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ZWK

ZWK's 2020 Prospect Analysis

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Jonathan Taylor has an amazing profile as a runner, with size, speed, volume, efficiency, elusiveness, health, and awards. The one area where he's had problems as a runner is fumbles, which is a concern but a relatively minor one.

The bigger negative for him as a player is receiving. His 252 receiving yards at 6.5 YPT this year aren't great, but more concerning are his 8 career dropped passes to go along with his 42 career receptions, a 16% drop rate. It is possible for a RB to put up big numbers in the NFL without doing much in the passing game (see Derrick Henry), and it's possible that Taylor could improve as a receiver (or already has improved - I don't know which seasons his drops are from), but those are both pretty big challenges.

My RB formula has him as the #1 RB and a very strong prospect, but before I draft him there I want to get a better sense of his potential as a receiver. In PPR leagues I'm really not excited about taking a RB who doesn't catch passes at the top of the draft.

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I am not at all worried about Taylor's college workload.

A high workload is an indicator of a bunch of good things. It's a sign that the coaches wanted him on the field and trusted his durability, and that he had good enough conditioning & durability to stay on the field.

A high workload probably also increases a player's chances of getting injured. But I think most of that risk is immediate - each carry is an additional chance to get injured, and carries while worn out late in a high-workload game probably involve a higher risk of getting injured. Since he didn't get hurt at the time, that risk has mostly passed. There is maybe a little extra long-term injury risk from wear-and-tear, but when making predictions about a player's future injury risk the "evidence of durability" is more important.

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Low BMI is generally a bad sign for WRs. For example, out of the 48 successful WRs who entered the NFL since 2006 and have accumulated at least 150 career VBD so far, only 4 had a BMI below 26.0 (DeSean Jackson, Adam Thielen, Marvin Jones, and AJ Green). More data on this here and here. I generally don't believe in sharp cutoffs - the lower the BMI the more concerning it is, and having a BMI a bit above 26.0 doesn't make a receiver completely free of these concerns.

Here are WRs who weighed in with a BMI below 26.5 at the Senior Bowl, Shrine Game, or NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
24.32    John Hightower
24.45    Darnell Mooney
25.64    Van Jefferson
25.70    Collin Johnson
25.75    Jauan Jennings
25.92    Denzel Mims
26.04    K.J. Hill
26.39    Dezmon Patmon

Here are WRs who we don't have size measurements for yet who are at risk for weighing in with low BMI according to draftscout estimates.
24.81?    KJ Hamler
25.19?    CeeDee Lamb
25.20?    Trishton Jackson
25.32?    Quez Watkins
25.33?    Justin Jefferson
25.37?    Isaiah Hodgins
25.68?    Tyler Johnson
25.77?    Henry Ruggs III
26.04?    Jerry Jeudy

There are some big names on this list. We'll see how their combine weighins go.

Low BMI seems to be somewhat less of a concern for superfast WRs, based on the example of DJax and a few other WRs who didn't quite make the cut for my list earlier (John Brown who hasn't hit 150 career VBD, Emmanuel Sanders who had a 26.03 BMI, DJ Chark who is still far from 150 VBD). So maybe less of a concern for Ruggs & Hamler.

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There's an interesting late breakout crew at WR: Brandon Aiyuk, Omar Bayless, and Devin Duvernay. You could also maybe include Michael Pittman Jr., although he was less of an extreme late breakout.

Aiyuk and Bayless both had huge seasons this year (as I mentioned earlier), with over 11 YPT, and over 40% of their team's passing yardage and TDs. They're also both in the two-year 10 YPT club. Bayless leapfrogged Kirk Merritt to be Arkansas State's top receiver this year, while Aiyuk stepped up and outproduced last year's top Arizona State WR first rounder N'Keal harry.

Duvernay and Pittman both had very solid seasons (as you can see from the lists I posted earlier), Duvernay moreso with 10.7 YPT and 37% of Texas's receiving yards. Duvernay leapfrogged Collin Johnson to be Texas's top receiver this year, while Pittman has held off Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns to be USC's top receiver each of the past 2 years. They stand out even more for their physical attributes. Duvernay is a track star with the fastest 100m time that I know of for any player in this draft class, and a leading contender to have the fastest 40 time at the combine. Pittman has good size, weighing in at 6' 3 7/8", 219 lbs. at this year's senior bowl.

The big negative on all 4 of these guys is breakout age. Aiyuk broke out just this year as a 21-year-old senior after spending 2 years in junior college and then not doing much as a junior. Bayless was a 5th year senior this year, turned 23 just before his last game, and had previously maxed out at 566 receiving yards. Duvernay was a 22-year-old 4th year senior who had maxed out at 546 receiving yards (probably, there's still some uncertainty about his birthdate). Pittman broke out in 2018 as USC's leading receiver and a top 50 college receiver by my numbers, but he was already 21 years old that year.

So these guys all fail the "breakout age" test that has attracted a lot of attention lately; for some people that puts them on the "avoid" list. My WR rating formula doesn't take breakout age into account and likes these 4 WRs pretty well. My ratings do take current age into account, but only as a slight downgrade for older receivers. If a receiver had at least one big season, and seems to have NFL-caliber size/speed, then my formula will like him. Football Outsiders' Playmaker Score does something in between, and rewards WRs a lot for leaving school early. I haven't looked that closely these different ways of doing age adjustments. I might try looking a little more closely this offseason. My guess is that ruling guys out for a late breakout age is a mistake, but my formula probably doesn't penalize them enough for it.

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19 hours ago, ZWK said:

So these guys all fail the "breakout age" test that has attracted a lot of attention lately; for some people that puts them on the "avoid" list. My WR rating formula doesn't take breakout age into account and likes these 4 WRs pretty well. My ratings do take current age into account, but only as a slight downgrade for older receivers. If a receiver had at least one big season, and seems to have NFL-caliber size/speed, then my formula will like him. Football Outsiders' Playmaker Score does something in between, and rewards WRs a lot for leaving school early. I haven't looked that closely these different ways of doing age adjustments. I might try looking a little more closely this offseason. My guess is that ruling guys out for a late breakout age is a mistake, but my formula probably doesn't penalize them enough for it.

I think the best approach to BOA, doing well at a young age is a positive and not something to ignore. But lack thereof shouldn't make said player an avoid. Context should always be considered, if there might be some plausible reasons why it took so long for player to produce. If player never puts up great stats, that might be another matter.

 

 

Edited by cloppbeast

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On 1/17/2020 at 1:41 AM, ZWK said:

Looking at RB receiving, the 3 guys with the most receiving yards this year are Memphis freshman Kenny Gainwell, Washington sophomore Max Borghi, and UCLA junior Demetric Felton. If you look at per game numbers, Nebraska freshman Wan'Dale Robinson is also up there. None of those 4 are entering this year's draft, so I won't take a closer look at them at this point. Given the importance of RB receiving in the NFL these days, they're guys to keep an eye on.

One person who is entering this year's draft is Kentucky junior Lynn Bowden Jr. He had 67/745/5 receiving as a WR in 2018, then got moved to wildcat QB this year where he had 185/1468/13 rushing. At 6'0" 199 lbs. he is undersized even for a receiving back, so probably we should be evaluating him primarily as a WR. That's tricky to do based on stats since he mostly didn't play this year (though he did have 27/330/1 receiving over the first 4 weeks which is pretty good). So I guess I'll put more weight on scouting reports and such with him. Success as a runner is a good sign.

Antonio Gibson is another guy in this category. He mostly played WR in college, with 834 receiving yards and 369 rushing yards in his 2 years at Memphis (with almost all of that production coming this year). Before that, he had 871 receiving yards and 279 rushing yards in his 2 years at East Central Community College, and 1604 receiving yards and 940 rushing yards in his last 2 years of high school. He was a genuine receiver at Memphis, running all sorts of routes and not just underneath catch-and-run stuff. But he is entering the draft as a RB, that's where he played during the Senior Bowl, and he has RB size (6'0.5" 223 lbs. at the Senior Bowl). So he's another guy to watch as a potential receiving back.

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At this stage, the top 7 RBs by my formula are:

Jonathan Taylor
D'Andre Swift
Ke'Shawn Vaughn
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
J.K. Dobbins
Cam Akers
Zack Moss

My impression is that the conventional top 6 at this point is these guys minus Vaughn, so a lot of overlap at the top.

My formula places Taylor & Swift a cut above the rest, with Taylor in the Guys I Like A Lot tier, Swift in the Guys I Like tier, and the other 5 in the Guys Who Have a Decent Chance tier. I had more to say about Taylor here - amazing as a runner, lots of questions about him as a receiver. I'm not in love with Swift as much as some people are but I guess he would be the first RB that I'd take if I had to draft now.

