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2019 NFL Draft 1st round RAS and analysis

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NCAA Football: Michigan at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the first round has concluded, it’s time to take a look at the results and what teams can look forward to next season. As per our custom, we’re going to look at each pick’s Relative Athletic Score (RAS) and go into a bit of brief analysis of how those athletic profiles have performed in the past to give fans an idea of what they may have to look forward to if those players continue the given trends, or if they should be expected to buck them.

First Overall - Kyler Murray (N/A RAS)

No analysis here since Murray didn’t qualify for the metric. His size is going to get the most buzz, as there’s only one successful NFL QB in the past few decades who even comes close to being that small.

Second Overall - Nick Bosa (9.43 RAS)

Pass rushers with an elite athletic profile are one of the safer bets in the draft. Bosa scored just above Pro Bowler Everson Griffen and just below double-digit sack players Aaron Schobel and Kamerion Wimbley. A whopping 42 of the 70 defensive ends who qualified for a RAS and made the Pro Bowl had a score above 8.00. That means that while only 20 percent of players score within that range, 60 percent of Pro Bowlers scored that well.

Third Overall - Quinnen Williams (9.85 RAS)

Williams falls between Pro Bowlers Jay Ratliff (9.95) and Aaron Donald (9.66) for his athletic score, which isn’t bad company to be in. Over half of Pro Bowl defensive tackles had a RAS that measured above 8.00 with over 30 percent over 9.00. In addition, a similar percentage of defensive tackles who posted a double digit sack season or more measured in that range. Williams measured higher on this scale than both Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins (9.46), other similar sized interior rushers.

Fourth Overall - Clelin Ferrell (N/A RAS)

Ferrell did not qualify for RAS as he did not measure in enough metrics. He was off to a decent enough start, though it could have gone either way with what he had left to record.

Fifth Overall - Devin White (9.33 RAS)

Just under half of Pro Bowl linebackers posted a RAS of 8.00 or higher, so White’s 9.33 puts him in good company. It’s the same score that Jamie Collins had coming out in 2013 and it’s just below Seahawks star Bobby Wagner (9.36). It’s higher than both Buccaneers Pro Bowl linebackers Kwon Alexander (8.43) and Lavonte David (7.21).

Sixth Overall - Daniel Jones (8.11 RAS)

Daniel Jones is a quarterback. While RAS shows a similar correlation with Pro Bowls and the metric for QB as the other positions, it’s tough to say that it has much bearing on passing ability on the count of not being captured in the metric anywhere. Jones is sandwiched between Drew Brees (7.74) and Dak Prescott (8.21) for RAS.

Seventh Overall - Josh Allen (9.74/9.86 RAS)

We’ve already covered how relative athletic ability can correlate to success for pass rushers and linebackers, so no need to rehash it again here. Looking at the most elite pass rushers across all positions, those who had seasons of 12.5 sacks or more, you’ll find Allen’s score at defensive end just north of former Lions star Ezekiel Ansah (9.8) and just above perennial sack artist Joey Porter (9.71) at linebacker.

Eighth Overall - T.J. Hockenson (9.2 RAS)

The Lions took T.J. Hockenson and it was met with elation from those who watched both him and the Lions tight ends last year and despair from those who are dug into the Ebron/Pettigrew comparisons or “no TE in the first ever” crowd. From an athletic standpoint, it’s right where you want him to be. Seven out of the 10 tight ends to record a 1,000-yard season who qualified for RAS measured above 9.00 RAS. The two 1,000-yard tight ends who didn’t qualify for the metric? Jason Witten and Dallas Clark, both players I’ve heard T.J. Hockenson compared to at some point.

Ninth Overall - Ed Oliver (9.88 RAS)

Oliver drew comparisons to Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins throughout the process in the same way that Quinnen Williams did, and like Williams he bested all of their RAS. With his weakest non-size measurement in the 98th percentile for his position, it’s not really a surprise.

10th Overall - Devin Bush (9.33 RAS)

Much like the Devin White write up at fifth overall, this is a good spot to land from an athletic standpoint.

11th Overall - Jonah Williams (5.51/7.74 RAS)

Williams represents the first significant risk from a RAS standpoint so far. While he landed above average at tackle, it was only just. I’ve spoken at length about this range of athleticism at tackle, so I won’t belabor the point here, there just isn’t a lot of success stories in that range. At guard it’s a little more promising, with Pro Bowlers Ben Grubbs (7.37) and Logan Mankins (7.93) not too far off.

