Physical traits, speed, agility, explosiveness attributes of Top WRs (What's the formula?) (1 Viewer)

harschman

Hall-of-Famer
Joined
Nov 26, 2006
Messages
6,628
Reaction score
5,566
Location
MS Gulf Coast
Offline
Sticky Post
Wide Receivers are constantly a hot topic on here. While doing some research I stumbled on an article from 2012 detailing using some physical attributes to determine NFL success as it pertains to predict top 25 WR in points per reception fantasy leagues. He was attempting to find something that worked for both fantasy sports and real life after all, the fantasy sports are based on real life stats and production.


I decided to delve into these questions by looking at what seems to be one of the most difficult positions to predict for fantasy players and NFL teams – the wide receiver. My goal was to figure out what measurements mean the most and see if there were any trends that might help us increase our odds of getting that next big receiver and lessen the chances of drafting yet another wide receiver bust.
The author took the top 25 WRs for a PPR league and determined the following as physical attributes, then averaged them and awarded a point if the player was above the average, deducted a point for incoming rookies below the minimum and added a bonus point for a player drafted in the 1st round. Round drafted was the only non-physical attribute calculated.
  • Height
  • Relative Body Size (pounds per inch)
  • Hand size
  • 40 yard dash time
  • Vertical Leap
  • Broad Jump
  • 20 yard shuttle
  • 3 cone drill
  • Round Draft (non-physical stat)
According to his research the incoming 2012 class top rated WRs using this formula was Alshon Jeffrey and AJ Jenkins, both with a score of 7. Previous years had Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson with 10s, AJ Green and Larry Fitzgerald with 8s, Marques Colston was a 3. TY Hilton from the 2012 class was a -3 as he had quite a few deficiencies. The thought is you can overcome a deficiency if you are strong in another area whereas multiple deficiencies are more difficult to overcome.

I took this calculation add applied it to the top 25 reception leaders from the 2019 season while factoring in Tyreek Hill, so 26 players were averaged.

2019 Averages:
Height: 72.5 inches
Relative Body Size: 2.82 pounds
Hand Size: 9.53 inches
40 Yard Dash Time: 4.49 seconds
Vertical Leap: 36.27 inches
Broad Jump: 122.35 inches
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.18 seconds
3 Cone Drill: 6.87 seconds
Round Drafted: 2.5


2019 Minimums:
Height: 68 inches
Relative Body Size: 2.56
Hand Size: 8.5
40 Yard Dash Time: 4.65 seconds
Vertical Leap: 28.5 inches
Broad Jump: 110 inches
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.5 seconds
3 Cone Drill: 7.17 seconds
Round Drafted: UDFA

Below is how each WR scored. 8/25 1st round selections, 9/25 2nd round selections, 5/25 3rd round and only 3/25 were 4th round or later selections with 1 being a UDFA.

2019 Receptions Leaders:
Michael Thomas: 7 (largest hands at 10.5 inches)
Keenan Allen: 2 (missing vertical, broad jump, 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone)
DeAndre Hopkins: 6 (missing 3 cone, was the minimum or slowest on 20 yard shuttle at 4.5 seconds)
Julian Edelman: 5 (fastest 20 yard shuttle time)
Julio Jones: 9 (slower than the average on the 20 yard shuttle)
Allen Robinson: 6
Cooper Kupp: 3
Tyler Boyd: 3
Robert Woods: 1
DJ Moore: 8
Chris Godwin: 6
Davante Adams: 6
Jarvis Landry: 3 (mins on 40, vert, broad and missing data for 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone drill)
Tyler Lockett: 3
Amari Cooper: 8
Jamison Crowder: 1 (mins on height and 3 cone drill)
Larry Fitzgerald: 6 (10.5 inch hands, missing vert, broad, 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone)
Odell Beckham: 8
DJ Chark: 5 (3rd fastest 40 and 2nd highest vertical, missing data on 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone drill)
John Brown: 3 (minimum on relative body size)
DeVante Parker: 5 (missing data on 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone drill)
Courtland Sutton: 7
Christian Kirk: 4
Cole Beasley: 3 (missing hand size, minimums on height and relative body size)
Mike Evans: 6
Tyreke Hill: 4 (min on height, fastest 40, highest vertical, quickest 3 cone and below min hand size)

3 Rookies from 2019 class:
Deebo Samuel: 6 (10 inch hands)
AJ Brown: 5
DK Metcalf: 7 (fast 40 and min on 20 yard shuttle)

