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2016 NFL Draft: Top 10 Quix Score

I started with explosion number, but I really don't like explosion number. Quix score is a stat that I really like (I doesn't hurt that I came up with it). Historically it is a much better predictor of NFL success than explosion number.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Those who follow the NFL draft closely are probably aware of the speed score, which factors in a player's mass and his 40 time then normalizes to 100 to show performance relative to a year-to-year mean adjusted for size. In the speed score you get lots of credit if you can run fast and you weigh as much as a horse. Here's the formula: [weight (lbs) x 200]/[40 time (s)]^4.

I did a a couple of articles looking at speed score a while back. Many positions of the field don't rely on straight-line speed on a regular basis. For those positions, quickness is a much more critical attribute. There are two tests at the combine designed to measure quickness, agility and body control - the 3-cone drill and the 20-yd shuttle.

The 3-cone drill measures how quickly you accelerate, stop, turn, accelerate again, turn 90 degrees, slow down, turn 180 degrees, accelerate, turn 90 degrees again and accelerate (see the graphic below). For a defensive end, this drill, more than any other, shows how well he can do as an edge rusher. Not surprisingly, Von Miller crushed this drill finishing in 6.70 seconds. We'll talk more about Von shortly.

image courtesy of

20-yd Shuttle

The 20-yd shuttle (sometimes referred to as the short shuttle) is the other drill that measures foot quickness, agility and body control. In this drill the player starts in the "middle" of the drill, turns 90 degrees and runs 5 yards as quickly as possible, stops, turns 180 degrees, accelerates and runs 10 yards as quickly as possible, stops, turns 180s degrees and accelerate back to the starting point (see graphic below)

Image courtesy of

Von dominated in this drill as well, running it in 4.06 seconds.

Change of Direction (CoD)

Back in 2010 I started adding the 3-cone time and the 20-yd shuttle time to get what I termed the Change of Direction score, CoD. This was an interesting thing to track, but it could be fooled by tiny little receivers who were blindingly quick but didn't have the mass to survive in the NFL. Dane Sanzenbacher and Jeff Maehl are two names that need to be mentioned in this context. They had two of the best CoDs I have seen (10.36 and 10.43), but neither was able to do much in the NFL. Sanzenbacher played four years in the NFL grabbing 43 catches for 449 yards and 3 TDs. Maehl also played four seasons but had even less playing time, finishing his career with 9 catches for 113 yards and 1 TD (his only TD came in the Eagles' blowout loss to us). Seeing a bunch of players get really good (i.e. really low) CoD scores, yet fail in the NFL caused me to reevaluate. I needed to factor weight into this. In fact if you look back at the top three CoD performers at the combine for the past six combines, you will see a bunch of names that didn't make it in the NFL

Combine Year Player Position Height Weight CoD
2011 Buster Skrine CB 5' 10" 186 10.34
2011 Jeff Maehl WR 6' 1" 190 10.36
2014 Daniel Sorensen FS 6' 1" 205 10.42
2011 Dane Sanzenbacher WR 5' 11" 182 10.43
2012 Chris Rainey RB 5' 8" 180 10.43
2014 Damian Copeland WR 5' 11" 184 10.43
2016 Justin Simmons CB 6' 2" 202 10.43
2013 T.J. Moe WR 5' 11" 204 10.49
2012 Josh Robinson CB 5' 10" 199 10.52
2010 Scott Long WR 6' 2" 216 10.54
2013 Will Davis CB 5' 11" 186 10.54
2012 Stephon Gilmore CB 6' 0" 190 10.55
2014 Brandin Cooks WR 5' 9¾" 189 10.57
2015 Justin Coleman CB 5' 11" 185 10.59
2010 Cody Grimm SS 5' 11" 203 10.6
2016 Sean Davis CB 6' 1" 201 10.61
2015 Bobby McCain CB 5' 9" 195 10.62
2010 Kyle McCarthy SS 6' 1" 205 10.63
2013 B.W. Webb CB 5' 10" 184 10.66
2015 Eric Rowe CB 6' 1" 205 10.67
2016 Devon Cajuste WR 6' 4" 234 10.69

Buster Skrine was a starter for two years on some average to bad Browns' defenses before moving to Jets last season where he was their #3 corner. Daniel Sorensen has been a special teams player for the Chiefs for the past two seasons. He has not started an NFL game. Chris Rainey spent two seasons in the NFL during which he was mostly a kickoff returner. He is out of the NFL and finished his career with 26 carries for 102 yards and 2 TDs as a runner. Damian Copeland spent one season on the Jags practice squad before washing out of the league. Justin Simmons never made an NFL practice squad. T.J. Moe was on the P*ts and the Rams practice squads but never made an active roster. Josh Robinson has been the #3 CB and part-time starter for the Vikings during his four NFL seasons. Scott Long never sniffed the NFL. Will Davis is a special team player and back-up CB for the Dolphins and Ravens. He has never started an NFL game.

