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What statistics matter for college RBs?


ZWK

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A RB's college stats are just one part of the picture for evaluating a prospect, but if you can figure out which stats to look at then they can be a useful part of the picture.

In this post, I'll share the stats that I look at, and I have tables with the numbers for the RBs in this year's draft class, which formed one part of my RB evaluations (pre-combine, post-combine). The tables show players' combined stats for the past two seasons, and I've also included a line for Knile Davis's 2010 season. (Similar post on WRs here.)

First, three obvious stats that I did not use. Total rushing yards is not very informative; it doesn't take NFL-caliber skills to get 300 carries in college or to get a lot of yards with those carries. Yards per carry is better, but it can be heavily influenced by usage (e.g., number of goal-line / short yardage carries), by the scheme and quality of the offensive line, and by a few very long gains; I think I've found better stats which capture the information contained in YPC. Touchdown totals also seem like a weak indicator of NFL success, since they depend so heavily on how many carries a RB gets near the goal-line; I haven't ignored TDs entirely but I did not look at raw touchdown totals. I sliced and diced the numbers in other ways.

Here are the stats that I looked at. First, number of 20+ yard runs. Yards near the line of scrimmage are heavily dependent on blocking and scheme, but getting a 20-yard gain typically requires something from the RB - some combination of speed, agility, power, and decision-making to get past defenders at the second level. I suspect that yards past 20 are again less informative - I don't think that a 60-yard run provides much extra evidence of a RB's skill than a 20-yard run, especially if you're getting information on raw speed from other sources. So the first statistic that I look at is what percent of a RB's carries went for 20+ yards (excluding red zone carries, which cannot go for more than 20 yards). Data from cfbstats.com.

20+ Yard Carry Rate

Player			Pct 20+	#/AttKerwynn Williams	10.3%	25/242Eddie Lacy		9.9%	24/243Johnathan Franklin	7.8%	30/387Curtis McNeal		7.5%	16/214Knile Davis 2010	7.0%	12/171Chris Thompson		7.0%	7/100Montel Harris		6.6%	12/183Isi Sofele		6.4%	22/346Kenjon Barner		6.1%	21/345Montee Ball		5.9%	30/508Ray Graham		5.8%	18/311Andre Ellington		5.8%	20/346Dennis Johnson		5.6%	11/195Joseph Randle		5.6%	20/360Zac Stacy		5.5%	19/344Cierre Wood		5.4%	15/277Christine Michael	5.3%	10/190Giovani Bernard		5.2%	18/347Onterio McCalebb	5.1%	9/175LeVeon Bell		5.1%	23/453D.J. Harper		5.0%	13/260Marcus Lattimore	4.7%	12/255Cameron Marshall	4.3%	12/280Michael Ford		4.2%	7/165Akeem Shavers		4.2%	10/237Rex Burkhead		4.2%	13/312Stepfan Taylor		3.9%	18/463Stefphon Jefferson	3.7%	13/350Robbie Rouse		3.7%	19/514Mike Gillislee		3.6%	9/251Jawan Jamison		3.3%	14/420Theo Riddick		2.5%	4/160Spencer Ware		2.4%	5/212Knile Davis		1.0%	1/98
Not a bad list - you may notice that Eddie Lacy is way ahead of the pack (alongside Kerwynn Williams), while most of the rest of the top guys are smaller, fast players. Knile Davis is fifth (2010) and last (2012).

Looking at long gains probably tends to overrate the small speed backs; the boom-or-bust guys who often get the ball in space and aren't so good at picking up the tough yard. The second area to look at, to counterbalance this problem, is power running. The toughest yard to get is the last one, so I looked at the red zone: how many red zone rushing touchdowns each player scored, divided by their number of red zone rushing attempts. Data on red zone carries also comes from cfbstats.com, who don't have any more fine-grained breakdown of red zone carries (e.g., carries from inside the 10 vs. those from the 11-20), so this stat is what we get.

Red Zone TD Rate

Player			RZ TD%	TD/AttMarcus Lattimore	35.3%	18/51Eddie Lacy		33.9%	19/56Montee Ball		30.3%	47/155Christine Michael	29.8%	14/47Onterio McCalebb	29.0%	9/31Zac Stacy		28.1%	18/64Michael Ford		27.3%	9/33Joseph Randle		27.0%	33/122Kenjon Barner		26.7%	23/86Stefphon Jefferson	26.3%	25/95Ray Graham		25.3%	19/75Cameron Marshall	25.3%	22/87Giovani Bernard		25.0%	19/76Rex Burkhead		24.6%	17/69Knile Davis 2010	24.2%	8/33Isi Sofele		23.1%	12/52D.J. Harper		22.9%	19/83LeVeon Bell		20.7%	23/111Montel Harris		20.6%	7/34Robbie Rouse		19.8%	19/96Johnathan Franklin	19.7%	12/61Kerwynn Williams	19.3%	11/57Dennis Johnson		18.8%	9/48Mike Gillislee		18.4%	9/49Akeem Shavers		18.2%	10/55Stepfan Taylor		17.8%	18/101Cierre Wood		16.7%	9/54Andre Ellington		15.7%	14/89Jawan Jamison		15.2%	10/66Chris Thompson		15.0%	3/20Knile Davis		14.3%	2/14Spencer Ware		13.6%	8/59Theo Riddick		11.4%	5/44Curtis McNeal		6.4%	3/47
I suspect that red zone rushing is influenced by the offensive line more than many other rushing stats, but to some extent to proof is in the pudding - just look at those top 4 names.

The other place where a runner shows his ability to pick up the tough yard is in short yardage situations. cfbstats.com reports some data on that too - it shows splits for 3rd down with 3 or fewer yards to go, and for 4th down carries (which are almost all short yardage situations). Here are the number of successful carries (first downs or touchdowns) in these short yardage situations, divided by number of attempts (although because of the way that cfbstats reports the first downs & touchdowns separately, I may have double-counted some successes).

Short Yardage Success Rate

Chris Thompson		100.0%	2/2Christine Michael	90.0%	18/20Eddie Lacy		81.3%	26/32Onterio McCalebb	80.0%	12/15Kenjon Barner		79.2%	38/48Montel Harris		79.2%	19/24Robbie Rouse		79.2%	57/72Joseph Randle		79.1%	34/43Stefphon Jefferson	75.7%	28/37Spencer Ware		75.0%	21/28Theo Riddick		75.0%	15/20Knile Davis 2010	75.0%	9/12Dennis Johnson		73.3%	11/15LeVeon Bell		73.1%	38/52Giovani Bernard		72.4%	21/29Zac Stacy		71.4%	25/35Cierre Wood		71.4%	15/21Andre Ellington		69.8%	30/43Johnathan Franklin	69.7%	23/33Stepfan Taylor		69.7%	23/33Kerwynn Williams	69.6%	16/23Rex Burkhead		69.2%	27/39D.J. Harper		68.2%	15/22Montee Ball		66.2%	45/68Marcus Lattimore	65.0%	26/40Michael Ford		63.6%	7/11Cameron Marshall	61.1%	22/36Curtis McNeal		57.1%	8/14Isi Sofele		56.3%	9/16Jawan Jamison		55.2%	16/29Knile Davis		54.5%	6/11Ray Graham		53.3%	16/30Akeem Shavers		46.7%	14/30Mike Gillislee		38.9%	7/18
That's three lists in a row with Eddie Lacy in the top three; Christine Michael was also near the top in both of these, and Lattimore, Ball, Stacy, and Randle did pretty well (though less consistently). There are a few smaller backs mixed in near the top; I suspect that McCalebb & Barner benefited from plays that were not traditional short-yardage runs, and Chris Thompson's short yardage perfection on a tiny sample size is pretty much meaningless.

