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What can the NFL Combine tell us about NFL success?

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL prospects, agents, and team personnel will descend upon Indianapolis for the NFL combine from February 28th through March 6th.

During this event, teams will conduct interviews with prospective players as part of their evaluation process but the more ‘flashy’ aspect of the combine is the athletic testing. While this aspect of player evaluation is clearly valued by NFL teams, it has also been dubbed ‘The Underwear Olympics” and criticized as an overrated part of the evaluation puzzle (given that it does not tap into how one actually played during real games) by others.

While a logical criticism, this limitation of the combine to predict NFL success appears to be overstated per evidence provided by Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb on Twitter) and his work on Relative Athletic Scores for prospects.

As laid out by Kent Lee Platte, athletic testing is a huge piece of the player evaluation puzzle. Generally speaking, having below average athleticism creates a significant uphill battle towards becoming a rostered NFL player. Similarly, one of the best ways to maximize your odds of sticking on an NFL roster appears to be to be a well above average athlete even by NFL standards.

While even Platte acknowledges RAS is not the end-all, be-all of determining a prospects worth, the value of RAS as a projection tool may be something worth keeping in mind or those interested in evaluating prospects this upcoming draft season.

For those interested, the above thread also analyzes the data by positions, which can be found by following this link.