Last week we looked at a basic formula devised by Pat Kirwan to determine explosion and athleticism. Kirawn, who is close to Pete Carroll, added a players broad jump, vertical and bench press statistic together to create an overall ‘explosion’ score.
Overall score: 75.7
Anything over 70 was considered explosive.
The problem with the formula is it diminishes the broad jump. If you jump a 9-7 like Spriggs you’re only 0.6 points better off than a prospect that jumps a 9-1.
Spriggs’ score with a 9-7 broad jump: 75.7
Spriggs’ score with a 9-1 broad jump: 75.1
Clearly the broad jump is disproportionately represented.
We needed to create a new formula that shows greater value to the broad. This is especially important because as we noted last week — the Seahawks appear to place an extra special emphasis on the broad jump when drafting offensive linemen.
“The broad jump expresses horizontal power, which is more specific to football motions than vertical power. Vertical power helps you go up for a ball, bat down passes or hurdle defenders; horizontal power helps you cover the full 5300 square yards of the ironed grid. A pure acceleration step expresses horizontal power.”
Vertical: 31 inches
Bench: 27 reps
I refer to this ideal as ’31 — 9 — 27′.
We can use the following calculation to compare any offensive lineman to Cable’s ideal:
1. Vertical ÷ 31
2. Broad ÷ 9, then cube the result
3. Bench ÷ 27
4. Add the results together
I cubed the broad jump to give it greater emphasis. This is explained later in the piece.
Here’s what the ideal (31 — 9 — 27) would look like using this formula:
1. Vertical: 31 ÷ 31 = 1
2. Broad: 9 ÷ 9 = 1, cubed = 1
3. Bench: 27 ÷ 27 = 1
4. Added together the ideal score is 3.00
What is the benefit of the formula?
1. It provides leeway. If a prospect scores a slightly less than ideal score in the vertical jump, they can still achieve a +3.00 if they excel in the broad jump and/or bench press. A really explosive broad jumper who doesn’t quite bench 27 reps isn’t being severely critiqued for missing the ideal in one test.
2. We’re comparing a prospect to the self-confessed ideal of Seattle’s offensive line coach. Rather than just adding up a set of numbers, the grade is directly relevant to the Seahawks.
Why cube the broad jump score?
Let’s use Jason Spriggs’ score to highlight why this is important:
1. Vertical: 35 ÷ 31 = 1.13
2. Broad: 9.7 ÷ 9 = 1.1
3. Broad cubed = 1.26
4. Bench: 31 ÷ 27 = 1.15
5. Added together Spriggs’ score is 3.54
Spriggs’ 9-7 in the broad jump is arguably more impressive than his 35 inch vertical or his 31 reps on the bench press. Without cubing his 1.1 score in the broad it would actually be marked as his weakest test. Instead it is correctly highlighted as his best work.
Does the formula have a name?
It tests the explosive physicality of players competing in the trenches. Let’s go with the ‘Trench Explosion Formula’ or ‘TEF’ for short.
How does every Seahawks offensive lineman drafted since 2012 score?
Here’s the first revealing bit. Every single player tested at or beyond Seattle’s ideal of 3.00:
Mark Glowinski: 3.34
Terry Poole: 3.12
Kristjan Sokoli: 3.75
Justin Britt: 3.00
Garrett Scott: 3.27
Ryan Seymour: 3.10
Jared Smith: 3.35
J.R. Sweezy: 3.13
Gary Gilliam (UDFA): 3.09
Only Glowinski, Sokoli and Smith actually achieved Cable’s ideal of 31 — 9 — 27 in all three tests (vertical, broad, bench). Yet when we put every prospect into our new TEF formula, they all test cumulatively above the ideal.
Justin Britt, the weakest tester of the group, still scores a perfectly ideal 3.00. The formula also represents Kristjan Sokoli’s incredible athleticism (no player in the entire 2016 draft class comes close to Sokoli’s 3.75).
We have no way of knowing for sure — but it might be that while the Seahawks are willing to concede a lower than ideal 31 inch measurement in the vertical jump or a few reps below 27 in the bench — they might insist on a cumulative ideal of the three key tests plus at least a 9″ broad jump.
So what about the 2016 class of offensive linemen?
When I put every offensive lineman through the formula, only six players hit the ideal mark of 3.00:
Jason Spriggs: 3.54
Connor McGovern: 3.29
Alex Redmond: 3.10
Joe Haeg: 3.06
Joe Dahl: 3.05
Joe Thuney: 3.04
Shon Coleman hasn’t performed the necessary tests due to injury and wasn’t included.
The defensive linemen in this class performed significantly better than the O-liners (we’ll come onto that in a moment). However, only two players (Sheldon Rankins, Dean Lowry) got close to Jason Spriggs’ score of 3.54.
Tony Pauline reported today that Spriggs is expected to go in the last third of the first round. He looks like a very realistic option for the Seahawks at #26 based on these findings.
With a growing discrepancy between offensive and defensive players in terms of athleticism — Spriggs is the offensive lineman best equipped to compete physically with the best defensive players in this draft and the league in general.