Running backs who are good receivers can add a lot of fantasy value through the air. Getting a lot of receptions is a good sign, since it indicates that his team trusts him to have an active role in the passing game. High yards per reception is also a good sign, since it suggests that he's dangerous in the open field with the ball in his hands. How to combine them into a single measure of receiving potential? I didn't come up with anything clever here; I just looked at how many receiving yards the player had in the season when he had the most receiving yards.

Receiving Yards (Top Season)

Kerwynn Williams	697Giovani Bernard		490Theo Riddick		436Robbie Rouse		435Joseph Randle		427Marcus Lattimore	412Akeem Shavers		370Onterio McCalebb	344Ray Graham		340Johnathan Franklin	323Jawan Jamison		323Montee Ball		306Stepfan Taylor		287LeVeon Bell		267Kenjon Barner		256Dennis Johnson		255Chris Thompson		248Andre Ellington		232Spencer Ware		230Cameron Marshall	227Zac Stacy		205Eddie Lacy		189Cierre Wood		189Rex Burkhead		177Christine Michael	174Stefphon Jefferson	170D.J. Harper		163Mike Gillislee		159Knile Davis		157Montel Harris		112Curtis McNeal		111Isi Sofele		67Michael Ford		29
This seems pretty informative about the guys near the top of the list; with the guys near the bottom it's less clear if the low numbers are because of the player or the offensive scheme & roles.

One more stat I looked at - fumbles. With a select few exceptions, a RB who can't hang onto the ball will fumble himself out of a job. I haven't found a great source for fumble data, but CBS's fantasy site does show fumbles lost so I went with that (it would be better to count all fumbles, not just lost fumbles, but I haven't found those data).

Fumbles Lost Per Touch (Approximate)

Spencer Ware		0.00%	0/309Chris Thompson		0.00%	0/122Andre Ellington		0.21%	1/478D.J. Harper		0.26%	1/381Akeem Shavers		0.29%	1/346LeVeon Bell		0.32%	2/618Jawan Jamison		0.37%	2/534Mike Gillislee		0.38%	1/264Montee Ball		0.42%	3/710Ray Graham		0.44%	2/454Rex Burkhead		0.48%	2/415Montel Harris		0.51%	1/197Giovani Bernard		0.57%	3/530Eddie Lacy		0.59%	2/339Kenjon Barner		0.62%	3/486Stepfan Taylor		0.64%	4/623Theo Riddick		0.66%	2/305Zac Stacy		0.67%	3/447Robbie Rouse		0.72%	5/693Onterio McCalebb	0.75%	2/266Stefphon Jefferson	0.76%	3/396Kerwynn Williams	0.76%	3/394Cierre Wood		0.84%	3/358Michael Ford		0.99%	2/203Cameron Marshall	0.99%	4/403Johnathan Franklin	1.00%	5/498Curtis McNeal		1.08%	3/277Joseph Randle		1.10%	6/543Marcus Lattimore	1.14%	4/350Isi Sofele		1.46%	6/411Christine Michael	1.62%	4/247Dennis Johnson		1.70%	5/295Knile Davis		2.28%	3/132
I've heard a lot about Knile Davis and Johnathan Franklin's fumbling problems; it's interesting to see Lattimore and Michael joining them near the bottom of this list.

This stats-based approach has some obvious limitations. For one thing, the stats that are probably the most useful for evaluating a RB, independent of his line and scheme, are not included: yards after contact & broken tackles. Those are among the stats that I rely on the most for evaluating NFL RBs (e.g., Pro Football Focus's Elusive Rating), and they are what I'd most like to see for college RBs, but as far as I can tell they aren't publicly available. STATS, Inc. does keep at least some of those numbers, since they reported last year that David Wilson led the league in yards after contact, but apparently they're proprietary.

But I can still use the information that I have. I took the stats that I looked at - Long Runs (20+ Yard Carry Rate), Power Running (RZ TD Rate & Short Yardage Success Rate), Receiving (Rec Yds in top season), and Fumbling (Fumbles Lost Per Touch) and put them together to get a rough ranking of the RBs based purely on their college stats. I re-scaled them to all be on the same scale (with 0 indicating average on each particular stat), and made it so that the stats that seem most important (like 20+ rate) had a larger weight (by giving them a wider range). I also fiddled a bit with RBs who had few carries, in some cases downgrading them or including 2010 data (which ensured that, for example, Chris Thompson's 2/2 in short yardage doesn't get counted as elite power running). Here is that ranking:

Overall Stats Rating

Player			long	power	rec	fum	ovrKerwynn Williams	18	-1	10	0	28Eddie Lacy		17	7	-1	1	23Onterio McCalebb	7	8	4	0	19Johnathan Franklin	10	0	1	-1	9Kenjon Barner		3	4	1	1	9Giovani Bernard		0	2	7	1	9Chris Thompson		9	-3	1	3	9Montee Ball		3	3	0	2	8Joseph Randle		-1	3	6	-2	7Marcus Lattimore	-2	5	4	-2	5Andre Ellington		2	-2	1	3	4Knile Davis 2010	5	1	-3		4Zac Stacy		1	3	-1	0	3Ray Graham		2	-2	2	2	3LeVeon Bell		-1	1	0	2	2Rex Burkhead		-2	3	-1	1	2Robbie Rouse		-6	2	2	0	-2D.J. Harper		-1	0	-3	2	-2Cierre Wood		3	-3	-2	0	-2Montel Harris		2	-1	-4	1	-3Akeem Shavers		-4	-4	3	2	-3Dennis Johnson		1	-1	2	-5	-3Theo Riddick		-10	-3	9	0	-3Stepfan Taylor		-6	1	1	1	-3Cameron Marshall	-3	-1	0	-1	-5Stefphon Jefferson	-6	3	-3	0	-6Christine Michael	-3	4	-2	-4	-6Curtis McNeal		8	-8	-4	-2	-6Spencer Ware		-11	-2	1	4	-8Isi Sofele		4	-2	-7	-4	-8Mike Gillislee		-5	-3	-2	2	-9Jawan Jamison		-7	-5	2	2	-9Knile Davis		-2	-1	-2	-6	-11Michael Ford		-4	0	-8	-1	-13
You can see here part of why I would consider Lacy to be the top RB even if Lattimore had stayed healthy, why I was down on Stepfan Taylor even before the combine (while some people thought he had impressive college stats), why I have Johnathan Franklin in my top 6, and why Knile Davis is so befuddling. On the other hand, I wouldn't (and didn't) just go straight by these numbers - Kerwynn Williams did not impress me on video (he did a lot of running in wide open spaces, and wasn't all that good at making defenders miss), and Christine Michael was in my top 5 even before the combine based on a mixture of his size, athleticism, performance on video, and injury excuse for not doing better.

