Packers Draft Picks Reflect a New Wave of Analytics
The Green Bay Packers are one of the many NFL teams that are embracing a new wave of Analytics when it comes to the process of selecting players. In last weeks draft, the Packers drafted players to fill their areas of immediate need on defense with their first three picks, drafted playmaking offensive players with their 4-6 round picks and were able to select the best available players left on the draft board in the 7th round.
The Packers draft was graded out by many as one of the highest valued drafts in the league and the secret to this seasons draft success lies beneath the numbers. Beneath what numbers do you ask? the relative athletic metric scores. Most of the players that the Packers drafted scored in the upper percentile in their athletic metrics at the position that they play. This backs up the talent evaluators assessments that the Packers drafted high valued picks throughout each of the seven rounds of their draft.
What is a Relative Athletic Score? A relative athletic score grades a player’s measurables (height, weight) and combine scores and compares them against other prospects in their position class and draft class. Each players results from their measurables and each combine drill is graded from a 1-10 score (1 being the worst, 10 being the best) and averaged together to score a cumulative relative athletic grade (1-10).
I believe that one of the greatest cases for the validity of relative athletic scores is made by the value that the Packers acquired at the wide receiver position in this year’s draft. Many talent evaluators both in the NFL and across other media outlets had Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk rated as two of the top receivers in this year’s wide receiver class.
Another interesting case in the evaluation of athletic metrics is the comparison of LB- Leighton Vander Esch, who was selected 19th overall, with a RAS score of (9.97) to 7th round pick LB- Kendall Donnerson, who has a RAS score of (9.88). Leighton Vander Esch is an example of a player who did not play in a power 5 conference that had his draft stock helped by his athletic metrics. He backed up his solid performance at Boise St. with a standout combine which translated into receiving an off the chart assessment of his athletic metrics.
These metric evaluations ultimately lead to the question of how much value should we put in athletic metrics, measurables, and combine results when it comes to determining where a player should be drafted and how successful he will be in the NFL? After reading these athletic metric comparisons there will undoubtedly be detractors of athletic metrics, measurables, and combine results.
For example, the metrics indicate that Equanimeous St. Brown, Marques Valdez- Scantling, and J’Mon Moore will be more explosive players at the wide receiver position than Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk will be. To dismiss this fact would simply be burying our heads in the sand, especially when we are evaluating a position that is heavily reliant on athleticism.
I believe that relative athletic scores can have their greatest impact on evaluating positions that require high twitch movements, I.e skill positions, edge rushers, and linebackers. Conversely, the case can be made that Athletic metrics may not play as big of a factor in determining the probable success rate for positions like quarterback, guard, kicker, and punter.
David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave