So it generally agreed that the Broncos are going to look at RBs in this year's draft. As I did last year, I am going to take a look at how these guys performed at the combine. Keep in mind that there will always be guys who show great at the combine but don't show up on film so any of this has to be combined with game-day performance (and mileage) when contemplating whether or not you think the Broncos should consider a particular RB.
I don't like explosion number (EN), as you can read in some of my previous posts, so I have calculated TEN (true explosion number) for each of these guys. Gravity is a constant. Smaller guys should be able to get further off the ground than larger guys. We should reward larger guys who can get further off the ground greater than we reward smaller guys who have the same vertical. So TEN uses a normalized vertical which factors in the players weight.
I have also calculated CoD (change of direction), which IMO is a better measure of short area quickness than LA (lateral agility). There is a great example of where LA fails in this data (see Knile Davis). LA rewards a guy who runs a slow 40, particularly if he runs a fast 20-yd shuttle (see Burkhead). CoD, being the sum of the 20-yd shuttle and the 3-cone, only rewards lower times in both drills: the lower the CoD, the better.
The other thing to keep in mind when looking at the numbers is that not all players performed all drills. In fact, Lacy (keeping in line with other guys who have been considered the #1 RB) did not do any drills at the combine. He figured he didn't need to prove anything to anyone. I was not able to find 10-yard splits on the 40 times.
|60-yd Sh||Norm. Vert||TEN||LA||EN||CoD|
Christine Michael was the combine workout warrior this year, in the same way the David Wilson blew away the competition last year. Despite running a fairly pedestrian 40, Michael had the best vertical, 20-yd shuttle and 3-cone. At 220 lbs, his normalized vertical is an amazing 45.5". His raw vertical of 43" is no less amazing. So far it is the best vertical at the 2013 combine, for all positions (by 3.5 inches). His bench was one of the top and his broad jump was above average for this year's RB crop. Michael's combination of size, strength and quickness probably bumped his stock into the 2nd round (from the 3rd-4th round).
Knile Davis was an afterthought going into the combine because of his injury history and his inconsistency. While the rest of his numbers were below average, his 4.37 40 time (at 227 lbs) has some folks salivating over him. He might be the next Mario Fannin. Davis is the first guy that I have ever seen get a negative number on LA (-0.01s), meaning he ran his 40 faster than his 20-yd shuttle). If nothing else he might get some team to to take a flyer on him in the later rounds, based upon his 40 time and his good 2010 season at Arkansas (1322 rushing yards, 6.5 ypc, 19 receptions, 14 total TDs). Many of those yards for Davis in 2010 came against ranked competition (Auburn, OSU, LSU, USC, Alabama, MSU, Texas A&M).
Onterrio McCalebb ran the fastest 40 of the RBs (4.34), but at 168 lbs (and 5-10) he would only be useful if used like the Chiefs use McCluster (5-9, 165) - mostly catching passes out of the backfield or from the slot. McCluster was a much more highly rated prospect coming out of college (and was taken with the 36th pick in 2010). Because McCalleb played at school that has gone completely to crap in the last two seasons (Auburn) and he didn't put up big numbers there, he is at best going to be a 5th round pick since Al Davis can't make picks from the grave (or can he?).
Stepfan Taylor has to have lost some draft position due to his combine performance. While he was never going to wow anyone with his speed, his combine performance was abysmal. His performance in every drill was below average. His 40 time was the second slowest of the RBs at the combine. His bench press was tied for 3rd fewest. His 20- and 60-yard shuttle numbers were the worst in the field. This is surprising since less than half of the RBs choose to do the 60-yd shuttle, I would have guessed that he would abstain unless he felt that it would help his draft stock, which it didn't. Taylor was a workhorse for the Cardinal and showed great vision both on inside and outside runs. He also is an accomplished pass-catcher and an above average pass protector. While his draft stock has fallen, I would still be happy to see him taken by the Broncos (in the 5th round).
Mike Gillislee probably dropped a round or more. His 40 was unimpressive for a medium-sized RB (208) and his vertical was pathetic (30.5"). His broad was average and his 20-yd and 3-cone were well below average. While bench has no correlation to success at RB in the NFL, turning in the worst performance on the bench is not going to help your draft stock. Gillislee may not get drafted at this point since he was graded at 4-5th round prior to the combine. Gillislee doesn't have college production to fall back on since he was only the feature back for one season at UF and only average 4.7 ypc during that year.
Jawan Jamison is probably the only RB who had a worse combine than Stepfan Taylor. Jamison had the worst broad jump (110"), the worst vertical (29") and the 4th worst 40 (4.68s). He didn't do the 20-yd shuttle or the 3-cone. The only thing that he did well was the bench. Jamison is similarly built to Ronnie Hillman and had a similar career (two good seasons after a redshirt). However his combine numbers are horrible relative to Hillman. I could see Jamison going undrafted. Small RBs without speed, power or quickness don't do very well in the NFL.
Comparison to 2012 RBs
In terms of 40 times, this crop of RBs is slower on the average than 2013 (4.58s to 4.51s). Historically the average 40 time for RBs at the combine is 4.54. 1st round RBs run a historical 4.46s 40. In 2012 no RBs ran great 40s, but no RBs ran really poor 40s. The worst 40 by a RB last year was 4.67s (Ganaway). This year we had both really fast guys (Davis and McCalebb) and really slow guys (Taylor, Graham and Burkhead - by historical combine numbers).
In terms of verticals the average in 2012 was 35.75. In 2013 it was 34.0. Historically the average for all RBs at the combine is 35.1 (36.4 for 1st round picks). The best vertical last year was Wilson's 41". Michael's 43" vertical looks really impressive both when compared to last year and historical averages.
In terms of CoD, last year we had only three guys with numbers under 11.00 or under (Rainey - 10.43, Martin - 10.95 and James - 11.00). This year we had four guys Michael, Stacy, Bell and Burkhead. Burkhead ran a horrible 40, particularly for someone at 214 lbs, but did well in the 20-yard shuttle and the 3-cone. So it would appear that he has quickness, but not straight line speed. His 60-yd shuttle number was middle of the pack, so that backs up that fact that his quick, but no straight-line fast. I'm curious to see the 10-yd split on him.
I hope this was interesting to you. Sound off in the comments on what you find most interesting (or disinteresting) about this group of RBs as well as who you would most like to see the Broncos get and in what round.