Welcome to the 2016 edition of Draft Science.
The process that NFL team executives go through in preparing to build their rosters and draft their future players varies across the league. Each personnel department is unique in its makeup of scouts and executives. Every team, to one extent or another, uses scientific methods to evaluate prospective athletes to add to their football team.
There is no replacement for game film. That is the bottomline, tested and true. The visual confirmation of applicable technique, positional awareness and physiological ability are conspicuous on film. Despite recent perception, the science of those personnel evaluations is critical to the decision-makers of the league.
As the draft progresses round after round, the athletic potential of draft picks becomes more important. Every year players make rosters based on athletic ability on their special teams play. Some players are brought in on their athletic profile alone, like recent Chiefs’ addition Tautvydas Kieras.
We went into the draft science of athleticism on the podcast this week. You can click on the podcast shield logo to open in a new tab & listen to the show while you check out the visuals below.
In 2016, I’ll feature the Rogue Analytics athletic matrices. These matrices are designed to evaluate the functional athletic abilities of athletes hoping to join NFL Teams. The matrices look at the measurable ability to perform the functional requirements of the position they play on the field.
With those defined, lets take a look at the top athletes among the offensive linemen.
Top 13 Athletic O-linemen
Looking at the MAm for the offensive line prospects, two trends stand out.
Of the top 13 grades, only three are regarded as tackles. Jason Spriggs has been lauded for his athleticism and it stands up to scrutiny here. The surprise is Michigan State’s Jack Conklin. Making the top 10 is encouraging for a player who’s play shows generally poor-to-average footwork and trouble with angular techniques. Teams that consider him a viable 1st round pick likely see upside in his athleticism.
Secondly, the quality of the interior linemen in this draft class has been questioned extensively. While the top scouting grades are few, there is a large group of athletic Day 2 prospects to choose from. They’ll need coaching and time, but 6 of the top 7 MAm grades belong to interior lineman.
That bodes well for any team that relies on their linemen to be mobile, agile athletes.
Next: Who will KC target?