I'm curious what folks think of these stats, and if there are other college stats that people have used to evaluate college RBs (or other sources for more stats; getting data on broken tackles or yards after contact would be amazing).

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The only stats I'm interested in are the ones that, as you say, aren't readily available: broken/missed tackles, yards after contact, etc.

Also, I'd be interested in the splits in certain formations or type of run blocking and vs type of defense (how many LBs or DBs on the field).

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I'm probably going in a different direction but the thing I think can tell you the most about a RB when looking at stats and combine numbers is the short shuttle time and the explosion-based and change-of-direction tests.

Players can go to so many different favorable and unfavorable scenarios, get bitten by bad luck with injury, get scrutinized over .10 on a 40 yard dash or his weight and height and all that. But to me, if you have watched a player and know he understands the game AND has a passion for it, can block and run with some vision, etc, then those indicators tell you a lot about what is important at the next level.

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ZWK I really appreciate these studies. Terrific work.

This will sound pretty simple but I have had some success with just looking at 3 cone drill and short shuttle times from combine and pro days. I am not sure where the average for 3 cone or 20yd shuttle are exactly, but I just noted that few players are below 7 seconds and even fewer are better than 6.8 seconds. So I look at those players and sometimes find some players not everyone is as high on as I might be because of this. I am willing to take chances on these RB if they are drafted into a decent situation.

This does not always work but it has helped me identify players such as Ahmad Bradshaw in the past. His numbers were good enough that I had expected him to be drafted a lot higher than he was and I felt justified a flyer on him in dynasty drafts. Of course I have held some duds drafted off of the same information before as well.

The top 3 RB in 3 cone from the 2013 combine were:

CHRISTINE MICHAEL 6.69

ZAC STACY 6.70

LE'VEON BELL 6.75

Christine Michael also had the top short shuttle time 4.02

Zac Stacy 4.17

Le'Veon Bell 4.24

Ahmad Bradshaw 6.7 3 cone 4.09 short shuttle.

Ray Rice 6.65 3 cone 4.20 short shuttle.

2009 had no RB below 6.8

I realize this is splitting hairs. However this is one of the few ways we can compare these players fairly and the ones who score really high on this drill I think deserve extra attention.

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I like to see 4.2 or less shuttle and better than a 10' broad jump. Kenjon Barner, Giovani Bernard, Rex Burkhead, Christine Michael, and Zac Stacy all hit the mark. Then I take a look at their production and running styles.

Pre-Combine, I had LeVeon Bell #1 because I fully expected him to hit that 10' mark on the broad jump and be a touch faster. He gets a little bit of a pass since he was close on both and wieghed in at 230, but since he is not quite the athlete I expected I had to move Bernard to the top of the list(waiting on a Lacy workout). Stacy is up to #5.

I also use the measurements to separate guys with similar styles: I'm taking Barner over Jonathan Franklin and Kerwynn Williams; I'm taking Burkhead over Montee Ball and Stephan Taylor.

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I realize this is splitting hairs.

No it's not. You're onto something. When I get to the RBs I'll post here and try explain what I think you've gotten ahold of.
Great discussion, looking forward to seeing it develop. ZWK, I really like your approach to using stats.

Good evidence that the Texans look at the cone drill closely: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324162304578306204048723328.html

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I do also look at combine numbers; I was thinking of college stats as something separate.

For combine drills, I have generally focused primarily on the 40 and secondarily on the jumps, and just a little on the cone, short shuttle, and bench. I guess I should take a closer look at the agility drills.

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With combine numbers, I've generally found that size, 40 time, and jumps are the strongest predictors of NFL success, but there are a few types of successful RBs who are somewhat different:

- small speedy backs (e.g. Chris Johnson, CJ Spiller, Jamaal Charles)

- small shifty backs (e.g., Ray Rice, Ahmad Bradshaw, LeSean McCoy)

- big slow backs (e.g., Arian Foster, Stevan Ridley, Alfred Morris)

The small speedy backs are guys with ridiculous 40 times - under 4.40, often by a large margin. I don't know if other drills matter for them; a lot of these guys skipped many of the other drills. It does seem to be important for them not to be too small (sorry, Onterio McCalebb). (You could think of these guys as fitting the standard pattern of size + speed, where they have so much speed that they can get by with a weight in the 190s; that's how Football Outsiders' Speed Score does it.)

The small shifty backs are less straightforward to identify. The more successful ones have tended to do pretty well on the 40, and to have good numbers on the 3 cone and/or the bench. There are plausible stories you could tell for why these variables are important (agility and strength for evading and breaking tackles), but with lots of variables available to pick out a small number of successful players I'm not sure how much of that is overfitting.

I don't know how to identify the big slow backs, other than by adding uncertainty for RBs who weigh 220 lbs. (especially if they go to a zone blocking team).

Stacy and Michael are interesting cases because they have the profile that seems to work for small shifty backs (27 reps on the bench and about a 6.7 on the 3 cone, with a decent 40 time), but they weigh 215-220 instead of 200-205. I normally think that more weight is better for a RB, but in this case I wonder if that extra bulk will get in the way of showing the same kind of shifty elusiveness as Rice & Bradshaw. (I still have them both in my top 7 RBs.)

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I like to see 4.2 or less shuttle and better than a 10' broad jump. Kenjon Barner, Giovani Bernard, Rex Burkhead, Christine Michael, and Zac Stacy all hit the mark. Then I take a look at their production and running styles. Pre-Combine, I had LeVeon Bell #1 because I fully expected him to hit that 10' mark on the broad jump and be a touch faster. He gets a little bit of a pass since he was close on both and wieghed in at 230, but since he is not quite the athlete I expected I had to move Bernard to the top of the list(waiting on a Lacy workout). Stacy is up to #5. I also use the measurements to separate guys with similar styles: I'm taking Barner over Jonathan Franklin and Kerwynn Williams; I'm taking Burkhead over Montee Ball and Stephan Taylor.

You're putting too much stock into the broad jump in Barner's Case.
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I like to see 4.2 or less shuttle and better than a 10' broad jump. Kenjon Barner, Giovani Bernard, Rex Burkhead, Christine Michael, and Zac Stacy all hit the mark. Then I take a look at their production and running styles. Pre-Combine, I had LeVeon Bell #1 because I fully expected him to hit that 10' mark on the broad jump and be a touch faster. He gets a little bit of a pass since he was close on both and wieghed in at 230, but since he is not quite the athlete I expected I had to move Bernard to the top of the list(waiting on a Lacy workout). Stacy is up to #5. I also use the measurements to separate guys with similar styles: I'm taking Barner over Jonathan Franklin and Kerwynn Williams; I'm taking Burkhead over Montee Ball and Stephan Taylor.

