Friday, June 28, 2013

Running Backs

Running backs generally aren't very interesting to me.  They also aren't very hard to draft.  Any reasonably athletic player, with adequate college production, should do okay, if the offensive line is good.  Because of this, I prefer to think about how to build the offensive line.  Still, if you really want to draft one, there are some reasonable ways to sort them, other than just excluding players from Alabama who tend to suck (no offense meant to Alabama fans, but while your team is great, the players drafted from Alabama tend to be disappointing in the NFL).

The guys over at Football Outsiders have a stat called the Speed Score, which they use for identifying running backs, based on the relationship between the 40 time and the player's weight.  The formula is (Weight * 200)/(40 time^4).  Players with scores over 110 tend to be good.  Scores of 100 tend to be average.  Players with scores in the 90s or lower tend to disappoint.  Overall, it is an adequate metric for judging running backs, but it doesn't answer all of my questions.  Speed Score, in essence, is a measure of the power or momentum a player is generating when they are near their top speed, but basing this off of the 40 time presents some issues.  A player's long speed isn't going to be displayed nearly as often as their short area explosiveness.  Speed Score is more about a player's ability to have a long breakaway run, and less about pounding the ball between the tackles.  Speed Score, to me, is not a bad measurement, but is probably somewhat more suited to the fantasy football crowd.

I'm going to throw out a couple of ideas here (some are fairly obvious, and some are possibly stupid), and we'll see how things work out.  I'm going to show a bunch of different scores for different running backs, but not show who these running backs are.  We're looking to see how well the numbers can describe the way a player will end up playing the position.  I'll list the player's 40 time, and Speed Score, which will be our measure to suggest the ability to break long runs.  The player's time at the 10yard split, and their 2nd Gear Score, will also be tossed in there, in an attempt to better describe how a player builds their speed.  I'll list the player's Kangaroo Score, to show short area explosiveness and power, which should relate to pounding the ball between the tackles.  Sometimes a player's ability to break the long run is less useful than their ability to grind it out for 2-3 yards.  I'll also list how the player scored on the agility drills, which should relate to their elusiveness, and some have also theorized, to their ability to be used as a receiver (this correlation is a bit more suspect, but interesting to consider).  Kangaroo Scores and Agility Scores will be given, as always, in terms of how many standard deviations the player was from the average result for their peer group, either in a positive or negative direction.

So, based on the scores, try to imagine what sort of running back the player is.  Is he a player that tends to run outside the tackles, or can he pound it inside?  Is he likely to be eluding people, or running them over?  Or, does he have the ability to succeed in multiple ways?  Later in this post, I'll list who the players are, and you can judge how well your guesses turned out.

Player                40 Time        10 yard      2nd Gear    Spd. Scr.     Kangaroo        Agility
A. 4.55           N/A           N/A 107.7 1.265 0.609
B. 4.46 1.60 0.14 112.7 0.730 0.945
C. 4.63 1.60 -0.03 95.3 0.277 0.318
D. 4.37 1.52 0.15 116.8 0.205 -0.292
E. 4.65 1.60 -0.05 96.2 0.723 0.800
F. 4.37 1.49 0.12 119.5 0.517 -0.131
G. 4.27 1.48 0.21 117.9 -0.420              N/A
H. 4.34 1.49 0.15 124.0 1.430 0.794
I. 4.50 1.52 0.02 96.5 -2.160 0.805
J. 4.33 1.50 0.17 120.0 0.448 0.981
K. 4.41 1.53 0.12 118.9 0.304              N/A
L. 4.46 1.46 0.00 118.7 1.931              N/A
M. 4.62 1.55 -0.07 94.3 -0.430 -1.423
N 4.24 1.40 0.16 121.9 -0.290              N/A
O. 4.38 1.46 0.08 108.6 -1.110 0.718
P. 4.42 1.47 0.05 104.2 -0.162 1.144
Q. 4.44 1.49 0.05 111.6 -0.120 0.589
R. 4.55 1.55 0.00 102.1 -0.100 -2.044
S. 4.40 1.53 0.13 115.7 1.144 -0.583
T. 4.46 1.53 0.07 108.6 0.506 -1.192
U. 4.55 1.59 0.04 92.3 -1.271 1.397
V. 4.45           N/A           N/A 109.1 0.670 1.673
W. 4.39 1.58 0.19 111.4 -0.340 -0.593
X. 4.46 1.54 0.08 111.7 1.488 0.656

What do you make of the players in the N, O, P, Q cluster?  They all seem to have average to poor Kangaroo Scores, suggesting that they wouldn't excel as power running backs.  They also all show good speed and agility, so they will probably be better suited to running outside the tackles and trying to evade people.  Perhaps, if there really is a correlation between agility scores and being a receiving running back (somewhat debatable) they might do well here also.

Players A, B, F, H, L, S, V, and X, show much better Kangaroo Scores, which might suggest that they would be above average at running between the tackles.  Still, many in this group are also showing the speed and agility to run outside also.  A, B, H, V, and X also show good agility, so you might expect them to be better receivers and show some elusiveness.

Do players B, D, F, G, H, J, K, N, S, and W, appear to have a rather good second gear?  Perhaps, beyond whatever quickness they possess, they might have even more deep speed than their 40 times might indicate. 

Does player M appear to be a bozo who excels at nothing?  Actually he appears to be bad at everything.

So, who are these guys?
A. Steven Jackson
B. Doug Martin
C. Alfred Morris
D. DeMarco Murray
E. Stevan Ridley
F. Ryan Mathews
G. CJ Spiller
H. Ben Tate
I. LeSean McCoy
J. Darren McFadden
K. Rashard Mendenhall
L. Jonathan Stewart
M. Mark Ingram
N Chris Johnson
O. Jamaal Charles
P. Ray Rice
Q. Matt Forte
R. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
S. Adrian Peterson
T. Marshawn Lynch
U. Ahmad Bradshaw
V. DeAngelo Williams
W. Maurice Jones-Drew
X. LaDainian Tomlinson

I wouldn't say that the results from this are perfect, but I think they are fun to consider.  There are two players in particular where I'm not sure if the numbers accurately capture the player's skills.  LeSean McCoy (player I.) appears slower and less powerful on paper, than I feel he is in real life.  It does credit him with being very agile though, which I think is true.  The same could be said for Alfred Morris (player C.).  On paper, he seems to be a moderately elusive, slightly more powerful than average, type of guy, with very poor speed.  Still, I don't expect the numbers to tell the whole story every time.  There will always be people who exceed your expectations, as well as people who fail to live up to their ability.  Still, I have to admit, that I tend to be very wary of betting against the numbers.

