Breakdowns

Using ASI to Identify Some Potential NFL Draft Sleepers and Busts

Last week, we published an article on the Athletic Success Indicator (ASI), which uses prospects’ Combine and pro day testing numbers to predict NFL success. ASI was found to be over 56% accurate for every position and could correctly predict if a player would be successful in the NFL at up to 79% accuracy for some positions. Success was defined as players who were in the 70th percentile or above of Approximate Value over their first four NFL seasons. The study also looked at which measurables are most important for each position.

Along with the traditional Combine measurables, there are several other factors considered when predicting success, such as:

  • Vertical Jump Power – adjusts vertical jump for player weight
  • Broad Jump Power – adjusts broad jump for player weight
  • Burst Score – combines vertical jump and broad jump scores and adjusts for weight
  • Quickness Score – combines quickness measurements: shuttle, 3-cone, 10-yard split and adjusts for weight
  • Speed Score – adjusts 40-yard dash by player weight
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) – ratio of height to weight
  • Catch Radius – combines arm length, height, vertical jump, 3-cone, shuttle, and 40 to approximate how far a player can extend to catch

Since the NFL Combine was cancelled this season, the pro day measurements of all players listed below are adjusted based on the historical difference between pro day and Combine measurements. Positional categorization and pro day data were provided by draftscout.com.

Based on their ASI score, here are a few prospects likely to hear their name called this weekend who may over-perform their draft slots, and also a few potential busts:

Sleepers

  1. Quinn Meinerz, OG, Wisconsin-Whitewater

Meinerz, the DIII Senior Bowl standout, is the fourth-highest rated guard by ASI of all prospects drafted since 2012. This ranking lands him just above Chris Lindstrom, who the Falcons drafted 14th overall in 2019

Here are the five measurables found most important for OGs and how Meinerz scored relative to position:

  • Shuttle – 4.59s (83rd percentile)
  • Burst Score – 30,640 (91st percentile)
  • Quickness Score – 135 (88th percentile)
  • Broad Jump – 901 (83rd percentile)
  • 20-yard split – 2.95s (83rd percentile)

Scoring at the 83rd percentile or above in all these measures, Meinerz had the best ASI score of all OGs in the 2021 class. He will likely be a late day 2 or early day 3 pick and has the potential to be a steal for whichever team drafts him.

  1. Payton Turner, DE, Houston

Turner has quietly been rising up draft boards, and for good reason. His ASI of 68.7 puts him right between the Bosa brothers on the overall scale for defensive ends.

Here are the five measurables found most important for DEs and how Turner scored relative to position:

  • Quickness Score – 148 (85th percentile)
  • Hand Size – 10.5in (87th percentile)
  • Height-Adjusted Speed Score – 108 (77th percentile)
  • Height – 6048 (84th percentile)
  • Wingspan – 7001 (93rd percentile)

Turner’s massive wingspan of over 7 feet and high speed and quickness make him an intriguing pass rushing prospect. Look for Turner to be a day 2 pick who could sneak into the end of the first if a team falls in love with his measurables.

  1. Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa

A massive 6-8 tackle out of FCS school Northern Iowa, Brown scored the fifth-highest ASI of all tackles drafted since 2012. He ranks just ahead of Lane Johnson, a 3-time Pro Bowl RT for the Eagles.

Here are the five measurables found most important for OTs and how Brown scored relative to position:

  • Quickness Score – 166 (100th percentile)
  • Speed Score – 98 (87th percentile)
  • Height-Adjusted Speed Score – 101 (94th percentile)
  • Wingspan – 6106 (70th percentile)
  • Weight – 311 (45th percentile)

Brown had the best quickness score of all OTs in the dataset, meaning he is the quickest OT for his size. He is likely to be selected late day 2 or early day 3 and has plenty of upside for a small school prospect.

  1. Chris Evans, RB, Michigan

Evans’ ASI score of 83 places him between Miles Sanders and Tevin Coleman on the RB scale. Dealing with academic issues and a crowded backfield, he did not see many opportunities to produce for Michigan.

Here are the five measurables found most important for RBs and how Evans scored relative to position:

  • Speed Score – 95 (37th percentile)
  • Hand Size – 10in (89th percentile)
  • Shuttle – 4.15s (89th percentile)
  • BMI – 29.4 (30th percentile)
  • Bench – 18 reps (47th percentile)

Hand size is likely an important factor for RBs because it is a good indicator of overall player size. His combination of size and quickness are what make Evans an intriguing player. He has not received a lot of buzz from draft analysts, so he could likely be available late in day 3. For a team looking to take a swing on an athletic back late in the draft, Evans could be a fun upside pick.

  1. Jimmy Morressey, C, Pittsburgh

Morressey received the highest ASI score of any center drafted since 2012, putting him ahead of the likes of Buccaneers OG Ali Marpet, who was classified as a center coming out. A former walk-on, Morressey became a four-year starter at Pittsburgh.

