I want to put a bow on this weeks discussion on O-line measurables. Yesterday’s evidence clearly suggests the Seahawks put a lot of draft focus on the broad jump when looking for offensive linemen. Can we take it a step further?
Pat Kirwan, who is close to Pete Carroll, discusses a way of calculating explosive athleticm in this article:
Every time a ball is snapped to start a play there is a critical element of explosiveness that takes place. When two players collide in an attempt to physically dominate each other, the athlete with the edge in explosiveness has the best chance to win the confrontation. It could be a blocker vs. a tackler, a tackler vs. a ball carrier, or many other examples of winning at the point of contact.
Explosiveness is defined in the dictionary as a violent release of energy, a sudden outburst. Football is a series of explosions. How do you measure it in athletes trying to play NFL football?
Take the vertical jump, standing broad jump and the bench press test results and add them together. If the combined score is over 70 there is a reason to consider the candidate at some point in the draft process for his explosiveness.
Kirwan’s formula is flawed because it diminishes the impact of the broad jump. A superb 9-7 only achieves a 1.2 point advantage of a below par 8-5. That said, the data still provides an interesting comparison between the previously drafted Seahawks linemen and this years class.
“The really cool thing about this group: All of them are broad jumpers of 9-feet or more, they all vertical over 31-inches, they all can lift 27-plus, and they all can change direction the right way.”
Softy pressed him, “You mention 31, nine, and 27-plus, is that kind of the barometer for you? Do you have a set of numbers that you say, okay, if i were to create an offensive lineman from clay, these are the numbers in the broad jump, the vertical leap, the bench press that I’m looking for. Are those the numbers that you’re looking for — the ones you just quoted?”
“Yeah,” replied Cable.
I went back to have a look at the O-liners drafted by Seattle since 2012 to confirm how they performed in the vertical, broad and bench press. You’ll find the information below, plus Kirwan’s (and possibly Carroll’s) ‘explosion’ number in brackets after the players name:
Mark Glowinski (71.5)
VJ 31 BJ 9-5 BP 31
Terry Poole (65.5)
VJ 31 BJ 9-5 BP 25
Kristjan Sokoli (79)
VJ 38 BJ 9-11 BP 31
Justin Britt (64.8)
VJ 29.5 BJ 9-3 BP 26
Garrett Scott (68.2)
VJ 33.5 BJ 9-7 BP 25
Ryan Seymour (68.2)
VJ 29 BJ 9-2 BP 30
Jared Smith (70.2)
VJ 32.5 BJ 9-7 BP 28
J.R. Sweezy (66.5)
VJ 36 BJ 9-5 BP 21
Garry Gilliam UDFA (63.7)
VJ 35 BJ 9-7 BP 19
Of this group, only Glowinski, Sokoli and Smith actually qualify for the 31 — 9 — 27 discussed by Cable. The same three players are the only ones to top Kirwan’s ‘explosive’ marker of 70 points.
This would tend to suggest that as long as you perform well in the broad (the greatest test of an athletes explosion) they’re willing to make concessions elsewhere.
Let’s now review the 2016 class (I’ve only included the prospects that achieved Seattle’s +9-foot marker in the broad jump):
Jason Spriggs (75.7)
VJ 35 BJ 9-7 BP 31
Halapoulivaati Vaitai (61.5)
VJ 29 BJ 9-5 BP 23
Brandon Shell (61.9)
VJ 30.5 BJ 9-4 BP 22
Joe Haeg (incomplete)
VJ 30 BJ 9-3 BP DNP
Alex Redmond (67.3)
VJ 28 BJ 9-3 BP 30
Joe Thuney (65.8)
VJ 28.5 BJ 9-3 BP 28
Cody Whitehair (50.7)
VJ 25.5 BJ 9-2 BP 16
Germain Ifedi (65.6)
VJ 32.5 BJ 9-1 BP 24
Joe Dahl (68.1)
VJ 31 BJ 9-1 BP 28
Connor McGovern (75.1)
VJ 33 BJ 9-1 BP 33
Jake Brendel (62)
VJ 28 BJ 9-0 BP 25
Joel Heath (68.5)
VJ 33 BJ 9-5 BP 26
Of this group, only Jason Spriggs, Joe Dahl and Connor McGovern hit the 31 — 9 — 27 mark discussed by Cable. Spriggs and McGovern are the only two ‘explosive’ linemen according to Kirwan’s formula.
The Seahawks haven’t stuck stringently to those two marks in the way they have with a +9-foot broad jump. 31 — 9 — 27 seems like more of an ideal than a prerequisite.
Justin Murray, who reportedly visited the VMAC this week, had a 29.5 inch vertical, a 9-8 in the broad jump and 20 reps on the bench press at his pro-day. That only creates a 59.3 explosion score.
Broad jump >>>>> everything else
We can still decipher some information from this data:
— Cody Whitehair’s explosion score is significantly lower than any of Seattle’s drafted linemen since 2012. That and the fact Carroll and Schneider have never drafted an offensive lineman with sub-33 inch arms suggests he might be an unlikely fit at #26.
— Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Brandon Shell and Jake Brendel also scored significantly lower than the least explosive lineman Seattle has drafted since 2012 (Justin Britt).
— Jason Spriggs and Connor McGovern tick every single box. Length, tackle experience, broad jump, 31 — 9 — 27 and explosion score.
— Joe Dahl’s explosion score is similar to Garrett Scott’s, who the Seahawks really liked. He also qualifies under 31 — 9 — 27. The only thing he lacks is a +70 explosion score and he’s pretty close at 68.1. Based on this information there is every chance he will be high on Seattle’s wish list alongside Spriggs and McGovern.
— Germain Ifedi is three bench reps short of qualifying under 31 — 9 — 27. Considering his 36 inch arms, the Seahawks are probably willing to let that fly. His explosion score is 65.6 but being able to jump a 32.5 inch vertical and record a 9-1 in the broad at 6-6 and 324lbs is likely to be explosive enough for any team.
— Joe Haeg didn’t do the bench press at the combine or his pro-day. Barring a surprise performance similar to Cody Whitehair’s 16 reps, there’s no reason to discount him from any projected Seahawks target list.
— Le’Raven Clark and Shon Coleman are yet to test fully due to injury. They are candidates to both test explosively and come close to Cable’s ideal physical profile.
— Joel Heath, a player we’ve discussed as a potential D-line to O-line convert, had a 33 inch vertical, a 9-5 in the broad jump and recorded 26 reps on the bench press. That’s pretty close to the 31 — 9 — 27. He has a 68.5 explosion score — third only to Spriggs and McGovern.
Since 2012 the Seahawks have not selected any of the 15 best O-line performers in the short shuttle or three cone at the combine. It’s worth noting, however, that Spriggs (4.44) and Haeg (4.47) both tested well in the short shuttle.
We’ll find out how accurate this data is in a few weeks. At the moment, it’s not unfair to consider the Seahawks will draft from the following offensive linemen:
Jason Spriggs (Indiana)
Germain Ifedi (Texas A&M)
Connor McGovern (Missouri)
Joe Dahl (Washington State)
Joe Haeg (North Dakota State)
Le’Raven Clark (Texas Tech) and Shon Coleman (Auburn) could also be on the list depending on how they eventually test. Likewise Joel Heath (Michigan State) if they see him as the latest defense-to-offense convert.
As it happens, Spriggs and Ifedi are being largely projected in the last third of the first round and McGovern, Haeg and Dahl anywhere from rounds 2-4.
Clark and Coleman are also candidates to go in the late first.
If the Seahawks wanted to draft two offensive linemen early, they could probably achieve it with this group even if they chose not to spend their first round pick on the O-line.
I want to finish by reaffirming why this data is important. None of this information is a catalyst for NFL success. The reason why we’re focusing on it — and why the Seahawks appear to put a lot of stock in it — is the growing discrepancy between defensive and offensive athletes.
This is highlighted by the fact that Jason Spriggs had the best broad jump by an offensive lineman at the 2016 combine with a 9-7. Fifteen defensive line prospects beat that mark.
The entire NFL is struggling to find good offensive linemen. It’s an easy physical calculation to think if you put a guy on the field who broad jumps a 9-10 at 300lbs (Sheldon Rankins) against a player who broad jumps 8-0 (Evan Boehm) there’s going to be a problem. One player is significantly more explosive than the other.
Sheldon Rankins’ explosion number is 72.5. That is superior to any offensive lineman in the draft apart from Jason Spriggs and Connor McGovern. At least Rankins vs Spriggs/McGovern would be a fair fight. Boehm’s explosion number is only 60.5.
It comes back to Pat Kirwan’s quote from earlier in the piece:
When two players collide in an attempt to physically dominate each other, the athlete with the edge in explosiveness has the best chance to win the confrontation.
Considering the way college offensive lines are used these days — Tom Cable and other coaches have complained that they are having to virtually train rookies from scratch with only a few exceptions. If that is the case, it’s not unfair for a team to consider the following — why not coach up the player who is at least physically comparable to the defensive lineman standing on the other side of the LOS?
And the NFL’s top offensive linemen — how do they test?
Joe Thomas, Andrew Whitworth, Joe Staley, Tyron Smith, Trent Williams, Terron Armstead, Jason Peters, Ryan Clady, Taylor Lewan, Lane Johnson. They all had a +9″ broad jump.
Meanwhile the Seahawks have announced the re-signing of Chris Clemons. This adds another rotational piece to the D-line and increases the likelihood the Seahawks won’t take a pure edge rusher with their top two picks. They already have Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark and Chris Clemons to rotate.
It probably increases the chances that they’ll focus on offensive linemen, adding a DE-DT hybrid, defensive tackles and SAM/DE hybrids in the early rounds.