As for Mark Ingram (player M.), yes, I think the computer would be correct to come to the conclusion that he is probably a bozo, who shouldn't have been taken in the first round.  If fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, then plodding, weak, and lacking agility is similarly not a likely path to success for a running back.

As always, this doesn't eliminate the value of actually watching them play.  This is just something to consider along with all of the other facts that are out there.  I think there are still very good reasons to watch a player's game tape, as some players are clearly more creative with how they go about using their physical gifts.  This also doesn't even begin to delve into their college stats, though I may get into that subject at a later time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jamie Collins: Future Star?

I figured I would continue to mention a few players that I am excited about, who haven't become household names yet, while things are still quiet in the NFL world.  Some may fail to become anything, but all of them have the sort of rare athleticism (surprise!) or production, that should give them an excellent chance at success.

Jamie Collins was a defensive end/outside linebacker, who played at Southern Miss.  He was drafted with the 52nd pick, in 2013, by the Patriots.  He averaged 19.75 tackles for a loss in his last two years in college, and is an absolute physical freak.  Here is how he compares to some of the other alleged pass rushers who were selected ahead of him.

Player                         Weight      Kang. Score    Agility Score      Total      Avg. TFL   Pick #
Jamie Collins2502.0990.3551.26619.7552
Dion Jordan248-0.2160.4260.02111.753
Ziggy Ansah2710.8940.5020.62813*5
Barkevious Mingo2410.3950.5660.43011.756
Jarvis Jones245-1.243-1.304-1.2162217
Bjoern Werner266-0.280-0.251-0.22014.524

I can't say that Jamie Collins will become the best NFL player on this list.  All I can say is that he was the most athletically gifted and productive player on this list.  Barkevious Mingo and Ziggy Ansah have respectable numbers too (though Ansah's TFL numbers came from just one year), so I wouldn't write either of them off.  Ansah could actually be quite a strong candidate for success, with only a lack of experience/production  holding him back in the eyes of the computer.  Jamie's Kangaroo Score is what really steals the show.  You're not going to find many players who are that explosive.  Depending on how things play out, there could be some GMs that will have to explain why their physically inferior and less productive pass rushers seemed like better bets.

Overall, 2013 didn't strike me as a terribly good year for pass rushers, despite some of the hype that surrounded certain players.  Dion Jordan, Jarvis Jones, and Bjoern Werner all strike me as likely candidates to become disappointments.  That might seem harsh, but it would fit the typical failure rate for these positions.  Today's shining hope, is tomorrow's bum.  One other player, who was a very exciting and productive pass rusher, is Cornelius Carradine, but he couldn't perform at the combine or his pro day, so I won't say much about his career outlook.

You can also look here for a general overview of how these scores compare to some of the explosive linebackers and defensive ends that are already established in the NFL.  According to my normal methods for these things, I would have had to give Jamie Collins a first round grade.  He has the athleticism, and he had the required production.  The computer suggests he was the safest pass rushing prospect in the draft.  Not necessarily the best, just the safest.  He may not become the next James Harrison or Demarcus Ware, but I think the likelihood of him busting is very low.  In many ways, when I've watched him play, he strikes me as more of a 4-3 OLB, as he doesn't look quite as powerful or violent as a player like Carradine when he is rushing the QB.  Still, I'll go along with the computer, since nobody else in the first two rounds really interested me nearly as much as Collins (at least among the pass rushers). Anyone who wants to laugh at that ludicrous theory is free to.  We'll see what happens.  Maybe the computer is having a bad year.

While the computer would suggest a first round grade for him, I think getting him in the second works out much better, and makes more sense.  One of the issues for Collins is his playing weight.  In college he played at about 240# before bulking up to 250# for the combine.  If he were to drop back to 240, he might not have the weight to bull rush, which is what his Kangaroo Score suggests he is suited to do.  He also might not really have the sort of exceptional agility that you normally see amongst successful lightweight pass rushers (it's good, just not exceptional).  Lighter pass rushers really need to be fairly nimble to avoid getting mauled by offensive tackles.  Staying up around 250# or so, could be important for his success, as well as embracing the bull rush a bit more than he seems to have done in college.  He seemed to run around blockers a bit more than I would like to see, when playing at Southern Miss.  It's not that he can't continue to do this.  It's just that I think he would do better if he embraced the lower body power that he seems to possess.

His tendency, from the little bit I've seen of him, to try to avoid blockers, or to just beat them at the snap, isn't necessarily a bad thing at all.  If it works, go with it.  Still, not taking better advantage of the one truly exceptional physical trait he has, explosive power, is something of a concern for me.  It may seem stupid to want him to attack opponents head on, rather than going around them, but the numbers suggest he could do very well at this.  If you are big, play big.  If you are fast, play fast.  If you are agile, then use those nimble toes of yours.  Unfortunately, sometimes there are players who seem to try to play as if they are imitating the style of someone else, rather than embracing what they do best.  These peculiar situations could also be due to coaches, who just want things done a particular way, rather than seeing that a player's style is better suited for something else (this happens a lot, I believe).  Square peg, round hole.  Regardless, I do like Collins as a prospect, and getting him in the 2nd round, rather than the 1st, quells pretty much all of my concerns, from an investment/risk perspective.

Sometimes, when all the draft hoopla is at its craziest, people get a bit carried away with tagging certain prospects as future Pro Bowlers, and forget how often these things don't work out.  You can never really know for sure what a player will do with their talents.  I prefer to look at players in terms of the risks they present, rather than the potential rewards.  If you can draft seven guys who all have a good floor, things should work out pretty well for you.  One or two may even become exceptional.  Jamie Collins would seem to fit that criteria.  Worst case?  He becomes an adequate role player.  Best case?  His exceptional athleticism lets him become one of the better pass rushers in the league.  I'll take that deal every single time.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Da'Rick Rogers: Dead hookers in his trunk?

One of the more interesting stories, from the 2013 NFL Draft, was that of wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers.  Rogers started out at Tennessee before getting kicked out for failed drug tests (supposedly for marijuana use), and perhaps being a bit of a diva/a**hole, then transferred to Tennessee Tech for his junior year.  Many people seemed to feel that he had first round talent, but his personal issues appear to have been responsible for why he went undrafted.  Still, he did eventually get picked up as a undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills.

