Before the draft, we introduced the Athletic Success Indicator (ASI) and used it to find a few potential draft sleepers and busts. Looking back at all the action last weekend, a few teams seemed to target especially athletic prospects. To evaluate the most athletic draft classes, teams were ranked by the average ASI of their selections. The players who did not complete enough pro day drills to be evaluated were excluded and a list of the players who did not qualify can be found at the bottom of this article.
Kansas City Chiefs – 53.4 average ASI
The Chiefs’ draft was headlined by a pair of high ASI players in the second round: Missouri LB Nick Bolton and Oklahoma C Creed Humphrey. Both Bolton and Humphrey had the second-best ASI at their respective positions. ASI was not as fond of their fourth-round selection, Florida State DE Joshua Kaindoh, who scored in the eighth percentile of all defensive ends since 2012. They closed out the draft strong though, taking the fifth-ranked TE in ASI, Duke’s Noah Grey. With their sixth-round pick, Kansas City grabbed Tennessee G Trey Smith, who was seen as a second-round talent by many and was the second-highest G in ASI (he likely fell due to medical concerns). Overall, the defending AFC champions had a very strong draft.
Dallas Cowboys – 48.7 average ASI
The Cowboys started off strong, with their top four selections all ranking in the top seven in ASI at their position in the class. Their first-round pick, Penn State LB Micah Parsons, was the second-highest ranked OLB and their second-round pick, Kentucky CB Kelvin Joseph, was the top-ranked CB in ASI in the class. Iowa DE Chauncey Golston, who they picked up in the third, was the fourth-ranked DE in ASI. Jabril Cox and Israel Mukuamu did not qualify for ASI, as they did not complete enough pro day drills. Their lowest ranked prospect athletically was Marshall OT Josh Ball, who was in the 18th percentile of all OTs drafted since 2012. Dallas clearly emphasized athleticism, especially on the defensive side of the ball, which is a good sign for new DC Dan Quinn.
Las Vegas Raiders – 48.2 average ASI
The Raiders had a bit of a controversial draft, with the surprising pick of Alex Leatherwood in the first round, the 20th-ranked OT by ASI. Their third- and fifth-round selections, Buffalo DE Malcolm Koonce and Illinois CB Nate Hobbs, were not in the dataset evaluated for ASI, as they were not deemed to be likely draft selections. The Las Vegas draft class was buoyed by the selections of Virginia Tech S Divine Deablo and Pittsburgh C Jimmy Morrissey. Deablo was the second-ranked safety in the class by ASI, and Morrissey had the highest ASI score of all centers drafted since 2012. Grabbing Morrissey in the seventh round could prove to be excellent value for the Raiders, who otherwise had a bit of a questionable draft.
Atlanta Falcons – 46.3 average ASI
Kyle Pitts was certainly the headliner of this class, scoring in the 97th percentile of all TEs drafted since 2012 in ASI. In the second round, they picked up UCF S Richie Grant, the sixth-highest scoring safety in the class. The Falcons had another nice pickup in the fifth round in Texas DT TaQuon Graham, the second-ranked DT in the class. Their lowest rated player did not come until the sixth round, with the 33rd-ranked WR, Frank Darby from Arizona State. Having good draft position certainly helps, but Atlanta made the most of its opportunities.
Cincinnati Bengals – 43.9 average ASI
The Bengals drafted a few guys the ASI really liked, and a few it was not so fond of. Ja’Marr Chase had the third-highest ASI of all receivers in the class and will likely be a go-to weapon for second-year QB Joe Burrow. They also picked up the top-ranked OLB and RB in the class, Texas EDGE Joseph Ossai in the third and Michigan RB Chris Evans in the sixth. Cincinnati would be much higher on this list if they had not drafted Tulane DE Cameron Sample, ECU OT D’Ante Smith and Kansas State DE Wyatt Huburt, who ranked in the 13th, sixth and 15th percentile at their respective positions. Clemson OT Jackson Carman did not qualify for ASI after sitting out his pro day due to injury. While some of their picks were a bit underwhelming, the Bengals got some quality players and should be an improved team for the 2021 season.
Athleticism is far from the only consideration when making draft choices, but it can be a good indicator of which players may be successful at the next level. It will be interesting to see how teams evaluate athleticism as analytics continues to evolve and influence decision-making. Perhaps more NFL teams will adopt metrics such as the Athletic Success Indicator in the future.
Players who did not qualify for ASI: