Size matters in the NFL.
Teams want it, players work for it. Whether it's a matter of expansion and exposure of the game or simple evolution, players drafted are simply bigger than they were a few generations ago.
Scouts Inc. recently took the average height, weight and Combine test results of prospects at each position over the last five years, displaying them by position.
The results aren't surprising.
The average defensive tackle weighing in at the NFL Combine over the last five years is 304 pounds. In 1974, defensive tackles John Dutton and Carl Barzilauskas were drafted by the Baltimore Colts and New York Jets with the fifth and sixth picks, respectively. They weighed in at 266 and 271 pounds.
Utah's Star Lotulelei, the consensus top defensive tackle prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft, is likely to weigh in around 320 pounds at the 2013 NFL Combine starting Feb. 20 in Indianapolis.
SB Nation's Dan Kadar has six defensive tackles going in the first round of the draft - Loutulelei, Sheldon Richardson (295 pounds), Jesse Williams (320 pounds), Sharrif Floyd (303), John Jenkins (358 pounds), Johnathan Hankins (317) - who will average approximately 318 pounds.
The average of the four defensive tackles in the first round of the 1974 Draft was 267 pounds, an increase of 16 percent. If a similar increase was to occur in the 2052 Draft, the average defensive tackle taken in the first round would weigh 368 pounds.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is expected to weigh in around 255 pounds, just a shade smaller than Dutton.
The average middle/inside linebacker weighed 241 pounds over the last five years. Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson weighed 221 pounds when he was drafted No. 18 overall by Dallas in 1975.
That's just a few pounds more than top safety prospect Kenny Vaccaro (218).
As the average size of each position increases, speed seems to be on par in many positions. The running backs class of 1999 averaged 4.572 seconds in the 40-yard dash. From 2008-12, it's 4.59. For wide receivers, it was 4.571 in 1999 and 4.55 over the last five years.
The influx of size and speed guys like Ezekiel Ansah (6'5, 274 pounds, projected 4.7 range in the 40), as rare as they are, are becoming more common. Dontari Poe was a Combine Hero in 2012, checking in at 6'4, 346 pounds while running a 40 in the 4.8 range. He was the 11th-overall pick.
With an increase in size and similar speed, it's no wonder why safety is such a concern in the NFL.