RBs in this draft - Do we need one and, if so, when should we take one?

Ian did a very thorough analysis of the state of the roster in terms of the RB position. Of the 4 guys who are currently on the roster only two have significant experience in the offense (Anderson's limited pt really doesn't count). While the Broncos could bring in a cheap FA (possibly bringing KnoMo back), I think that we will opt to draft another RB (or at least add an UDCFA RB). So here is an analysis of both the combine results for the backs in the draft as well as a breakdown of their in-game stats from their final college seasons.

At a simple level there are 3 kinds of RBs in the NFL

  1. Featured back - good blend of speed and size, capable of playing all three downs, durable and not prone to fumbles
  2. Bruiser - short-yardage and goal-line specialist, fills the niche that the FB used to fill, generally above average in pass protection because of size and strength
  3. Scat-back - smaller quicker guys, capable of breaking off long runs (or runs after the catch), hopefully elusive, have to be able to catch the ball really well, also have to be able to pass block, bonus if they can be lined up at WR

KnoMo was our feature back last season. He was a prototype passing offense RB (good ball security, great blitz pickup and above average pass catcher). Ball would be classed more in the "running offense feature back" mold. He played at 235 lbs in college and has the power and quickness to gain the tough yards on 3rd or 4th and short. He filled the Bruiser spot for us as the year went on. Hillman was supposed to be the scat-back prototype. His current weight is at 195 lbs on the Broncos website. Anderson would be classed as a bruiser. He packs a great deal of muscle on his 5-9 frame and he has the power to gain tough yards if Ball is not available. Williams was a "feature back" in college, but at 203 lbs it doesn't look he would have the somatype to handle that role in the NFL. So it would appear that the broncos have the 3 main types covered, but there is one NFL-reality that we have to prepare for: RBs will get injured (more frequently than other positions). So we need someone who can step up and carry the load at RB if Ball goes down for any significant portion of time next year. So let's look to the draft to see if one of these guys will be THAT guy (unless you trust Hillman, Anderson or Williams to be do that - I don't).

There were 36 RBs invited to the NFL combine this year. Some guys greatly improved their draft stock, while others dramatically hurt theirs. Before we start the analysis keep in mind that guys over at draftmetrics.com have determined that only 4 combine numbers are meaningful for a RB: 40 time, vertical, board, 20-yd shuttle. The other combine numbers have a less than 60% correlation to a 5-yr career in the NFL.

Straight-line speed numbers

Player School Height Weight Off. 40 Time 10-Yd Split Speed
Antonio Andrews Western Kentucky 5-10 225 4.82 1.68 83.4
Dri Archer Kent State 5-8 173 4.26 1.46 105.1
George Atkinson Notre Dame 6-1 218 4.48 1.53 108.2
Kapri Bibbs Colorado State 5-9 212 4.67 1.60 89.1
Alfred Blue Louisiana State 6-2 223 4.63 1.56 97.1
Ka'Deem Carey Arizona 5-9 207 4.70 1.59 84.8
J.C. Copeland Louisiana State 5-11 271 4.95 1.72 90.3
Tim Cornett UNLV 6-0 209 4.48 1.60 103.8
Isaiah Crowell Alabama State 5-11 224 4.57 1.55 102.7
Timothy Flanders Sam Houston State 5-9 207 4.75 1.68 81.3
David Fluellen Toledo 5-11 224 4.72 1.66 90.3
Devonta Freeman Florida State 5-8 206 4.58 1.59 93.6
Tyler Gaffney Stanford 5-11 220 4.49 1.53 108.3
Marion Grice Arizona State 6-0 208 DNP DNP
Ryan Hewitt Stanford 6-4 246 4.87 1.72 87.5
Jeremy Hill LSU 6-0 233 4.66 1.56 98.8
Carlos Hyde Ohio State 5-11 230 4.66 1.65 97.5
Storm Johnson Central Florida 6-0 209 4.60 -- 93.4
Henry Josey Missouri 5-8 194 4.43 1.53 100.7
Tre Mason Auburn 5-8 207 4.50 1.50 101.0
Jerick McKinnon Georgia Southern 5-9 209 4.41 1.46 110.5
Trey Millard Oklahoma 6-2 247 DNP DNP
Adam Muema San Diego State 5-10 202 DNP DNP
Ladarius Perkins Mississippi State 5-7 195 4.46 1.54 98.6
Silas Redd Southern California 5-10 212 4.70 1.62 86.9
Bishop Sankey Washington 5-9 209 4.49 1.59 102.8
Lache Seastrunk Baylor 5-9 201 4.51 1.60 97.2
Charles Sims West Virginia 6-0 214 4.48 1.56 106.3
Jerome Smith Syracuse 5-11 220 4.84 1.62 80.2
Lorenzo Taliaferro Coastal Carolina 6-0 229 4.58 1.63 104.1
De'Anthony Thomas Oregon 5-8 174 4.50 1.57 84.9
Terrance West Towson 5-9 225 4.54 1.59 105.9
James White Wisconsin 5-9 204 4.57 1.57 93.5
James Wilder Florida State 6-3 232 4.86 1.72 83.2
Andre Williams Boston College 5-11 230 4.56 1.56 106.4
Damien Williams Oklahoma 5-11 222 4.45 1.57 113.2
Average 216 4.60 1.59 97
Max 271 4.95 1.72 113.2
Min 173 4.26 1.46 80.2