The baggage that he brought with him was fairly well known, so many people thought he would drop to somewhere around the third round.  My computer knew nothing of his issues, and felt he was one of the safer bets in the draft.  When nobody selected him at all, speculation mounted that his personal issues might be more significant than had been previously stated.  After all, NFL GMs wouldn't let a possibly exceptional talent slip through their fingers for no good reason.  Surely, their investigators found the bodies of dead prostitutes in the trunk of his car.  Or, perhaps, they uncovered his involvement in a deer antler smuggling ring.  Unfortunately, details of such misdeeds have not come to light, and as far as we know, he is really just a run of the mill diva and pothead.

The most peculiar thing about this is that Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback from LSU, managed to be selected in the third round, despite a much more thoroughly documented history of idiocy, and a less impressive overall skill-set.  Somehow, a 5'8.5" corner, with just average to good measurables, doesn't scare teams as much, despite failing so many drug tests that he lost track of the exact count.  I still think that Mathieu's main contribution in the NFL is going to be as a kick/punt returner, not as a cornerback.  The idea that this is more valuable than a potential #1 wide receiver seems quite odd to me.

The somewhat unpredictable way in which a player's character is judged isn't really my concern though.  If I was going to judge people based on whether they smoked weed or acted like idiots when they were in college, I wouldn't have many people to talk to nowadays.  I kind of expect college kids to be a bit arrogant and intoxicated.  So, until I hear of something a bit more damning, I will remain optimistic that Da'Rick is no worse of a moron than any other average 20 year old.

The real question for me is, what is his upside, and who does he best compare to that has succeeded in the NFL?  To this question, I think there are 2 players in particular that might provide some interesting insight into Rogers' potential.

Player                 Height              Weight        Wt/40       Kangaroo     Agility    Tot. Athletic
Da'Rick Rogers 6' 2.5" 217 0.403 1.536 1.065 1.052
Mike Williams 6' 1.5" 221 0.379 1.147 0.138 1.030
Hakeem Nicks 6' 1" 212 0.180 0.487 -0.858 0.518

The reasons I selected Mike Williams (Tampa Bay) and Hakeem Nicks for this comparison might not, at first, be immediately obvious.  Yes, in terms of height and weight, they are in a similar class, but the similarities go much further than that.  For one, their 40 times were 4.50, 4.53, and 4.51 (in order of Rogers, Williams an Nicks), which are the sorts of numbers that often fail to excite the masses.  For their size, however, these times are perfectly adequate, and the Wt/40 score shows how many standard deviations above or below average their results are for their size.  Nicks and Williams had better 10 yard splits of 1.52 seconds, with a 2nd gear Score (not shown above) of  0.01 and -0.01 respectively.  Rogers had a somewhat below average 10 yard split of 1.61 seconds, but a 2nd Gear Score of 0.11.  So, Nicks and Williams might be a little quicker off the line, but Rogers should continue to build more speed than the other two. 

They also all show some mixture of explosiveness/power, according to their Kangaroo Score (in my opinion an important trait for large receivers), and perhaps a decent measure of agility.  The Kangaroo Score isn't just about overpowering the opponent, but also probably suggests something about a player's explosion out of his cuts in his routes.  Rogers also possesses a degree of agility that is quite uncommon among large receivers.  Though this sort of agility is more of a requirement for small receivers, it certainly can't hurt for a big guy to have it.  Of course, none of this means that a players can actually catch the ball.  So for that, I'll look to their college stats.

Player                                                   Yards             Recs.      % of offense     TDs   Stat Scr
Da'Rick Rogers Next to last year 1040 67 26.05 9 0.454

Final Year 893 61 19.92 10

Mike Williams Next to last year 837 60 23.89 10 0.180

Final Year* 746 49 18.80 6

Hakeem Nicks Next to last year 958 74 24.53 5 1.023

Final Year 1222 68 29.24 12

The average draftable receiver is responsible for 15.34% of his team's passing offense in his next to last year in college, and 17.75% in his final year.  All three of these players significantly exceeded this average.  In Mike Williams' case, his numbers for his final year would have been even better, but he was kicked off his team (Syracuse) after 7 games.  Da'Rick, similarly would have probably done better in his final year, but his QB was injured for the final 4 games, dropping his yard per game average from 102 yards/game to 59 yards/game. What is most impressive to me, is the 26.05% of his team's offense that he was responsible for, while still only a sophomore (especially in the SEC).  Large receivers tend to develop as players a bit more slowly, but Rogers seemed to really hit the ground running.  While Rogers and Williams scored better athletically, Nicks gains ground in terms of overall college production, according to his Stat Score.   Either way, they are all very appealing receivers.

All three of these players exhibit a combination of physical ability and proven production that is somewhat rare.  Players with these traits tend to be fairly safe bets, but sometimes teams seem to out-think themselves and let extraneous issues cloud there judgment as to what actually matters.  Similar to Rogers, Mike Williams had some character concerns, and fell to the 4th round in the 2010 draft, but has been performing quite admirably since then.  In his rookie year, Williams led all rookie receivers with 964 yards and 11 TDs.  What does that say about his immaturity issues?  While I can understand having some hesitation at the prospect of drafting players with added baggage, what I don't understand is how you can pass on them once the investment/risk of an early round selection is no longer a concern.  Is that backup middle linebacker or potential special teams player that was selected in the fifth round really that much more appealing than Da'Rick Rogers, a player with more upside?

Maybe Rogers' issues from his college days will continue to plague him, whatever those issues may be.  I just don't see why teams were so scared of selecting him.  If he behaves like an idiot, fine.  Squeeze whatever production you can get out of him, and let him move on when his insignificant rookie contract is up.  There's no real loss or risk to the team.  On the other hand, if he pans out, what do you say then?  How would a GM admit that they weren't willing to invest even a 5th round pick, that had almost no real value or likelihood of amounting to anything, because they wanted to make a "safer" pick on some guy who will most likely be cut in 2-3 years, and probably will never have any role beyond a special teams contributor?

In the end, I think it is somewhat unlikely that Da'Rick Rogers won't become at least an average receiver, though average by my standards is still somewhat rare and valuable.  While people may want to obsess over his personality and character, it seems only fair to me that they should also look at what he has accomplished.  If catching the football 139 times, while some 'roided-up lunatic tries to impale you with their helmet, doesn't say something about your character and dedication, then I don't know what does.   I certainly wouldn't want to do it, but then again I hang out with a bunch of people who smoked weed in college and acted like a**holes, so maybe I'm a questionable character.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Athleticism and the Offensive Line part 2

I've mentioned some of my thoughts about how athleticism relates to the offensive line, before, but thought it would be fun to add on to this subject a bit.  There are plenty of ways to try to examine the historic patterns as to which draft picks succeed, versus which ones fail.  Since it can be hard to separate a players performance from their hype, I prefer to mainly look at prospects who were taken in the mid-to-late rounds, that managed to emerge as successes despite being somewhat less heralded.  If these successes have certain traits in common, that is probably worth paying attention to.  On the flip side of that, if the highly drafted players, who become busts/disappointments, have certain weaknesses that they share with each other, that is also interesting.

