TFE contributor Casan Scott looks at the physiology behind the NFL Combine, analyzing position by position to give us a better understanding of exactly what the numbers really mean coming out of INDY each and every year. If you missed the introduction to this ongoing series, here’s a quick link that will catch you up to speed – Click Here.
By Casan Scott
The Offensive Line
Everything starts up front right? I begin my analysis of the NFL Combine with the offensive line. I analyzed the 50th, 75th, and 95th quantiles of relationships between the 40 yard dash, the 20 yard shuttle, the 3-cone drill, and the vertical leap and each players’ Career Approximate Value for 121 offensive tackles, 90 offensive guards, and 42 centers. Traditionally a regression line splits the data with 50% below the line and 50% above. In my quantile regression I also include the 75th and 95th quantiles, meaning that those lines split the data 75/25 and 95/5 respectively. This allows me to quantify the relationship of the highest responders in the population. An example of a 95th percentile responder would be JJ Watt, while a 50th percentile responder would be Mario Williams. Both players had very similar combine performance, with Williams slightly better, but Watt appeared to reach the fullest potential of that talent while Williams performs about average.
In this study on offensive lineman, I found that the ability to predict potential was best for that of offensive guards. This does make sense in that guards generally move both laterally and linearly more than the tackles and the center. Guards pull and trap, while a tackle’s job depends highly on his ability to react to an outside pass rush. The 40 yard dash was most highly correlated with guards, the vertical leap with centers and tackles, the shuttle with centers, and the 3-cone drill with guards. Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 show how well the 40 yard dash (1), the shuttle run (2), the 3-cone drill (3), and the vertical predict offensive linemen potential in the NFL.
How does Casan Scott’s analysis correlate with the study Joe Lander’s did a few years ago in seeking to find the relevance of the NFL Combine? Click here to read Joe’s findings and compare/contrast to those of Casan’s.