Here are the five measurables found most important for OCs and how Morressey scored relative to position:

  • Shuttle – 4.48s (89th percentile)
  • Hand Size – 10in (51st percentile)
  • Vertical Jump Power – 8800 (70th percentile)
  • Quickness Score – 139 (91st percentile)
  • Bench – 23 reps (40th percentile)

His combination of quickness and explosiveness will allow Morressey to be effective in a zone scheme at the next level. Without a lot of buzz, he will likely be available in the later rounds and could be a draft day steal.

Potential Busts

  1. Mustafa Johnson, DT, Colorado

Johnson is the lowest-rated DT prospect in the 2021 class by ASI. He is very undersized for an interior defender at the next level, at barely over 6 feet tall and 280 pounds and does not appear to have the necessary speed or strength to compensate.

Here are the five measurables found most important for DTs and how Johnson scored relative to position:

  • Weight – 280 pounds (3rd percentile)
  • Vertical Jump Power – 8029 (7th percentile)
  • Height-Adjusted Speed Score – 87 (37th percentile)
  • Weight-Adjusted Bench – 19 reps (42nd percentile)
  • BMI – 38 (39th percentile)

Johnson had a strong showing at the College Gridiron Showcase and will likely be selected in the later rounds, but his testing numbers do not suggest a high upside.

  1. Demetric Felton, RB, UCLA

A converted WR, Felton is an interesting case and had an explosive showing at the Senior Bowl. Nonetheless, he received the lowest ASI score of any RB prospect drafted since 2012.

Here are the five measurables found most important for RBs and how Felton scored relative to position:

  • Speed Score – 80 (0 percentile)
  • Hand Size – 9 3/8 in (55th percentile)
  • Shuttle – 4.51s (11th percentile
  • BMI – 28.2 (10th percentile)
  • Bench – 9 reps (2nd percentile)

Felton’s 0 percentile speed score is a testament to his lack of size as a RB, below 5-9, 190 pounds, and without the elite speed to compensate. While he may be a fun gadget player, his potential as a highly successful RB may be in doubt.

  1. Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville

Fitzpatrick’s ASI score of 11 puts him just below Laquon Treadwell on the WR scale and gives him the lowest score of all 2021 WR prospects.

Here are the five measurables found most important for WRs and how Fitzpatrick scored relative to position:

  • 40-yard dash – 4.56 (47th percentile)
  • 10-yard split – 1.57s (69th percentile)
  • Hand Size – 9 ¾ (75th percentile)
  • Shuttle – 4.26s (65th percentile)
  • BMI – 26.9 (2nd percentile)

While his ASI may be similar to Treadwell’s, Fitzpatrick does not have the same buzz going into the draft and will likely be a day 3 pick. Due to his tiny stature and lack of elite speed to compensate, teams may want to shy away.

  1. D’Ante Smith, OT, ECU

Another player whose performance at the Senior Bowl created a lot of hype, Smith has the lowest ASI score of all qualifying tackles in the 2021 class. He missed all but the first game of the season in 2020 with an injury but was supposedly healthy enough for his pro day.

Here are the five measurables found most important for OTs and how Smith scored relative to position:

  • Quickness Score – 107 (22nd percentile)
  • Speed Score – 71 (9th percentile)
  • Height-Adjusted Speed Score – 71 (8th percentile)
  • Wingspan – 7014 (94th percentile)
  • Weight – 305 (15th percentile)

There’s no denying Smith’s length, which is a big factor that will interest GMs, but his lack of quickness and speed may cause him to struggle at the next level. He will likely be an early day 3 selection who could sneak into the end of the third round, though his ceiling athletically may be limited.

  1. Quincy Roche, OLB, Miami

Roche may have been overshadowed by the two other Miami EDGE prospects, but is still seen as a solid mid-round prospect. He scored the fifth-lowest ASI of all OLBs drafted since 2012 and the third lowest in the 2021 class.

Here are the five measurables found most important for OLBs and how Roche scored relative to position:

  • Burst Score – 28,845 (35th percentile)
  • Broad Jump Power – 21,012 (38th percentile)
  • Vertical Jump Power – 7833 (22nd percentile)
  • Catch Radius – 283 (14th percentile)
  • Height-Adjusted Speed Score – 96 (34th percentile)

Catch radius, when used to evaluate an EDGE, is more aptly thought of as tackling radius, applying length, quickness and jumping ability. He did not score above 38th percentile in any of these most important measures, lacking the athleticism to be a true impact EDGE at the next level.

Final Thoughts

ASI is not a perfect measure of whether a player will be successful at the NFL level, but rather another piece of the puzzle. Along with player film, character and mental evaluations, and injury reports, athleticism can indicate players who have a higher likelihood of success. ASI can be used to find players who may be under the radar or flag players with particularly low scores as potential risks. There are several NFL teams evaluating athleticism in similar ways, so do not be surprised if some of these sleeper prospects go higher than expected.

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