Current Saints:
Michael Thomas: 7
(largest hands at 10.5 inches)
TreQuan Smith: 6 (.03 off hand size from being average)
Keith Kirkwood: 2 (.01 off from 40 average, .03 off from hand size average, .02 off from relative body size average, 81 inch wing span)
Krishawn Hogan: 6 (.03 off from 20 yard shuttle average)
Lil’Jordan Humphrey: 1 (below minimum for 40 time)
Emmanuel Butler: 1 (10 inch hands, below min for 40 time, 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone) 20 yard shuttle is only .02 below the minimum.
Deonte Harris: 3 (below minimum for height)
Maurice Harris: 1 (below minimum for broad jump)
Tommylee Lewis: -2 (below minimum for hand size and height)
Alvin Kamara: 3 (calculated him just for reference to WRs)

I had planned to hold off and post after the combine and pro days, but there are some WRs who are already jumping out with limited data. The 40 times I have found are all estimated or from their recruiting numbers. A few WRs have had their hand size measured during recruiting. The numbers below are just based on height, weight, project 40 and if their hand size is available. No bonus points have been awarded for projected round drafted. These guys have a pretty good head start before being measured/timed.

Laviska Shenault Jr.: 3
Gabriel Davis: 3
Brandon Aiyuk: 3 (10 inch hands)
Chase Claypool: 4 (10 inch hands)
Antonio Gandy-Golden: 3
Donovan Peoples-Jones: 3
Tyrie Cleveland: 3
James Proche: 3
Austin Mack: 3 (10 inch hands)

Using this data and applying it to our current wide receivers and the roles they look to fill based on previous opportunities I project the following WRs making the 2020 roster leaving potentially 2 open positions to be filled through FA, trade, draft or UDFA.

Michael Thomas (Obvious lock, best in the game)
TreQuan Smith (Lock)
Keith Kirkwood
Krishawn Hogan
Deonte Harris

I took his thoughts from 2012 and applied them to current WRs to see how it would hold up. Overall, the top WRs based on receptions are above average in many of the attributes, have few if any deficiencies and are drafted in the top 3 rounds. However, as in the article this was just used to compare and project top WRs, the NFL is loaded with guys who are not at the top and perform for their respective team. This does not account for being able to catch, play football, run routes, learn a playbook, stay out of trouble, health, etc.
 
Last edited:

renegadewa

Super Forum Fanatic
VIP Contributor
Joined
Jul 7, 2011
Messages
8,168
Reaction score
10,882
Location
Baton Rouge
Offline
Good stuff and you are correct, and also very interesting.

And looking back, I didn’t mean to hijack the thread, I just always get annoyed with the never ending “We gotta have a #2 WR” like we are playing Madden 2020.

You put out an interesting thread.
THIS EXACTLY when in reality the Saints true #2 receiver is anyone NOT named Michael Thomas.
 

MLU

Please respect my decision!
Joined
Apr 28, 1999
Messages
54,802
Reaction score
20,317
Location
Mesa, AZ
Offline
Don't get me wrong, I love the data, but it's important to not get lost in it. Regardless of their physical attributes, they need to be able to catch consistently, quickly process how defensive shifts and alignments change the routes and have the work ethic to never stop improving your craft. All the speed, height, vertical jumping in the world is meaningless without those 3 attributes that are probably more rare than guys who run sub-4.4/40 or have 40+ inch vertical leaps.

I watch a ton of college football, so what interests me the most in watching the combine is of their performance matches up, exceeds, etc what I saw in games. Occasionally someone surprises, but mostly I just go digging up articles about the team's when I find a player that I know nothing about (WR Trishton Jackson, Syracuse) who catches my eye.
 

dutar76

4th Year Vet
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Messages
9,604
Reaction score
16,763
Location
Oberlin, LA
Offline
#1 Hands - consistently catch the football
#2 Get open - whether it's with speed, precise route running, suddenness / explosiveness, or some other method.
#3 Mental processing / Football IQ - don't matter how fast, explosive, or sudden you are, or how good you can catch. If you're not on the same page as the QB, you're only good on designed plays and broken sand-lot plays.
#4 Strong / Physical - No matter how good you are at the #'s 1 through 3... an NFL receiver is going to have to fight his way off the LOS a lot and win contested catches.
 

ELLIASJWILLIAMS

More than 15K posts served!
VIP Contributor
Joined
Nov 28, 2007
Messages
17,039
Reaction score
30,272
Offline
This is great data. I think one of the keys to success that can't be quantified (especially since the success ranges all over the place as it pertains to athleticism) is their ability to A see the game and B be on the same page with their QB in how he sees the game. There are some athletic marvels thrown in but the majority of the guys on these list are players you'd consider savvy.