It’s not unrealistic that the Seahawks have a similar shortlist of only a handful of names. In 2014 the Seahawks ‘reached’ for little known Justin Britt in round two. People wondered why they made that pick — with the perception it was just down to Britt’s wrestling background and a healthy dose of Tom Cable admiration.
Britt scored an ideal 3.00. If the Seahawks in 2014 were working from a small target pool of 4-6 players that achieved their ideal explosive rating, Britt might’ve been the last prospect available they were willing to select. Put into this context, it arguably makes Seattle’s thought process much more understandable (even if you don’t agree with their philosophy to focus on explosive athleticism on the O-line).
What about the players grading below the ideal?
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 2.97
Germain Ifedi: 2.97
Brandon Shell: 2.91
Ryan Kelly: 2.84
Jake Brendel: 2.83
Joshua Garnett: 2.83
Christian Westerman: 2.82
Isaac Seumalo: 2.81
Tyler Johnstone: 2.81
Jack Conklin: 2.77
Le’Raven Clark: 2.74
Nick Martin: 2.67
Graham Glasgow: 2.66
Evan Boehm: 2.51
Taylor Decker: 2.50
Cody Whitehair: 2.47
Sebastien Tretola: 2.16
What stands out?
— While Cody Whitehair jumped a 9-2 in the broad, his weak efforts in the vertical and bench hammered his score. He is well beneath the physical standard of Seattle’s drafted offensive linemen since 2012.
— Taylor Decker is marginally better than Whitehair. His combination of tests were mediocre across the board and like Whitehair, it would be a major departure from their previous draft habits if they were to select him at #26 this year.
— Germain Ifedi didn’t hit the ideal mark because he managed 24 reps on the bench instead of the ideal 27. I suspect the Seahawks would be completely satisfied with a score of 2.97 due to his size. Ifedi does have unusually long 36 inch arms which is probably worthy of the extra bench reps to get him to 3.00. He jumped a 32.5 inch vertical at 324lbs.
— Ryan Kelly and Jack Conklin, two big name prospects that are widely considered ‘athletic’ offensive linemen, both tested well below Seattle’s cumulative ideal for explosion. Only four defensive linemen at the combine tested worse than Kelly using our formula and only three worse than Conklin. The reality is neither player is that athletic compared to the players they’ll be competing against in the trenches — and they aren’t among the most athletic offensive linemen in this draft either.
Is size a factor?
It’s difficult to incorporate size into the equation. We know the Seahawks have certain physical ideals at other positions. They haven’t drafted an outside cornerback, for example, with sub-32 inch arms.
Equally they haven’t drafted an offensive lineman under Carroll and Schneider with sub-33 inch arms. That could equally be an important marker. Of the six names above who scored higher than 3.00 — only Joe Thuney has sub-33 inch arms (32 1/4 inches). That could rule him out.
If a prospect has unnatural size and length (Germain Ifedi) that could also factor in if they fall just short of the 3.00 ideal.
What can we deduce from all of this?
We’ll find out later this month but of the combine attendees, the Seahawks might be picking only from the following offensive linemen:
Shon Coleman could be added to the list in the future, plus any pro-day/VMAC standouts that didn’t perform at the combine.
Is there a wildcard?
We know they like a defensive convert project. Michigan State’s Joel Heath is an ideal candidate at 6-5, 293lbs with 34.5 inch arms. He scored a 3.21 which would’ve put him third on the list of offensive linemen behind only Jason Spriggs and Connor McGovern.
How do the defensive prospects compare?
It often gets said that the best athletes are choosing to play defense in college. This isn’t always easy to prove. People look at Jason Spriggs’ athletic profile and wonder how a prospect like Sheldon Rankins can even begin to compare.
After all, does this guy really look like one of the most explosive athletes in the 2016 draft?
Actually, that’s the perfect way to describe Rankins.
Yes he’s 6-1 and 300lbs. He also scored superbly in the three explosive tests. His score is a 3.52 — second only to Dean Lowry among defensive linemen and outscoring every offensive linemen apart from Jason Spriggs.
Rankins is much more explosive than Robert Nkemdiche, Shawn Oakman and Emmanuel Ogbah. Looks, in this case, can be deceiving. This is why he is without a shadow of a doubt going in the top-15. This formula gives us evidence to argue that case now.
But what about the defensive group overall?
Six offensive linemen reached Seattle’s ideal explosive score of 3.00 using TEF.
Twenty-six defensive linemen scored 3.00 or higher.
That’s even without the likes of Kevin Dodd completing the necessary tests.
If you were sceptical about those league-wide concerns about overmatched college offensive linemen — here’s the proof you were waiting for. This is also the argument for the Seahawks focusing on explosion and upside when drafting their offensive lineman.