Archer obviously helped himself with his 40, but he is going to be a scat-back/return guy in the NFL. The 10-yard split shows you hurt fast the guy accelerates (from a sprinters stance without pads). McKinnon really helped himself here. His 1.46s 10-yd split tied Archer for the best among RBs and he is 36 lbs heavier. The speed score factors in weight and 40 time - a 100 is supposed to be average. Williams from OK had the best speed score with McKinnon coming in a close second. Jerome Smith from Syracuse had the lowest speed score from this year's crop at 80.2. That's what happens when you run a 4.84s 40 and you are 220 lbs. Thomas from Oregon did not help himself here either - at 174 lbs, a 4.50s 40 is not going to get it done in the NFL. Thomas did look significantly better at his pro-day, running in the mid-to-high 4.3s (according to Walter Football).

Raw Power Numbers

Player School Height Weight Bench Vert Broad Hand EN
Antonio Andrews Western Kentucky 5-10 225 20 29.5 106 9 1/2 58.3
Dri Archer Kent State 5-8 173 20 38.0 122 8 7/8 68.2
George Atkinson Notre Dame 6-1 218 19 38.0 121 9 3/8 67.1
Kapri Bibbs Colorado State 5-9 212 24 29.0 106 8 1/2 61.8
Alfred Blue Louisiana State 6-2 223 13 32.0 121 9 7/8 55.1
Ka'Deem Carey Arizona 5-9 207 19 32.5 115 9 1/2 61.1
J.C. Copeland Louisiana State 5-11 271 23 28.5 111 10 60.8
Tim Cornett UNLV 6-0 209 DNP 34.5 125 9 1/4
Isaiah Crowell Alabama State 5-11 224 23 38.0 117 9 1/4 70.8
Timothy Flanders Sam Houston State 5-9 207 20 32.0 113 9 1/4 61.4
David Fluellen Toledo 5-11 224 DNP 36.5 120 9 1/8
Devonta Freeman Florida State 5-8 206 DNP 31.5 118 9 5/8
Tyler Gaffney Stanford 5-11 220 DNP 36.5 116 9
Marion Grice Arizona State 6-0 208 DNP DNP DNP 9 1/4
Ryan Hewitt Stanford 6-4 246 DNP 33.0 109 9 1/4
Jeremy Hill LSU 6-0 233 20 29.0 113 10 3/8 58.4
Carlos Hyde Ohio State 5-11 230 19 34.5 114 9 5/8 63.0
Storm Johnson Central Florida 6-0 209 16 35.5 118 9 1/2 61.3
Henry Josey Missouri 5-8 194 20 34.5 118 9 1/2 64.3
Tre Mason Auburn 5-8 207 DNP 38.5 114 9
Jerick McKinnon Georgia Southern 5-9 209 32 40.5 132 8 5/8 83.5
Trey Millard Oklahoma 6-2 247 DNP DNP DNP 9 1/8
Adam Muema San Diego State 5-10 202 DNP DNP DNP 9 3/4
Ladarius Perkins Mississippi State 5-7 195 23 35.5 124 9 5/8 68.8
Silas Redd Southern California 5-10 212 18 37.0 122 9 65.2
Bishop Sankey Washington 5-9 209 26 35.5 126 10 72.0
Lache Seastrunk Baylor 5-9 201 15 41.5 134 9 1/4 67.7
Charles Sims West Virginia 6-0 214 17 37.5 126 8 1/4 65.0
Jerome Smith Syracuse 5-11 220 14 36.0 118 9 3/4 59.8
Lorenzo Taliaferro Coastal Carolina 6-0 229 18 33.0 118 8 3/8 60.8
De'Anthony Thomas Oregon 5-8 174 8 32.0 124 8 1/8 50.3
Terrance West Towson 5-9 225 16 33.5 120 9 1/8 59.5
James White Wisconsin 5-9 204 23 32.0 114 8 1/4 64.5
James Wilder Florida State 6-3 232 18 35.0 121 9 3/4 63.1
Andre Williams Boston College 5-11 230 DNP 38.0 129 9
Damien Williams Oklahoma 5-11 222 16 35.5 121 9 1/8 61.6
Average 216 19.2 34.7 106 9.24 63.6
Max 271 32 41.5 106 10.375 83.5
Min 173 8 28.5 106 8.125 50.3