Stephon Gilmore is really the first "success" on this list. When healthy (he's only played 16 games one time in four season) he has been an average to above average starter at CB for the Bills. He was taken with 10th overall pick in 2012. Brandin Cooks was also a first round selection and he has become Drew Brees' favorite target in New Orleans. He is definitely a success particularly relative to most of this list. Justin Coleman made the P*ts roster after going undrafted. Due to injuries and free agency defections he was forced to start two games last season for New England. He was the #3 CB for the P*ts during our win over them in the AFCCG. Cody Grimm started as a rookie on a very bad Bucs defense. He only played in three games the following year and was out of the NFL after three seasons. Bobby McCain appeared in all 16 games for the dolphins last season, starting four. Kyle McCarthy was a long-time member of our practice squad who hung around the league for four seasons appearing in 12 total games mostly on special teams when he saw the field. B.W. Webb has been on three teams in three season, but he did see the field for the Titans last season appearing in 9 games with two starts. Eric Rowe made 5 starts and appeared in all 16 games for the Eagles last season as a rookie.

The Quix Score

The takeaway from the table above is that CoD alone appears to be a poor predictor of NFL success. Notice that except for Rainey, every other player on the above list is a DB or WR. So let's get to the focus of this article - the Quix score. Similar to the speed score I take a timed result (the CoD) and adjust for mass then calibrate to 100. The formula is: [weight (lbs) x 7000]/[CoD (s)]^4.

When we look at the top three Quix score performers from the last 6 combines we get a bunch of names that didn't show up on the CoD list along with a couple who did.

Year Player Pos Weight Quix Score
2011 J.J. Watt DE 290 134.2
2012 Jake Bequette DE 274 132.4
2012 Bruce Irvin OLB 245 129.4
2014 Tyler Starr OLB 250 129.1
2011 Von Miller OLB 246 128.5
2011 Jordan Cameron TE 254 128.3
2012 James Hanna TE 252 126.4
2016 Nick Vigil ILB 239 126.2
2016 Devon Cajuste WR 234 125.4
2015 Ben Heeney ILB 231 124.3
2016 Joey Bosa DE 269 124.0
2015 Frank Clark DE 271 123.6
2010 Scott Long WR 216 122.5
2015 Henry Anderson DT 294 122.3
2014 Daniel Sorensen FS 205 121.7
2014 Anthony Barr OLB 255 121.5
2010 Kyle Bosworth OLB 236 120.1
2013 Devin Taylor DE 266 118.8
2013 T.J. Moe WR 204 117.9
2013 Christine Michael RB 220 117.0
2010 Dennis Pitta TE 245 114.3

Names in italics also appeared in the CoD list. Names in Bold are from the 2016 combine.

There are some names on this list that were NFL "failures" - along with the failures who showed up on the CoD list we see Jake Bequette, Tyler Starr and Kyle Bosworth. The rest of the players on the list above are at least average NFL players.  So that brings us to the list of the top 10 Quix performers from the 2016 combine. You saw the top 3 in the list above, see the remaining seven below.

Player School Position Height Weight Quix Score
Nick Vigil Utah State ILB 6' 2" 239 126.2
Devon Cajuste Stanford WR 6' 4" 234 125.4
Joey Bosa Ohio State DE 6' 5" 269 124.0
Bronson Kaufusi BYU DT 6' 6" 285 123.2
David Morgan II UT-San Antonio TE 6' 4" 262 119.9
Justin Simmons Boston College DB 6' 2" 202 119.5
Jake Brendel UCLA C 6' 4" 303 118.0
Ben Braunecker Harvard TE 6'3" 250 115.3

Nick Vigil looks like he might be a great replacement for Danny Trevathan. They were both tackling machines in college and they both have great instincts and well above average quickness - his 30 tackles for loss over the last two seasons speak to that.  Vigil is currently listed as a 5th round prospect meaning that we will have every opportunity to draft him if the front office decides he is a fit for our 3-4. I think that he is. Interestingly, the listed weaknesses on Lance Heinrich's scouting report are almost the exact same weaknesses that were listed for Danny T prior to the draft.

