Rating the Athleticism of the 2017 Draft Class

Rating the Athleticism of the 2017 Draft Class

We’ve already reviewed the relative athleticism of the 2017 draft class, but it’s time we take a look at how the 32 NFL teams valued athleticism and how they ranked against one another. Some teams value athleticism more than others, and if we know which teams do well we can start to build out trends based on athleticism to gauge how much it truly matters to team success. We know Myles Garrett is one of the most athletic defensive ends ever, but did the Browns go super athletic throughout the draft? Which teams placed the most value on measurements as  whole? To figure that out, we’ve average the Relative Athletic Scores of each team’s draft classes and then ranked them from least to most athletic, starting with a couple NFCE teams.

#32 Philadelphia Eagles
Average RAS: 4.31
2016 Rank: #3


The Eagles kicked off their draft with Derek Barnett, one of the two sub 5.00 players who was drafted in the first round. Sidney Jones rated below average for RAS even prior to suffering an achilles injury that will likely redshirt him for 2017. It wasn’t until the 6th round that the Eagles truly took an impressive athlete, though 3rd rounder Rasul Douglas measured better than expected for his size.

#31 Miami Dolphins
Average RAS: 4.48
2016 Rank: #25

Dolphins 2017.PNG

The Dolphins took the only other sub 5.00 RAS player in the first round, then took a player in the 2nd who was expected to measure poorly but had an excellent combine, impressing many with his potential. Davon Godchaux was the only player the Dolphins took that was significantly below average, but the 5th round is usually a good spot to gamble on players with less athletic upside but potentially higher floors.

#30 Dallas Cowboys
Average RAS: 5.03
2016 Rank: #1


Taco Charlton was the first pick for the Cowboys, whose athletic measurements in every area other than speed were impressive. They took an elite athlete with their 2nd round pick in Chidobe Awuzie, but it was their picks from the 3rd round on that dragged their score down. It was a surprising departure from their previous approach as their league leading 2016 class didn’t have a single sub 5.00 RAS athlete compared to 5 of their 9 picks in 2017.

#29 Minnesota Vikings
Average RAS: 5.23
2016 Rank: #28


After their first four picks in 2016 were below 5.00 RAS, the Vikings kicked off 2017 by taking three in a row below average. They changed approach sharply in the 4th round, taking Ben Gedeon and then Rodney Adams, who was only just below average, then taking five more above average athletes after that. Bucky Hodges was one of the most athletic tight ends in a 2017 draft class that had no shortage of elite talent.

#28 Chicago Bears
Average RAS: 5.26
2016 Rank: #23


With so few players in this draft, it’s easy to have your aveage dragged one way or the other. The Bears took two top tier athletes in the 1st and 2nd round and took flyers on players like Tarik Cohen and Jordan Morgan in the later rounds who didn’t measure nearly as well.

#27 New York Jets
Average RAS: 5.35
2016 Rank: #8


After taking two elite athletes and only one below average in 2016, the Jets took a different route in 2017 in regards to athleticism. Only Jordan Leggett was considerably above average, while most of the Jets picks were right around average athletically at their positions.

#26 Houston Texans
Average RAS: 5.37
2016 Rank: #21

Texans 2017.PNG

The Texans prized athleticism early, taking elite athletes like Deshaun Watson and Zach Cunningham. D’Onta Foreman is a H/W/S phenom, but he was the last great measurable athlete in this class for the Texans. Treston Decoud ended in the bottom 8th percent for cornerbacks, while the other three picks were all just a little below average.

#25 Washington Redskins
Average RAS: 5.45
2016 Rank: #24


The Redskins were a bit erratic this season. Jon Allen measured very well (unless you consider him an edge rusher), but 2nd round pick Ryan Anderson was one of the worst athletes in this draft class. Conversely, Fabian Moreau measured out as the 2nd most athletic CB since 1999. Robert Davis was the most athletic receiver in the 2017 draft class, but Jeremy Sprinkle in the 5th round was one of the only well known tight ends in this draft class to measure below average.

#24 Los Angeles Rams
Average RAS: 5.48
2016 Rank: #30


The Rams improved a bit over their 2016 season by selecting elite athletes like Gerald Everett and Josh Reynolds, while Samson Ebukam was one of the most athletic LBs in this draft class. Their average dropped severely due to a pair of 6th round picks who measured very poorly at their respective positions.