Things could reshuffle somewhat as we get combine data and updated yards after contact numbers. Vaughn in particular is likely to drop a few spots because he is currently riding high primarily on his ridiculously good 2018 yards after contact numbers; he wasn't as good this year but that's not in my formula yet.

The next 10 guys by my formula are Antonio Gibson*, Lynn Bowden Jr.*, AJ Dillon, Darrynton Evans, Malcolm Perry*, Javon Leake, Benny LeMay, Michael Warren, Xavier Jones, and Eno Benjamin. Gibson & Bowden have numbers that would also put them on the Guys Who Have a Decent Chance tier behind Moss, but they (and Perry) also have asterisks since they didn't play RB this year. And a guy's numbers when he's playing WR but occasionally lining up in the backfield (like Gibson) or playing option QB (like Bowden & Perry) aren't necessarily directly comparable to RB production numbers which my formula is based on. The others don't make the Decent Chance tier at this point, but we'll have more information in a couple weeks.

 

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On 2/9/2020 at 9:51 PM, ZWK said:

Jonathan Taylor has an amazing profile as a runner, with size, speed, volume, efficiency, elusiveness, health, and awards. The one area where he's had problems as a runner is fumbles, which is a concern but a relatively minor one.

The bigger negative for him as a player is receiving. His 252 receiving yards at 6.5 YPT this year aren't great, but more concerning are his 8 career dropped passes to go along with his 42 career receptions, a 16% drop rate. It is possible for a RB to put up big numbers in the NFL without doing much in the passing game (see Derrick Henry), and it's possible that Taylor could improve as a receiver (or already has improved - I don't know which seasons his drops are from), but those are both pretty big challenges.

My RB formula has him as the #1 RB and a very strong prospect, but before I draft him there I want to get a better sense of his potential as a receiver. In PPR leagues I'm really not excited about taking a RB who doesn't catch passes at the top of the draft.

This new PFF article by Scott Barrett has positive things to say about Jonathan Taylor as a receiver, including "Among all running backs in this class, Taylor ranked [...] second in our receiving model" and "Taylor also showed high competency as a receiver. He averaged 2.13 yards per route run in 2019, which ranked second-best among all 150-touch Power-5 running backs. Within this draft class, he leads all running backs in [...] yards per route run (1.66) across his college career."

So I guess he has a problem with drops, but other than that has done pretty well with receiving.

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On 1/1/2020 at 9:10 PM, ZWK said:

Here are early generic rookie rankings based on this 100-player draft board from CBS. (If you know of a better draft board, let me know and I can use it to run my generic rookie rankings.)

VBD  Pos   Player               Pick
307    RB    D'Andre Swift    (pick 16)
237    WR    Jerry Jeudy    (pick 6)
232    WR    CeeDee Lamb    (pick 7)
219    RB    Jonathan Taylor    (pick 29)
212    WR    Henry Ruggs III    (pick 11)
184    WR    Tee Higgins    (pick 18)
157    WR    Jalen Reagor    (pick 25)
149    WR    Laviska Shenault Jr.    (pick 27)
133    RB    Travis Etienne    (pick 46)
128    QB    Joe Burrow    (pick 2)
109    QB    Tua Tagovailoa    (pick 5)
107    WR    Justin Jefferson    (pick 38)
107    RB    J.K. Dobbins    (pick 55)
100    WR    Devonta Smith    (pick 40)
95    RB    Cam Akers    (pick 65)
87    WR    Bryan Edwards    (pick 50)
83    WR    Tyler Johnson    (pick 56)
83    WR    Tylan Wallace    (pick 57)
[RBs outside the top 100 picks can start appearing here]
74    QB    Jacob Eason    (pick 20)
72    WR    Michael Pittman Jr.    (pick 75)
71    WR    Devin Duvernay    (pick 78)
62    WR    Collin Johnson    (pick 90)
61    WR    Nico Collins    (pick 91)
58    WR    Tyler Vaughns    (pick 93)
57    TE    Brycen Hopkins    (pick 52)
56    QB    Justin Herbert    (pick 31)
56    WR    Brandon Aiyuk    (pick 95)
55    WR    Sage Surratt    (pick 96)
52    TE    Jared Pinkney    (pick 59)

A look at draftnik ranks versus fantasy ranks.  Shout out to ZWK for generic numbers and Faust for the sources.  I averaged a bunch of 2020 mocks and prospect rankings (CBSsports, drafttek, draftsite, tankathon, thedraftnetwork, walterfootball, Miller bleacherreport, Easterling draftwire, thehuddlereport, Jeremiah NFL.com, Reuter NFL.com, Driscoll profootball network), threw out the min and max to derive average pick and ZWK Rk.  The average rank is from a variety of mocks and rookie rankings in Jan/Feb.  The top forty are below, note that 4th round RBs will populate the bottom part eventually.

 Notable differences: QBs higher (typical), Ruggs III, Taylor, Aiyuk, Akers, Peoples-Jones, Edwards  

ZWK Rk	Avg Rk	Player		Pos	School		ZWK	Pick (avg - min/max)
1	1	D'Andre Swift	RB	Georgia		225	28.10
2	5	CeeDee Lamb	WR	Oklahoma	217	9.70
3	3	Jerry Jeudy	WR	Alabama		217	10.10
4	10	Henry Ruggs III	WR	Alabama		188	16.80
5	4	J.K. Dobbins	RB	Ohio St		175	37.40
6	2	Jonathan Taylor	RB	Wisconsin	165	38.60
7	8	L. Shenault	WR	Colorado	157	25.00
8	6	Tee Higgins	WR	Clemson		157	25.30
9	14	Joe Burrow	QB	LSU		156	1.20
10	12	Ju. Jefferson	WR	LSU		117	34.80
11	16	Tua Tagovailoa	QB	Alabama		109	4.70
12	9	Jalen Reagor	WR	TCU		100	40.11
13	21	Brandon Aiyuk	WR	Arizona St	99	40.50
14	30	Justin Herbert	QB	Oregon		93	9.50
15	11	C. Ed.-Helaire	RB	LSU		92	74.78
16	7	Cam Akers	RB	Florida St	90	82.13
17	13	K.J. Hamler	WR	Penn St		88	49.00
18	15	Zack Moss	RB	Utah  		88	87.71
19	20	Eno Benjamin	RB	Arizona St	80	105.40
20	25	Michael Pittman	WR	USC		73	74.11
21	29	D. Pples-Jones	WR	Michigan	72	74.57
22	19	Ke'Shawn Vaughn	RB	Vanderbilt	71	113.67
23	18	Tyler Johnson	WR	Minnesota	70	78.60
24	26	A. McFarland	RB	Maryland	65	121.50
25	45	Jordan Love	QB	Utah St		63	27.00
26	27	Cole Kmet	TE	Notre Dame	62	47.33
27	17	Bryan Edwards	WR	S. Carolina	62	90.00
28	32	Denzel Mims	WR	Baylor		57	94.00
29	33	Gabriel Davis	WR	UCF		55	95.67
30	22	Brycen Hopkins	TE	Purdue		54	55.00
31	23	A. Gandy-Golden	WR	Liberty		52	98.40
32	37	Chase Claypool	WR	Notre Dame	50	100.00
33	36	Hunter Bryant	TE	Washington	49	68.78
34	34	K.J. Hill	WR	Ohio St		48	101.57
35	42	Lamical Perine	RB	Florida  	48	137.25
36	54	Jacob Eason	QB	Washington	47	35.60
37	39	Collin Johnson	WR	Texas		46	103.63
38	43	Van Jefferson	WR	Florida		46	103.80
39	41	A. Okwuegbunam	TE	Missouri	42	83.50
40	38	Thaddeus Moss	TE	LSU		40	89.29

 

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We have WR & TE measurements. In the Combine thread I've posted my size ratings for WRs & TEs, which are basically the part of my prospect rating formula which incorporates size (height, weight, bmi, arm length). I have also updated my WR spreadsheet to include those measurements.

PFF has released their updated 2020 Draft Guide (for subscribers). I have incorporated their numbers on elusiveness & dropped passes into my RB and WR ratings. Unfortunately, this year their tables only have 2019 season data for these stats instead of season-by-season data for their full career, so that is mostly what I'm using.

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Here are the guys who've had a problem with drops, according to numbers in PFF's draft guide. For some of them this is based on 2019 data, for some on more seasons. A couple guys I included twice to show both.