You're putting too much stock into the broad jump in Barner's Case.
Its not just his broad jump, but why do you specifically point out Barner?
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I like to see 4.2 or less shuttle and better than a 10' broad jump. Kenjon Barner, Giovani Bernard, Rex Burkhead, Christine Michael, and Zac Stacy all hit the mark. Then I take a look at their production and running styles. Pre-Combine, I had LeVeon Bell #1 because I fully expected him to hit that 10' mark on the broad jump and be a touch faster. He gets a little bit of a pass since he was close on both and wieghed in at 230, but since he is not quite the athlete I expected I had to move Bernard to the top of the list(waiting on a Lacy workout). Stacy is up to #5. I also use the measurements to separate guys with similar styles: I'm taking Barner over Jonathan Franklin and Kerwynn Williams; I'm taking Burkhead over Montee Ball and Stephan Taylor.

You're putting too much stock into the broad jump in Barner's Case.
Its not just his broad jump, but why do you specifically point out Barner?
Everything I've seen in the field says Franklin is better than Barner as a runner. Barner has an edge in routes and hands.Kerwynn Williams is someone you can get later that is on par with Barner, especially his receiving.Their combine numbers didn't make a difference for me.
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I realize this is splitting hairs.

No it's not. You're onto something. When I get to the RBs I'll post here and try explain what I think you've gotten ahold of.
Are you sure I am not just on something? :banned: I have been looking at the 3 cone like this for a pretty long time. Not every draft class has players who stand out in the drill but some do. It would be nice to look at a larger data set of combine numbers and see what trends there may be. My cut offs of 7.0 and 6.8 are somewhat arbitrary just based on repeated observations, what I am looking for. Those baselines perhaps should be something else. Studying a large sample size could possibly improve on that I think by finding a truer medium.
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I do also look at combine numbers; I was thinking of college stats as something separate.

Yes and thanks for this. Not my intent to hijack the thread topic. This is some great information that you compiled here and thanks for sharing it. I was just answering the question in the title of measurements that I think matter for the RB position. I like how you look at things and a list that combined these 2 aspects could perhaps take the evaluation to another level as well as looking at them separately side by side.

For combine drills, I have generally focused primarily on the 40 and secondarily on the jumps, and just a little on the cone, short shuttle, and bench. I guess I should take a closer look at the agility drills.

I am curious to read what you may find out. The median for 3 cone time might be more like 7.10 or something for example. I think that would be useful to know. I have not seen someone take 10-20 years of combine data and look at it this way before.
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Here's what I've done with the combine numbers.

Basically, I standardized the results for each combine drill (which means I re-scaled it so that it would have a mean of 0, a standard deviation of 1, and higher numbers indicate a better performance) and combined similar drills to get 4 variables: speed, jumping, agility, and bench. Then I took a weighted sum.

Last offseason, I looked at historical combine data and ran some regressions, but I don't entirely trust the results. There are lots of possible predictor variables and not all that many successful NFL RBs to identify, especially when we start breaking the successful RBs down into types (as I hinted at in my previous post). So the weights that I give the variables (and the choice of variables to include) are not taken directly from a particular regression analysis. Instead I've set up the model more intuitively, and rounded off some edges.

For players who weigh 208+ pounds, the formula I used to combine combine drills into a single number is:

22x speed + 10x jumping + 4x agility + 3x bench

For players who weigh 207 or less, it is:

22x speed + 5x jumping + 8x agility + 6x bench

When I looked at historical data, I found that speed and jumping both predicted NFL success, and that speed mattered more than jumping. Then I looked separately at small RBs, and in that case the few successful RBs tended to do well on some combination of speed, agility (especially 3 cone), and bench; jumping didn't matter. But that could easily be overfitting (there are only 5-10 successful small backs, depending on the standard, and many of them skipped some of the drills). I also don't see a strong reason to think that jumping would be important for larger backs but completely irrelevant for small backs (or the reverse for agility or bench). It is plausible that different drills would be more or less important depending on size, so I gave them half as much weight for the wrong-sized RBs.

Scores on individual drills were standardized based on the 1999-2012 averages for RBs at the combine, then combined into the four variables in the formulas above (speed, jumping, agility, and bench).

Speed is just standardized 40 time, which has a mean of 4.55 sec. and a stdev of .116. I've also considered doing something more complicated which takes into account their 10-yard split, but that is not part of the formula yet.

Jumping is a weighted average of vertical (mean=34.6", stdev=2.88) and broad jump (mean=117.1", stdev=5.59), with the drill that they're better at getting twice as much weight as the drill that they're worse at (since there was some hint in the data that their better drill was a stronger predictor than their worse drill). If they only did one of the two drills (vertical or broad) then their score on that one is their jumping score, and if they did neither then this variable is blank (which ends up counting as zero - the same as if they'd been exactly average).

Agility is a weighted average of 3 cone (mean=7.078, stdev=.218) and short shuttle (mean=4.246, stdev=.156), which is 2 parts cone, 1 part shuttle, and 1 part whichever they were better at (so, equal weights if they were better at shuttle and 3:1 if they were better at cone). Cone seemed to be a stronger predictor in the historical data, and again there's the better-drill thing.

Bench is just standardized number of reps, mean=19.7, stdev=4.32.

I also score RBs based on their size. The main variable is weight (heavier is always better) but it is nonlinear - changes in weight matter a lot more for lighter RBs than for heavier ones. There are also penalties for being tall or low BMI, which start very small (at height gets above 5'11" or BMI gets below 30) and grow faster than linearly. The easiest way to communicate this is probably with this graph - the top line shows the score (as it varies by weight) of a 5'7" RB, the middle line a 5'10" RB, and the bottom line a 6'1" RB.

More complicated thing with speed: I'm not sure what to do about players whose 10-yard split doesn't line up with their 40 time. I've considered rewarding those whose 10 yard split is unusually fast (since the initial burst is more relevant to NFL performance than their last 30 yards) and those whose 10 yard split is unusually slow (since the start of a sprint is harder to time accurately than the last 30 yards, and more likely to depend on sprinter's form which isn't relevant to NFL performance). It is possible to reward both (by standardizing 10-yard split and last-30 time, and taking whichever of those is better) but I have doubts about whether that's the right thing to do.

