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Myles Garrett Is Your 2017 Combine Champion

Myles Garrett is in good shape.

Over the last few days, we have looked at how the top college athletes performed in various drills at the NFL combine, after adjusting for height and weight. Today, we look at the full results and crown a combine champion.

That is a pretty easy thing to do, as it turns out. Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is likely going to be the first overall pick in the draft, and his performance in Indianapolis cemented such a distinction. Garrett had the 2nd best performance in three separate drills: the 40-yard dash, the bench press, and the vertical jump. Then, he produced a 5th-place finish in the broad jump, while sitting out the 3-cone drill. Garrett competed in four of these five events and his averaged finish was 2.8. That’s tremendous.

The table below shows the results in these five drills. I have also included an average rank, excluding all events where a player didn’t participate. That’s not the best way to do this, but I don’t know of a simpler method to rank them. The far right column shows how many of the 5 events each player competed in, so that can be a useful guide. It’s clear to me that the runner up for Combine King is Solomon Thomas rather than Aviante Collins. Thomas had an average rank of 7.6, but he competed in all five events. Collins has a higher rank at 5.0, but the TCU tackle only competed in the 40 and the bench press. To me, a 1-7-8-8-14 is more impressive than a 5-5-dnp-dnp-dnp, but to keep things simple, I just used a simple average. [click to continue…]

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Thomas was a combine superstar

As you can imagine, heavier players fare much worse in the 3-cone drill, and taller players have a slight advantage, too. Here was the best-fit formula from the 2017 combine:

7.3397 -0.0317 * Height (Inches) + 0.0091 * Weight (Pounds)

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is one of the more interesting prospects from this draft, and he dominated in the 3-cone drill, finishing in 6.57 seconds, just one hundredth of a second behind the leader. Given his dimensions — 71 inches, 202 pounds — he’d be expected to complete the drill in 6.93. McCaffrey therefore finished the drill in 0.36 seconds more than expected, the 7th-best adjusted performance in this drill.

The top performance belonged to a different Stanford player, defensive end Solomon Thomas, who finished a full 0.50 seconds above expectation. The full results, below: [click to continue…]

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Hey, look who it is again.

Yesterday, we looked at the vertical jump, which is biased towards lighter players. The star at the combine was Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, who had both the top vertical jump and the top weight-adjusted vertical jump. Well, Melifonwu also had the longest broad jump at the combine.

The broad jump is also biased in towards lighter players, but it’s also biased towards taller players. As a result, we need to adjust broad jump results for both weight and height: the best-fit formula from the results of the 2017 combine is:

Broad Jump = 84.14 + 1.0766 * Height (Inches) – 0.1940 * Weight (Pounds)

For Melifonwu, he weighed 224 pounds and was 76 inches tall; that means he’d be projected to jump a solid 122.5 inches. That’s a pretty high projection, showing that Melifonwu’s body is well-tailored for this drill. But even still, he exceeded that jump by 18.5 inches, courtesy of his remarkable 141 inch jump. As a result, he once again had both the top jump and the top adjusted jump: [click to continue…]

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Being able to jump high might be useful for a safety

Let’s begin with the most remarkable of today’s feats: Myles Garrett is getting pretty good at this number two thing. After finishing second in the weight-adjusted 40 and second in the height and weight adjusted bench press, Garrett has again finished second in a combine drill, this time the weight-adjusted vertical.

When it comes to the vertical jump, weight is by far the most important thing that matters. For every additional 16.7 pounds a player weights, his expected vertical declines by one inch. That’s because the best-fit formula for projecting the vertical jump at the 2017 combine was 46.38 – 0.0597 * weight (pounds). Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu weighed 224 pounds in Indianapolis, which would project him to jump an even 33 inches if he was average at this drill.

Well, Melifonwu was anything but average. He jumped an incredible 44 inches: for comparison’s sake, Florida State / Jacksonville safety Jalen Ramsey had a 41.5 inch vertical last year, tied for the most of any player at the 2016 combine. And that was at 209 pounds. Melifonwu was 15 pounds heavier and jumped 2.5 inches higher. That’s a remarkable feat, and brings to mind some of the great verticals from the 2015 combine.

