It's no secret that Tennessee's fan base is clamoring for a the franchise to draft one of the elite guards in this year's class. Whether the team decides they want to take a risk on the athletic ability of Jonathan Cooper or the mauling bulldozer that is Chance Warmack, it is important to take history in to account when you talk about selecting a guard that high.
In the past seven years only nine guards have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. This is a list of those players followed by a brief summary on their performances so far.
2005: Logan Mankins, Patriots
Easily the most decorated guard on this list, Mankins has had a stellar career and was an absolute steal for the Pats. Named to the Pro Bowl five times and named to the All-Pro list four times, Mankins is clearly one of the most dominant linemen at any position in the league. Mankins earned the right to be the league's highest paid interior lineman at that point when he signed a six-year deal in 2011. Since then only one interior lineman (Carl Nicks) is has signed a contract worth more than his. Verdict: Success
2006: Davin Joseph, Buccaneers
One of the two multi-year Pro Bowl players on this list, Joseph is one of the less known about talents in the NFL. Had he not injured his knee last year in the preseason he could have possibly earned a third birth in the Pro Bowl. Verdict: Success
2007: Ben Grubbs, Saints (via Ravens)
Grubbs has been a phenomenal success in the NFL and he has been recognized as a top guard. Earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2011, Grubbs held up well to the standout defenses in the AFC North and earned a contract worth over seven million dollars per year to play for the New Orleans Saints. Verdict: Success
2008: Branden Albert, Chiefs
Though he underwent a position change after college, people forget that Albert was a dominant guard during his stint at Virginia. Albert has been a driving force on the Chiefs offensive line, and he earned a franchise tag in place of a long-term deal when his contract expired earlier this offseason. It is hard to consider someone who successfully made the conversion from guard to left tackle in the NFL anything less than a great accomplishment. Verdict: Success
2010: Mike Iupati, 49ers
Iupati is the least experienced of the recent guards taken to earn a birth in the Pro Bowl, and he has been a dominant interior presence for the 49ers. Though still early in his career, it is obvious that San Francisco loves running behind this powerhouse and he will surely get a lofty contract soon. Verdict: Success
2011: Danny Watkins, Eagles James Carpenter, Seahawks
Both Watkins and Carpenter have had unremarkable starts to their careers, but both have helped make good backs great. Both LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch have had great years since these two have been signed. Verdict: Too early to tell, but the arrow is pointing up.
2012: David DeCastro, Steelers Kevin Zeitler, Bengals
DeCastro stuggled after being rushed back from knee surgery in the 2012 season, but he has all the tools and tape to indicate that he is going to be a very good guard for Big Ben in Pittsburgh. Kevin Zeitler has been great by all accounts, and his rugged play and affinity for run-blocking have me thinking that he will really standout when the Bengals get a quality RB. Verdict: Too early to tell.
So what does it all mean?
I see this and I think for a team whose only GLARING need is right guard, how can you possibly pass up on one of the two elite guys if they are there? The success rate for first round guards over the last seven drafts is at or around 100% and these coaches can't afford to take risks in the first round with the hot seat they are on. Verdict: Draft Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper and feel good about it.