PFF’s grading system.

Reps in which a player holds a rusher at bay for four seconds receive more credit than ones where he limits the rusher for two seconds, reps in which he is absolutely destroyed are knocked more harshly than ones where he allows minor penetration, reps in which nobody is blocked receive no credit in either direction … and so forth. This is PFF’s attempt at weeding out the noise of raw totals to truly approximate a player’s pass blocking effectiveness.

Pro Football Focus run blocking grade: PFF’s all-encompassing evaluation of a player’s performance as a run blocker based on the grading of every coverage snap. Players who consistently execute their assignment at a sufficient level tend to fare well here, while players who consistently blow their assignment to allow play-disrupting penetration tend to fare poorly. The players who grade at an elite level in this area tend to be eye-popping difference-makers who rack up a ton of overpowering blocks in which they blast their defender to the ground or far off the ball.

Each player’s percentile ranking among all qualified guards in pressure percentage was combined with their percentile ranking in PFF’s pass blocking grade to form a pass protection score. That pass protection score was averaged with each player’s percentile ranking in PFF’s run blocking grade to form an overall score by which the group was ranked.

Here it is, 20 free agent guards stacked up from best to worst:

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