And while Melifonwu was 11 inches better than expected, Garrett was right on his heels at +10.9 inches. Garrett weighed 272 pounds at the combine, but still jumped an insane 41 inches. That’s only three fewer inches than Melifonwu at 48 pounds heavier. Now because the average player lost 16.7 inches for every pound, that makes Melifonwu’s jump just slightly better, but the two of them were far ahead of the rest of the pack. Below are the full results: [click to continue…]

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Lawson, when he’s not on the bench press

Yesterday, I looked at the best weight-adjusted 40-yard dash times at the 2017 NFL Combine. The Browns are expected to select Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, and with good reason: he had the 2nd best weight-adjusted 40-yard dash time, and he comes in 2nd place again today in the height and weight adjusted bench press.

In 2015, Clemson/Atlanta Falcon Vic Beasley was the bench press champion, using a formula involving expected bench press reps based on a player’s height and weight.  That turned out to be pretty predictive of future success; on the other hand, last year’s winner was Nebraska fullback Andy Janovich, who wound up being a 6th round pick and a minor contributor as a rookie with the Broncos.

The best-fit formula to project bench press reps for the 2017 Combine was:

17.401 -0.3354 * Height (Inches) + 0.1075 * Weight (Pounds)

Using that formula, Garrett — at 76 inches and 272 pounds — would be projected to bench press 225 pounds for 21.1 reps. In reality, Garrett produced a whopping 33 reps, or 11.9 more than expected. The only way to top him was Auburn’s Carl Lawson, who measured at 74 inches and only 261 pounds. Being shorter is better, but being lighter is worse, and Lawson would be projected using the regression to have 20.6 reps on the bench press. Instead, he had 35, or 14.4 more than projected, easily the largest margin at the combine.
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O.J. Howard is fast.

As I have done for the last few years, this week I will be using the raw NFL combine data and adjusting them various metrics.  With respect to the 40-yard dash, the only adjustment I’ve made is for weight, as no other variable (e.g., height) impacts a player’s 40 time quite like weight.  The best-fit formula to predict 40-yard dash time during the 2017 combine was 3.283 + 0.00606 x weight. ((This time around, I excluded punters, kickers, and long snappers when running regressions, as those players aren’t invited to their combine for their raw athleticism (and removing them made the numbers a little tighter). As you can see

Let’s use Alabama tight end O.J. Howard as an example.  He weighed 251 pounds at the combine, which means he would be projected to run the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds. Instead, he ran it in just 4.51 seconds, a full 0.30 better than expected.

That was the best performance of any player at the combine. A very close second was produced by the presumptive number one pick in the draft, Myles Garrett. The Texas A&M defensive end weighed 272 pounds, so using the formula above, a player of Garrett’s size should run the 40 in 4.93 seconds.  But Garrett was 0.29 seconds better than expected, completing the drill in 4.64 seconds. Garrett reportedly bested that time by running 40 yards in 4.57 seconds at his Pro Day, too. [click to continue…]

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Over the last week or so, I have been analyzing the top performers at the combine in various drills. Today, I want to put it all together. Let’s use Northwestern fullback Dan Vitale as our example.

In the 40-yard dash, Vitale was expected to run it in 4.76 seconds, but instead ran it in 4.6 seconds. That gave him the 28th best score. Put another way, his 40-yard time was 1.18 standard deviations better than the average score, after adjusting for weight.

In the bench press, he was even better. putting up 30 reps, 10.4 more than would be expected given his height and weight. His Z-Score in that event — i.e., how many standard deviations above average he scored — was 2.56.

You might not think of a fullback as dominating in the Vertical Jump, but Vitale excelled here, too. Given his height and weight, he would have been expected to jump 32.6 inches. Instead, he bested that by 5.9 inches, making him the 8th biggest overacheiver in this drill, and 1.97 standard deviations above average.

Vitale was not quite as good in the Broad Jump, but he still ranked 31st by outjumping his projected by 7.8 inches and 1.29 standard deviations.