Here are the ratings for this year's RB class, which add together the college stats (posted earlier), combine drills, and size (weight, height, BMI). RBs who didn't participate in the combine are included at the bottom, with Pro Day numbers and projected 40 times included (with a .05 second penalty for non-combine 40s). Columns show height (in.), weight (lb.), speed x22, jumping x10 (or 5), agility x4 (or 8), bench x3 (or 6), combine rating (sum of those four variables), size score (based on height & weight), overall college stats score (from the original post in this thread), and overall rating (combine + size + stats).

player			ht	wt	spd	jmp	agi	ben	comb	size	stats	ratingKnile Davis		70.0	227	34	3	1	8	46	13	-13	47Christine Michael	70.0	220	2	24	7	5	38	10	-6	42Zac Stacy		68.0	216	0	4	6	5	15	8	4	27Michael Ford		69.0	210	9	20	3	4	36	4	-13	26Kerwynn Williams	68.0	195	13	1	1	-4	11	-13	27	26Giovani Bernard		68.4	202	4	2	6	-1	11	-4	10	17Johnathan Franklin	70.0	205	11	-3	4	-2	10	-2	9	17Kenjon Barner		69.0	196	6	3	6	0	16	-13	10	13D.J. Harper		69.0	211	6	2	-1	2	10	5	-1	13Cierre Wood		71.0	213	-2	12		-3	7	6	-3	9LeVeon Bell		73.4	230	-9	-3	5	3	-4	10	3	8C.J. Anderson		68.0	224	-9	-1	1	-2	-11	12	3	4Mike James		70.0	223	4	0	-10	6	0	12	-10	2Matthew Tucker		72.0	221	0	3		-2	1	9	-11	-2Rex Burkhead		70.0	214	-34	15	4	1	-14	7	3	-4Onterio McCalebb	70.0	168	40	2			42	-69	19	-8Montee Ball		70.5	214	-21	-2	2	-3	-24	7	9	-8Andre Ellington		69.3	199	-11	3			-9	-9	4	-14Joseph Randle		72.0	204	-15	2			-13	-9	7	-15Mike Gillislee		71.1	208	0	-3	-2	-3	-7	-1	-9	-17Stefphon Jefferson	70.0	213	-25	-4	0	-3	-32	6	-5	-30Montel Harris		68.0	208	-25	-7	2	0	-30	2	-3	-31Theo Riddick		70.0	201	-25	-1			-26	-8	-4	-37Jawan Jamison		67.0	203	-25	-7		0	-32	-3	-10	-44Stepfan Taylor		69.1	214	-40	-14	-2	-2	-58	7	-3	-54Ray Graham		69.0	199	-47	-4	-1	-2	-54	-9	3	-60Robbie Rouse		66.0	190	-47	-2	3	-6	-52	-18	-1	-71											Eddie Lacy		71.0	231	-5				-5	15	25	35Marcus Lattimore	71.3	221	-7				-7	10	6	9Chris Thompson		67.0	192	14				14	-15	9	8Akeem Shavers		70.3	198	1	8	7	-1	15	-13	-3	-1Dennis Johnson		68.0	212	-3				-3	6	-4	-2Cameron Marshall	71.0	223	-12				-12	12	-5	-6Isi Sofele		68.0	205	-3				-3	-1	-10	-14Curtis McNeal		67.0	190	12				12	-18	-9	-14Spencer Ware		70.0	228	-21				-21	14	-8	-15
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Great work ZWK. I will give some feedback/questions after I have had some time to digest this.

As you say there is a small sample size of the smaller RB who went on to be successful in the Nfl. What about the ones who did not earn a feature role? What was the difference between Ahmad Bradshaw and Travis Minor for example? To me both RB were similar in a lot of ways but Minor did not have the same power that I have seen from Bradshaw, Rice, MJD ect.

I looked up Travis Minor and they do not have 3 cone data on him. I did notice that he only had 32" vertical leap which is below the mean of 34.6. I looked at all of the RB below Minor in the vertical and there were 3 that were successful were Jamal Charles, Michael Turner, and Ray Rice.

The data you have starts at 1999. What would be interesting to look at is the whole group of the smaller RB and try to identify any qualities that the players who earned a starting role had that the others did not.

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I've got an intro post up on RBs, here that starts to describe how I believe body type, raw physical ability and collegiate performance interact to determine a RB's chances of success in the NFL. It's not that different than what ZWK is describing in Post #9, though it's statistically less complex and integrates all three items (build, ability, past performance) into a single evaluation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Have you ran the data points for other seasons and draft classes? If you ran it for 2010-2012, we could see if some of the RBs who are on top have experienced success so far in the NFL as well. I am sure it would be a lot of work, but interesting to see...

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Have you ran the data points for other seasons and draft classes? If you ran it for 2010-2012, we could see if some of the RBs who are on top have experienced success so far in the NFL as well. I am sure it would be a lot of work, but interesting to see...

Agree that this would be most interesting to help validate the analytical approach as you did with the WRs. That WR comparison to current players was, for me, really where the strength of the predictive model shown.
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  • 3 weeks later...

More college RB stats, from a spreadsheet published by Bill Connelly (who was also the source of the WR stats in my other post). His numbers include (or make it easy to calculate):

  • Success Rate: the percentage of a RB's carries where he made it to the second level
  • Highlight Yards: number of yards a RB gained after making it to the second level (with some weighting)
  • Highlight Yards Per Opportunity: highlight yards divided by number of "successful" carries (where the RB made it to the second level)
  • Points Over Expected (POE): cumulative value over average - the value gained by the offense on the RB's carries (based on yards and progress towards a first down), compared with what would be expected from an average RB
  • Value Per Attempt: POE divided by number of carries (analogous to DVOA)


The spreadsheet has player data for the 2011 and 2012 college seasons.

I looked at 37 runners in this year's draft class and standardized the numbers (so that the average on each stat would be 0 and the standard deviation would be 1, for those 37 runners) - here is how they score relative to each other on Success Rate, Highlight Yards Per Opportunity (I also took a square root with this one to give it a nicer distribution), and Value Per Attempt. Players are sorted by "Rating" which is just the sum of those 3 numbers; these are based on combined 2011 & 2012 stats.

Rating    Player            School         S Rate HY/Opp Val/Att4.2    Denard Robinson      Michigan       0.9    1.3    2.04.0    Kerwynn Williams     Utah State     0.5    1.9    1.63.1    Eddie Lacy           Alabama        1.1    0.7    1.32.5    Onterio McCalebb     Auburn         1.8    0.1    0.62.5    Kenjon Barner        Oregon         1.2    0.3    0.91.8    Johnathan Franklin   UCLA           0.6    0.7    0.61.7    Dennis Johnson       Arkansas       0.9   -0.1    0.91.5    Zac Stacy            Vanderbilt    -0.1    1.0    0.61.3    C.J. Anderson        California     1.1   -0.1    0.41.2    Michael Ford         LSU            1.6   -1.1    0.71.1    Cierre Wood          Notre Dame     0.6    0.0    0.51.1    Latavius Murray      Cent Florida  -0.4    0.9    0.60.8    Montee Ball          Wisconsin      0.3    0.1    0.50.6    Giovani Bernard      North Carolina 0.3    0.6    -0.30.6    Montel Harris        Temple        -0.3    0.6    0.30.4    Christine Michael    Texas A&M      0.3   -0.2    0.40.4    Joseph Randle        Oklahoma State 0.1    0.0    0.30.1    Ray Graham           Pittsburgh    -0.8    0.8    0.1-0.2    Andre Ellington     Clemson       -0.8    0.6    -0.1-0.2    George Winn         Cincinnati    -0.3    0.1    -0.1-0.6    Rex Burkhead        Nebraska       0.3   -0.3    -0.6-0.6    Isi Sofele          California     0.0    0.0    -0.7-0.7    Stefphon Jefferson  Nevada         0.2   -0.6    -0.3-0.9    D.J. Harper         Boise State   -0.9    0.3    -0.3-1.0    Mike Gillislee      Florida       -0.6   -0.2    -0.2-1.1    Stepfan Taylor      Stanford       0.1   -0.6    -0.5-1.1    Matthew Tucker      TCU            0.5   -1.2    -0.4-1.4    Robbie Rouse        Fresno State  -0.3   -0.3    -0.7-1.5    Akeem Shavers       Purdue        -0.7    0.0    -0.8-1.6    Marcus Lattimore    South Carolina -0.3  -0.8    -0.5-1.8    LeVeon Bell         Michigan State -0.4  -0.7    -0.7-2.3    Cameron Marshall    Arizona State -1.3    0.0    -1.0-2.3    Ronnie Wingo Jr.    Arkansas      -0.8   -0.6    -0.8-2.9    Jawan Jamison       Rutgers       -0.8   -0.4    -1.6-3.5    Mike James          Miami-FL      -0.8   -1.5    -1.2-3.7    Spencer Ware        LSU           -1.3   -1.3    -1.1-4.1    Knile Davis         Arkansas      -0.6   -1.7    -1.8