16.00%    RB    Jonathan Taylor    (8/50 career)
15.91%    RB    Reggie Corbin    (7/44 career)
15.00%    RB    Anthony McFarland Jr.    (3/20 in 2019)
14.47%    TE    Brycen Hopkins    (22/152 career)
14.04%    WR    KJ Hamler    (16/114 career)
13.33%    TE    Albert Okwuegbunam    (4/30 in 2019)
13.33%    RB    Jonathan Taylor    (4/30 in 2019)
12.95%    WR    Denzel Mims    (18/139 in 2018-19)
12.50%    RB    AJ Dillon    (3/24 career)
11.69%    RB    Cam Akers    (9/77 career)
11.59%    TE    Brycen Hopkins    (8/69 in 2019)
10.91%    TE    Albert Okwuegbunam    (12/110 career)
10.81%    WR    Donovan Peoples-Jones    (4/37 in 2019)
10.71%    RB    JaMycal Hasty    (3/28 in 2019)
10.08%    WR    Tyler Johnson    (24/238 career)
9.80%    RB    LeVante Bellamy    (5/51 in 2018-19)
9.59%    WR    Chase Claypool    (7/73 in 2019)
9.23%    WR    Tee Higgins    (6/65 in 2019)
8.80%    WR    Jalen Reagor    (11/125 in 2018-19)

Small sample sizes give less evidence of problems with the guy's hands, but raise other doubts about his receiving.

Everyone is talking about Jonathan Taylor's drops, and it looks like they're also a problem for Cam Akers, AJ Dillon, and Anthony McFarland.

Edited by ZWK
fixed Reagor error, added details

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KJ Hamler

Small, mainly short (5'8.6" 178 lbs. 26.6 BMI).

Quick (reached a pretty fast mph on the field, a lot of people including Draftscout think he'll have one of the faster 40 times at the combine).

Worked almost exclusively out of the slot.

Good at getting separation, including down the field (PFF says: "On targets of 10-plus yards in 2019, Hamler had a step or more of separation on 64% of his targets, which was the fourth highest rate in college football.")

Dropped a lot of passes (worst WR in this draft class).

Not good at beating defenders after the catch (just 3 missed tackles), though his yards after the catch aren't terrible thanks to his speed & separation.

Total production was above average for a top 100 college WR but below what successful NFL WRs usually do according to my numbers. Overall PFF grade also wasn't that great.

He has a very distinctive profile, with extreme strengths and weaknesses. The pattern of strengths & weaknesses seems likely to have more NFL value than fantasy value, and the bottom line numbers are worse than what I like to see. He's someone who I expect to like less than the consensus does, so I imagine I'll be avoiding him at his fantasy price.

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Isaiah Hodgins is another WR with a very distinctive set of strengths and weaknesses.

Tall, lanky (6'3.6", 33.1" arms, 210 lbs., 25.8 BMI).

Great hands (one of the lowest drop rates in the class)

Great ball skills (PFF has him as one of the best at contested catches in the class and praises his body control)

Slow (Draftscout has him projected to run a 4.61)

Struggles to get separation.

Offers very little after the catch.

Played almost exclusively on the outside.

Good production by my metrics, great PFF grade.

Parts of his profile look like a prototypical #1 WR, but the gaps seem too striking for that. Unless maybe he tests more athletic than expected at the combine? It'll be interesting to see his workout numbers. But probably the best hope for him is to get paired with a QB who is willing to trust his WRs, and get into a role like late-career Jordy Nelson & late-career James Jones had in Green Bay or Michael Crabtree in Oakland. The PFF Draft Guide offers the hope of him developing into a big slot like Colston, which is also a possibility, but he seems a bit light for that and also didn't play inside in college.

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Bryan Edwards is an interesting example of how slight variations in methodology can lead to very different results.

There is pretty strong evidence that strong college production is a good predictor of NFL success. At least historically, this has held up even after controlling for NFL draft position. It is also the case that younger is better - guys who don't produce in college until they're unusually old for college students have worse NFL track records than younger guys.

But there are a few different ways that you might try to define these precisely so that you can rate every player, and Edwards comes out pretty differently depending on how you do it.

For age, you could use:
* eligibility: whether the player entered the draft as soon as he was allowed to, or whether he stayed in college as long as he was allowed to (this is what Football Outsiders uses)
* age on draft day (this is the main thing that my formula uses)
* age-adjusted production, where each college season's production has its value adjusted upwards if the player was young that year or downwards if he was old
* breakout age: the player's age in his first solid college season (this one has become popular recently)

Edwards exhausted his college eligibility so he looks bad by that definition. He is younger than average on draft day, but not by a ton, so that definition is moderately good for him. He was relatively young throughout his college career so age-adjusted production should help him even more. And by breakout age he is amazing, since he started college 3 months early (when most Americans born on the same day as him were starting their senior year of high school) and had a solid 44/590/4 as a college freshman.

Similarly, there are a lot of statistics you could look at to rate which guys have "strong college production." Let's just focus in on TDs. If a college receiver is good at scoring touchdowns, that's a good sign. What do you measure to keep track of how good a receiver is at scoring touchdowns? Here are some possibilities:
* number of receiving touchdowns per game
* number of receiving touchdowns per team pass attempt (this is what Football Outsiders uses)
* market share of receiving touchdowns: receiving touchdowns divided by team passing touchdowns (this has become popular lately)
* market share of offensive touchdowns: rushing plus receiving touchdowns divided by team offensive touchdowns
* red zone TD rate: red zone rushing plus receiving touchdowns divided by team red zone possessions

These still haven't been fully specified yet. For example, do you look at a guy's last year, or his best year, or multiple years, or what? If a guy misses some games, do you look at his market share for the team's full season (including the games he missed), or just for the games that he played, or do you pro-rate his TDs from the games he played out to the whole season (or partially pro-rate)? Do you include games against FCS opponents?

In 2019 Edwards had 0.6 rec TDs per game he played which is pretty much the average for a WR prospect. South Carolina threw the ball a lot so his TDs per team pass attempt were below average. But South Carolina had very few passing TDs so his market share of receiving touchdowns was amazing, 6/12 = 50%. South Carolina didn't score much in general so his market share of offensive TDs was good, though not nearly as good. But only 1 of Edwards's 6 TDs came in the red zone, so his red zone TD rate was about 3% which is really awful (I think - I don't have systematic numbers on this because "team red zone possessions" isn't a readily available stat AFAIK).

Also, these are all assuming that we've decided to look only at his 2019 season. And also Edwards missed 2 games this year, and played 1 game against an FCS opponent, and we haven't specified yet how to deal with that. If we pro-rate Edwards's 6 TDs in 10 games up to 12 games, then that would give him 7.2 TDs per 12 games which is 60% of the 12 passing TDs that his team actually had. If we just look at the 10 games he actually played, Edwards had 6 TDs and his team had 12 passing TDs so that's 50% market share. If we throw out the game against Charleston Southern and limit it to the 9 FBS opponents, then Edwards had 4 TDs out of his team's 10 passing TDs for a 40% market share. That's still a good number, but not spectacular, and this swing between 40% and 60% depending on these little details is a pretty huge swing.

My preferred approach for dealing with these sorts of things is to calculate things a few different ways and average them together in my prospect rating formula. And if I know that there are more ways of doing it which aren't included in my formula, and a specific prospect would've looked significantly better or worse if I'd done my formula differently, then I'll try to mentally average that into my subjective rating for the prospect and adjust him up or down accordingly. My formula rates his production (like Hamler's) as above average for a top 100 college WR but below what successful NFL WRs usually do. And my sense is that the things that aren't included in my formula are relatively balanced pro and con - it doesn't credit him for his low breakout age or punish him for using up his college eligibility, it doesn't punish him for his low red zone TD rate, it credits him for pro-rated stats rather than using his team's stats from just his 10 games.

The recently popular dominator score happens to focus on two specifications where Edwards looks particular good - breakout age and pro-rated market share. (Although I'm actually not sure: is pro-rating the standard way to do dominator score? And is the headline number the guy's final season?)

Edwards's PFF grade and his spot on the PFF draft board are more in line with my formula. The PFF draft guide also mentions that 36 of Edwards's 71 receptions this year came on screen passes, which seems like not a great sign for his skills as a past-the-line-of-scrimmage receiver. And for things like the screen game (and end-arounds or other "get the ball in his hands") situations it seems like Edwards is pretty good but not electric the way that Deebo was and so not as likely to get many of those touches in the NFL. This difference between the two South Carolina receivers is apparent in their statistical profile: Deebo had 11 non-receiving touchdowns in college (7 rushing, 4 kick return), Edwards had 0.