In the Short Shuttle, Vitale was once again very good, posting the 12th-best adjusted time, which gave him a Z-score of 1.71.

Finally, the 3-Cone drill was his worst, as he finished 62nd and just 0.59 standard deviations above average. Still, add it up, and Vitale was 9.30 standard deviations above average in all of the drills. [click to continue…]

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Raiders linebacker Ben Heeney had a nondescript rookie season after being drafted by Oakland in the fifth round of the 2015 Draft. But the Kansas linebacker dominated the 3-cone drill at the 2015 Combine.

As a reminder, here’s a description of the 3-cone drill from NFL.com.

The 3 cone drill tests an athlete’s ability to change directions at a high speed. Three cones in an L-shape. He starts from the starting line, goes 5 yards to the first cone and back. Then, he turns, runs around the second cone, runs a weave around the third cone, which is the high point of the L, changes directions, comes back around that second cone and finishes.

In general, this drill favors taller (i.e., fewer strides) and lighter players. The best-fit formula to project a 3-cone score from the 2016 combine was 7.23 – 0.028 * Height (Inches) + 0.0087 * Weight (Pounds). And Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, who some believe is the best player in the draft, absolutely dominated this drill. Despite weighing 269 pounds, Bosa completed the drill in 6.89 seconds, the 26th-fastest time out of 217 participants. He was the only player at even 250+ pounds to finish in under 6.9 seconds.

But Bosa only had the second best rating in this drill. And frankly, it wasn’t even close. Stanford wide receiver Devon Cajuste is 234 pounds — that’s pretty big for a wide receiver — and he ran the single fastest 3-cone drill at the combine. That’s not the fastest among players that weigh 200+ pounds, or even wide receivers. It’s the fastest, period, and by 0.09 seconds. Cajuste may profile as a hybrid wide receiver/tight end, but this sort of shiftiness adds intrigue to his ability to play in the slot. According to Josh Norris, Cajuste — again, ignoring that he weighs 234 pounds! — ran the 5th best 3 cone time by any wide receiver in the last decade. [click to continue…]

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The 20-yard shuttle is the Combine’s approach to measure an athlete’s agility, short-range explosiveness, and lateral quickness. Here’s the description from NFL.com:

The athlete starts in the three-point stance, explodes out 5 yards to his right, touches the line, goes back 10 yards to his left, left hand touches the line, pivot, and he turns 5 more yards and finishes.

As you can imagine, heavier players fare much worse in this metric, and shorter players have a slight advantage, too. The best-fit formula from the 2016 Combine using height and weight as inputs is: 4.00 -0.012 * Height (Inches) + 0.005 * Weight (Pounds). In other words, for every 20 pounds a player weighs, he would be expected to take an extra tenth of a second to complete the drill. UCLA center Jake Brendel is 6’4 and weighs 303 pounds; that’s not exactly the formula for dominating this drill. But he wound up completing the workout in just 4.27 seconds, the exact same time it took Notre Dame wideout Will Fuller (6’0, 186 pounds). Based on Brendel’s profile, we would have projected him to take an extra 0.40 seconds to finish, which means he is your 2016 Short Shuttle champion. [click to continue…]

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Ohio State outside linebacker Darron Lee had a productive collegiate career, but really raised eyes at the 2016 Combine. Lee had the 6th best weight-adjusted 40-yard time, and then added to that with an incredible performance in the broad jump.

This drill is biased in favor of taller and lighter players; as a result, the best-fit formula to project the Broad jump at the 2016 combine was 119.2 + 0.49 * Height (Inches) – 0.164 * Weight (Pounds). Alabama’s Derrick Henry, who had the 5th best weight-adjusted 40-yard time, had the 2nd-best broad jump. [click to continue…]

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Virginia Tech defense end Dadi Nicolas is going to have to switch positions in the pros, but there’s no doubting his athleticism. At just 235 pounds, Nicolas projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker/situational pass rusher in the NFL.

