The other day, we hopped inside the film room and took a peek at what Thayer Munford brings to the table for the Las Vegas Raiders. Building off of that, today we’ll dive into numbers for the Ohio State product using some advanced stats and grades courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
Munford had a very successful career as a Buckeye, earning four All-Big Ten honors — two first-team selections — and winning four conference championships with two trips to the College Football Playoffs thrown in the mix.
As a true freshman, he played in a backup role and logged 148 total snaps at right tackle with a respectable 71.1 overall PFF grade. He switched to the left side the following year and locked down a starting spot, recording a 67.5 overall grade that ranked tied for 14th among Big 10 offensive tackles on 921 total snaps. Staying put as the blind-side protector, Munford notched another 855 snaps and bumped his grade up to rank third in the conference — behind Tristan Wirfs and Rashawn Slater — to an impressive 76.9 mark.
However, it was his first senior season that was by far his best grade-wise. In the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, he was on the field for 512 plays and was Big 10’s highest-graded tackle by over nine points (91.8), and finished fourth among all FBS tackles.
Despite that success, the Ohio State product decided to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted all athletes who participated in the virus-impacted season and return to school for a second senior year. However, this time around he split his reps between left guard and tackle with 554 and 149 snaps coming at each spot, respectively. That resulted in a dip in his overall grade to 73.7 which was 13th-best among Big 10 guards.
All of that makes for a well-decorated college career and it gets more impressive the deeper we dive into the numbers.
During his true freshman season, Munford logged 81 snaps as a run blocker, 61 or 75.3 percent of which were on zone plays and 15 or 18.5 percent on gap plays. The other five snaps or 6.2 percent were trick plays or runs that don’t fall into either of those two categories like a quarterback sneak.
While he didn’t play enough to qualify for any rankings, the Buckeye did earn a 65.8 grade as a zone run blocker, which is solid for an 18-year-old, and a slightly below average 59.0 mark on gap runs.
In his first year as a starter, his number of reps went up but the result was about the same. Munford registered 266 snaps, or 66.3 percent of 401 total run-blocking snaps, as a zone run blocker for a 67.9 grade that was 11th-best out of 32 qualifying Big 10 offensive tackles. On gap runs, he earned the 22nd-highest grade at 58.9 and participated in 105 reps, or 26.2 percent of his total.
So even with the bigger sample size, he was still better on zone than gap but still left some meat on the bone for both categories.
Junior year is when everything started to click for the Ohio native. On 432 run plays, 335 or 77.5 percent were zone runs where he earned the third-highest grade among the conference’s tackles with a mark of 79.5. His gap blocking improved too with a 66.3 grade that ranked 10th on 78 attempts or 18.1 percent of his total run blocks.
That momentum continued into his first senior year with grades of 90.3 and 75.4 on zone and gap runs, respectively. Those figures ranked second and third in the Big 10 and the former was tied for the fourth-best among all FBS tackles. For those curious, Munford logged 248 total run-blocking snaps, 194 on zone plays (78.2 percent) and 41 on gap (16.5 percent).
Finally, we get to 2021 where will have to compare Munford against the conference’s tackles and guard since he split time at those two spots. That year, he was asked to run block 266 times, 197 or 72.9 percent of which came on zone runs where he earned the 16th-highest grade out of 68 qualifiers at 81.5. Gap runs were a different story, however. He only executed 57 gap run blocks or 21.4 percent of the total but notched a 56.0 grade that ranked 47th.
Taking all of this into account, it seems pretty clear that Munford is best suited in a zone-heavy system.
As a freshman, Munford only registered 68 plays in pass protection but was dominant on those reps. He earned a 79.8 pass-blocking grade — didn’t qualify for rankings — and only allowed one pressure for a 99.2 PFF efficiency rating. On 17 true pass sets, (TPS, which removes plays with less than four rushers, play action, screens, short dropbacks and time-to-throws under two seconds) he didn’t allow a single pressure.
In 2018, it was a different story as his reps went up to 521 and he earned a 67.2 grade that ranked 19th out of 30 Big 10 tackles. Surrendering 21 pressures — zero sacks, three QB hits and 18 hurries — resulted in a 97.9 efficiency rating, which was tied for the 18th-most and tied for the ninth-highest figures in their respective categories. Of those totals, he logged 175 TPSs for 12 pressures (16th) and a 96.9 rating (10th), so he was at least decently efficient as a sophomore.
Munford’s junior year was a similar story with a 67.2 grade that ranked tied for 10th out of 29 others at his position. He yielded the 10th-most pressures with 20 — five sacks, one QB hit and 14 hurries — and finished 18th in efficiency with a mark of 96.9. Of the 20 pressures, 12 came on 151 TPSs and gave him a slightly lower rating on those reps at 96.0. Those figures were the 11th-most and 12th-highest at the position in the conference.
The 2020 season was by far his best protecting the quarterback’s blindside. He registered 264 total snaps in pass protection and notched an 87.6 grade that was first among Big 10 tackles and tied for sixth with Dylan Parham among all FBS tackles.
The three pressures he allowed were the fewest in the conference and all three were hurries, so he never allowed the quarterback to get touched. That gave the Buckeye a 99.4 PFF efficiency rating which was first in the conference and tied for fourth in all of FBS. Granted, all three pressures came on his 104 TPSs but that still was good enough for a 98.6 rating, and both the pressures and efficiency figures ranked tied for third in the conference.
Flipping back and forth between tackle and guard impacted Munford’s production during his super senior year. His grade dropped to 66.3 (28th out of 65 qualifiers in the Big 10) and his pressures surrendered rose to 16 (tied for the 26th-most; one sack, one QB hit and 14 hurries). Unsurprisingly, the Buckeye’s efficiency rating took a dip too, to 98.0, which tied for 24th among his peers.
What might be the most concerning part about his most-recent season is a lot of his lack of success came on TPSs. With 183 opportunities, Munford allowed 12 pressures (tied for 20th-most) and earned a 96.4 rating (tied for 21st).
It will be interesting to see how the Raiders decide to use their seventh-round pick, and hopefully, his experience playing multiple spots proves fruitful at the next level.