How To Draft an NFL Running Back: Part Five

So up until this point, we've identified that a great->elite NFL Running back has the following qualities:

A player must have at least one 1000+ yard season while in college.

A player should accomplish the 1000+ yard season at a 5.0+ yards/carry pace.

A player should run a sub 4.55s 40 Yard Dash if they're an above average player.

A player should run a sub 4.5s 40 Yard Dash if they're an elite player.

A player should jump at least a 9-8 Broad Jump to succeed.

...and we've narrowed down the potential prospects to:

Mark Ingram, Alabama

Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech

Jordan Todman, Connecticut

Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State

DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma

Roy Helu Jr., Nebraska

Delone Carter, Syracuse

Da'Rel Scott, Maryland

However, we're looking for the high value prospect. Which player will exceed their draft value? Which player will be considered a miss? Let's consider the following chart (that I just made up). On a scale of 1-10, you want the following breakdown:

Top Half 1st Round

Minimum Acceptable: 8.5/10

Bottom Half 1st Round

Minimum Acceptable: 7.5/10

Top Half 2nd Round

Minimum Acceptable: 7/10

Bottom Half 2nd Round

Minimum Acceptable: 6.5/10

3rd Round

Minimum Acceptable: 6/10

4th Round->UDFA

Minimum Acceptable: 5.5/10

I believe that's a pretty fair evaluation of expected return.

Let's look at the expected return from the draft picks!

Running through the regressions, we're able to come across formula. This roughly means is that the faster they run their 40 and the farther they jump their broad, the greater their expected physical value in the NFL. As a result, I predict the following values with the aforementioned running backs:

DeMarco Murray - 7.24

Jordan Todman - 6.78

Roy Helu Jr. - 6.29

Ryan Williams - 6.29

Kendall Hunter - 6.16

De'Rel Scott - 6.14

Delone Carter - 5.56

Mark Ingram - 5.48

Keep in mind that the standard error with these predictions is 1.88. The expected values from these predictions are a range of values because they represent the possible outcomes of a player with a set physical nature. It's up to the analysis of their college statistics to see whether the prospect deserves to be in the upper portion of the prediction, or the lower part.

For example:

Delone Carter, Syracuse - 3.68 -> 7.44 (one standard deviation range, represents nearly 70% of the possible outcomes)

After examining Carter's college production, it seems as if he's still in the process of improving. As a result, he belongs in the upper portion of expected values. I feel comfortable giving him a grade of 6.3 in the NFL; that means that Carter will be a reliable committee back and possible a solid tandem back, but he won't be an elite feature back.

Here are my scores following the college production adjustment:

Jordan Todman - 7.8

DeMarco Murray - 7.5

Mark Ingram - 7.4

Kendall Hunter - 7.2

Roy Helu Jr. - 7.1

Ryan Williams - 6.6

Delone Carter - 6.3

De'Rel Scott - 6.1

Now I'm sure these numbers are debatable, and I certainly haven't refined them (they're a quick evaluation on my part), but I would say that these numbers (in my mind) are a fair representation of expected value from these running backs after combining their physical abilities with their actual production. I believe that Todman has the most upside in the draft and that Williams is overrated with his first round grade. I think it will be interesting to compare these scores with the physical scores at the end of a couple seasons, in order to see if production adjustments are needed to make a more accurate score.

So the question is: Who should the Patriots draft?

We'll answer that in the final part this afternoon.

Bat, bat, bat.

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