At the NFL Combine, seven players jumped over 40 inches in the vertical jump drill. The first six of those players weighed 188, 194, 194, 202, 209, 209 pounds. The seventh was Nicolas, who weighed 235 pounds: that’s light for a defensive end, but really, really heavy for a guy who has a 41″ vertical.

The best-fit formula to project vertical jumps at the 2016 NFL combine was 46.96 – 0.06 * Weight (Pounds). So Nicolas, at 235, would be projected to jump 32.8 inches. That means the Hokies star, who led the ACC in tackles for loss in 2014, outjumped expectations by 8.2 inches, the most of any player in Indianapolis. [click to continue…]

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Last week, I looked at weight-adjusted 40-yard dash times from the NFL Combine. Today, I want to analyze the bench press.  Last year, Clemson/Atlanta Falcon Vic Beasley was your bench press champion, using a formula involving expected bench press reps based on a player’s height and weight.  This year, that honor belongs to Nebraska fullback Andy Janovich.  The fullback position may be of declining importance in the modern NFL, but this can only help Janovich’s stock.

The best-fit formula to project bench press reps for the 2016 Combine was:

37.97  -0.65 * Height (Inches) + 0.119 * Weight (Pounds)

By this formula, the 73-inch, 238-pound Janovich “should” have benched 225 pounds 18.8 times; instead, he put up 30 reps.  Arizona State guard Christian Westerman led the way with 34 reps, but at 6’3, 317, he only produced 9.3 more reps than expected.

Thanks to NFLCombineResults for the raw data. [click to continue…]

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As I did the last couple of years, I used the raw NFL combine data and adjusted them various metrics.  With respect to the 40-yard dash, the only adjustment I’ve made is for weight, as no other variable (e.g., height) impacts a player’s 40 time quite like weight. The best-fit formula to predict 40-yard dash time during the 2016 combine was 3.38 + 0.00577 x weight.

Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper weighed in at 271 pounds, which would “project” to a 40-yard time of 4.94.  Tapper, though, ran the 40 in a blistering 4.59 seconds.  That’s not quite Jadeveon Clowney (266, 4.53), but it’s comparable to what Bud Dupree (269, 4.56) did last year. Tapper ran the top weight-adjusted 40-yard dash time of 2016, with Todd Gurley’s former running back mate, Keith Marshall, the runner up. Thanks to NFLCombineResults for the raw data. [click to continue…]

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Here’s how NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein described Kansas inside linebacker Ben Heeney:

Undersized inside linebacker with a big motor and willingness to take chances. Lacks the athleticism to recover from mistakes in the running game and is too tight to cover in space against the pass.

But at the combine, Heeney didn’t appear out of his athletic class. He ranked a respectable 49th in the 40 yard dash and 58th in the broad jump, while performing at perfectly average levesl in the vertical jump and bench press.

But it’s the 3-cone drill where Heeney starred.   Based on my research from last year, the best-fit formula to project a prospect’s performance in the 3-cone drill is:

Expected 3-Cone = 6.98 – 0.023 * Height + 0.0081 * Weight

For every 12.3 pounds of weight, a player’s expected 3-cone time increases by 0.1 seconds.  Height, meanwhile, is positively correlated: taller players tend to perform better in this drill, which is probably due to stride length/having to take fewer steps.   Heeney, as Zierlein noted, is a bit undersized at inside linebacker: he weighed in at 231 pounds and stood at six feet even (though that combination has worked out well for other inside linebackers).

Given that height/weight combination, we would expect Heeney to complete the 3-cone drill in 7.20 seconds. But Heeney finished it just 6.68 seconds, 0.52 seconds better than expected. According to NFLSavant.com, Heeney is just the 9th inside linebacker in combine history to break 7 seconds in the 3-cone drill; Prior to Heeney, the top two times came in 2012, when undrafted Chris Galippo ran it in 6.90, and Luke Kuechley did it in 6.92.

The table below shows the results of all 207 participants in the 3-cone drill at the combine.  Thanks to NFLSavant.com for the data. [click to continue…]

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Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones made history at the 2015 combine, with an unbelievable broad jump of 147 inches. And the video was every bit as impressive as it sounds. Keep in mind that no other player in combine history has ever even hit the 140 inch mark, giving Jones a full 8″ lead on every other broad jump ever recorded in Indianapolis.

