Sure, it’s fun to watch Tyreek Hill streak down the field. We all enjoy watching Raheem Mostert creating space with a deadly cut. But that’s not what we really want to see when Super Bowl 54 kicks off in a few days.
We want linemen. Big, slow, linemen, rumbling down the field hoping their enthusiasm is enough to keep defenders away. Few plays can match the drama of a big man in space. We know that if any actual receiver had the ball in the exact same spot it’s be an easy TD, but with the ball in this jumbo’s hands, anything is possible.
With that in mind, DraftKings gave us the most important prop bet of Super Bowl LIV: Any offensive lineman to score a TD, +3300. Delightfully, you can find this prop on the Sportsbook app or site by looking under “Novelty Props” > “Fat Man TD”.
Breaking it down
Offensive linemen recorded a receiving TD seven times this season (playoffs included). The Titans accounted for three of those, one of which came during the AFC Championship game. Neither Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel nor offensive coordinator Arthur Smith have any obvious connection to either the 49ers or Chiefs’ coaching staffs.
Touchdowns by non-skill position players are incredibly rare. Linebacker Mike Vrabel caught a TD pass in back-to-back Super Bowls in 2004 and 2005. There have been a few TDs scored on kick returns and turnovers. Otherwise, every other Super Bowl TD since 1994 – all 147 that are searchable through the Pro Football Reference database – was scored by a QB, RB, WR, TE, or FB. No offensive lineman has scored a Super Bowl TD in that span.
That said, Sunday’s matchup features two of the most creative, out-of-the-box play-callers the league has ever seen in Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan. 49ers starting tackle Joe Staley has three career catches, including one in 2018, and entered college as a tight end. The likelihood of an O-Lineman TD has probably never been higher.
If a lineman is going to score Sunday, who is the most likely?
3. Eric Fisher, left tackle, Chiefs
The easiest way for a lineman to get the ball is on a designed play. But, for most big guys, the only time they ever touch the ball is on a fumble recovery. Though we’re looking for a lineman to score, the first step in scoring is actually having possession of the football. With the exception of the No. 1 pick listed below, Fisher leads the offensive lineman starting Sunday with three career fumble recoveries. His teammate, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, also has three career fumble recoveries, but all of those came in the first half of his now eight-season career. Schwartz is also considerably slower and less athletic than Fisher.
2. Mike McGlinchey, right tackle, 49ers
The ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft oozes with talent and athleticism. He entered the league as an instant starter. Though he hasn’t seen any passes through his first two seasons in the NFL, the 6’8” mammoth did catch a pass while at Notre Dame, and he played some TE in high school. He’s big, fast (for his size), and athletic. Furthermore, it’s easier to disguise a tackle as an eligible receiver than it is to disguise a guard, which is why all three players identified here are tackles.
1. Joe Staley, left tackle, 49ers
I spoiled the lede on this one by mentioning Staley’s career receptions above. It’s those receptions that make the former high school tight end an easy pick. Quite simply, Staley is the only lineman on either team with an NFL reception, and he has three of them. We have seen successful plays designed for Staley, and we haven’t seen that for any of the other lineman in question. Two of his three catches predate coach Kyle Shanahan’s arrival, but he does have on catch in the Shanahan era. Staley also has more than double the career fumble recoveries than any other lineman starting Sunday – though most of those came early in his 13-season career.
It’s been more than a decade since Staley participated in the 2007 NFL combine, but his 4.78 40 time speaks to his impressive speed for a lineman. And you know his celebration would be spectacular.
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