12th Overall - Rashan Gary (9.95 RAS)

Pass rushers like Rashan Gary, from an athletic standpoint, are rare. This is the range of Mario Williams (10.00 RAS in 2006), Kyle Vanden Bosch (10.00 RAS in 2001), Shawne Merriman (9.9 RAS), and several other Pro Bowl and double digit sack artists. There are busts that measured in this range as well, and role players like Margus Hunt (9.93), but if you’re banking on the upside of an athletic prospect then a pass rusher is a good one to take that risk with.

13th Overall - Christian Wilkins (8.56 RAS)

Wilkins is an odd profile in that many of his metrics were good, but few great. From a score perspective, he falls between Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy (8.59) and Pro Bowler Darnell Dockett (8.50). From a more recent perspective, he’s similar in size and explosiveness to recent first-round pick Da’Ron Payne (8.55) than anyone else.

14th Overall - Chris Lindstrom (9.84 RAS)

Chris Lindstrom is the second most athletic guard taken in the first round since 1987. Of the top 15 first-round guards ranked by RAS, 10 made the Pro Bowl. That’s frankly an insane hit rate. Lindstrom ranks just behind Steve Hutchinson (9.96) and ties with Kyle Long at 9.84 RAS for most by a first-round guard.

15th Overall - Dwayne Haskins (3.48 RAS)

There’s no clear correlation with RAS and QB success, since RAS is an athletic metric and not a gauge of performance or arm talent. In terms of the draft, however, Dwayne Haskins is only the third QB since 1987 to be drafted in the first round with a RAS under 5.00 and the only one that wasn’t taken first overall (Baker Mayfield (4.72) and Jameis Winston (4.24). Haskins’ 3.48 in the metric is the lowest of any first-round pick ever.

16th Overall - Brian Burns (9.9/9.99 RAS)

Burns measured almost identically to Vikings star Danielle Hunter (9.89) both from an overall RAS standpoint and each individual metric they both completed. We’ve already went into detail about the success rate of pass rushers in that range, so I won’t rehash.

17th Overall - Dexter Lawrence (9.87 RAS)

Lawrence pulled up lame during his 40 yard dash at the Combine and never completed the agility or explosiveness drills. It’s a very similar situation and profile to 2018 Buccaneers select Vita Vea (9.53) and they are similar players. Though the overall RAS is far off, mostly due to the whole not finishing all drills, he reminds me a lot of Vince Wilfork (6.76). Wilfork similarly posted good size, bench, and speed scores, and I assume that Lawrence would have likely ended up in the same range if he had completed all the drills.

18th Overall - Garrett Bradbury (9.96 RAS)

Bradbury took over the spot of 2018 Lions first-round pick Frank Ragnow (9.93) at third all time for RAS at center. Nine of the 15 centers drafted in the first round who qualified for RAS posted a score higher than 8.00 with four of them making the Pro Bowl.

19th Overall - Jeffery Simmons (N/A RAS)

Jeffery Simmons did not post a RAS due to his ACL injury, so there’s no analysis here.

20th Overall - Noah Fant (9.89 RAS)

Like we talked about at eighth overall with Hockenson, taking an uber athlete at tight end is rarely a bad idea.

21st Overall - Darnell Savage (8.35 RAS)

The Packers certainly don’t shy away from elite athletes, and they continue that trend with their second pick. Of the 15 free safeties and nine strong safeties drafted in the first round to make a Pro Bowl who qualified for RAS, 14 posted a RAS higher than 8.00, Savage’s range. He’s a huge upgrade from an athletic standpoint from former Packers starter Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, whose RAS of 4.82 was far below their new pick.

22nd Overall - Andre Dillard (9.81 RAS)

The Philadelphia Eagles have had the most athletic offensive line since at least 2015, when I started looking into units as a whole, so the selection of a guy like Andre Dillard isn’t a surprise. NFL teams overwhelmingly select offensive tackles with plus metrics in the first round, and it’s easy to see why. Of the 25 offensive tackles to make a Pro Bowl who were taken in the first round and qualified for RAS, 21 posted a score over 8.00.

23rd Overall - Tytus Howard (6.34 RAS)

Like Jonah Williams, there aren’t a lot of strong pro comps in this athletic range. David Bakhtiari (6.73) falls within a similar range, but isn’t a similar player. The same is true of Pro Bowler Michael Roos (6.02) and Tre’ Johnson (6.86). A difficult player to project. Kelechi Osemele isn’t too far off, but he found his best success at guard, not tackle.