#23 Denver Broncos
Average RAS: 5.58
2016 Rank: #6


Kicking off 2017 with one of the most athletic prospects in the draft class in Garett Bolles is a good way to start. Picking a player like DeMarcus Walker in the 2nd is a good way to see your average plummet back down to earth, however. To be fair, Walker’s score jumps significantly if moved to DT, but he’ll have to gain weight to make that switch and hopefully keep his explosion. Brendan Langley in the 3rd helped pull these score up further, but the remaining picks were all around average athletically.

#22 Atlanta Falcons
Average RAS: 5.64
2016 Rank: #13


The Falcons are known for drafting speed and they didn’t change that approach this season, taking Takkarist McKinley and Duke Riley on defense. The selection of Damontae Kazee, and to a much lesser extent Sean Harlow in the mid rounds, brought down the Falcons overall score.

#21 Indianapolis Colts
Average RAS: 5.70
2016 Rank: #10


The Colts 1st round pick, Malik Hooker, awsn’t able to measure due to injury. The Colts would have scored much better if not for the selection of Zach Banner in the 4th. Banner represents an extreme departure for the Colts, who have had one of the most athletic offensive lines in the NFL over the past couple seasons.

#20 New York Giants
Average RAS: 5.86
2016 Rank: #19


Evan Engram is one of the best true athletes in this draft class, while Davis Webb also ranked top 5 in 2017. Aside from those two, the Giants took several just okay athletes with no real standouts.

#19 Seattle Seahawks
Average RAS: 6.16
2016 Rank: #27


The Seahawks went for volume, selecting 11 players in 2017. Of those, four were elite athletes, including both receivers Amara Darboh and David Moore. They likely would have been one of the best in the class if not for the selection of Justin Senior (bottom 3rd percentile) and Tedric Thompson. Though it rated lower, the Seahawks 2016 class was similarly minmaxed in terms of athletic potential.

#18 Cleveland Browns
Average RAS: 6.19
2016 Rank: #17


The Browns started 2017 off with a bang, taking three elite athletes in the first round, including Myles Garrett who was 2nd all time at his position. DeShone Kizer rated below 5.00 RAS, but that doesn’t matter much for QB. The only real head scratchers were Caleb Brantley (for both his athletic profile and other reasons) and their last pick, Matt Dayes (bottom 9th percentile).

#17 Jacksonville Jaguars
Average RAS: 6.29
2016 Rank: #9


Leonard Fournette and Cam Robinson were good enough athletes, but it was late rounders Blair Brown and speedster Jalen Myrick who really brought the Jags score up. Their 2016 class was one of the most athletic in the NFL, spearheaded by Jalen Ramsey (9.85 RAS).

#16 Detroit Lions
Average RAS: 6.30
2016 Rank: #14


Jarrad Davis and Kenny Golladay were both elite athletes in the early rounds for the Detroit Lions, while late round selection Jeremiah Ledbetter piled it on. Early selection of Teez Tabor and their two 4th round picks kept the Lions score from being much higher.

#15 Tennessee Titans
Average RAS: 6.35
2016 Rank: #22


Unfortunately, Corey Davis never measured, so we won’t know if the Titans took elite athletes with each of their first three picks. Jonnu Smith and Corey Levin only just missed out on that elite range while only Jayon Brown and Brad Seaton really caused the average to drop.

#14 Kansas City Chiefs
Average RAS: 6.42
2016 Rank: #11


Instead of minmaxing like many teams chose to, the Chiefs just went for overall good athletes from top to bottom. Kareem Hunt is their only below average RAS player, but after losing 20 pounds during the draft process there’s some uncertainty about his true athletic potential.

#13 Los Angeles Chargers
Average RAS: 6.48
2016 Rank: #7


Looking at the Chargers draft class, it’s likely they use some sort of threshold system since they didn’t take a single player who measured more than a little below average. Both Forrest Lamp and Rayshawn Jenkins measured elite for their positions, and Lamp scores even higher if he is measured at guard or center, depending on his final landing spot.

#12 Carolina Panthers
Average RAS: 6.61
2016 Rank: #18

Panthers 2017.PNG

If not for the selection of Corn Elder (7th percentile), the Panthers may have had one of the top three classes in terms of relative athleticism. Both 1st rounder Christian McCaffrey and 3rd round pass rusher Daeshon Hall measured in the elite range for their position.

#11 Oakland Raiders
Average RAS: 6.63
2016 Rank: #26


With elite athletes in the first three rounds, the Raiders were on their way to having the most athletic draft class of 2017. The selection of David Sharpe derailed that a bit. It’s easy to poke fun at the pick, but the Raiders have had one of the best offensive lines in football the past couple of seasons despite being one of the lowest rated athletically as a unit so who are we to judge?

#10 Buffalo Bills
Average RAS: 6.64
2016 Rank: #16


The Bills managed to land in the top ten by taking two supreme athletes in Zay Jones and Dion Dawkins, then avoid taking any really poor ones. It is likely that they take a threshold approach, having taken only two sub 5.00 athletes in 2016’s mid ranked class and only one (just barely) this year.

#9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Average RAS: 6.70
2016 Rank: #5


Walking out of one of the best tight end classes in recent memory with the most athletic player at that position is impressive. The Bucs also took Chris Godwin, who was 4th in this class, and top ten ranked Jeremy McNichols. The only stand out on the other end was Stevie Tu’ikolovatu in the 7th, but they’d built up quite the buffer before then.

#8 San Francisco 49ers
Average RAS: 6.71
2016 Rank: #31


In his first year as GM, John Lynch went heavy on the athletes by taking four elite ones. Solomon Thomas, Ahkello Witherspoon, and George Kittle were all top 5 at their position athletically in 2017. Only two of the 49ers picks were below average and they weren’t taken until the later rounds.

#7 Pittsburgh Steelers
Average RAS: 7.04
2016 Rank: #29


The AFCN has three teams in the top 7, with the Steelers starting it off. Three of their seven picks who had a RAS (We don’t measure Long Snappers) measured in teh elite range, starting with 1st rounder T.J. Watt. Only their 3rd rounders measured below average and none of their picks were significantly below average.

#6 Arizona Cardinals
Average RAS: 7.06
2016 Rank: #32


The Cardinals went from the lowest ranked class in 2017 to nearly the top five in 2016. It helps to select elite athletes like Haason Reddick, Chad Williams, and Rudy Ford. Their only below average pick was 4th rounder Dorian Johnson, and he was only just, not enough to make a difference.

#5 New Orleans Saints
Average RAS: 7.31
2016 Rank: #2


The New Orleans Saints are one of only two teams to appear in the top 5 for a second season in a row. Taking the highest rated CB for RAS in the 1st round is a good way to start. The only player who didn’t measure above 7.00 in the Saints draft was theri 6th round pick Al-Quadin Muhammad. The Saints went athlete heavy again, so relative athleticism likely factors heavily in their scouting.

#4 New England Patriots
Average RAS: 7.72
2016 Rank: #12


The Patriots only made a few picks, but all of them were athletes. Derek Rivers rated 4th in this draft class and it was a bit surprising he made it to day two. Conor McDermott, their last pick, only just missed out on an elite score.

#3 Green Bay Packers
Average RAS: 7.78
2016 Rank: #4


The Packers took an astounding SIX elite RAS athletes in the 2017 draft and three more above average. Only 4th round rusher Jamaal Williams didn’t measure above average. The Pack had four players who measured in the top 3 at their position in 2017. Jumping a single spot from 4th in 2016 to 3rd in 2017, it’s clear the Packers place a premium on athleticism.

#2 Cincinnati Bengals
Average RAS: 7.90
2016 Rank: #20


Like the Packers, the Bengals also took a crazy six elite athletes in the draft.  4th rounder Ryan Glasgow was the only player who rated below 5.00 in their class, while the Bengals 2nd round pick, Joe Mixon, rated with the highest RAS of all RBs in 2017.

#1 Baltimore Ravens
Average RAS: 8.29
2016 Rank: #15


None of the Ravens seven draft picks rated below 6.00 RAS. All five of their elite RAS players rated in the top 7 of their position in 2017. Chris Wormley, I should note, showed as a DE in the draft but his measurements were as a defensive tackle, where he rated as one of the top athletes in this class. The Ravens are known to seek out the best athletes and they did so in the 2017 draft in spades. While not shown here, the Ravens also had the most athletic UDFA class of the 2017 season, showing the level of focus it is for them as a team.

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