Looking at the power numbers, McKinnon also showed well here. I've listed hand size here, only because guys with smaller hands are more prone to fumble than guys with larger hands (others have done this research). Sims and White have Hillman-sized hands while Hill has some big ole mitts. The only other two guys to stand out in terms of explosion number (EN, a measure of raw power that combines bench, vertical and broad jump) were Sankey and Crowell.

Quickness data

Player School Height Weight 3-cone 20-yd LA CoD Quickness
Antonio Andrews Western Kentucky 5-10 225 7.24 4.49 0.33 11.73 89.1
Dri Archer Kent State 5-8 173 6.86 4.06 0.20 10.92 91.2
George Atkinson Notre Dame 6-1 218 7.07 4.46 0.02 11.53 92.5
Kapri Bibbs Colorado State 5-9 212
Alfred Blue Louisiana State 6-2 223 7.15 4.50 0.13 11.65 90.8
Ka'Deem Carey Arizona 5-9 207 7.08 4.38 0.32 11.46 90.0
J.C. Copeland Louisiana State 5-11 271 7.68 4.58 0.37 12.26 90.0
Tim Cornett UNLV 6-0 209 7.01 4.26 0.22 11.27 97.2
Isaiah Crowell Alabama State 5-11 224
Timothy Flanders Sam Houston State 5-9 207 7.07
David Fluellen Toledo 5-11 224 6.90
Devonta Freeman Florida State 5-8 206 7.11 4.26 0.32 11.37 92.4
Tyler Gaffney Stanford 5-11 220 6.78 4.18 0.31 10.96 114.4
Marion Grice Arizona State 6-0 208
Ryan Hewitt Stanford 6-4 246 7.04 4.35 0.52 11.39 109.6
Jeremy Hill LSU 6-0 233
Carlos Hyde Ohio State 5-11 230
Storm Johnson Central Florida 6-0 209
Henry Josey Missouri 5-8 194 7.07 4.13 0.30 11.20 92.5
Tre Mason Auburn 5-8 207 4.15 0.35
Jerick McKinnon Georgia Southern 5-9 209 6.83 4.12 0.29 10.95 109.0
Trey Millard Oklahoma 6-2 247
Adam Muema San Diego State 5-10 202
Ladarius Perkins Mississippi State 5-7 195 7.08 4.30 0.16 11.38 87.2
Silas Redd Southern California 5-10 212
Bishop Sankey Washington 5-9 209 6.75 4.00 0.49 10.75 117.4
Lache Seastrunk Baylor 5-9 201
Charles Sims West Virginia 6-0 214 7.16 4.30 0.18 11.46 93.1
Jerome Smith Syracuse 5-11 220 7.53 4.60 0.24 12.13 76.2
Lorenzo Taliaferro Coastal Carolina 6-0 229 6.88 4.22 0.36 11.10 113.1
De'Anthony Thomas Oregon 5-8 174
Terrance West Towson 5-9 225
James White Wisconsin 5-9 204 7.05 4.20 0.37 11.25 95.5
James Wilder Florida State 6-3 232 6.92 4.24 0.62 11.16 112.2
Andre Williams Boston College 5-11 230 7.27 4.06 0.50 11.33 104.7
Damien Williams Oklahoma 5-11 222 7.37 4.25 0.20 11.62 91.3
Average 216 7.08 4.28 0.31 11.37 97.6
Max 271 7.68 4.60 0.62 12.26 117.4
Min 173 6.75 4.00 0.02 10.75 76.2

LA, lateral agility, is simply your 40 time minus you 20-yd shuttle time. Some people like this, but it rewards guys who are quick but not fast disproportionally. I developed COD, change-of-direction, which is just a sum of the 20-yd shuttle and the 3-cone drill. This, IMO, is a better way to measure short area quickness and the ability to start, stop and redirect momentum. Anything below 11.00s for COD is good, the mid-10s range is exceptional. Treating the COD similarly to the 40 time (adjusted for body mass), you get what I call the Quickness score. Like the speed score, 100 is designed to be average. Sankey really showed well here as did Gaffney and Talliafero. Sankey's quickness score was the best of the group and only two guys have had better quickness scores (back to 2009) - Christine Michael and Roy Helu. On the flip-side Jerome Smith showed really poorly here. His 76.2 quickness score was third worst for a RB since I have been keeping track (back to 2009).

