Could Kenneth Dixon be this year’s David Johnson? I hope so.
So, if you missed it, over the past couple years I put together a Running Backing Athletic Measurable Assessment (RBAMA). You can find my original article here. I also wrote a piece on the super stacked 2015 running back class that showed to be helpful in predicting David Johnson’s breakout, and a gave us a few other key names to watch for. As a reminder, this system scores a running back’s combine performances across the board in height, weight, pounds/in, size/speed ratio, 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, 20-yard shuttle, 3-cone drill, top 5 performances at a drill in their class, hand size, and eventually their round drafted. In the end, they receive a single numeric score to reflect their natural and relevant running back measurable attributes. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how the 2016 RB class measured up.
[table id=RBAMA16 /]
Okay, so just like last year I need to address a few things right away so you don’t scoff and call this measurement crap right away (because of your preconceived, albeit possibly well-informed biases). One of the most frustrating things about this running back class is that not even half of them completed all of the possible drills (some due to health, some due to cowardice) leaving many with incomplete scores. This RBAMA will update after pro days & the NFL draft. Yes, Zeke actually only did well at one drill (the 40), but did not perform in at least 2 which would have helped his final score. Derrick Henry’s speed scores were crazy, but his agility scores were bad. Both of them still scored in a way that shows plenty of giftedness. Don’t freak out. Lastly, any RB who scores above a 0 is worth looking at, but most of the real elite RBs that have had prolific fantasy careers nearly all score at least a 3.
One thing that may jump out right away is that Kenneth Dixon killed the combine. After the draft, his score will most likely (if taken in round 5 or better) be tied for 3rd highest over the last 3 years among all running backs. Part of this is due to the fact that he completed every drill, but it’s mainly due to his top 5 finishes in the 3-cone & vertical. Often we see RBs excel at either the Vert/Broad combo or 20-shuttle & 3-cone, but not both. He killed it in all of them but the 20, where he was just average. Another huge contributing factor to him being number one is the fact that he showed literally 0 athletic deficiencies. His 40 time was average, but the elite burst & agility paired with a build that is quite similar to Marshawn Lynch made for the best overall combine performance among all RBs. When you pair that with his already impressive tape you get a guy that I am going to have a lot of shares in next year.
The second thing that jumps off the page to me is that there are several RBs with great RBAMA scores (3+) who are definitely not viewed as top prospects: DeAndre Washington, Dan Vitale (FB), Tyler Ervin, Daniel Lasco, & Wendell Smallwood. The thing is, Washington was very close to Cameron Artis-Payne’s measurements last year, with a marginal advantage in a few places that boosted his score. Vitale is really a fullback that scored similarly to Zach Zenner (undrafted last year). Lasco & Smallwood were both very deficient in at least 1 measurable area. Tyler Ervin is the only one out of the bunch who blew expectations out of the water with 0 deficiencies. I hope that he runs his 20 & 3-cone at his pro day to truly solidify my belief in him.
The last couple guys I want to mention due to their combination of notoriety and poor performance at the combine are Alex Collins & Kelvin Taylor (Booker didn’t compete in any drills, so he’ll have to wait). Taylor flat out embarrassed himself. We found out his hands are incredibly tiny (8 ¼ inches). That’s nearly an inch below what you like to see. 3 notable RBs who had hands larger than that (yet still small), Ameer, Matt Jones & Tevin Coleman, fumbled the rock 13 times collectively on just 374 carries. FYI, that’s horrific. Okay, he has small hands. Well then he turns in the 2nd worst vertical, 4th worst broad jump, runs a 4.6 40-yard dash, and to save face doesn’t even compete in the 20-yard shuttle or 3-cone. I feel sorry for the guy, but I won’t be touching him in any leagues. As for Alex Collins, he had the worst vertical of any RB, tied for 4th worst in the broad, & ran a 4.59. That was surprising given those were areas that were perceived to be strengths. Don’t get me wrong here. Collins’ tape is undeniable, but his true athletic ability is at the very least in question now.
In conclusion, it is hard to dismiss the majority of this class just yet. Many RBs could not or did not complete several key drills. With that said though, there is no way this year’s class is anywhere near 2015. Even some of the top RBs in this class show real deficiency in some key areas. I really do love a few of these guys, though. Go grab yourself some Kenneth Dixon, Tyler Ervin (late), C.J. Prosise, Derrick Henry & of course some Zeke shares. As I mentioned, this article will be updated many times leading up to the season with a few more guys to grab, completed scores via pro day measurements, & their post-draft landing spot analysis. I hope you enjoyed. As always, if you have any questions follow me on Twitter @FF_TravisM. Go kill it this year with some solid RBs.