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George Paton is drafting elite athletes

It appears that George Paton is a fan of the RAS. All four of the Denver Broncos picks in Rounds 1-3 had very high RAS.

2021 NFL Draft Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This is the first NFL Draft for Denver Broncos General Manager where he’s calling the shots, picking the players, and keying in on certain characteristics that he likes in a prospect. Well, after two nights, three rounds, and four players selected, it’s clear that Paton values one certain few traits in the prospects he’s selecting. Those traits being athleticism and measurables.

One easy way to evaluate this is using the RAS metric. Kent Platte created the RAS(Relative Athletic Score) which is an analytical metric that combines athletic testing numbers and measurables and gives you a number 0-10(0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest) which allows you to compare prospects in their positional groups and with other prospects in previous drafts.

Well, the four players the Broncos selected all have a high and impressive RAS.

Cornerback Patrick Surtain II

RAS: 9.96

Patrick Surtain II is not only a damn good corner prospect, he is also one of the more athletic corners to ever enter the NFL Draft. His RAS is the 8th highest (out of 1790 prospects) ever for a cornerback. That’s pretty impressive. Now add in the talents and play-style that you’re getting and it’s hard not to get hyped about Surtain.

He’s listed at 6’2”, 205lbs which is the type of size you want for your potential number one corner. He ran a 4.42 40-time which is what you want from a corner of that size, especially with the speedy receivers in the AFC West. Add in a 39 inch vertical and 18 reps on the bench and you have an athletic freak here for the Broncos at the corner position. You can see why Head Coach Vic Fangio was likely banging the table to get this guy on his team.

The Broncos got a good one here.

Running Back Javonte Williams

RAS: 8.79

Javonte Williams RAS will be the lowest of the group, but it’s still impressive. His game isn’t speed, twitch, and a high level of athleticism. He’s a between-the-tackles runner who will run you over instead of running by you. However, his numbers are still impressive for being this type of back.

A 4.57 40-time is about what you see on film and is a good number for his game. There were some concerns about his athleticism, but he answered them at his pro day which the Broncos did attend.

Honestly, Williams is just a beast and is a slight outlier compared to the rest is okay because he’s a powerful runner and defenders bounce off of him.

Interior Offensive Lineman Quinn Meinerz

RAS: 9.98

Probably the biggest surprise for the Broncos on day 2 was the selection of Minnesota Whitewater’s Quinn Meinerz. He was the story of the Senior Bowl and now the small school prospect is going in the third round to the Denver Broncos.

Meinerz has elite scores up and down his chart. His measurables outside of his height are impressive, but that’s not a big deal for an interior offensive lineman. He has long arms which makes his 33 reps on the bench even more impressive. His athletic and agility scores jump off the board when you remember he’s a 6’3”, 320lb man.

All of this gives Meinerz the second-highest score from a center from 1987 to 2021.

Hall Of Fame offensive line coach Mike Munchak is going to enjoy working with Meinerz. I believe he has a bright future ahead of him.

Linebacker Baron Browning

RAS: 9.98

The last pick of the third round was an exciting one for the Broncos. Ohio State linebacker/edge rusher Baron Browning joins Vic Fangio in Denver and gives the team a highly athletic and talented linebacker who can do many things. By the sounds of it, they’re going to try him as an off-the-ball linebacker first and if that doesn’t work out, they’ll move to the edge. He’s versatile enough to do either.

He’s listed at an impressive 6’3, 245lbs with 33.5-inch arms which gives him the size and measurables to play inside or on the edge for the Broncos. A 40-inch vertical is impressive for a defensive or receiver so doing that at Browning’s size and weight is outstanding. His agility testing numbers are also impressive and his 4.56 40-time definitely shows up on film.

Browning is about as athletic as they come. This is proven by him coming in with the 5th best RAS of any linebacker since 1987.

Final Thoughts

George Paton drafted athletes. He added speed, size, length to the cornerback position, a bowling ball with incredible balance at running back, a highly athletic offensive lineman who will be coached up by a Hall Of Fame coach, and one of the most athletically gifted linebackers to enter the draft.

Its clear athleticism is important to George Paton. Yes, it’s a small sample size but every prospect drafted has been at the top or near the top in these sorts of scores and rankings.

I like this strategy. As the old cliché goes, you can’t teach athleticism. Now, athleticism alone doesn’t mean guaranteed success. We saw that with the Raiders, but Paton has added talented prospects to go along with their athleticism so hopefully, the results are better.

It’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues on day 3, but so far, George Paton has been drafting highly athletic prospects.