The rating here correlates at r=0.71 with the overall stats rating from my first post, and at r=0.79 with their 20+ Yard Carry Rate. 20+ Yard Carry Rate is correlated with each of the three components - Success Rate (r=0.50), Highlight Yards Per Opportunity (r=0.72), and Value Over Average (r=0.72). My power running metric is correlated with both Success Rate (r=0.57) and Value Per Attempt (r=0.40), but uncorrelated with Highlight Yards Per Opportunity (r=0.06).

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Would be more interesting if you throw out the cake games college teams tend to play. I take more stock in what you did vs say Alabama ad LSU than some random D2 team.

Cake games are helpful for evaluating the players on those opposing cake teams.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The only stats I'm interested in are the ones that, as you say, aren't readily available: broken/missed tackles, yards after contact, etc.

Also, I'd be interested in the splits in certain formations or type of run blocking and vs type of defense (how many LBs or DBs on the field).

Greg Peshek has now made some of those stats available, using STATS ICE data. I made a new post to discuss them, here.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I posted pre-draft RB rankings in various threads, based on the analysis here plus some other stuff. These were the last ones - I had 4 guys I liked (Lacy, Michael, Bernard, and Davis, with a pretty big dropoff from #1 to #4), then a big tier of 9 or 10 guys who might have a shot but probably didn't have what it takes (9 guys I listed in my post, plus then-"WR" Denard Robinson was in this tier in my unpublished rankings), then 5 more guys who I couldn't rule out.

The draft had some surprises but matched my rankings fairly well - my top 4 were among the first 6 RBs taken, and the first 9 RBs off the board were all among my top 14 (10th was Stepfan Taylor in rd 5). Post-draft, I now see 11 RBs as draftable within the first 3-4 rounds (those 9 plus Stacy and Murray); the rest are late round fliers at best.

Here are my post-draft RB rankings (last pre-draft ranking in parentheses):

61 Green Bay Packers Eddie Lacy (#1, tier 1) - draft day slide adds risk, but he still has tons of upside & a great situation

37 Cincinnati Bengals Giovani Bernard (#3, tier 3) - went as expected, now fighting to emerge from COP role


48 Pittsburgh Steelers Le'Veon Bell (#9, tier 4) - shoots up my board w. earlyish pick & great situation; I find it hard to evaluate big RBs
58 Denver Broncos Montee Ball (#12, tier 4) - ditto; 2 yrs of McGahee 2012 level production would justify a fantasy 1st rounder

62 Seattle Seahawks Christine Michael (#2, tier 2) - stuck as a backup, but could be big in a couple years
131 San Francisco 49ers Marcus Lattimore (#6, tier 4) - perfect situation for him, and drafted not-so-late considering


96 Kansas City Chiefs Knile Davis (#4, tier 3) - like Michael, but a tier lower predraft, drafted 1 rd later, and stuck behind a better younger starter on a cheaper contract
160 St. Louis Rams Zac Stacy (#7, tier 4) - great opportunity to start, but can't ignore that he's a 5th rounder
125 Green Bay Packers Johnathan Franklin (#5, tier 4) - late 4th round & going behind Lacy both signal a COP role
135 Jacksonville Jaguars Denard Robinson (unr, tier 4) - electric playmaker was 2nd in rushing yards in this draft class; now can he learn to do it as a RB?
181 Oakland Raiders Latavius Murray (#13, tier 4) - may win the lucrative "McFadden's backup" role

Dropping out from my pre-draft top 14: D.J. Harper (undrafted SF), Cierre Wood (undrafted HOU), Kenjon Barner (6th rounder stuck in the fantasy RB tar pits of CAR).

The 5 more guys who I couldn't rule out: now I can. Only Andre Ellington was drafted, and he is now #12 in my rookie RB rankings.

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  • 3 months later...

Three months later, here are my preseason dynasty rookie RB rankings. Not a lot of changes - the biggest mover is Christine Michael moving up a tier and one spot in the rankings, edging out Montee Ball. Knile Davis also jumps a tier (but no spots), Zac Stacy slips behind Franklin, and Stepfan Taylor & Cierre Wood get tacked on to the end of the rankings. I've also included my next few guys on a watch list at the end.

1 Eddie Lacy (#1, tier 1)
2 Giovani Bernard (#2, tier 1)

3 Le'Veon Bell (#3, tier 2)
4 Christine Michael (#5, tier 3)
5 Montee Ball (#4, tier 2)

6 Marcus Lattimore (#6, tier 3)
7 Knile Davis (#7, tier 4)

8 Johnathan Franklin (#9, tier 4)
9 Zac Stacy (#8, tier 4)
10 Denard Robinson (#10, tier 4)
11 Latavius Murray (#11, tier 4)
12 Stepfan Taylor (unr)
13 Cierre Wood (unr)

Also Keep an Eye on: Joseph Randle, Andre Ellington, Michael Ford, CJ Anderson, Kenjon Barner, Rex Burkhead

The big mover: Christine Michael has looked special this offseason. Add that to his draft spot (late 2nd round, essentially the same as Ball & Lacy) and the reasons I had for liking him pre-draft, and he starts to look like a potential star & likely future starter - someone who is worth the wait.

Even so, Ball could've held on to his spot in the rankings, and even passed Bell, with a strong offseason (I actually did temporarily move him above Bell earlier this offseason). Ball has never looked to me like a special RB, but he came in with a great shot at putting together a couple Addai-like RB1 seasons with Manning. With the clock ticking on Manning's career, that makes Ball unusually sensitive to his short-term role, so his inability to pass Hillman on the depth chart (and the likelihood that he'll be stuck in a timeshare regardless) keeps him behind Bell and allows Michael to slip just ahead of him.