While I'm not a big fan of using CarAV (Career Approximate Value) as a stat, it can be useful sometimes.  For one, it has some established history, and people are already somewhat aware of it as a statistical measure.  Secondly, when applied to players at similar positions, from the same draft classes, it gives a reasonably acceptable measure of who is achieving some degree of success.  I still prefer not to use it for broader comparisons, across the span of different draft classes.

So, what I'm going to do, is to show the three offensive linemen from each draft class who achieved the highest CarAV score, while being selected in the 3rd round or later (not including undrafted players).  For each draft class, I will also include the player with the lowest CarAV, who was selected in the first two rounds, to represent the "bust" for that year.  To keep this from running too long, I will just show the results from the 2005 to 2010 draft classes.

Since I am comparing a player's success based on CarAV to their measurables from the combine, the comparison won't work if the player either didn't perform at the combine or their college pro day, or at least didn't perform enough of the drills to get an accurate picture.  In this case, I will just take the next highest (or lowest rated player, for the 'bust' group) based on CarAV, who has enough data available.  Fortunately this was rarely an issue, and I only had to make two such substitutions.

Beyond just showing their CarAV score, I will show their overall draft position, Kangaroo Score, Agility Score, and their average number of games started per year since they have been in the league (GS/Year).  As always, the Kangaroo Score and Agility Score are given as the number of standard deviations above or below average that a player is, relative to the average results at their position group. 

Player                     Year     Pos.      Pick#          Kangaroo         Agility     CarAV    GS/Year

Jared Veldheer 2010      T 69 1.070 1.246 18 14.33
J'Marcus Webb 2010      T 218 0.002 -0.207 15 14.66
J.D. Walton 2010      C 80 -0.869 0.451 14 12
Vladimir Ducasse 2010     G/T 61 0.630 -1.384 1 0.33

Louis Vasquez 2009      G  78 1.070 -0.267 25 13.5
T.J. Lang 2009     G/T 109 -0.571 1.600 21 8.5
Matt Slausen 2009      G 193 1.337 -0.425 15 16
Jason Smith 2009      T 2 -1.351 0.575 7 6.5

Carl Nicks 2008      G 164 1.032 -0.072 45 13.6
Josh Sitton 2008      G 135 1.049 1.005 34 12.5
John Sullivan 2008      C 187 -0.251 0.759 23 12.2
Chris Williams 2008      T 14 -0.475 -0.559 15 7.6

Marshall Yanda 2007     G 86 -0.611 1.146 36 12
Jermon Bushrod 2007     T 125 0.294 0.129 36 10.33
Doug Free 2007     T 122 1.248 1.233 26 9.16
Aaron Sears 2007     G 35 0.524 0.864 11 15.5

Jahri Evans 2006     G 108 -0.724 -0.686 78 16
Eric Winston 2006     T 66 0.612 1.879 42 14.71
Jeromey Clary 2006     T 187 -0.088 0.171 40 11.14
Ryan Cook 2006     C 51 -0.225 -0.083 19 7.28

David Stewart 2005     T 113 1.011              N/A   42 13
Chris Myers 2005     C 200 0.213 1.727 41 11.87
Nick Kaczur 2005     T 100 0.679 0.120 35 12.4
Marcus Johnson 2005    G/T 49 0.208 0.074 7 3.6

Avg for Successes

130 0.361 0.577

Avg. for Busts

35.33 -0.114 -0.085

Before I get any further, I should mention a few issues.  Aaron Sears, who is the low CarAV player representing the 2007 draft class, had his career cut short by injury.  By all accounts, he played quite well.  Unfortunately there wasn't a better player to choose from for 2007 to represent the the disappointing way that things can turn out.   If we removed Sears from the equation, the average Kangaroo Score results for the 'busts' would drop to -0.242 (from -0.114), and the average Agility Score for busts would drop to -0.275 (from -0.085).  I also could have used Jeff Otah, rather than Chris Williams, to represent the 'bust' pick for 2008, but the data for Williams was more complete, since he did the agility drills.  Either way, their results were similarly disappointing, and wouldn't have significantly changed the overall results.

In T.J. Lang's case I only had his short shuttle score, but not his 3-cone score.  So, I used this, since it was all that was available.  The same issue applies to Jermon Bushrod, who also didn't do the 3-cone drill.  Similarly, with Josh Sitton, I had to use just his broad jump score, without his vertical jump score, to get his Kangaroo Score. 

Lumping all offensive linemen together, without any regard to their actual position, isn't my preference.  As I have said before, I think the Kangaroo Score is more vital to tackles, than to guards.  Centers, I feel, are mostly dependent on their short shuttle score, which is part of their overall Agility Score.  Just because somebody is listed above, doesn't mean that I would vouch for them, or believe that they are particularly good.  This is just meant to show which players are getting on the field and achieving some success in the eyes of CarAV, despite being taken later in the draft.  Still, even with this less than ideal approach to the issue, I think certain things are fairly obvious.

Among the mid-to-late round players, who became successful to varying degrees, their athletic ability tended to be above average.  Out of 18 arguable successes, only Jahri Evans (and possibly J.D. Walton to a lesser degree), demonstrated what could be seen as significantly below average athletic results.  If we were to say that Evans was a statistical outlier, and remove his results, the average Kangaroo Score for the 'successes' would go up to 0.425 (from 0.361), and the Agility Score would go to 0.655 (from 0.577).  For the most part, the other players demonstrated at least average overall athletic ability, though most were fairly dominant in at least one of the two categories.  11 out of 18 went so far as to produce scores of at least one full standard deviation above the average for their position, in at least one category, which is quite exceptional.

As for the highly drafted players, who perhaps failed to meet the expectations of their draft position, their results tended to be predictably average to poor.  Ignoring the Aaron Sears issue, only Jason Smith and Vladimir Ducasse managed to produce somewhat above average results in either of the two athletic measurements.  Unfortunately for both of them, these acceptable scores in one category, were overwhelmed by their remarkably awful scores in the other.  While I feel that a player doesn't necessarily need to excel in both measurements, these sorts of stunningly bad scores are fairly obvious warning signs.