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I recently took another look at WR combine BMI and NFL performance, in particular looking to see if BMI still mattered after taking NFL draft position into account. So the question that this is looking at is more like "do NFL teams underrate the importance of BMI when drafting WRs" rather than "does BMI matter for WRs?"

I looked at the draft classes since 2006, and found:
* yes, BMI matters
* the effect seems roughly linear, meaning that increases in BMI continue to be helpful all the way up the scale rather than there being a cutoff (at least up until the 95th percentile or so; hard to know if 30 BMI is better than 29)
* the effect size has been in the ballpark of 30 career VBD for each point of BMI, compared to another WR drafted with the same pick
* there is some hint that the effect might have shrunk or disappeared over the past 5 years, but it's hard to tell with the small sample sizes (and shortage of actual NFL outcome data for those players)

One analysis that I did is to take all the WRs drafted in the top 100 picks from 2006-2015 and divide them up into 10 groups which which each had roughly the same total draft capital (as measured by my Generic Rookie Rankings), where one group had the lowest BMI WRs, the next had the next-lowest BMI WRs, etc. Then I added up the total career VBD for each group, with some adjustment for guys who were still playing & accumulating VBD (and also a slight adjustment since the groups couldn't be exactly equal in draft capital). The result was this graph.

Another analysis was to calculate how much VBD each WR had relative to expectations. I took the WR's expected career VBD based on draft slot (based on an updated version of the generic rookie rankings formula), and subtracted that from the WR's estimated career VBD (which is his VBD so far, plus the amount of remaining VBD that he should have according to my formulaic WR projections). Then I looked at the correlation between that and the WR's combine BMI (which was r = 0.17), and the slope. This is where I got the result that each point of BMI predicts about an extra 30 career VBD.

I also repeated that analysis separately for each draft class. Those results bounce around a lot from year to year (as you'd expect given the small sample size of 12ish WRs per draft class), and about 1/3 of them are in the opposite direction (more BMI --> less fantasy value) which you'd expect given how noisy the number is. 3 of the 5 most recent draft classes are in the "wrong" direction, which could just be randomness or could be a sign that NFL teams have caught on to the importance of BMI and are no longer misvaluing it as much. Those numbers are in this spreadsheet; other parts of the analysis are in other tabs of that spreadsheet but it's not necessarily easy to follow.

In this WR class, the receivers with low BMI are the combine are:
24.26    Binjimen Victor
24.59    John Hightower
25.00    Quez Watkins
25.12    Stephen Guidry
25.15    Kendrick Rogers
25.16    Darnell Mooney
25.19    Jeff Thomas
25.46    Jerry Jeudy
25.51    Isaiah Coulter
25.68    CeeDee Lamb
25.81    Isaiah Hodgins
25.90    Collin Johnson
25.96    Denzel Mims
26.03    Van Jefferson
26.17    Trishton Jackson
26.22    Henry Ruggs III

And the ones with high BMI:
30.60    Antonio Gibson
30.26    Laviska Shenault
29.96    Joe Reed
29.03    Jalen Reagor
28.78    Chase Claypool
28.75    Lynn Bowden, Jr.
28.55    Darrell Stewart
28.33    James Proche
28.29    Devin Duvernay
28.17    Kalija Lipscomb
28.16    Omar Bayless
28.09    Brandon Aiyuk

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Jonathan Taylor's combination of rushing volume and efficiency is pretty incredible. Even just the volume is pretty incredible on its own: his 6174 career rushing yards are the second most of any player (since 2000, which is as far back as the Sports Reference querier goes). And the efficiency is also pretty incredible on its own - his 6.67 yards per carry is the 2nd highest out of the top 40 players in career rushing yards. Put them together and, well, that's some real good running.

What does that tell us about Taylor's NFL prospects? It's a bit tricky to do comparable players when Taylor has been better than pretty much everyone else, so let's lower the bar to let some other players in to the comparison:

* 100+ rushing yards per game (Taylor has 151)
* 3000+ career rushing yards (Taylor has 6174)
* 6.00+ rushing yards per attempt (Taylor has 6.67)

This is not doing anything fancy, it's just looking at the guys who had good rushing volume & efficiency in college. It gives us a list of 25 players, including Taylor. Here they are, sorted by weight (which tells us something more about NFL viability).

Class   Player                      School
2017    Leonard Fournette    Louisiana State
2017    Samaje Perine    Oklahoma
2018    Nick Chubb    Georgia
2020    Jonathan Taylor    Wisconsin
2016    Ezekiel Elliott    Ohio State
2015    Todd Gurley    Georgia
2010    Ryan Mathews    Fresno State
2017    Kareem Hunt    Toledo
2018    Lamar Jackson    Louisville
2015    Melvin Gordon    Wisconsin
2006    DeAngelo Williams    Memphis
2011    Vai Taua    Nevada
2017    Marlon Mack    South Florida
2017    Dalvin Cook    Florida State
2020    J.K. Dobbins    Ohio State
2017    Aaron Jones    Texas-El Paso
2015    Duke Johnson    Miami (FL)
2019    Devin Singletary    Florida Atlantic
2017    Christian McCaffrey    Stanford
2017    Matt Breida    Georgia Southern
2012    LaMichael James    Oregon
2005    Darren Sproles    Kansas State
2007    Garrett Wolfe    Northern Illinois
2020    Malcolm Perry    Navy
2017    Donnel Pumphrey    San Diego State

I recognize some of those names!

And remember, every one of these guys had worse college rushing stats than Taylor (except arguably Melvin Gordon). Though the majority of them did do more than him as a receiver, and 2 of them did much more than him as a passer.

Edited by ZWK
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On 2/25/2020 at 4:12 AM, ZWK said:

Here are the guys who've had a problem with drops, according to numbers in PFF's draft guide. For some of them this is based on 2019 data, for some on more seasons. A couple guys I included twice to show both.

16.00%    RB    Jonathan Taylor    (8/50 career)
15.91%    RB    Reggie Corbin    (7/44 career)
15.00%    RB    Anthony McFarland Jr.    (3/20 in 2019)
14.47%    TE    Brycen Hopkins    (22/152 career)
14.04%    WR    KJ Hamler    (16/114 career)
13.33%    TE    Albert Okwuegbunam    (4/30 in 2019)
13.33%    RB    Jonathan Taylor    (4/30 in 2019)
12.95%    WR    Denzel Mims    (18/139 in 2018-19)
12.50%    RB    AJ Dillon    (3/24 career)
11.69%    RB    Cam Akers    (9/77 career)
11.59%    TE    Brycen Hopkins    (8/69 in 2019)
10.81%    WR    Donovan Peoples-Jones    (4/37 in 2019)
10.71%    RB    JaMycal Hasty    (3/28 in 2019)
10.08%    WR    Tyler Johnson    (24/238 career)
9.80%    RB    LeVante Bellamy    (5/51 in 2018-19)
9.59%    WR    Chase Claypool    (7/73 in 2019)
9.23%    WR    Tee Higgins    (6/65 in 2019)
8.80%    WR    Jalen Reagor    (11/125 in 2018-19)

Small sample sizes give less evidence of problems with the guy's hands, but raise other doubts about his receiving.

Everyone is talking about Jonathan Taylor's drops, and it looks like they're also a problem for Cam Akers, AJ Dillon, and Anthony McFarland.

To piggyback on your last sentence, I find it so weird why all of Akers many flaws, get brushed off with, "his o-line was awful" he has serious issues holding onto the ball, whether catching or fumbling, and he has poor vision(which was likely exacerbated by said o-line) he's a pretty flawed prospect in a great athlete's body. Has a very Christine Michael vibe to me. I don't think he's a top-5 RB in this class, or a 1st round fantasy pick.

I'm kind of surprised to see Higgins on this list. Unlike the rest of the guys on this list, he's catching passes from an elite QB. I've got Higgins as WR5, and this is kind of reinforcing that. 

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Part of the deal with Higgins is that long passes get dropped more often than short passes, and Higgins had a high aDOT. Accounting for that, his drop rate is barely worse than average. On average you'd expect a receiver with his sort of routes to drop something like 5.5 passes and he dropped 6.

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1 minute ago, ZWK said:

Part of the deal with Higgins is that long passes get dropped more often than short passes, and Higgins had a high aDOT. Accounting for that, his drop rate is barely worse than average. On average you'd expect a receiver with his sort of routes to drop something like 5.5 passes and he dropped 6.