Eddie Lacy seems to be grabbing onto that RB1 role in GB, even looking good in pass protection. I think that he has the talent and a great situation - the only thing keeping him from rising higher in my dynasty rankings is the injury risk and deference to the front offices that let him fall to the end of rd 2. I have a feeling that a lot of fantasy owners would be drooling over his situation if GB had taken him at the end of the 1st and skipped Franklin, but his draft round doesn't affect his situation and Franklin is fighting just to earn a role that will keep him active on game days.

Le'Veon Bell also seems to have carved out a big role on his team. He is a tier back on Lacy based solely on my pre-draft evaluation of the two. Like Ball, he just doesn't seem special to me.

Knile Davis seems to have taken hold of the #2 job in KC, and he's looked pretty good as a runner (though there are still some problems with his game). Franklin & Stacy, meanwhile, have struggled to take advantage of their opportunities. They haven't generated much offseason buzz, and look more likely to end up at #3 on the depth chart (or worse) than at #1. That is enough for Davis to put some separation on the other guys who were in his tier, especially since draft slot and my pre-draft evaluations also point in Davis's favor.

I'm not a fan of Stepfan Taylor's game, but he's not far from finding his way into a starting job. And a starting job gives some fantasy value even to guys like Earnest Graham or Ryan Torain.

I'm not sure why Cierre Wood went undrafted, but his offseason has lived up to my pre-draft evaluation (RB10) which puts him back on the radar. He also could have a surprisingly straightforward path from the #3 role in Houston to the #1 over the next couple years.

Ellington, Ford, Anderson, and Barner were on my pre-draft watch list. Draft day did not treat them kindly, but they have flashed enough this preseason to at least be worth watching, and possibly owning (at least to see how things shake out over the next couple weeks, and maybe for longer if taxi spots or large rosters make rookies cheap to hold). Joseph Randle and Rex Burkhead didn't quite make the cut for that list pre-draft, but they're at a similar level now.

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Wood didn't make my preseason list, but he was very highly thought of by many of the opinions I read at that time. The situation in Houston is very valuable as the system seems capable of making a very good RB out of just about any player they use frequently enough.

The Kubiak ties to former Denver ZBS been fully imported there and has made relevant players out of Domanick Williams, Steve Slaton and Arian Foster, just as the Bronco's have been able to before them and is being done in Washington now.

If you have a roster spot he is definitely worth a look I think.

What are your thoughts on Michael Cox of the Giants? He is another guy I was looking at for someone to pick up.

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Wood didn't make my preseason list, but he was very highly thought of by many of the opinions I read at that time. The situation in Houston is very valuable as the system seems capable of making a very good RB out of just about any player they use frequently enough.

The Kubiak ties to former Denver ZBS been fully imported there and has made relevant players out of Domanick Williams, Steve Slaton and Arian Foster, just as the Bronco's have been able to before them and is being done in Washington now.

If you have a roster spot he is definitely worth a look I think.

What are your thoughts on Michael Cox of the Giants? He is another guy I was looking at for someone to pick up.

Honestly, Cox hasn't been on my radar. He was not on my radar pre-draft, I haven't been all that thorough about following all 32 camps, and he hasn't bubbled up to my attention through any of the sources that I have been following.

I just looked up his college numbers, and he has good size, below average speed (but not disqualifying), excellent jumps, and pretty bad stats (although his team was pretty awful, and he was above average in red zone / short yardage running, which matches his body type). If he'd been on my radar pre-draft, I guess that probably would've been enough for him to make my pre-draft watch list of "guys I can't rule out" (along with Treavor Scales, Michael Ford, Matthew Tucker, C.J. Anderson, and Andre Ellington). That would probably put him somewhere between C.J. Anderson (who is in the bottom half of my watch list) and Matthew Tucker (who is trailing behind my watch list, and could join it if he makes the Eagles' 53), depending on what the word on him has been out of Giants' camp.

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Thanks for your thoughts on him. He was not on my pre draft list either. Here is an article I was looking at about him that piqued my interest-

New York Giants RB Michael Cox Hopeful to Make Team as 3rd Running Back
August 9th, 2013 at 11:30 AM
By Doug Rush

Four months ago, Michael Cox nearly went undrafted in April's NFL Draft, but with two picks left, one before the infamous "Mr. Irrelevant" spot, the New York Giants took Cox with their final pick.But Giants general manager Jerry Reese saw a lot of potential in Cox, who first attended and graduated from the University of Michigan, and then transferred to the University of Massachusetts, where he had 198 carries for 715 yards and five touchdowns in 2012 for the Minutemen. Reese saw a lot of great things of Cox in college that would translate well into the NFL, as he told Kieran Darcy of ESPN New York.

"You don't see a lot of production, but if you look closely at this guy, we are excited about him," Reese said at the time. "He is big, powerful, elusive guy with speed. He has got a lot of things that we like about him."

Listed at 6'0" and 220 pounds, Cox has a similar frame to Giants starting running back Andre Brown, who will share carries with the team's other starter, David Wilson, With Cox's size, strength and speed, he could vie for the third running back spot behind Wilson and Brown. In camp, Cox will have competition for the spot, as he will be competing with Da'Rel Scott and Ryan Torain for playing time and the spot on the team.

However, Torain suffered a concussion in Tuesday's practice and likely will not take the field when the team plays in its first preseason game at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the backups likely to see most of their playing time in the second half of the game, Cox is sure to see plenty of snaps and carries against the Steelers and could make an early impression on the coaches.

In the first couple of weeks at training camp, Cox has looked very impressive, even though he's currently listed as the team's number five running back on the team. Giants running backs coach Jerald Ingram thinks that with his abilities, Cox could do some special things on the field for the team if given the chance.

"He's a very talented young man," Ingram said earlier this week. "He has the ability to do certain things, but he has to, like all young running backs, they have to learn the system. You just can't toss them the ball and say, 'Go do this.' [it's] just like we went through a year ago with David in situations. He has to feel comfortable about learning our offense, and we're comfortable with him that we can trust him in most situations. But he does show us a lot of good talent out there right now."

It wouldn't be the first time for a seventh-round draft pick to make an impact and eventually, win a starting job on the team. Back in 2007, Ahmad Bradshaw was a seventh-round pick for the Giants and he was a key part of two Super Bowl championships and even scored the go-ahead touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI that won the game for the Giants over the New England Patriots 21-17.

It could also be possible that the Giants decide to use a three-back set in their offense, which worked in 2007 and 2008 when the team had Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, who were known as "Earth, Wind, and Fire." With those three, they combined to rush for over 2,300 yards in 2008 and lead the league that season in rushing for a team that went 12-4.

If Cox can use his size and speed for the Giants and focus on what he needs to do, he could end up beating out Torain and Scott for that third running back spot and give the Giants another dimension to their already explosive offense in 2013. http://www.sportsmedia101.com/newyorkgiants/2013/08/09/new-york-giants-rb-michael-cox-hopeful-to-make-team-as-3rd-running-back/

Perhaps just fluff but the Giants have a history of working a 3rd RB in at times if things are going well enough that they can. Also Andre Brown is a run to contact RB that I am not sure can stay healthy all season due to his running style, so Cox might have some upside for more action if either of the other 2 RB miss time, if he wins the 3rd RB spot that is. Ryan Torain is a decent RB as well, so if Cox overtakes him on the depth chart that would be an indication of him being pretty good.