On the other hand, Alvin “Bud” Dupree did something special, too. Remember, the Kentucky outside linebacker weighed in at 269 pounds, and he managed to jump 138 inches. In combine history, no other player over 260 pounds has jumped more than 129 inches; lower the weight to over 250 pounds, and the best mark after Dupree is 131 inches. So the Wildcats edge rusher was really in a class of his own, too.

There were 249 prospects in Indianapolis who performed in the broad jump. I performed a regression analysis using weight and height as my inputs, since both variables were highly significant in predicting the broad jump. Here is the best-fit formula: [click to continue…]

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As a general rule, shorter and heavier guys tend to dominate the bench press. When I looked at this last year, the best-fit formula to predict the number of reps of 225 a prospect could achieve was:

Expected BP = 30.0 – 0.560 * Height + .1275 * Weight

What does that mean? All else being equal, if Prospect A is 7 inches shorter than Prospect B, we would expect Prospect B to produce about 4 more reps than Prospect A. And for every eight pounds of body weight a player has, we would expect one additional rep out of that prospect.

Which brings us to Clemson outside linebacker Vic Beasley. Standing 6’3 and “only” 246 pounds, Beasley doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a bench pressing machine. But in Indianapolis, he pumped out an incredible 35 reps, tied for the third most at the combine (no other player under 300 pounds had even 33 reps). Given his height and weight, the formula above would project Beasley for 19.4 reps, which means he exceeded expectations by a whopping 15.6 reps. No other player came close to exceeding expectations to such a significant degree.

The table below shows the results of all players who participated in the bench press at the combine.  All data comes courtesy of NFLSavant.com.

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One of the biggest headlines from the combine were the jumps from Byron Jones, a cornerback from Connecticut. Most impressive was his broad jump, which was not only 8 inches better than everyone else in Indianapolis, but also 8 inches better than anyone else in combine history. More on his broad jump in a future post, but Jones’ 44.5″ vertical too shabby, either: it was the best since 2009, when Ohio State and eventual Chiefs safety Donald Washington jumped 45 inches (a feat later matched by one other player at this year’s combine).

But Jones didn’t have the most impressive vertical at the combine, because at 199 pounds, there’s an expectation that he would do fairly well in that drill.  Given his weight, we would expect Jones to jump about 35.5 inches, based on the best-fit formula derived here, and defined below:

Expected VJ = 48.34 – 0.0646 * Weight

One way to think of that formula is that for every 15.5 pounds of player weight, the expectation on the vertical is one fewer inch.  So at 230 pounds, the expectation would be 33.5 inches.  Which brings us to Alvin “Bud” Dupree, whom we lauded yesterday for the top performance in the 40-yard dash.  At 269 pounds, he would be expected to jump roughly 31.0 inches.  Instead, the Kentucky edge rusher jumped a whopping 42.0 inches — or 11.0 inches over expectation — making it the best weight-adjusted performance of any player in Indianapolis.

Below are the results of the Vertical Jump for every player at the combine. All data comes courtesy of NFLSavant.com. [click to continue…]

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Bud Dupree Ran The Top Weight-Adjusted 40 At 2015 Combine

Last year, I looked at various data from the NFL combine and tried to put the results from some of the drills in perspective. Let’s do that again with the 40-yard dash, with data courtesy of courtesy of NFLSavant.com.

The best-fit formula to project a 40-yard dash time, given a prospect’s weight, is:

Expected 40 Time = 3.433 + 0.00554 * Weight

Alvin “Bud” Dupree, an outside linebacker from Kentucky, weighed in at 269 pounds at the combine, giving him an expected 40 time of 4.92. But in Indianapolis, he ran the dash in just 4.56 seconds, meaning he exceeded expectations by an incredible 0.36 seconds. That was the top time of 2015, and would have been the second best in 2014 behind only to Jadeveon Clowney.

The full results from the Combine this year, below: [click to continue…]

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