Great route runners that are smart and know how to set up their opposition. They are smart enough to adjust to what coverages are being thrown at them (since teams play Zone more than man these days) and find open spots in areas.

In a nutshell while their athleticism scores all range differently it's not arguable that they all play the game FAST.
 

dutar76

4th Year Vet
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Messages
9,604
Reaction score
16,763
Location
Oberlin, LA
Offline
This is great data. I think one of the keys to success that can't be quantified (especially since the success ranges all over the place as it pertains to athleticism) is their ability to A see the game and B be on the same page with their QB in how he sees the game. There are some athletic marvels thrown in but the majority of the guys on these list are players you'd consider savvy.

Great route runners that are smart and know how to set up their opposition. They are smart enough to adjust to what coverages are being thrown at them (since teams play Zone more than man these days) and find open spots in areas.

In a nutshell while their athleticism scores all range differently it's not arguable that they all play the game FAST.
Bingo. This and good hands.
 

sfidc3

Pro-Bowler
Joined
Mar 14, 2015
Messages
2,564
Reaction score
2,794
Offline
Actually your #3 should be the #1 because it doesn’t matter how wide open you get if you don’t catch the ball the rest is moot. Great hands can over come some of the separation issue. Like MT, a DB can be draped all over him but he catches the ball at an amazingly high rate even for the NFL.
MT is the exception rather than the rule. The vast majority of WR's that can't get fairly consistent separation don't last in the NFL for long....

Also most of MT's catches are due to his ability to get separation....
 
OP

harschman

Hall-of-Famer
Joined
Nov 26, 2006
Messages
6,628
Reaction score
5,566
Location
MS Gulf Coast
Offline
I wonder how busts measure out with this formula
AJ Jenkins, Jonathan Baldwin, Justin Blackmon, Cordaralw
That's the whole point. It does not factor in the ability to play football, stay out of trouble, measure work ethic, heart, injuries, blocking, catching, etc. It is strictly physical measurements.

And the OP and original article showed exactly where AJ Jenkins ended up, he graded out the same as Alshon Jeffrey in the 2012 draft. Jeffrey went on to a good career and AJ Jenkins didn't know how to play football.
 

dwid

Hall-of-Famer
Joined
Feb 22, 2008
Messages
3,657
Reaction score
455
Offline
Players like A.J. Jenkins would keep me up at night if I were in charge of a draft. Some players have all of the things you can measure but for whatever reason it never works out. Some players like Josh Reed and Troy Edwards were unstoppable in college but just average in the pros.

Playing WR in the NFL is difficult. The playbook is more complicated, the speed of the game is much faster, and some of the best athletes in the world are hounding you every single down. Corners have always been fast but now a lot of them are fast and big. It makes what MT is doing all the more impressive.

But as far as physical attributes go some of it has to do with the particular offense a team is running. Some players like a MT or Antonio Brown are transcendent talents that would excel in any scheme but some players like a
SP seems to be looking for big bodied WRs who can make plays in traffic. If they can get some YAC then great but hands first.
Only Gale Sayers had more all purpose yards than Welker in his first 3 years with Dolphins. I'm pretty sure he would have excelled anywhere. He only played like 60 percent of offensive snaps and put up decent numbers that's why Bellicheck picked him up .

Yes his stats dropped off with the Broncos but he was in his mid 30s and many players decline after 30. He still scored 10 TDs his first year. Manning had a bad habit of leading slot receivers into dangerous plays as well. Welker never had a concussion in his career and suffered like 4 with Manning. Austin Collie suffered multiple and retired and Brandon Stokley suffered dozens playing with Manning. I think the ones he received in Denver affected his play
 
OP

harschman

Hall-of-Famer
Joined
Nov 26, 2006
Messages
6,628
Reaction score
5,566
Location
MS Gulf Coast
Offline
As I have been compiling this data, the one attribute that really jumps out to me is the Relative Body Size (RBS). Very few WRs with a RBS less than 2.70 do well when it comes to catching a high volume of receptions. Obviously these "smaller" guys are the faster/big play guys and I am only researching the guys who lead in receptions. Even then, I would more than likely want a guy who is above average in RBS for durability.

If I were to draft a WR and he checked all of the blocks for playing football and playing WR to include, work ethic, heart, route running, hands (use of and catching), blocking, etc. I would look for a guy who met as many of the average or better physical attributes. If he had a deficiency on one, then he would need to excel at another.

I do not think it is a coincidence that over the last 5 years the average hand size has went up to well over 9.5" as has the average catch rate %. In 2018 there was 27 WRs who had catch rate %'s over 70% and in 2013 there was 3 WR with catch rate %'s over 70%.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)



Headlines

Top Bottom