I can get on board with saying that the incompletion rate on long passes is far higher than on short passes, but actual drops?  Is that solely because there are so many fewer long passes in total?

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2 hours ago, tangfoot said:
2 hours ago, ZWK said:

Part of the deal with Higgins is that long passes get dropped more often than short passes, and Higgins had a high aDOT. Accounting for that, his drop rate is barely worse than average. On average you'd expect a receiver with his sort of routes to drop something like 5.5 passes and he dropped 6.

I can get on board with saying that the incompletion rate on long passes is far higher than on short passes, but actual drops?  Is that solely because there are so many fewer long passes in total?

This is based on data from PFF for the past 2 draft classes. I have each player's drop rate, and each player's average depth of target or average depth of reception. They're positively correlated in both draft classes, and if you look at the slope it's enough to account for 1-2 percentage points of some players' drop rates (including Higgins).

I'm not exactly sure why, but it does seem plausibly that some passes are harder to catch (more likely to be dropped) than others, and that this varies by distance. Maybe ball speed plays a role, where passes that are going faster when they reach the receiver are harder to catch & deeper passes tend to be thrown faster. Maybe accuracy plays a role, where shorter passes are more likely to be right on target while longer passes are more likely to require some adjustment or reaching which makes them harder to catch. Maybe ball visibility has something to do with it, and some routes allow the receiver to keep his eye on the ball for longer while others make it harder to track the ball because of the angle of the route or the need to not tip off the defender.

(It's also possible that there's a selection effect here, where underneath receivers with bad hands don't make it and that creates a correlation even if deeper passes aren't harder to catch. That would be testable with a better data set which breaks things down by play instead of having the aggregate drop rate & aDOT for each receiver - if each single receiver is more likely to drop his deep targets than his short targets then that could not be due to this kind of selection effect.)

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8 hours ago, travdogg said:

I'm kind of surprised to see Higgins on this list. Unlike the rest of the guys on this list, he's catching passes from an elite QB. I've got Higgins as WR5, and this is kind of reinforcing that. 

I tried to find info on Higgins's drop rate in previous seasons and came across this. So it looks like he had 2 drops & 59 rec in 2018, and then 6 drops & 59 rec in 2019, which gives him a 2-year drop rate of 6.35% (8/126). That's a bit better than average, without any adjustment for aDOT. So probably nothing to worry about with him & drops.

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14 hours ago, ZWK said:

What does that tell us about Taylor's NFL prospects? It's a bit tricky to do comparable players when Taylor has been better than pretty much everyone else, so let's lower the bar to let some other players in to the comparison:

* 100+ rushing yards per game (Taylor has 151)
* 3000+ career rushing yards (Taylor has 6174)
* 6.00+ rushing yards per attempt (Taylor has 6.67)

This is not doing anything fancy, it's just looking at the guys who had good rushing volume & efficiency in college. It gives us a list of 25 players, including Taylor. Here they are, sorted by weight (which tells us something more about NFL viability).

Fantastic work, as usual. But, scanning that list, a random aside:

You're pulling this query from a 20-year dataset. Of the 25 names, six come from the first 14 years of the sample. And the final six years - in which an ever-increasing number of D-I schools have embraced pass-first philosophies, college QBs / WRs / TEs are more NFL-ready than ever, and passing records have fallen like dominoes - account for the other 19.

Why is that, do you reckon?

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29 minutes ago, Mr. Irrelevant said:

Fantastic work, as usual. But, scanning that list, a random aside:

You're pulling this query from a 20-year dataset. Of the 25 names, six come from the first 14 years of the sample. And the final six years - in which an ever-increasing number of D-I schools have embraced pass-first philosophies, college QBs / WRs / TEs are more NFL-ready than ever, and passing records have fallen like dominoes - account for the other 19.

Why is that, do you reckon?

My best guess is that offensive schemes have been improving and that has led to more rushing efficiency. Although looking at the particular names, I'm not sure how true that is - I remember a lot of these guys as being heavily featured. But maybe not in quite the same way that say Adrian Peterson was in the 2000s? I wasn't following college football as closely back then.

(Slight aside: Your description of the distribution is a bit off since these are the draft class years and the search is over their college playing career. It's more like 6/25 come from the first 12 years of the sample.)

What if we tinker with the cutoffs a bit and increase it to 120 yards/game while reducing it to 5.00 yards per attempt? Then we get this list:

2020    AJ Dillon    Boston College
2020    Jonathan Taylor    Wisconsin
2007    Adrian Peterson    Oklahoma
2008    Kevin Smith    Central Florida
2006    DeAngelo Williams    Memphis
2008    Darren McFadden    Arkansas
2012    Ronnie Hillman    San Diego State
2008    Ray Rice    Rutgers
2012    LaMichael James    Oregon
2007    Garrett Wolfe    Northern Illinois

That still has some good names, and now it's tilted more towards the earlier years (keeping in mind that e.g. Ray Rice's playing career was 2005-2007). Although it's a pretty small sample size, with just 8 guys before this draft class (and 4 of them were 200 pounds or less).

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The WRs at the combine with the best size/athleticism combo by my account are:

Chase Claypool
Donovan Peoples-Jones
Dezmon Patmon
Brandon Aiyuk
Denzel Mims
Henry Ruggs III
Tyrie Cleveland
Jalen Reagor
Justin Jefferson
Juwan Johnson
Michael Pittman Jr.
Gabriel Davis

Some other guys like Quez Watkins, Darnell Mooney, and Devin Duvernay showed great athleticism but were too undersized to crack this top ten.

Aiyuk showed great explosiveness in his jumps, is solidly built, and has long arms that help make up for his lack of height. Johnson, Pittman, and Davis have good size and averageish athleticism, which can be a good combo (at least if you have the production to go with it).

I have updated my WR formula to include combine numbers, and this is who it has as the top 25 WRs:

8.67    Brandon Aiyuk    Ariz St    
8.48    CeeDee Lamb    Oklahoma    
7.48    Justin Jefferson    LSU    
6.12    Michael Pittman Jr.    USC    
6.03    Tee Higgins    Clemson    *
5.66    Devin Duvernay    Texas    
5.09    Chase Claypool    Notre Dame    
4.81    Laviska Shenault Jr.    Colorado    *
4.63    Jerry Jeudy    Alabama    
4.61    Tyler Johnson    Minnesota    *
4.50    Quez Watkins    USM    
4.46    Omar Bayless    Ark St    
4.41    Isaiah Hodgins    Oregon St    
3.25    Antonio Gandy-Golden    Liberty    
2.99    Trishton Jackson    Syracuse    
0.52    Jalen Reagor    TCU    
0.33    Geraud Sanders    Air Force    *
0.31    Denzel Mims    Baylor    
-1.97    Gabriel Davis    UCF    
-2.15    Bryan Edwards    S Carolina    *
-3.67    Darnell Mooney    Tulane    
-4.00    Jauan Jennings    Tennessee    
-5.17    Collin Johnson    Texas    *
-5.28    Henry Ruggs III    Alabama    
-6.10    KJ Hamler    Penn State    *

* missing athleticism data because they didn't take part in some combine drills

There is a lot of chaos here to sort out.

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On 2/5/2020 at 3:08 PM, ZWK said:

Here is the production percentile ranking of the 13 guys in this draft class who are now in my database of 166 TE prospects. e.g., Harrison Bryant at 6th out of 166 TEs is in the 97th percentile.

97    Harrison Bryant
91    Jacob Breeland
87    Hunter Bryant
85    Brycen Hopkins
78    Cheyenne O'Grady
74    Albert Okwuegbunam
68    Jared Pinkney
64    Devin Asiasi
55    Mitchell Wilcox
52    Cole Kmet
38    Josiah Deguara
31    Colby Parkinson
27    Thaddeus Moss

Out of the guys with above average production, the only ones with above average size/athleticism (based on the combine drills they've done so far) are Albert Okwuegbunam (obviously), Cole Kmet, and Brycen Hopkins (barely). Also with below average size/athleticism is Adam Trautman.

My TE rating formula currently has Okwuegbunam as the clear #1 thanks to that athleticism + production combo, followed by a tier of Hopkins, Harrison Bryant, Breeland, Hunter Bryant, and Kmet. But my TE rating formula is still pretty simple and isn't downgrading Hopkins at all for his awful drop rate or Okwuegbunam for his pretty bad drop rate or Harrison Bryant for his short arms. And since Breeland couldn't work out, I'm assuming that draftscout's estimate of a 4.79 forty is correct for him. So I definitely wouldn't trust its ordering of the 5 players within that tier. But those do look like the main 6 guys to consider, with Okwuegbunam standing out in front of the rest.