So, once again, it seems to me that the athletically gifted players are the sensible ones for a team to select.  The late round players, whom teams had lower expectations, seem to rise to the top when they have above average measurable athletic ability.  The highly drafted players, who are given every opportunity to succeed since their team had so much faith in them, appear to repeatedly fail when their athletic ability just doesn't measure up.  If we were to leave out the results of Jahri Evan and Aaron Sears, the average Kangaroo Score of the mid-to-late round successes would be 0.667 standard deviations higher than the early round 'busts'.  Similarly, the mid-to-late round successes would have an average Agility Score that was 0.930 standard deviations higher than the average result for their more highly drafted, and disappointing counterparts.  You would think that this would be obvious, but it doesn't seem to have much effect on people's decision making process.

Or, maybe I'm just nuts.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Overall NFL Draft Success Rate

I wanted to explore this idea, of how often draft picks succeed, but there really is no way to do this that is foolproof, or won't spark some arguments.  Any measurement you use is going to have its shortcomings.  Do you base it on how many games a player started?  Plenty of guys end up starting, even if they are pretty bad.  How about Pro Bowl or All Pro selections?  Eh, that is kind of hit and miss too.  Lots of players get selected to these All Star teams, based on past reputation, rather than their current playing ability, while good players on bad teams get overlooked.

Still, if we can accept that this will be somewhat inexact, I think a  fairly decent picture of what is going on can be achieved.  No matter how I try to lay this out, there will undoubtedly be people who raise some 'what ifs' or 'yeah, buts' about the views I have.  I'm just shooting for a rough ballpark figure, to get an adequate approximation of the truth.

“I think you have to divide it into top 12 and bottom 20. If you’re in the top 12, it ought to be in the .640 range. That’s about 4.5 guys on average per year out of the seven. You measure that at the end of three years and what you are measuring is whether or not those guys become winning players, guys that contribute to wins. Bottom 20 is .571, that’s four out of seven…"- Bill Polian, former GM of the Colts

"If you look historically, teams get 2.3 (32.8% of the 7 picks) starters per draft and as a team, I think you need to strive to get 3 starters per draft (42.8% of the 7 picks) , or I should say players worthy of starting."- Mike Reinfeldt, former GM of the Titans

In both of these cases, I think these GMs are blatantly full of sh*t.  Mike Reinfeldt is closer to the truth, but is still probably overestimating a bit.  Polian's claims/expectations, on the other hand, appear to be wishful thinking.  Polian seems to factor undrafted free agents into his calculation, which you really shouldn't.  The "guys that contribute to wins" line is also extremely vague.  There is also a tendency for people to grade these things on a curve, where late round players aren't counted as failures due to the lower expectations people have of them.  Of course, when a late round player performs well, suddenly the people involved want that to be included in their resume.

For our purposes, I'm just interested in knowing what percentage of all the players selected became meaningful contributors, regardless of round.  If a first rounder busts, but a seventh rounder blossoms it all balances out in my eyes.  One of the more acceptable measures of this that I have run across was written by Tony Villiotti over at  It doesn't completely answer all the concerns I might have, but I think it is a good starting point.

Towards the bottom of Mr. Villiotti's paper, he lists the percentage of players at each position, and from each round, that manage to start at least 8 games per year (on average) in their first 5 years.  This is a fairly low bar to set, in my opinion, for judging the degree to which a player is a success, but is probably overall a fair compromise.  What I'm particularly interested in are the overall results listed in the final column of his chart.  He suggests that from 1991 - 2004, 21.5% of all players drafted managed to meet his 8 game per year standard.  Yes, players taken in the first round met this standard 73.6% of the time, and 7th rounders only met it 5.9% of the time.  In the end, the likelihood of a player meeting the standards required here, goes down by about ten percent for each consecutive round.  I'm just interested in the overall percentage, since I want to know how many successful players we should expect a team to accumulate in an average year.  Based on this overall 21.5% probability, this would work out to 1.5 players out of seven total draft picks, which lines up with my own observations.  Obviously, this is much lower than the estimates given by Mr. Polian, and Mr. Reinfeldt (though they were speaking about what would constitute a good draft, rather than just an average one, they are still being overly generous as I will eventually attempt to show)..

Now, even with this information, we run into some problems.  For one, these numbers could still be somewhat inflated.  I don't think there can be much doubt that the 73.6% success rate on 1st rounders is boosted by the likelihood that teams will keep trotting a player out onto the field, even when they are playing somewhat poorly, simply because of their draft status.  On the flip side, it is hard to judge the 5.9% success rate of 7th rounders, when we never know if they have been given any real opportunity to prove themselves.  In this case their low draft status, and preconceived notions of their value, works against them.  Continuing to give opportunities to high round picks, because a team still expects them to become a quality player and confirm their initial appraisal of the player's talent, obviously goes hand in hand with stymieing the success of the late round player.  There are only so many starting spots available, after all.  Either way, we'll ignore this issue, since their isn't much we can do about it.

Even if a player is managing to start games, we can't be certain that he is actually playing well.  Making subjective assessments of a player is tricky, and probably part of why so many turn out to be busts in the first place.  Still, I thought I would try and apply some subjective grades towards the team I am most familiar with, the Baltimore Ravens, to get a sense of what is going on.  To do this, I simply assigned a score from 1-5, for every player they selected from the years 2000 to 2010 (87 players in total).  While this focuses on only one team, it hopefully still serves as a useful example.

While this is a very loose and subjective approach (and quite possibly idiotic), I was trying to be as generous to the team as possible, to see the most optimistic outlook on what is going on.  Players who never got playing time or were quickly bounced from the league got a score of 1.  Players who got some playing time but were notably horrible got a 2 (WR Clarence Moore, for example).  Anybody who I felt could be perceived as at least an occasional starter or journeyman type got a 3 (DE Antwan Barnes, perhaps).  Players with a 4 or 5 grade were the obvious sorts, who had distinguished themselves in some way, either statistically, or through Pro Bowls, as well as through longevity.  I will admit though that I tended to take a point off for special team players (mainly kickers and punters) and for fullbacks, simply because of their reduced positional value.  Either way, the truth is that the scores in themselves don't entirely matter.  I just wanted to see what percentage of players could arguably be seen as average or better, even if I graded them a bit more generously than I believe that they deserve.

So, being very forgiving of the mediocre, the Ravens came up with 41.36% of their 87 selections since 2000 as being at least passably average.  Now, this whole approach is obviously somewhat foolish, and not the least bit scientific, but I just wanted to see what the best case scenario was if I only weeded out the most blatant and inarguable busts such as Troy Smith or Yamon Figurs, which make up the remaining 58.64% of the teams picks.  In reality, I suspect we could argue that their overall success rate might be closer to 30-35%, which would still be higher than league wide 21.5% I mentioned earlier.  This would still be a noteworthy improvement over the average result, for a team that is perceived to be one of the best in the draft, while still being lower that the public might expect.

