After analyzing all of the data, I found that the following combine qualities have an impact on NFL success:
40 Yard Dash, Broad Jump, 20 Yard Split, 10 Yard Split, 3 Cone Drill
However, the impact of the 3 Cone Drill depends on the type of running back. If you want a shifty (think: Ray Rice, Jamal Charles, Matt Forte) running back, you want a player with a sub-7 second 3 Cone Drill. If you want a pounding (think: Brandon Jacobs, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch) running back, the 3 Cone Drill doesn't matter as much. If you want a do-everything running back, a sub 7.1s 3 Cone Drill will suffice.
10 Yard Splits and 20 Yard Splits also have minimal impacts. 10 Yard Splits will show how a player can get into the open field and the rest of the dash shows what the player will do in the open space- however, the 10 yard split relies on the fact that the player will be untouched. As a result, the impact of these splits on NFL success are small. Honestly, the numbers show that a player just has to break 1.6s in the 10 Yard Split and 2.7s in the 20 Yard Split. While these numbers have a connection with NFL success, the marker is almost negligible.
Read more analysis after the jump!
As a result, the two combine factors that have the largest impact on NFL success are the 40 Yard Dash and the Broad Jump.The bench mark for the Broad Jump is 9 feet, 8 inches. Anything lower and the player appears to lack the explosion to burst through the holes in the offensive line. That leaves players like Shane Vereen, Alex Green, Mark Ingram and Dion Lewis with large red flags.
The elite running backs were sub-4.5s in the 40 yard dash and the above average running backs were sub-4.55s. This means that any running back who cannot run sub-4.55s should be examined with extreme caution. That includes Mikel Leshoure, Ryan Williams, and Daniel Thomas.
Unfortunately, NFL success is not as simple as drafting a running back with a sub 4.5s 40 Yard Dash and a 9 foot 8 inch Broad Jump. There are different weights of importance between the speed and explosion of a player and, hooray for statistics, I'm able to come up with a formula that can help determine if a prospect has the physicals of an NFL football player. Keep in mind that "NFL Physicals" does not mean "NFL Success;" we have to incorporate their college production to see if they can actually play in the NFL.
However, just looking at the "Physicals" part, the following players have the physical qualities of a successful NFL player:
DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
Jordan Todman, Connecticutt
Derrick Locke, Kentucky
Roy Helu Jr., Nebraska
Mario Fannin, Auburn
Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
Da'Rel Scott, Maryland
Brandon Saine, Ohio State
Now some names stick out as players who shouldn't be on the list, like Saine and Fannin- well that's completely true. That's where the college production factor is important in eliminating poor prospects and that's what we'll be looking at tomorrow.
I bolded the names of the players the Patriots have been looking at, which is a great sign.
Tomorrow, I'll further narrow down the list after analyzing college statistics.