Could David Bakhtiari be on His Way to Canton?
Behind the scenes of any highly successful NFL offensive unit, is a highly productive and consistent offensive line. They are a group that can fly under the radar when they are effective and draws a lot of attention and criticism when they are not. It can be a thankless job at times but the offensive line is the five pillars on the front lines that will keep the offensive efficiency of the passing and rushing attacks from crumbling.
Over the years, we have seen teams with talented skill players have tumultuous seasons because they have played behind inadequate offensive lines (2017 Giants); likewise, we have seen slightly less talented teams and skill players have successful seasons because of an offensive lines ability to control the tempo of the game on a consistent basis.
Behind every productive offensive line is a consistently dominant left tackle. Over the past five seasons, David Bakhtiari has emerged as a dominant force up front and has shown to be one of the best-left tackles the sport has seen over the last ten years.
Bakhtiari’s production has risen in each of his first five seasons in the NFL, which has allowed for Rodgers to continue to put up prolific numbers and lead the Packers on playoff runs year in and year out. Bakhtiari has provided a dominant and consistent presence up front and has provided a blueprint for the rest of the Packers offensive line to follow.
Since coming into the league as a fourth-round pick in 2013, Bakhtiari has stood out. In his rookie season, he ranked in the top five (4th) among all rookie tackles in pass blocking and by 2014 he ranked as the 13th best tackle in pass blocking efficiency (85.7).
He continued his ascent to the top by making the jump in his fourth NFL season, going from the 12th ranked tackle in pass blocking efficiency to the 2nd best tackle in pass blocking efficiency (90.8). Finally, Bakhtiari completed his climb to the top this past season ranking as the best overall tackle in 2017 receiving an overall grade of 88.9.
According to pro football focus’s grading system of offensive tackles, wins and losses on blocking assignments, (including penalties, and quarterback hurries) Bakhtiari lost just 16 pass blocking assignments all season which accumulates to a 3.3% loss rate that is by far, the best of any tackle. If we dig deeper into these stats, we will see a consistency in play over the 2016 and 2017 seasons that has delivered almost identical statistical production during the time that he was on the field.
In addition to his top grades over the last two seasons, it is important to remember that Bakhtiari only played with Aaron Rodgers for three games in 2017. This means that his pass blocking efficiency stats are even more impressive when factoring in that he was blocking for a quarterback without experience starting in the league, that consistently held onto the ball for far too long with a considerable amount of his passing attempts.
The final feather in his cap during the 2017 season was the two tremendous performances that Bakhtiari had against Everson Griffin. In his two matchups against Griffin, Bakhtiari had 33 one on one matchups against him and allowed just 1 quarterback hit and did not allow a sack (Breakdown by Brian Baldinger).
In his career, Griffin has a quarterback pressure percentage of 11.75%. However, in 185 career snaps against Bakhtiari, Griffin, (who has a 89.2 pff grade), has accumulated just nine total quarterback pressures for a significantly lower quarterback pressure percentage of 4.86% (stats from pro football focus). This is a testament to Bakhtiari’s ability to shut down the very best pass rushers that the NFL has to offer.
Where Bakhtiari Ranks Against Tackles in the Last Ten Years:
In order to answer the question of whether or not David Bakhtiari is on his way to Canton, it is first important to establish his greatness over the arch of his career. Once that has been done, his body of work must be compared against the best tackles of the last ten to fifteen years. In order to do this, I will draw on the careers of Joe Thomas and Andrew Whitworth who have set the pace for left tackles during this ten to twelve year period.
To compare careers it is best to first start at pass blocking efficiency because it has become such a crucial statistic in measuring production for a tackle in the current pass-first offensive model of football. Since the start of Bakhtiari’s career, he has had 2,900 pass blocking assignments and has allowed 22 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 95 quarterback hurries, and 133 total pressures allowed.
What is more impressive is that Bakhtiari’s quarterback hits allowed, quarterback hurries allowed, and quarterback pressures allowed, ranks first, ahead of both Joe Thomas and Andrew Whitworth. Bakhtiari’s 96.4 pass blocking efficiency ranks third behind Thomas (96.9) and Whitworth (97), and his pass blocks per sack or quarterback hit allowed (76.32) ranks only second to Joe Thomas’s (80.06).
Statistical analysis proves that David Bakhtiari deserves to be mentioned as one of the top three offensive tackles of his era. We see through this statistical breakdown that he ranks favorably against NFL tackles in 2018 as well as against NFL tackles of the last thirteen seasons.
In a sport where the average career span has now dipped to just over 3 seasons, a thirteen-year era now becomes fairer in judging the potential hall of fame case that Bakhtiari will present years down the road. One thing that is for certain is that if Bakhtiari continues his magnificent play over the next five seasons, the Packers will have a chance to win a Superbowl and Bakhtiari will have a strong chance to hear Canton call his name.——————
David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave