This is the second in a series of articles about the NFL Combine, which begins on February 20. DRAFTMETRICS won’t repeat all the introductory information from the first article, but some degree of repetition is unavoidable. All information in this article is based on the 1999-2012 Combines. The DRAFTMETRICS analysis includes the results of the following drills:
This article reviews the Combine results from three perspectives:
• Provide a context for Combine results by reporting historical performance
• Consider whether results of any Combine drills are meaningful predictors of future success
• Consider whether results of any Combine drills portend a low probability of success
DRAFTMETRICS summarized its information by four overlapping groups of players. A player can be included in only group or a many as all four. The groups are:
• All Combine participants from 1999 through 2012
• Combine participants who were drafted from 1999 through 2012
• Combine participants who started at least one season (starters start at least 8 games in a season)
• Combine participants who started at least three seasons
The following table displays the number of participants and average results for each of the player categories. The bench press is excluded because so few wide receivers participate in the drill. This is a good starting point in evaluating 2013 Combine results.
The next table shows the range of results for all players who were starters for at least one season.
The ranges are fairly narrow for the speed and agility drills and significantly wider for the explosion drills. These ranges are pretty much the same for 3-year starters. DRAFTMETRICS offers the following observations based on its review of Wide Receiver results at the Combine and subsequent NFL careers:
• Speed is important but is no guarantee in predicting success
-Seven of the 13 players (top ten + ties) who ran the fastest 40 times from 1999-2012 became starters for at least one season and only two (Darius Heyward-Bey and Santana Moss) were selected in the first round
-Eleven players posted results that placed them in the top 10% in the 10-yard and 20-yard splits, the flying 20 and the 40-yard dash
-Only five started at least one NFL season and Heyward-Bey was the only first round pick
-But there are positive indicators when reviewing the individual splits
*About 25% of 1-year WR starters ran the 10-yard split in 1.50 seconds or less compared to 15% of all Combine participants and 17% of all draftees
*About 73% of 1-year WR starters ran the 20-yard split (not the flying 20) in 2.62 seconds or less compared to 57% of all Combine participants and two-thirds of all draftees
*Over 70% of WR starters ran the 40 in 4.51 or less compared to 52% of all Combine participants and 63% of all draftees
-Despite a lot of talk about it, results from the flying 20 were no more predictive than any other splits
*Of the players who ran the top 17 flying 20 times from 1999-2012 (top 10 + ties), seven became starters and, to this point, only one was a 3-year starter
*The flying 20 was probably the least predictive of any of the speed splits
• Size (kinda) matters
-DRAFTMETRICS divided wide receivers by height and reviewed everyone who ran the 40 in 4.51 seconds or less
• The “explosion” drills (vertical jump and broad jump) were moderately predictive
-Ten of the 24 players who ranked in the top 10% of both drills started one or more years
-About half of 1-year starters had vertical jumps of 37 inches or better compared to about 33% of all Combine participants and 39% of all draft choices
-About 75% of 1-year starters had broad jumps of 118 inches or more compared to 63% of all Combine participants
• There was little to no correlation between agility drill (20-yard shuttle and 3-Cone drills) results and NFL success
-Only one of the 12 players who finished in the top 10 results for both drills was a starter
-Overall results were only marginally better in the agility drills (20 yard shuttle and 3-Cone drill) than all Combine participants and drafted players
• A few “red flags” were worth noting
-None of the 39 Combine participants that ran the 10-yard split in 1.64 or greater have become 3-year starters and only two became 1-year starters
-None of the 35 Combine participants that ran the flying 20 in 1.98 or greater have become 3-year starters and only three became 1-year starters
-Only four of the 71 Combine participants who had a vertical jump 33 inches or lower became 3-year starters and only eight became 1-year starters
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