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AIyuk has be big time perked up... HIs game v Oregon still sticks out to me, it was punishing. 

Solid numbers on a mediocre team, some super long TDs, some big outings... His measurables are crazy.

Is THIS guy the steal?

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5 hours ago, ZWK said:

below average size/athleticism is Adam Trautman.

Eric Edholm@Eric_Edholm

that 3-cone is *exceptional* many WRs can't touch that, and Trautman is 255 pounds!

Chase Goodbread@ChaseGoodbread

More TE results: best 3-cone: Dayton's Adam Trautman, 6.78 best short shuttle: @HokiesFB Dalton Keene, 4.19. #NFLcombine

----------------------------------------------------------

Some WR 3-cone speeds for comparison.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Eric Edholm@Eric_Edholm

  • Amari Cooper was a 6.71
  • Cooper Kupp 6.75
  • Brandin Cooks 6.76
  • Devin Hester 6.78
  • Michael Thomas 6.80
  • DeSean Jackson 6.82

I mean ...

 

Edited by Bracie Smathers

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9 hours ago, ZWK said:

The WRs at the combine with the best size/athleticism combo by my account are:

Chase Claypool
Donovan Peoples-Jones
Dezmon Patmon
Brandon Aiyuk
Denzel Mims
Henry Ruggs III
Tyrie Cleveland
Jalen Reagor
Justin Jefferson
Juwan Johnson
Michael Pittman Jr.
Gabriel Davis

Some other guys like Quez Watkins, Darnell Mooney, and Devin Duvernay showed great athleticism but were too undersized to crack this top ten.

Aiyuk showed great explosiveness in his jumps, is solidly built, and has long arms that help make up for his lack of height. Johnson, Pittman, and Davis have good size and averageish athleticism, which can be a good combo (at least if you have the production to go with it).

I have updated my WR formula to include combine numbers, and this is who it has as the top 25 WRs:

8.67    Brandon Aiyuk    Ariz St    
8.48    CeeDee Lamb    Oklahoma    
7.48    Justin Jefferson    LSU    
6.12    Michael Pittman Jr.    USC    
6.03    Tee Higgins    Clemson    *
5.66    Devin Duvernay    Texas    
5.09    Chase Claypool    Notre Dame    
4.81    Laviska Shenault Jr.    Colorado    *
4.63    Jerry Jeudy    Alabama    
4.61    Tyler Johnson    Minnesota    *
4.50    Quez Watkins    USM    
4.46    Omar Bayless    Ark St    
4.41    Isaiah Hodgins    Oregon St    
3.25    Antonio Gandy-Golden    Liberty    
2.99    Trishton Jackson    Syracuse    
0.52    Jalen Reagor    TCU    
0.33    Geraud Sanders    Air Force    *
0.31    Denzel Mims    Baylor    
-1.97    Gabriel Davis    UCF    
-2.15    Bryan Edwards    S Carolina    *
-3.67    Darnell Mooney    Tulane    
-4.00    Jauan Jennings    Tennessee    
-5.17    Collin Johnson    Texas    *
-5.28    Henry Ruggs III    Alabama    
-6.10    KJ Hamler    Penn State    *

* missing athleticism data because they didn't take part in some combine drills

There is a lot of chaos here to sort out.

Reagor's 3 cone was terrible. But is there much value in that test or not?

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2 hours ago, Bracie Smathers said:

Eric Edholm@Eric_Edholm

that 3-cone is *exceptional* many WRs can't touch that, and Trautman is 255 pounds!

Chase Goodbread@ChaseGoodbread

More TE results: best 3-cone: Dayton's Adam Trautman, 6.78 best short shuttle: @HokiesFB Dalton Keene, 4.19. #NFLcombine

----------------------------------------------------------

Some WR 3-cone speeds for comparison.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Eric Edholm@Eric_Edholm

  • Amari Cooper was a 6.71
  • Cooper Kupp 6.75
  • Brandin Cooks 6.76
  • Devin Hester 6.78
  • Michael Thomas 6.80
  • DeSean Jackson 6.82

I mean ...

 

holy ####

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4 hours ago, Bracie Smathers said:

Eric Edholm@Eric_Edholm

that 3-cone is *exceptional* many WRs can't touch that, and Trautman is 255 pounds!

Chase Goodbread@ChaseGoodbread

More TE results: best 3-cone: Dayton's Adam Trautman, 6.78 best short shuttle: @HokiesFB Dalton Keene, 4.19. #NFLcombine

----------------------------------------------------------

Some WR 3-cone speeds for comparison.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Eric Edholm@Eric_Edholm

  • Amari Cooper was a 6.71
  • Cooper Kupp 6.75
  • Brandin Cooks 6.76
  • Devin Hester 6.78
  • Michael Thomas 6.80
  • DeSean Jackson 6.82

I mean ...

 

My size/athleticism rating is the weighted average of all the drills (as well as height, weight, and BMI), with the most weight on the 40. Trautman's great 3-cone wasn't enough to make up for his slow forty. Although his size/athleticism rating was only slightly below average, so maybe it would be better to describe it as averageish.

Here is the list of TEs since 2000 who had a 6.9 or faster 3-cone and a 4.7 or slower forty:

Derek Fine
Blake Bell
Dave Stachelski
John Phillips
Zack Pianalto
Darrell Strong
Chris Luzar
Keith Heinrich
Ben Braunecker
Temarrick Hemingway

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On 2/15/2020 at 5:41 PM, ZWK said:

At this stage, the top 7 RBs by my formula are:

Jonathan Taylor
D'Andre Swift
Ke'Shawn Vaughn
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
J.K. Dobbins
Cam Akers
Zack Moss

My impression is that the conventional top 6 at this point is these guys minus Vaughn, so a lot of overlap at the top.

My formula places Taylor & Swift a cut above the rest, with Taylor in the Guys I Like A Lot tier, Swift in the Guys I Like tier, and the other 5 in the Guys Who Have a Decent Chance tier. I had more to say about Taylor here - amazing as a runner, lots of questions about him as a receiver. I'm not in love with Swift as much as some people are but I guess he would be the first RB that I'd take if I had to draft now.

Things could reshuffle somewhat as we get combine data and updated yards after contact numbers. Vaughn in particular is likely to drop a few spots because he is currently riding high primarily on his ridiculously good 2018 yards after contact numbers; he wasn't as good this year but that's not in my formula yet.

The next 10 guys by my formula are Antonio Gibson*, Lynn Bowden Jr.*, AJ Dillon, Darrynton Evans, Malcolm Perry*, Javon Leake, Benny LeMay, Michael Warren, Xavier Jones, and Eno Benjamin. Gibson & Bowden have numbers that would also put them on the Guys Who Have a Decent Chance tier behind Moss, but they (and Perry) also have asterisks since they didn't play RB this year. And a guy's numbers when he's playing WR but occasionally lining up in the backfield (like Gibson) or playing option QB (like Bowden & Perry) aren't necessarily directly comparable to RB production numbers which my formula is based on. The others don't make the Decent Chance tier at this point, but we'll have more information in a couple weeks.

And here's how the tiers look with most of the combine info in:
 

Jonathan Taylor

Antonio Gibson*, Cam Akers, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D'Andre Swift, AJ Dillon, J.K. Dobbins

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Darrynton Evans, Lynn Bowden Jr.*

Zack Moss, Michael Warren, Malcolm Perry*, Eno Benjamin and then some others


These tier breaks don't quite align with where I have traditionally put them, but the players within tier bunch unusually close together so I'll break them up this way for now.

Jonathan Taylor & AJ Dillon won the combine with a great size speed combo (plus explosive jumps, especially for Dillon). Taylor doesn't move much in my ratings because I expected this, but Dillon moves up a bunch.

Zack Moss moves down for symmetric reasons.

Gibson, Bowden, and Perry have asterisks because they're not exactly RBs and the formula is sketchy for them.

Dobbins, Bowden, Warren, and Perry didn't work out at the combine.

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10 hours ago, voiceofunreason said:

Reagor's 3 cone was terrible. But is there much value in that test or not?

there is....but wrs can win other ways

...to me i want my rbs having great 3 cones....it shows the ability to change direction quickly without losing speed.

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On 2/28/2020 at 8:31 PM, bicycle_seat_sniffer said:

there is....but wrs can win other ways

...to me i want my rbs having great 3 cones....it shows the ability to change direction quickly without losing speed.