As an example of what an exceptional draft might look like, I thought the Chargers' 2005 draft class might serve as a good example.  With the selections of Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo, Vincent Jackson, and Darren Sproles, you could argue that their success rate that year was 57.14% (they had 7 selections that year).  This probably represents, or is close enough to representing, the upper limit for what teams can currently aspire to achieve.  This is obviously far from a typical result.

So, what's the point of all of this?  The reason all of this interests me, is that I suspect teams should be doing much better.  From what I have observed, teams should be shooting for a success rate closer to 70%.  While there will always be up and down periods, largely due to varying levels of talent in a draft class, but also some random luck, teams should almost never be dipping below a 50% success rate.  Based on the data available to them, from the combine and college stats, the frequency with which players at the exceptional end of the "measurable talent" bell curve succeed is much higher than they seem to realize.  I wouldn't expect a radical shift in success rate in the first 2 rounds, where teams generally do a reasonable job of selecting the obviously superior players, but more so from the 3rd round onwards.  At that point, it seems to me that their failure rate is much higher than it should be.  While the overall availability of highly talented players does diminish as the draft goes on, the ones that remain and go on to become successes, are more readily identifiable than people seem to acknowledge.  The players who reside on the extreme low end of the bell curve, in terms of athletic ability and college production, have nearly zero chance of panning out.  Investing a team's draft picks in players who have more exceptional qualities, even if they aren't flawless, at least has some plausible chance of working out, based on who we have seen emerge from mid to late round obscurity in the past.

As I continue to add to this rambling blog, I'll try to explain/justify some of my more deranged beliefs.  For now, I'm just trying to avoid having any of these updates turn into an unintentional novel, that will just put people to sleep.  Hmm, I might have already failed at that.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Courtney Upshaw: He fell to us!

This is probably going to come off a bit worse than I would like it too, but I get extra surly when it is my home team, the Ravens, that are making potentially bad decisions.  Recently, they seem to have been making these questionable decisions more frequently, in my opinion, but people overlook them because of the team's relatively strong history of drafting well.  "In Oz we trust", the fans say.  Well, I'm not entirely comfortable with that sort of blind faith, though I will say that Ozzie Newsome does have his strong points.  His recent drafting just isn't one of them.

During the 2012 draft, I think I finally lost the last bit of my confidence in what the team was doing.  With the 29th pick in the 1st round, the Ravens agreed to trade back six spaces, exchanging picks with the Minnesota Vikings.  I was actually quite pleased with this move, since I'm always a fan of trading back, and I also felt that the talent in the draft was fairly deep.  The players who were generally expected to go around the 29th pick, that were still available, also weren't that enticing.  Mainly, I was happy because I thought this eliminated the possibility that we would draft Courtney Upshaw, whom I felt was a disaster waiting to happen, and someone many people expected that we would take if given a chance.  Ozzie had wisely passed on Upshaw, and now some other foolish team would end up taking him!  Well, that didn't exactly work out the way I had hoped.  At the 35th pick Upshaw was still available, and this time the Ravens did select him, while I wept like a little girl.

Now different people will have different views of this situation.  Fans are generally going to want to see the positive side of things (unless they live in Jacksonville where they are probably used to having scorn for their GM).  Locals talked about how Upshaw "fell to us", since he was projected to go in the early-to-mid first round.  ESPN talking heads discussed how the Ravens had done it again, and had top tier talent fall into their lap.  There was surprisingly little thought given to why Courtney Upshaw had fallen so far from where he was originally expected to be taken.

The reputation that the Ravens' organization had built from 1996 though 2006 probably earned them the right to be given the benefit of the doubt.  In that time, their first round picks had almost always turned out to be quite successful, even when picking fairly late in the first round.  From 2007 onward, the quality of the selections has been a bit more debatable.  Ben Grubbs, in 2007, was a relatively low risk, low reward type of pick.  People may want to debate this, but I feel that the Ravens' willingness to let him go while retaining Marshal Yanda (who measures up much better athletically, despite being taken two rounds later) tells you something.  In 2008, there was the Flacco pick, which I really want to avoid discussing.  I like Flacco, but I don't think the hometown hype is entirely justified.  In 2009, they selected Michael Oher, who so far appears to be serviceable at best, but not exceptional.  In 2010, the Ravens traded out of the first, and picked Sergio Kindle, who I suspect would have been a flop even if he hadn't pulled a Humpty Dumpty.  2011 saw them taking Jimmy "Purple Drank" Smith, who has failed to do anything much in his first two years, though he probably has more potential than these other selections.  Then we have Courtney Upshaw in 2012, who I will try to explain in a minute.

Now, Oher, Kindle, Smith and Upshaw do all fit the description of players that people thought were talented, but who fell in the draft for various, often unexplained reasons.  They were all discussed as players who could have easily gone at least 15 spots ahead of where they eventually landed, and have all failed to develop into anything exceptional on the field, at least so far.  I have expressed before, how I feel taking offensive guards in the first round is an easy way for a GM to make a seemingly "safe" pick, since the position doesn't draw the same sort of attention or scrutiny.  Taking players that were universally praised, long after they were expected to be taken, might also insulate a GM from some criticism when things don't work out.  If the player fails, there will always be the defense that "Hey, everybody else thought this player would be good too, so how can you blame me?"  This is certainly a safer approach to take than going out on a limb for a player that you think will be great, but whom the mainstream hasn't stamped with their seal of approval.  Even if making a more aggressive pick panned out, you might be faced with criticism for making a "reach" for the player.  There is no win-win situation for the GM, unless you think they really don't care what their peers think of what they are doing.  Personally, I don't believe they are immune to this sort of pressure, and while I may criticize them, it isn't without some measure of sympathy.

So, now we finally come to the question of Courtney Upshaw, and why I dreaded his selection so much.  As always, a large amount of my concern comes down to what I feel are significant physical shortcomings.  While a player can do quite well, while being athletically average, his chances of success are rather slim when he is well below average for his position group.  In Upshaw's case, being average would be a massive improvement. 

Player                            Kangaroo Score          Agility Score          Total Score
Courtney Upshaw               -0.754                          -0.843                     -0.743

You can click here to compare these numbers to some of his peers.  The scores above are given in terms of how many standard deviations, above or below average, that a player is when compared to players in his position group.  Basically, his Kangaroo Score suggests that he doesn't have the explosiveness or power to be an effective bull rusher.  His even worse Agility Score would mean it is unlikely that he would excel at executing more elaborate pass rushing moves, and he would also probably struggle to drop back into coverage.  Out of 568 outside linebacker/defensive end prospects, for whom we have data, Upshaw's -0.743 Total Score places him as the 515th rated prospect, in terms of athletic ability.  His one redeeming quality is his mass, weighing 272 pounds at the combine (now he has supposedly ballooned up to 285), so he can at least serve as a hefty speed bump.  I think it is clear that there is a very good, and obvious, reason why he fell so much further than he was expected to.

It's true, though, that his stats at Alabama were quite good.  In his last to years in college, he averaged 15.75 tackles for a loss, and totaled 15.5 sacks in those same years.  Still, he was playing on what might have been the best defense in college football.  Their defensive front seven probably outweighed their opponent's defense by 15 pounds per person.  The Alabama defense tends to be quite large.  Things like that probably matter a lot at the college level, where running the ball is still emphasized a bit more. 

Some would suggest that he was mainly expected to be a run stopper, in the Jarret Johnson mold.  First of all, Jarret Johnson was still probably a better pass rusher than Upshaw.  Johnson's Kangaroo Score of  -0.167 (slightly below average), suggested at least some mediocre possibility as a pass rusher, even if his Agility Score was an atrocious -1.558.  One has to consider though, that Johnson attended the combine as a 284# defensive tackle, so his Agility Score would quite likely be better at his current 260# playing weight.  Secondly, Johnson was taken in the fourth round, which is a more suitable place to select a player with his somewhat limited skills.  Comparisons to Jarret Johnson also avoid the question of whether stopping the opponent's running game should really be the emphasis of what a 3-4 OLB is doing in the first place.  Johnson was a very likeable player, but I don't think he serves as a great model for what a 3-4 OLB should ideally look like.  Personally, I think that if you are that concerned about stopping the run, you should address that issue with your defensive line and middle linebackers.

At this point the local fans still seem to think that Upshaw will develop into something special, largely because they have seen it happen in the past with the Ravens' first round picks.  They point to Upshaw's 60 tackles, and 1.5 sacks in his rookie year as signs of his potential.  Or, they can also talk about his forced fumble in the 2013 Super Bowl.  The problem with this is that a player is going to inevitably accumulate some sort of stats just by being allowed to go on the field.  What, precisely, is the most insignificant amount of production a player can be expected to have while being able to start in 11 games (including the post-season)?   What I find most interesting is that Albert McClellan accumulated almost identical stats, in the same number of starts, on the same team, yet nobody seems to care about him (though I think he could turn out to be better than Upshaw, if given the same opportunity).  Being your team's first pick certainly seems to garner you a lot of faith and goodwill, that an undrafted player like McClellan will probably never receive.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Kawann Short: Angry Squirrel

Now we come to Kawann Short.  Short is a defensive tackle, who was taken with the 44th overall pick by the Panthers.  Oddly, he was the second defensive tackle that the Panthers took in the draft, with Star Lotulelei being taken at the 14th pick.  Here I'll compare Short to some defensive tackles that most people will know.  I will also include the number average number of tackles for a loss that each player had in their last two years in college, since this is something I value.

Player                  Position       Weight       Kangaroo Score      Agility Score     Avg. TFL
Kawann Short DT 299 -1.157 0.141 16.5
Geno Atkins DT 293 0.793 1.056 9
Ndamukong Suh DT 307 0.900 1.227 15
Gerald McCoy DT 295 0.279 0.946 13.25
Lamarr Houston DT 305 1.201 -0.108 14
Kevin Williams DT 304 0.449 -1.024 9.5
Barry Cofield DT 304 0.529 1.095 5.75
Jay Ratliff NT 292 0.821 1.530 2.25
Haloti Ngata NT 338 2.043 -0.645 8.75
Randy Starks NT 314 0.570 0.643 13.5
B.J. Raji NT 337 1.478 -0.531 12.25
Kris Jenkins NT 316 0.819 0.242 9.5
Paul Soliai NT 344 1.336 -0.139 2.5
JJ Watt 3-4 DE 290 1.473 2.347 18.25
Mario Williams 3-4 DE 295 2.256 1.404 19.5
Calais Campbell 3-4 DE 290 0.428 0.203 16.5
Derek Wolfe 3-4 DE 295 0.279 1.145 14
Muhammad Wilkerson 3-4 DE 315 0.288 0.684 11.75
Cameron Jordan DE 287 0.214 1.633 10

Short's number aren't exactly what I would call mind blowing.  His Kangaroo Score suggests that he has the explosiveness and power of an angry squirrel.  On a somewhat positive note, he does appear to have average agility, and he was productive in college.  I wouldn't say that Short is going to be a bust (he will be a bust), but I would suspect he will most likely fall into the average range, at best (hmm, no, he will be a bust).  He is somewhat comparable to a player like Glenn Dorsey (Kangaroo Score of -1.466 and an agility score of  -0.188), or perhaps Ryan McBean (Kangaroo Score -0.937, Agility Score 0.230).  If an outcome similar to those players does occur, then taking Short in the second round might have been a reach. 

These things are tricky to predict though, and people can exceed your expectations.  I wouldn't be shocked if at some point he does have moments of excellent play.  Over the long haul, however, I suspect the jump to the NFL will be challenging for him.  I have no interest in seeing someone fail.  I am just trying to suggest that amongst the players who have achieved the highest degrees of success, exceptional degrees of athleticism are quite common.  If I had to gamble on it, taking more pedestrian athletes would tend to make me a bit nervous.  If you can't find a historical player who succeeded, that compares favorably to your current prospect, should you really be taking them with a high draft pick?  Betting on a player being an outlier, seems like a questionable approach.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Questionable 2013 1st Round Picks

Since 40-50 percent of each year's first round picks either turn out to be busts or disappointments, I thought I would speculate about which players from the 2013 draft are most likely to fall into that group.  Since that works out to 13-16 prospects, on average, that's how many I'll try to list.  I'm not saying that they will be busts.  I am just suggesting that these players have a bit more risk associated with them, than I would prefer to see.

Pick #4 Dion Jordan DE/OLB, Miami Dolphins - With a -0.216 Kangaroo Score he probably doesn't have the explosive power to bull rush.  While his Agility Score of 0.426 is good, it probably isn't good enough to make him more than average.  His college production, with only an average of 11.75 tackles for a loss in his final two seasons, also fails to excite me.  He might do okay, but for the 4th overall pick, he doesn't have the traits I would hope to see.

Pick #7 Jonathan Cooper Guard, Arizona Cardinals- Has a Vert. Kangaroo Score of -0.549, and an Agility Score of -0.234.  These aren't terrible numbers for a guard, but they fail to suggest anything spectacular.  He'll get plenty of opportunities since he was drafted highly, but I expect people's opinions to cool on him in the next few years.  Seems destined to become average at best.

Pick #8 Tavon Austin Wide Receiver, St. Louis Rams-  This is tricky since he falls into my unofficial midget class of receiver.  For what he is, he could be decent.  The likelihood that he will ever produce to a level to justify this high of a pick seems slim though.  The only receiver of his approximate size, selected in the last ten or so years,  to consistently produce at a high level was probably DeSean Jackson, who wasn't taken until the 49th overall pick.  Even knowing what we know now about DeSean, I'm not sure that we could justify picking him with the 8th pick, so...

Pick #10 Chance Warmack, Guard, Tennessee Titans - My data here is incomplete since he didn't do the vertical jump, but his broad jump suggests he has some power (1.245 Broad Jump Kangaroo Score).  Unfortunately, the broad jump is less reliable than the vertical jump for the fat guys.  Either way, his Agility Score was -0.916, which is pretty awful.  His forty yard dash time of 5.49 seconds was also poor, which surprisingly does matter for linemen.  Only Shawn Andrews and Dan Koppen managed to have similarly poor 40s and still achieve some success in the last few years.  The numbers suggest a guy who might be able to run block, though little else.

Pick #11 D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, San Diego Chargers - This is a tricky pick to criticize, since lumbering behemoths always have some value.  He has a 0.351 Vert. Kangaroo Score, so he probably possesses some moderate lower body power.  As for agility, we only have his short shuttle score which is -1.242, which is pretty terrible.  I won't be surprised if he is decent at run blocking, but the limited agility numbers I have, along with a 5.28 forty yard dash (mediocre) and a 10 yard split of 1.90 (pretty horrible), don't suggest he will do well in pass protection.  He does have some exceptionally long arms though (36 3/4"), so maybe that will help.  I would be looking for someone with more upside with this high of a pick.

Pick #12 D.J. Hayden, Cornerback, Oakland Raiders- I actually don't have a huge problem with Hayden, though I am missing some data on him.  The issue here is whether it makes any sense to draft someone this highly when their heart partially exploded while they were in college.  The doctor said repairing his heart was like "sewing together wet toilet paper".  Hmm, that would make me nervous.

Pick #17 Jarvis Jones, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers -  So, he is slow (4.88 second forty yard dash), not explosive (-1.243 Kangaroo Score), not agile (-1.304 Agility Score), and may have a high risk of back injury due to spinal stenosis.  Why would you take a risk on this guy in the first round?

Pick #24 Bjoern Werner, DE/OLB, Indianapolis Colts - Despite respectable production in college (averaged 14.5 TFL in his last two years) the numbers suggest he has somewhat mediocre athletic ability.  He could probably get by with his -0.280 Kangaroo Score, but combined with a -0.251 Agility Score, I would expect him to struggle.  The possibility that Tank Carradine was a better pass rusher, on the same team (Florida State) also cuts into his value a bit.  Would probably do better as a 4-3 DE, than as an OLB, due to his moderate lack of agility.

Pick #25 Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback, Minnesota Vikings- I've already covered this in an earlier post, but I don't know why someone would take a cornerback this high when they demonstrated what were possibly the worst agility scores ever, for a corner, in the short shuttle and 3-cone drill.  Agility matters for these guys.

Pick #28 Sylvester Williams DT, Denver Broncos - His production in college was decent, averaging 10.25 TFL in his last two years.  Sadly, his stats were too heavily weighted by his senior year, making him appear like a one year wonder.  His pitiful -0.848 Vertical Kangaroo Score, and equally dismal -0.858 Agility Score, don't paint a pretty picture.  I predict DOOM for Mr. Williams!

Pick # 29 Cordarelle Patterson, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings - I'll keep this simple, since I've already picked on the Viking's other 1st round pick.  Cordarelle is a very exciting and gifted athlete, but I don't think his production in college justifies taking this much of a gamble on him.  I would go with a safer, if less spectacular pick, if I was going to take a WR in the first round.

Pick #31 Travis Frederick, Center, Dallas Cowboys - At first, his numbers look pleasingly average, with a -0.067 Vert. Kangaroo Score, and a -0.091 Agility Score.  Unfortunately, I think a short shuttle time of 4.76 seconds doesn't suggest a high likelihood of success for a center.  For centers, the time to shoot for is closer to 4.50 seconds.  He also has an abysmal 40 time of 5.55 seconds, with a 1.91 second 10 yard split, which also doesn't bode well for him.  Among 26 Pro Bowl/All Pro interior lineman (from the last ten or so years), the average 40 time is 5.18 seconds, with only 4 out of 26 having times worse than 5.3 seconds, and the average 10 yard split is 1.77 seconds.  So, yes, a 5.55 second 40 time really sucks, even by fat guy standards.

There are a number of other players like E.J. Manuel, Justin Pugh, Matt Elam, Dee Milliner, Alec Ogletree or Kyle Long of whom I could question their merits.  They aren't quite as likely to become busts, in my opinion (though I have no idea about E.J. Manuel), but they don't appear likely to become stars either.  So, my main criticism would be based on their alleged 1st round value, rather than a suggestion that the pick had huge warning signs of bust potential.

I think this year's draft was pretty horrible in terms of talent.  I suspect you could measure the overall talent of a draft class by how many guards are drafted in the first round.  When all else fails, and you aren't sure who to select, a GM can always draft a guard, and figure nobody will notice if they suck.  It's not that I don't value guards; it's just that I don't think most people would value them highly enough to take in the first round unless there was a dearth of talent at the other positions.  This year 4 guards were taken in the first round, which seems a bit high.  Over the previous 5 years the average number of guards taken in the first round was 0.8 per year.  So, according to this admittedly idiotic measurement, I wouldn't be surprised if the failure rate for this draft class is significantly higher than normal.

Or, we could look at the number of safeties taken in the first round, which was 3.  That is another position which tends not to be taken in the first round.  Over the previous 5 years the average number of safeties taken in the first round was 1.2 per year, if we count Malcolm Jenkins as a safety.  Initially he was drafted as a cornerback, and didn't move to the safety position until his second year.  If we counted him as a corner, then the average number of 1st round safeties would be 1 per year.  So, either this year's safeties were either more plentiful/talented than they typically are, or a lack of talent at other positions was pushing safeties into the first round.

I'm sure that someone on this list will end up doing better than I expect, and someone I thought was relatively safe will under-perform.  I'm just curious as to how many of the riskier players will end up having their success hindered by issues that were fairly obvious from the beginning.