Using the Speed Score, an advanced statistic, how do the running backs in the 2013 NFL Draft stack up?
When it comes to the NFL Combine, the 40-yard dash is the main event. As with the 100m dash in the Olympics, everyone wants to see who the fastest player available is. Millions of dollars have been earned and lost by a good or poor time, respectively. Certain teams like the Oakland Raiders have based their drafting philosophies off of speedsters. However, such philosophies generally fail, as the 40-yard dash is a poor predictor of future performance.
Introducing, the Speed Score.
The Speed Score is not a new measurement. In fact, here is a description of it provided by Football Outsiders:
Fully introduced in Pro Football Prospectus 2008 by Bill Barnwell, a system for projecting the success of college running backs entering the NFL. Combines a player's weight with his 40-yard dash time from the NFL scouting combine, thus accounting for the fact that a larger back is more likely to be a good NFL player than a small back with the same speed. Speed Scores generally range from 80 to 120, with 100 as the average. Formula is (weight*200) / (40-time^4).
All 40-yard dashes are not created equal. If a 170lb scatback runs a 4.3 40, that's difficult to compare it to the 4.7 the 245lb bulldozer ran. You can't weigh a 40-time too heavily, either positively or negatively, without putting it in context. That's where the Speed Score comes in. As the block quote above says, it is generally ranked from 80 to 120, with 100 being the average. There's a high correlation between a higher score and a successful NFL career, although of course there are numerous other factors to consider (including work ethic, usage, injuries, etc.). For example, Bo Jackson scored a 149.5. Eric Dickerson scored a 112.2. Barry Sanders scored a 110.6. According to Football Outsiders, there have been only four running backs since 1999 with Speed Scores under 95 to become viable starting backs, including Frank Gore, Brian Westbrook, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Darren Sproles).
It's clear that the New York Jets are going to be looking for a new running back during the 2013 NFL Draft on April 25-27th. In the Rex Ryan Era, the team has drafted a running back every year, including Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell, and Terrance Ganaway. This year figures to be the same, as Greene is expected to leave in free agency.
The measurements from the 2013 Combine are in, and we can now calculate the Speed Score of the running backs and project their NFL futures. So without further ado, here are the rankings:
|Name||Weight||40-Yard Dash||Speed Score|