24th Overall - Josh Jacobs (5.76 RAS)

Jon Gruden loves his throwbacks, and Josh Jacobs is, at least athletically, a player from a different time. He compares best to Chester Taylor (5.70 RAS), who came out in 2002, but he isn’t too far off from current Lions reserve and former 1,000-yard rusher C.J. Anderson (5.50). There are plenty of running backs who found success with this level of athletic ability, so while it’s not as common as those with elite talent it’s not something to be too concerned with.

25th Overall - Marquise Brown (N/A RAS)

Due to a Lisfranc injury, Brown did not record any metrics other than his incredibly diminutive size. It seems like every year we have a new DeSean Jackson, and Brown is the most recent attempt. The previous players compared to Jackson have all fallen to injury, so Brown is hoping to buck that trend.

26th Overall - Montez Sweat (9.9 RAS)

With as stacked as this class is, there’s not much left to say at this point about elite pass rushers. As his profile is in a similar range to Brian Burns, and we’ve done elite pass rushing to death.

27th Overall - Johnathan Abram (7.01)

Few safeties have the kind of straight line speed that Johnathan Abram has, which makes him a difficult player to project despite having a seriously positive athletic trait. My guess is the closest in play style and traits would be Kevin Byard (7.91), a recent Pro Bowl safety.

28th Overall - Jerry Tillery (9.72 RAS)

Like Quinnen Williams and Christian Wilkins, we’ve already looked at what elite athleticism can do at defensive tackle. It’s worth noting that Tillery benched with an injury, so his score could have been even higher.

29th Overall - L.J. Collier (3.25/7.16 RAS)

Okay, this one requires a bit more analysis than others. L.J. Collier is a bigger defensive end, which means he can be looked at more as a 3-4 edge. For RAS, that usually means you’re looking for a different kind of ideal profile. Regular positions, it’s three tiered, you’re either below average (5.00), above average (5.00-7.99) and elite (8.00+). For 34 edge players, you’re looking at DE and DT, again falling in tiers, where it’s below average (<3.00 at DE, <7.00 at DT), Above average (>3.00 at DE, >6.50 at DT), and Elite (>3.00 at DE, > 8.00 at DT).

I know, this is a lot more complicated than RAS’ simple 0-to-10 system was designed to be, and I’m working on a better way to visualize this sort of thing. What it boils down to with Collier is that he falls in that middle range if you’re assuming he’s a 3-4 DE. If the Seahawks are planning on using him solely as an edge, he falls into that lower range. In either event, there’s not much in terms of success. Calais Campbell (3.84, 8.02) might be the closest, but he was significantly larger. Michael Bennett (2.77/8.37) is another that might fit.

30th Overall - Deandre Baker (4.58 RAS)

Baker posted the second lowest Relative Athletic Score of any cornerback taken in the first round since 1987. This is one of the riskiest picks in the draft, and the Giants are banking that his tape can seriously outweigh athletic limitations. It’s not a profile that has found a lot of success in the NFL. Of the 74 Pro Bowl cornerbacks who qualified for RAS, only nine measured below 5.00, and none of those were drafted in the first round. In fact, only one player drafted in rounds one or two made the Pro Bowl with a below average profile, Xavien Howard (4.28) of the Dolphins.

31st Overall - Kaleb McGary (9.83 RAS)

I covered pretty much all there was to say about this type of profile with Andre Dillard above.

32nd Overall - N’Keal Harry (8.42 RAS)

Finally, Bill Belichick takes a receiver! N’Keal Harry posted an elite RAS, so that puts him in some strong company. His 8.42 puts him just shy of Pro Bowler Amari Cooper (8.56) and former Packer Greg Jennings (8.6), but he’s not a similar player to either, nor is his actual profile. A closer comparison could be made to Dez Bryant (9.06) who had similar-timed speed, size, and explosiveness.

Summary

Overall, there were 28 players who qualified for RAS taken in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Of those, 21 posted an elite score of 8.00 or higher. Three posted a score below average, 5.00 or lower. The remaining four fell in between those. This is pretty similar to most years, though it’s the most players with a below average score since 2016, with only one in each of the years between then and now. Players taken in the first round averaged 8.39 RAS, which is the 13th highest for any year between 1987 and 2019. From an athletic standpoint, this was an above average year for first-round draft picks.