Defensive line grades using TEF
Dean Lowry: 3.54
Sheldon Rankins: 3.52
Robert Nkemdiche: 3.47
Noah Spence: 3.46
Yannick Ngakoue: 3.44
Shaq Lawson: 3.43
Shawn Oakman: 3.36
Ronald Blair III: 3.35
DeForest Buckner: 3.33
Javon Hargrave: 3.33
Charles Tapper: 3.32
Lawrence Thomas: 3.32
Joey Bosa: 3.29
Emmanuel Ogbah: 3.29
Romeo Okwara: 3.28
Matt Judon: 3.27
Connor Wujciak: 3.25
Shalique Calhoun: 3.24
Andrew Billings: 3.23
Joel Heath: 3.21
Jason Fanaika: 3.19
Jonathan Bullard: 3.18
Hassan Ridgeway: 3.11
Matt Ioannidis: 3.09
Willie Henry: 3.08
Anthony Zettel: 3.05
Bronson Kaufusi: 2.98
Giorgio Newberry: 2.93
Carl Nassib: 2.92
Maliek Collins: 2.91
James Cowser: 2.89
Kenny Clark: 2.86
Vernon Butler: 2.85
Kamalei Correa: 2.84
Sterling Bailey: 2.79
Chris Jones: 2.75
A’Shawn Robinson: 2.65
Sheldon Day: 2.62
Austin Johnson: 2.55
For comparisons sake, J.J. Watt is a 3.82. Which is hardly surprising.
What stands out?
— Is this an important test for defensive linemen and the Seahawks? Maybe. Jordan Hill scored a 3.10 when I put his numbers through TEF. Seattle spent a third round pick on Hill — their biggest investment on a defensive tackle so far under Carroll and Schneider.
— They also seem to value the short shuttle at defensive tackle. Their two highest picks at DT (Hill, Jaye Howard) both tested very well specifically in the shuttle.
— Jonathan Bullard tests well — but he’s not on Sheldon Rankins’ level of freaky athleticism. Bullard is a good athlete but not exceptional in terms of explosion compared to the overall D-line class. The options at #56 (Willie Henry? Hassan Ridgeway?) are comparable using TEF. It’s also worth noting Bullard has value elsewhere — he plays with great gap control (vital in Seattle), grit and he had a good 10-yard split (1.66). He also has tremendous character. You still have to ask whether he’s truly special enough for the Seahawks in round one? He might be — but it’s a no-brainer with Rankins.
— Ronald Blair III, according to the TEF formula, tested better than DeForest Buckner and several others. His 3.35 is 0.17 above Jonathan Bullard and 0.17 below Sheldon Rankins. All three play DE-DT and Blair III exactly splits the two big name prospects. He also ran a 4.53 in the short shuttle — 0.02 seconds slower than Jordan Hill. That said, his 10-yard split is only OK (1.75) and his three cone was poor (7.95). He’s explosive but doesn’t appear to have great short-area quickness bizarrely.
— A’Shawn Robinson has been mocked to the Seahawks on several occasions by the national media and is often praised for his athletic upside and potential. He not only scored very poorly compared to his defensive line peers, he’s also less explosive than nearly all of the offensive linemen. This vindicates the distinctly average tape we saw at Alabama. He’s not an explosive player.
— The Seahawks seem unlikely to draft a run-stuffer or one-technique early in the draft. I suspect the testing of players like Kenny Clark and Austin Johnson using this formula likely rules them out in the first two rounds. There are more explosive options available elsewhere.
— Bronson Kaufusi’s rare agility is freaky and unique. He’s 6-6, 285lbs and ran a 4.25 in the short shuttle which is incredible. His 2.98, however, doesn’t really indicate either way how well he fits as a DE-DT. If he was a 3.20 — watch out NFL.
Here are some of the best combinations of TEF + agility. Most prospects seems to have a flaw — such as Blair III’s three cone of Shilique Calhoun’s 10-yard split.
Ronald Blair III
Short shuttle: 4.53
Three cone: 7.95
Short shuttle: 4.56
Three cone: 7.31
Short shuttle: 4.21
Three cone: 6.89
Short shuttle: 4.47
Three cone: 7.51
Short shuttle: 4.25
Three cone: 6.97
Short shuttle: 4.39
Three cone: 7.06
Short shuttle: 4.53
Three cone: 7.57
Short shuttle: 4.52
Three cone: 7.67
Short shuttle: 4.21
Three cone: 7.16
Short shuttle: 4.38
Three cone: 7.26
Short shuttle: 4.35
Three cone: 7.21
What does all this tell us about Seattle’s potential draft plans?
— The most likely offensive tackles to be drafted at #26 could be Jason Spriggs and Germain Ifedi. We might be able to add Shon Coleman to the list.
— The Seahawks would probably love Sheldon Rankins to fall (but he won’t).
— Is Jonathan Bullard special enough to warrant a first round pick when there are comparable players in terms of explosion available beyond round one?
— Connor McGovern, Joe Haeg and Joe Dahl could be possible targets in rounds 2-3 for the offensive line.
— Willie Henry could be interesting to Seattle — and he’s close to Frank Clark (if that means anything).
— Keep an eye on Joel Heath as the next possible D-line to O-line convert on day three.