I believe having a bad 3 cone test is worst for small receivers than big receivers.  It tells me that he can get hung up at the line of scrimmage by physical corner backs because he's not shifty enough to make them miss and not strong enough to fight through it.  A bigger receiver that is bad in the 3 cone may have the physical strength to overcome it, smaller receivers not so much.  Thoughts?

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26 minutes ago, JohnnyU said:

I believe having a bad 3 cone test is worst for small receivers than big receivers.  It tells me that he can get hung up at the line of scrimmage by physical corner backs because he's not shifty enough to make them miss and not strong enough to fight through it.  A bigger receiver that is bad in the 3 cone may have the physical strength to overcome it, smaller receivers not so much.  Thoughts?

yes, good points

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I know these guys practice these drills, but I can't help thinking the 3-cone is really difficult from a technique standpoint. There are lots of opportunities for mistakes and error within the drill, which all affect the time. Metcalf was famously slow last year, but he did stumble his feet on it. I would be a fan of making these kids do this drill 10 times instead of twice. I suppose that would increase the injury risk too much, though. I agree with the points above about big receivers vs smaller ones, though. 

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6 hours ago, JohnnyU said:

I believe having a bad 3 cone test is worst for small receivers than big receivers.  It tells me that he can get hung up at the line of scrimmage by physical corner backs because he's not shifty enough to make them miss and not strong enough to fight through it.  A bigger receiver that is bad in the 3 cone may have the physical strength to overcome it, smaller receivers not so much.  Thoughts?

I think we saw an example of this with DK Metcalf last season. Great measurables for him except the 3 cone drill which many used as a data point to show he would not be successful, even with Russell Wilson.

Well turns out it didn't matter and Metcalf had a productive rookie season.

Another player who had a very poor 3 cone time recently is Dalvin Cook. It has not seemed to hinder him, although studies show the 3 cone time being a relevant metric for the RB position. It isn't important to the WR position (none of the metrics are) but I can see your reasoning for thinking it is more important for smaller WR than larger ones. I am not sure if historic evidence bears out your hypothesis or not. Sounds like an interesting experiment to test out. You would have to find some sort of cut off point separating the smaller WR from the larger ones. 

For TE the 3 cone is a metric that matters and Adam Trautman is a guy worth looking into because of that good time (and perhaps other measurables he had, Im not sure).

My thought is that Trautman may be a guy a lot of folks missed.

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When I've looked at the numbers, the agility drills (3 cone & short shuttle) have been less predictive than the 40 or the jumps. Here's how I see the combine drills in order of importance:

40 time
jumps (vertical & broad)
agility drills (3 cone & short shuttle)
bench

Although I haven't tried much to break things down by specific subtypes within a position. It does seem plausible that agility drills could be more or less important for WRs depending on what types of routes they run (e.g., more important for guys with a route tree like Edelman's), which is probably related to size.

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I was just listening to this podcast where they talk to Scott Barrett from pff

Some interesting things I heard him say is that the combine metrics do not matter for the WR position, which is something I have seen from other studies before. His model is based on fantasy points scored, which is different than AV as he points out but using either metric they find the same thing, that the combine numbers do not matter for that position.

For metrics he found to be most predictive were yards per route run, which I thought was interesting.

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2 hours ago, Biabreakable said:

I was just listening to this podcast where they talk to Scott Barrett from pff

Some interesting things I heard him say is that the combine metrics do not matter for the WR position, which is something I have seen from other studies before. His model is based on fantasy points scored, which is different than AV as he points out but using either metric they find the same thing, that the combine numbers do not matter for that position.

For metrics he found to be most predictive were yards per route run, which I thought was interesting.

Interesting. Thanks for posting this.

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2 hours ago, Biabreakable said:

I was just listening to this podcast where they talk to Scott Barrett from pff

Some interesting things I heard him say is that the combine metrics do not matter for the WR position, which is something I have seen from other studies before. His model is based on fantasy points scored, which is different than AV as he points out but using either metric they find the same thing, that the combine numbers do not matter for that position.

For metrics he found to be most predictive were yards per route run, which I thought was interesting.

Is there somewhere, where you can find yards per route run for incoming rookies?

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34 minutes ago, smbkrypt24 said:

Is there somewhere, where you can find yards per route run for incoming rookies?

It's a pff stat.

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2 hours ago, Biabreakable said:

I was just listening to this podcast where they talk to Scott Barrett from pff

Some interesting things I heard him say is that the combine metrics do not matter for the WR position, which is something I have seen from other studies before. His model is based on fantasy points scored, which is different than AV as he points out but using either metric they find the same thing, that the combine numbers do not matter for that position.

For metrics he found to be most predictive were yards per route run, which I thought was interesting.

I don't buy the claim that combine metrics don't matter for WRs. I agree that college production is more important, and so guys with bad production but great workout numbers like Donovan Peoples-Jones are unlikely to succeed in the NFL, but that doesn't mean that things like 40 time are completely irrelevant for WRs. For example, I don't think that it's a coincidence that two of the greatest WRs of the past 15 years, Calvin Johnson & Julio Jones, both had elite speed along with their elite size. And I don't think it's a coincidence that the tiniest recent WR to have a very good NFL career, DeSean Jackson, was superfast. I looked at this more systematically a few years ago.

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43 minutes ago, smbkrypt24 said:

Is there somewhere, where you can find yards per route run for incoming rookies?

It's in the PFF draft guide, which you have to be a subscriber to get.

My spreadsheet has yards per team attempt (pro-rated for missed games), which is similar for most players.

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10 hours ago, ZWK said:

It's in the PFF draft guide, which you have to be a subscriber to get.

My spreadsheet has yards per team attempt (pro-rated for missed games), which is similar for most players.

Thank you!

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14 hours ago, ZWK said:

I don't buy the claim that combine metrics don't matter for WRs. I agree that college production is more important, and so guys with bad production but great workout numbers like Donovan Peoples-Jones are unlikely to succeed in the NFL, but that doesn't mean that things like 40 time are completely irrelevant for WRs. For example, I don't think that it's a coincidence that two of the greatest WRs of the past 15 years, Calvin Johnson & Julio Jones, both had elite speed along with their elite size. And I don't think it's a coincidence that the tiniest recent WR to have a very good NFL career, DeSean Jackson, was superfast. I looked at this more systematically a few years ago.

I could post a much longer list of guys who are in the 4.6 or worse range and had incredible NFL careers.  At WR especially, I think it truly comes down to intangibles that we can only speculate at, which is why the hit rate of 1st round WRs is so poor.

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5 hours ago, tangfoot said:
19 hours ago, ZWK said:

I don't buy the claim that combine metrics don't matter for WRs. I agree that college production is more important, and so guys with bad production but great workout numbers like Donovan Peoples-Jones are unlikely to succeed in the NFL, but that doesn't mean that things like 40 time are completely irrelevant for WRs. For example, I don't think that it's a coincidence that two of the greatest WRs of the past 15 years, Calvin Johnson & Julio Jones, both had elite speed along with their elite size. And I don't think it's a coincidence that the tiniest recent WR to have a very good NFL career, DeSean Jackson, was superfast. I looked at this more systematically a few years ago.

I could post a much longer list of guys who are in the 4.6 or worse range and had incredible NFL careers.  At WR especially, I think it truly comes down to intangibles that we can only speculate at, which is why the hit rate of 1st round WRs is so poor.

Not if you stuck to guys who entered the league in the past 15 years.

If you go back to the 90s and earlier then there were more good WRs with slower times. But also all the times were slower (probably because players didn't prepare for the 40) - the average WR 40 time in the 1990s was 4.62 according to nflcombineresults. (It is now about 0.1 faster.) So being in the 4.6 range wasn't unusual or particularly bad, it's what half the guys did.

Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Calvin Johnson, and Brandon Marshall are the 4 best fantasy WRs to enter the NFL since 2006, based on what guys have done so far. They are the only 4 WRs with 900+ career VBD, and also the only 4 WRs with 700+ career VBD. (AJ Green is next with 643.) And two out of the four are big and fast. The other two have averageish speed.

For slow guys, you have Jarvis Landry who is not quite the same caliber of player. Maybe Keenan Allen, although he didn't run the 40 so we don't have a time for him. Allen Robinson at 4.6 if you ignore his pro day. And then, um, Cooper Kupp? If you go back farther there's also Anquan Boldin, although if you do then you should also have Andre Johnson in there up with Julio & Calvin.