Beyond the Combine - 2013 Game Stats

Let's see what these guys can do with pads on. I'm going to focus on their final college season and look at some of the more in depth situational stats (goal-line and short yardage success rate,% of carries that resulted in a first down, long runs, etc.). I am going to show the larger school guys (data is much harder to access for the FCS guys), the guys who are not scat-back types (figuring we already have Hillman) and the guys who did average or better at the combine (overall). That still leaves us with 16 RBs to sort through.

George Atkinson Kapri Bibbs Ka'Deem Carey Tim Cornett Devonta Freeman Tyler Gaffney Marion Grice Jeremy Hill Carlos Hyde Storm Johnson Tre Mason Bishop Sankey Charles Sims James White Andre Williams Damien Williams
2013 carries 93 281 349 264 173 331 191 203 208 213 317 327 208 221 355 114
2013 yards 555 1741 1885 1284 1016 1717 996 1401 1521 1139 1816 1870 1095 1444 2177 553
2013 ypc 6.0 6.2 5.4 4.9 5.9 5.2 5.2 6.9 7.3 5.3 5.7 5.7 5.3 6.5 6.1 4.9
2013 rec 7 8 26 30 22 15 50 18 16 30 12 28 45 39 0 9
2013 rec yds 51 59 173 164 278 86 438 181 147 260 163 304 401 300 0 90
2013 ypr 7.3 7.4 6.7 5.5 12.6 5.7 8.8 10.1 9.2 8.7 13.6 10.9 8.9 7.7 10.0
runs of 10+ 14 44 43 34 30 39 29 40 45 31 47 48 35 41 49 13
runs of 20+ 3 16 15 10 10 10 9 12 12 10 10 21 10 14 26 2
Long run % 18% 21% 17% 17% 23% 15% 20% 26% 27% 19% 18% 21% 22% 25% 21% 13%
Rushing 1st downs 20 82 95 75 46 83 45 54 73 73 91 97 44 62 74 33
1st Down % 22% 29% 27% 28% 27% 25% 24% 27% 35% 34% 29% 30% 21% 28% 21% 29%
RZ carries 5 70 56 47 39 63 49 36 30 45 64 62 43 37 44 20
RZ yards 21 273 189 165 139 220 135 135 148 143 325 226 95 100 174 71
RZ ypc 4.2 3.9 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.5 2.8 3.8 4.9 3.2 5.1 3.6 2.2 2.7 4.0 3.6
RZ TDs 1 22 16 10 13 17 13 10 12 12 20 16 7 10 7 6
RZ efficiency % 20% 31% 29% 21% 33% 27% 27% 28% 40% 27% 31% 26% 16% 27% 16% 30%
3rd and 1-3 to go carries 5 27 30 15 9 41 15 13 14 13 28 33 13 18 22 9
3rd and 1-3 1st downs 2 23 23 11 7 29 9 12 9 10 24 27 7 10 12 8
3rd and short conversion % 40% 85% 77% 73% 78% 71% 60% 92% 64% 77% 86% 82% 54% 56% 55% 89%

The key things to look for here are how often a back got the ball on 3rd and short, how well the got first downs on third and short, how often they got first downs on all of their carries, how effective they were on red zone carries, how often they were used in the passing game and how often they broke long runs. A few highlights are:

  1. Kapri Bibbs' and Tre Mason's ability to convert on 3rd and short
  2. Tyler Gaffney getting 41 carries on 3rd and short and converting 71% of them
  3. White, Hill and Hyde all having 25% or more of their carries go for 10 or more yards
  4. Sims and Grice' total number of catches last season
  5. Hydes RZ efficiency - 40% of his RZ carries went for a TD
  6. Hide and Johnson's first down per carry
  7. Sankey's 97 rushing first downs
  8. Hyde's 7.3 yards per carry in 2013
  9. only 13% of Damien Williams 2014 carries went for 10 or more yards - worst of the group. His number was similarly low in 2012 (14%).

So who do you like and where? I'll give the current projected draft round for the top 20 RBs

Mason, Hyde Carey - 2nd

Sankey, Hill - 2nd or 3rd

Sims, Freeman - 3rd

Seastrunk, West - 3rd or 4th

A. Williams - 4th

Gaffney, McKinnon - 4th or 5th

White - 5th

Johnson, Crowell - 5th or 6th

Wilder - 6th

Neal, Grice, Thomas - 6th or 7th

Every other back is currently projected as 7th or FA.

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