Trevathan is an undersized backer who can struggle to shed away from bigger offensive lineman. He should be able to pass drop given his size, but he struggles there as well and seems to be unaware in terms of recognition and understanding how to play in space when defending the pass. He is better in tight and gets somewhat exposed when playing zone coverage. He can also be slow to diagnose plays at times; he needs to hit plays full speed to be effective. He can overrun plays at times even though he is effective in chase.

Devon Cajuste is a player that the Broncos have been linked to according to reports. He will no doubt move up the draft boards (currently only listed as a 7th round/UDCFA prospect) some after his showing at the combine. He was never the featured receiver on his team in college, but he is big and quick even if he is slow by NFL WR standards (4.62 40 yd dash). He's a big strong receiver with long arms and big strong hands, he was reliable in college with very few drops. His lack of speed might cause his to move to TE in the NFL, but he has elite quickness even for a WR (his 3-cone was the best at the combine and his 20-yd shuttle was tied for 38th). Playing in the run-heavy Stanford offense means that he is both an able and willing run blocker. He finished his college career with 90 catches for 1589 yards (17.6 ypc) and 14 TDs. Given that he should still be available on the third day of the draft, I would not be surprised in the least to see him picked with one of our picks in the last two rounds.

Joey Bosa will be long gone by the time we pick unless he gets caught speeding with a bag of weed between now and the draft.

Bronson Kaufusi has about the same build as Malik Jackson (maybe a little thinner). He is currently project as a 2nd or 3rd round pick. He played both football and basketball at BYU - only focusing exclusively on football during his season year. Compare his combine performance to Malik Jackson's from 2012

Player Height Weight 40yd Bench Vertical Broad (in) 3-cone 20-yd Shuttle CoD Quix Score EN
Malik Jackson 6' 5" 284 4.91 25 28 105 7.38 4.41 11.79 102.9 61.8
Bronson Kaufusi 6' 6" 285 4.87 25 30 111 7.03 4.25 11.28 123.2 64.3

Kaufusi appears very similar to Malik with a little bit better quickness/agility. That should make us take a serious look at him in the draft. His quickness might allow him to fill the whole the Malik will leave when he gets big money some other team.

David Morgan is a TE from a newly minted FBS program (2 years in the BCS) at UTSA. He earned second team All-American honors as a senior.  He's a big target with soft hands capable of securing catches in with big hits coming. He was an elite basketball player in HS, so the Julius Thomas/Tony Gonzalez/Antonio Gates visions can start dancing in every GM's head. He is a plus blocker on running play, but since he was the go-to target on passing situations he was rarely asked to pass block in college. He also has a history of serious injuries and he is "slow' - running a dreaded 5.02 40-yd dash.    Given that we have five TEs currently under contract (Green, Daniels, Huerman, Gordon, Kasa) and don't think we would use the 5th or 6th round pick (his current projected draft round) to get him despite his positive physical attributes.

Justin Simmons is a tall safety who played some CB in college. He's highly intelligent and very quick to diagnose plays and read complicated route combinations. As a senior he had only four missed tackles and allowed zero broken tackles.  Because of his height he has a thin frame with little room to add bulk, but his height and his leaping ability (40" vertical) make him a good coverage matchup for taller receivers in jump-ball situations. He is currently projected to be drafted on the 3rd day and I would be happy if we picked this guy up.

[Simmons] was one of the standouts at Shrine Game practices showing off his instincts and ball skills. Despite his thin frame, Simmons tackles with urgency and doesn't lack toughness for the position. With range, length, cover skills and special teams ability Simmons should hear his name called on the third day of the draft and could become an eventual starter.

-Lance Zierlein

Jake Brendel is another 3rd day of the draft or UDCFA prospect who I think the Broncos would be interested in, if we didn't already have him on our roster. He is James Ferentz, a tough, undersized, intelligent play-to-the-whistle center who fits right into our ZBS scheme. The same descriptors apply to Matt Paradis as well. So unless we are trying to corner the market on quick underpowered centers, we probably won't draft Brendel.

Ben Braunecker is a TE with significantly more straight-line speed (4.73 40yd) than Morgan. Like any player coming out of Harvard he is intelligent, but the level of competition against which he competed is highly suspect. He showed at the combine that he has the physical tools to be a "move" TE (called an H-back in some offenses) and I can see him filler a similar role in the NFL to his former teammate and current Raven Kyle Juszczyk. Of the TEs at the combine he had the second best vertical, 40, broad jump, 3-cone and 20-yd shuttle. That being said, I doubt we go after him because of the TEs that we already have on the roster, but I would not pit it past Kubiak to bring six or seven TEs into camp with us next season, so we might use a day three pick on him despite no real need at TE.