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19 hours ago, ZWK said:

I don't buy the claim that combine metrics don't matter for WRs. I agree that college production is more important, and so guys with bad production but great workout numbers like Donovan Peoples-Jones are unlikely to succeed in the NFL, but that doesn't mean that things like 40 time are completely irrelevant for WRs. For example, I don't think that it's a coincidence that two of the greatest WRs of the past 15 years, Calvin Johnson & Julio Jones, both had elite speed along with their elite size. And I don't think it's a coincidence that the tiniest recent WR to have a very good NFL career, DeSean Jackson, was superfast. I looked at this more systematically a few years ago.

Well there may be something to the size and athleticism as you say but multiple people have tried that and the numbers do not inform a better decision. I mean Scott Barrett talks about you would have actually been better off taking the less athletic WR with similar draft position every year.

If the combine metrics are not predictive, then you are actually adding more noise to the equation by their inclusion.

Scott Barrett says that the draft position is still the most predictive data point we have. So while things like yards per route run may be more predictive than the combine metrics, all of them are still less predictive than the draft position. On top of this you have the NFL teams over valuing the combine metrics in their picks. So if you layer the combine metrics on top of that, you are multiplying the effect of those combine numbers and making them even more important than they otherwise should be.

So where is the benefit?

I think its interesting that when you tested these metrics you came to a similar conclusion as Scott Barrett that the yards per team attempt is at the top of the list of predictive metrics as well. So there is something to that I think.

You also have yards per target being very high as far as predictive metrics go, I think I saw that in previous years and thought yards per target was a pretty good stat to use, however when looking at numberfire and what metrics are most predictive for them for projecting players stats in the next season, well that was ADOT and yards per target was way down the list of predictive metrics. So those two things do not seem to be the same.

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12 minutes ago, Biabreakable said:

Well there may be something to the size and athleticism as you say but multiple people have tried that and the numbers do not inform a better decision. I mean Scott Barrett talks about you would have actually been better off taking the less athletic WR with similar draft position every year.

If the combine metrics are not predictive, then you are actually adding more noise to the equation by their inclusion.

Scott Barrett says that the draft position is still the most predictive data point we have. So while things like yards per route run may be more predictive than the combine metrics, all of them are still less predictive than the draft position. On top of this you have the NFL teams over valuing the combine metrics in their picks. So if you layer the combine metrics on top of that, you are multiplying the effect of those combine numbers and making them even more important than they otherwise should be.

Oh, if you're accounting for draft position then that's a different story.

If you're just looking at information about the player (production, size, speed, drops, etc.) and trying to predict how good he'll be that's one thing. That's asking the question "what features of a player are predictive of how good he'll be?" That is what my WR ratings formula is trying to do.

If you also are looking at information about what other people think of the player (such as draft position or other people's player rankings) then that's a different thing. That's asking the question "what do these other people tend to get wrong?" The other people already know most of the things that you know, so looking at useful features won't necessarily help improve on the other people's rankings. If you say "this guy is fast and that's good" they might effectively say "yes, we already knew that he's fast and we've already taken that into account." Or if you say "didyaknow that this guy dropped a lot of passes" they can say "yes, we knew."

If they're really good at their jobs then it can be extremely difficult to find any way to improve on their rankings. And even if they're just kinda ok at their jobs, it may still take a lot of work to improve on their rankings. Draft position is the result of a comprehensive evaluation of each player which takes lots of features into account, so naturally that will be more predictive than a single feature such as 40 time or yards per route run or drop rate.

If more athletic WRs actually do worse than less athletic WRs with the same draft position, that's interesting. A few possible explanations come to mind.

One is that NFL value is different than fantasy value, and speedy WRs who stretch the defense and demand safety attention have more NFL value than fantasy value. The Texans offense has been way better when Will Fuller has been on the field, even though he hasn't had all that much fantasy value. It would be interesting to see the analysis predicting some NFL outcome like WAR or plus-minus rather than fantasy points.

Another is that NFL teams occasionally fall in love with great athletes who weren't good receivers in college. That's the Darrius Heyward-Bey effect. As I've said repeatedly, college production is more important than size or athleticism, and my formula is down on receivers like DHB or DPJ who were not good college football players. If they get drafted early you should avoid them. It would be interesting to see if the disadvantage of athleticism which Barrett found still holds up if you limit it to WRs who had good production.

The other possibilities that come to mind are less specific and so seem less interesting. Maybe NFL teams are just overweighting athleticism. Or maybe the data are noisy and the sample size isn't huge so the numbers just happened to come out in that direction by chance.

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Or maybe the better athletes rely on their athleticism to produce and that works in college but not in the pros?   But those less athletic WRs have learned how to properly practice and hone their craft (call if driver, desire, whatever... they put in the time to get better and don’t take their athleticism for granted) and that carries over to the NFL?

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This edge rusher draft class looks terrible by my numbers.

There were zero players who had both good production (sacks & tackles for a loss) and good combine numbers (size & athleticism). Though Chase Young probably would have if he'd done the drills at the combine.

Rtg     Player                   Team     Class
21.5    Emmanuel Ogbah    Okla St    2016
20.0    Bradley Chubb    NC State    2018
19.9    Myles Garrett    Texas A&M    2017
19.7    Josh Allen    Kentucky    2019
18.2    Jordan Willis    Kansas St    2017
17.9    Montez Sweat    Miss St    2019
16.8    Shaq Lawson    Clemson    2016
16.1    Harold Landry    BC    2018
15.6    Joey Bosa    Ohio State    2016
14.6    Brian Burns    FSU    2019
14.3    Ben Banogu    TCU    2019
11.9    Travis Feeney    Washington    2016
10.9    Nick Bosa    Ohio State    2019
10.8    Takkarist McKinley    UCLA    2017
10.3    Carl Nassib    Penn State    2016
9.9    Sutton Smith    N Illinois    2019
9.8    Porter Gustin    USC    2019
9.6    Shawn Oakman    Baylor    2016
9.2    T.J. Watt    Wisconsin    2017
9.2    Haason Reddick    Temple    2017
9.1    Maxx Crosby    E Mich    2019
8.3    Taco Charlton    Michigan    2017
7.9    Genard Avery    Memphis    2018
7.9    Solomon Thomas    Stanford    2017
7.1    Carroll Phillips    Illinois    2017
7.0    Anthony Nelson    Iowa    2019
6.9    Alex Highsmith    Charlotte    2020
6.7    Charles Omenihu    Texas    2019
6.4    Bronson Kaufusi    BYU    2016
6.4    Tyus Bowser    Houston    2017
6.3    Trey Hendrickson    FAU    2017
6.2    Marcus Davenport    UTSA    2018
6.1    Zack Baun    Wisconsin    2020
5.9    Josh Sweat    FSU    2018
5.6    Isaiah Simmons    Clemson    2020
5.4    Chase Winovich    Michigan    2019
5.4    Shilique Calhoun    Mich St    2016
5.2    Casey Toohill    Stanford    2020
4.9    Jonathan Greenard    Florida    2020

4.8    Derek Barnett    Tennessee    2017
4.7    Alex McCalister    Florida    2016
4.7    Oshane Ximines    ODU    2019
4.6    DeForest Buckner    Oregon    2016
4.6    Khalil Davis    Nebraska    2020
4.3    Yetur Gross-Matos    Penn State    2020
4.3    Chase Young    Ohio State    2020 *

4.0    Carl Lawson    Auburn    2017
3.8    Clelin Ferrell    Clemson    2019
3.8    Quinnen Williams    Alabama    2019
3.6    Kevin Dodd    Clemson    2016
3.6    Rasheem Green    USC    2018
3.5    Leighton Vander Esch    Boise St    2018
3.4    DeMarcus Walker    FSU    2017
3.3    Ogbonnia Okoronkwo    Oklahoma    2018
3.0    Ifeadi Odenigbo    N'western    2017
2.8    Malik Carney    N Carolina    2019
2.8    Kenny Willekes    Mich St    2020
2.7    Dorance Armstrong Jr.    Kansas    2018
2.4    Joe Schobert    Wisconsin    2016

I'm on board with Chase Young as an early pick - he skipped the drills because he knew that he was an early pick without them, whereas my formula assumes that guys skip combine drills because they expect to do badly at them. If he had competed at the combine, he likely would have been top 10 on this list, with a good shot at Myles Garrett / Josh Allen territory. And some of these guys are off--ball linebackers rather than primarily pass rushers, in which case making this list at all is a good sign. But for pure pass rushers this doesn't look good early in the draft.

Continuing down the ratings for this draft class only, the next few guys are:

2.2    Curtis Weaver    Boise St
1.1    A.J. Epenesa    Iowa
-0.1    James Lynch    Baylor
-1.0    Terrell Lewis    Alabama
-2.2    Javon Kinlaw    S Carolina
-3.3    Bradlee Anae    Utah

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