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I just wanted to add in reference to Cierre Wood in the pre-draft evaluation process..

When I was going through and compiling my lists on rookie RB rankings from drafniks, the reason that Wood did not make my list is because he was not listed by over 50% of the sources I compiled. During this process I did notice however that some had Wood very high on their lists, while others who did list him had him near the bottom of theirs. Others didn't list him at all.

What my take on this at the time was some loved him while others didn't like him at all. Kind of like the variance in opinion I saw in regards to Marquess Wilson who some had rated very highly while others only at the bottom of their lists if at all. Wilson made enough of my lists to include him while Wood was just a few rankings short of making the cut.

In thinking about this today the impression I got from that is people look for different things in what they consider a good RB. So the people who like the qualities that Woods had really liked him, while others who are looking for other qualities didn't. Because the opinions are so split this leads me to think that Wood's game may be not as well rounded as other RB, as part of the reason.

In reading over some of the reports again today on him, I see mention of him being indecisive at times and that he is a much better RB when he gets going north/south rather than east/west. I notice also that he did not do the 3 cone drill. Without data for that hard to evaluate his elusiveness. So another reason he didn't make my list.

So there may be weaknesses to his game. However it sounds like he is in the right place to be able to be successful with what he does well in Houston.

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I just wanted to add in reference to Cierre Wood in the pre-draft evaluation process..

When I was going through and compiling my lists on rookie RB rankings from drafniks, the reason that Wood did not make my list is because he was not listed by over 50% of the sources I compiled. During this process I did notice however that some had Wood very high on their lists, while others who did list him had him near the bottom of theirs. Others didn't list him at all.

What my take on this at the time was some loved him while others didn't like him at all. Kind of like the variance in opinion I saw in regards to Marquess Wilson who some had rated very highly while others only at the bottom of their lists if at all. Wilson made enough of my lists to include him while Wood was just a few rankings short of making the cut.

In thinking about this today the impression I got from that is people look for different things in what they consider a good RB. So the people who like the qualities that Woods had really liked him, while others who are looking for other qualities didn't. Because the opinions are so split this leads me to think that Wood's game may be not as well rounded as other RB, as part of the reason.

In reading over some of the reports again today on him, I see mention of him being indecisive at times and that he is a much better RB when he gets going north/south rather than east/west. I notice also that he did not do the 3 cone drill. Without data for that hard to evaluate his elusiveness. So another reason he didn't make my list.

So there may be weaknesses to his game. However it sounds like he is in the right place to be able to be successful with what he does well in Houston.

6.87 3-cone at Pro Day: http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=89857&draftyear=2013&genpos=RB

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I just wanted to add in reference to Cierre Wood in the pre-draft evaluation process..

When I was going through and compiling my lists on rookie RB rankings from drafniks, the reason that Wood did not make my list is because he was not listed by over 50% of the sources I compiled. During this process I did notice however that some had Wood very high on their lists, while others who did list him had him near the bottom of theirs. Others didn't list him at all.

What my take on this at the time was some loved him while others didn't like him at all. Kind of like the variance in opinion I saw in regards to Marquess Wilson who some had rated very highly while others only at the bottom of their lists if at all. Wilson made enough of my lists to include him while Wood was just a few rankings short of making the cut.

In thinking about this today the impression I got from that is people look for different things in what they consider a good RB. So the people who like the qualities that Woods had really liked him, while others who are looking for other qualities didn't. Because the opinions are so split this leads me to think that Wood's game may be not as well rounded as other RB, as part of the reason.

In reading over some of the reports again today on him, I see mention of him being indecisive at times and that he is a much better RB when he gets going north/south rather than east/west. I notice also that he did not do the 3 cone drill. Without data for that hard to evaluate his elusiveness. So another reason he didn't make my list.

So there may be weaknesses to his game. However it sounds like he is in the right place to be able to be successful with what he does well in Houston.

6.87 3-cone at Pro Day: http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=89857&draftyear=2013&genpos=RB

Thank you.

The Texans are very high on this metric in their evaluation. So makes sense he would score well there.

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  • 11 months later...

Have you ran the data points for other seasons and draft classes? If you ran it for 2010-2012, we could see if some of the RBs who are on top have experienced success so far in the NFL as well. I am sure it would be a lot of work, but interesting to see...

Agree that this would be most interesting to help validate the analytical approach as you did with the WRs. That WR comparison to current players was, for me, really where the strength of the predictive model shown.

I would also be interested in seeing this.

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Short yardage success isn't always goal line success.

There have been backs like Ron Dayne that totally stunk in short yardage but coaches tried over and over and over. He was an excellent college runner that scored against some tired Ds, but his short yardage stats in college were terrible and this just carried over.
He's one example, there's been tons n tons of RBs like this. Some do not have a nose for it. It's not a body type (Brandon Jacobs and Marcus Allen couldn't be more different) it's a nose for it and a determination.

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TFL is often a defensive statistic people keep, but I want to know if a RB got caught often. There would quickly be a number in my head where I wouldn't even want a player if he got caught X number of times.

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Over the last 20 years, the fullback position has been downgraded dramatically. I think this is a grave mistake and in time it'll be back.

Charles Way was once a FB that became the RB for the Giants. Alstott's career speaks for itself. William Henderson was fun to watch.

All these guys are slow and have some body type scouts wouldn't like and....are just tough players that run mean and good luck tackling them. The game hasn't become pretty with guys dancing around, this would still work and with 0-3 FBs being drafted and very few "too big too slow" RBs drafted I imagine some of these types can be signed for a sandwich.

Mike Anderson seems to be about the peak of the FB position with him having so much short term success and then late in his career still being used in single back sets.

I like this-as a fan, I want this- a marine behind an OL with 3 yards to go....love it.

I'm very confident there are some college backs out there that could be mean bruising types.

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Blocking ability, success of RB to his side...some stat like that. I'm sick of drafting a WR in dynasty that a coach doesn't play much because he can't block. Similarly with RBs, the young RB is often characterized as a 3rd down back yet his blocking stinks so they'll never put him out there and get his QB killed. After my draft, I find 3rd RB and poor blitz pickup and faaaa he's sitting on my dynasty team for another year. I swear if you get those two sentences from a coach, it's automatic in FF. I would like a stat that somehow illustrates this. Sacks with him in backfield?

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Yards after contact isn't done well for college. Occasionally go down on the first hit...fine. 4 out of every 5 times, just cut the RB, he's done. I've watched way too many pretty backs linger in the NFL and they can't take a hit.

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Fumbles-I have offered to drive to stadiums and glue the ball to players hands just so they didn't have to be benched from my FF team. I would trade the rookie RBs I have, right now, if I knew they fumbled X amount of times in college. Injuries stink but are part of the game and I gotta deal with "my player" not playing. Fumbles are just plain madness in FF

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