Relative Athletic Scores were developed to provide an intuitive look at player athleticism on an easy to understand 0 to 10 scale. It wasn’t developed to track trends with how athleticism correlates to success, but once you put a number on something like athleticism you can take that and compare it to things like Pro Bowls and traditional statistics to find patterns. The recently launched RelativeAthleticScores.com allows fans to view their favorite players’ scores, and now that the site is up I have begun posting any of the trends I have found. One of the first was rating how every team did in the 2017 NFL draft and as much as I expected them to be higher, the Detroit Lions ended up dead in the middle.
The Lions drafted three elite athletes in Jarrad Davis, Kenny Golladay and Jeremiah Ledbetter while late round picks Jamal Agnew and Pat O’Connor measured fine in their own right. What pulled the team’s average down was the selection of Teez Tabor in the second round and their pair of mid-round picks: Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Michael Roberts. There’s always a lot more to the player evaluation process than measurements alone, but the teams who drafted the most athletes in 2017 were all teams who are either contenders now or have been recently. It’s possible that’s a coincidence, but having only done the research for one year, there’s a lot more data to pore through before we can make any meaningful conclusions.
As much as I talk up athletic prospects, two of my favorite picks in this draft were sub 5.00 RAS players in Jalen Reeves-Maybin and especially Michael Roberts. In both instances, you have to look a bit deeper than just their scores to see why they can be useful both in the NFL and on the Lions roster. Reeves-Maybin scored below average overall, but his above average explosion and speed scores reflect exactly the type of player the Lions need right now. Sure, the team needs an athletic LB who can weave through traffic and dodge around blockers, but they drafted Jarrad Davis in the first round to do that. Reeves-Maybin has the speed the Lions defense has sorely lacked, and he’s explosive enough to act as a blitzer in potentially unblocked situations.
Likewise, Michael Roberts isn’t a supreme athlete but has exceptional size for the position (to go along with those catcher’s mitts he calls hands) and posted a great three-cone time, showcasing fluid movement skills in space. The only really concerning athlete in this draft class is Teez Tabor, and I’ll have more on him at a later time. As it is, the Lions said they were going to get faster and more athletic in the draft and, for the most part, they succeeded in that goal. Could they have done more to achieve that goal? Absolutely, but this is a good place to start.