Interesting article. Makes me wonder if Derek Rivers is a legit first round option for the Falcons. Sheds a different perspective on this years pass rushers.
There are two types of NFL draft analysts; those that put a lot of stock in the athletic testing numbers and those who care very little about them. For transparency, I fall in the first category for positions on the defensive side of the ball. I think the tape and total college productivity are extremely important, but I firmly believe the things that can’t be coached (Size, Speed, Agility, and Explosiveness) are critical for a player’s ability to translate at the next level.
There is a lot of work out there that examines specific athletic testing and its relationship to success (See Justis Mosqueda’s work on Force Players at playmakermentality.com). I truly appreciate this work, but I wanted to create something that takes the athletic testing and combines it with productivity over the course of a college career producing a baseline number that can be compared player to player.
I’m calling this the Chipper score, meaning put a bunch of numbers in the hopper and see what comes out the other side. This scoring system is not meant to predict success at the next level, but more so to provide an understanding of what type of prospect you’re looking at as a whole.
The Chipper score is created as follows: I take eight combine metrics (Height, Weight, Arm Length, 40, 3-cone, Vertical Jump, Broad Jump, and Bench Press) and use the percentiles for each according to the great work over at mockdraftable.com. Then I take an overall percentile average for all eight categories, take an athletic average (using the last five metrics), and add in the productivity score.
The productivity score for Edge Rushers, and Defensive Tackles is created by taking (total Sacks x 2 + TFL x 2 + Total Tackles) divided by (Games Played). Then I take that number and multiply it by 10. So what you are left with is (average testing percentile + average athletic testing percentile + productivity score = Chipper Score). Here is an example:
These are two of the highest testing guys I’ve charted and you can see how they compare. Beasley tested smaller in size, but when you take out the size metrics his percentile balloons due to his exceptional athletic testing. The correlation makes sense, as you would assume the smaller, lighter body type has more of a chance to excel in the speed and agility drills. Mack on the other hand, is pretty consistent in the metric testing across the board and posted insane production stats, which edges him over Beasley.
I charted what are generally the consensus high end edge rushers and defensive tackles in the 2017 class, then went back and charted all the first round picks from 2011-2016 in the same positions. There are a few names off these lists due to lack of testing results (Dee Ford for example), but most of the names are here:
The purpose of this exercise was to examine this year’s edge-rushers in comparison with previous first-round draft picks to get a high-level overview of their profiles. You can’t replace the tape and there are many things that can’t be measured by stats such as football intelligence, hand usage, scheme fit and whether a player is dealing with double/triple teams or benefiting from a better player drawing such attention.
I have watched the tape on almost all of the prospects and have generated opinions absent of the testing, but not all competition is created equal. You cannot know how much impact solid coaching and being drafted into a good situation can make or break a player. Thus I understand the blanket eye rolls that come your way when you start talking about testing numbers.
However, this information does give an idea of unteachable abilities, and how those traits translated to their college productivity. If we take those results and compare with the hits and misses of the past we can at least begin to have an idea of the player absent of the tape.
For the Falcons, I wanted to take a look at a few names of edge-rushers that have already met with by the team along with a couple of other names that would fit the scheme and then give them by the numbers comparisons.
The three notable names would be Derek Rivers, Tyus Bowser, and Tanoh Kpassagnon. I’m leaving Haason Reddick off this list, one because I think he’s ideally a Mike or Jack LB in a 3-4 defense and because I can’t see a scenario where he’s available at No 31.
Derek Rivers might be the hottest name trending on Falcons draft twitter over the last couple of weeks. He’s a small school guy coming out of FCS Youngstown State who performed well during the Senior Bowl and surprised at the combine.
Number Comp: Vic Beasley
Both players have similar scores in total average, both being on the low end in size and arm length. Beasley tests higher athletically, but Rivers actually has the third highest athletic score I’ve charted. The college productivity is pretty similar as well and I think this sheds some light on why Dan Quinn has already met with Rivers.
Tyus Bowser has moved his way into several first-round mock drafts after a strong showing at the combine. He projects as a bit of a raw prospect with the athletic ability to turn into an impact player.
Number Comp: Bruce Irvin
Bruce Irvin was thought to have been over-drafted by the Seahawks at the time, but he was a specific fit for what Seattle was looking for and turned into a very productive pass rusher. Bowser tests slightly higher athletically with a little less college productivity, but could be brought along slowly, as Irvin was, and become a solid player.
Tonah Kpassagnon is a bit of a project player coming out of Villanova, but has the size and frame that very seldom comes along. Unlike the rest of these names, I don’t think he’s a day one pick, but the fact that Atlanta brought him in is a reason to keep him on the radar day two.
Number Comp: Anthony Barr
Tanoh is a tough comp as his size is a huge outlier, and his averages are impacted by sub-par athleticism. From a size and productivity perspective Barr is very similar, though Barr tested almost 10 points higher athletically.
Takkarist McKinley is a name being talked about in the first or second round out of UCLA. The questions on him have been his lack of bend and ability to corner.
Number Comp: Shaq Lawson
These two compare pretty closely with Lawson edging out Mckinley athletically by 6 points. Shaq was a bigger guy, but Tak makes up for the height with exceptional arm length.
Charles Harris is an interesting player. He has received day one hype, but tested as one of the poorest athletes I’ve charted. He did improve on some of these numbers at his pro day, but for the purposes of this metric I use the combine results.
Number Comp: Jarvis Jones
Both of these guys were very productive in the SEC making memorable disruptive plays, but they both tested out as terrible athletes compared to their pier group. Harris’ tape does show explosion at times, but his ability to corner and counter at the next level is greatly called into question with results like this. He would concern me in round one.
Taco Charlton has been up and down the draft boards, but generally is considered to be a day one prospect. He has elite size and decent athleticism, but was rather average when it comes to production.
Number Comp: Cameron Jordan
Jordan tested very closely to what Charlton did both in athleticism and productivity. He was a late round one guy who has put together a solid career. I could see the same for Taco.
These are not all perfect correlations, and I am by no means suggesting these players are the same based on numbers. However, I think it does provide some context as to what players with similar results in the past became. This is a tool to be used as part of the evaluation process, but certainly not predictor of future success.