This series started off as an investigation of the relative athleticism of NFC East wide receivers. Turns out there’s community interest in similar dives into other positions around the field. Given the recent flurry of articles on Antonio Gibson, I thought I’d knock out a piece on the lead running backs in the NFC East.
To do that, I’ve collected the Relative Athletic Scores (RAS) for the top running backs on each of the NFC East teams below. RAS is a metric created by Kent Lee Platte that aggregates Combine/Pro Day data into a single metric that describes a players overall athleticism. A grade of “5” would be prospect of average athleticism at the position relative to his peers. Have a look at each of their RAS cards below, before the information is summarized in the aggregate in conclusion.
Washington Football Team
With pick 66 in the 2020 NFL Draft, the #Redskins selected Antonio Gibson, WR, Memphis.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 25, 2020
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) October 26, 2017
New York Giants
With pick 2 in the 2018 NFL Draft, the #Giants selected Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 29, 2019
With the 53rd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the #Eagles select Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 27, 2019
Across the NFC East
The NFC East has some stud lead running backs. The all have either “elite” or “great” RAS scores. Looking around the league, however, the number of elite athletes at running back is significant, with around 40-50% of the NFL possessing an RB with top skills.
I stated it in the comments section of the prior article, but the way RAS is calculated is that the player is compared to the prior players at his position in the database at the time his Combine/Pro Day scores are generated, so they can actually bounce around a bit from year to year. What I did to address that was add all four RBs’ data into the latest version of the RAS calculator to get contemporary, comparable scores. You can see those below. Gibson and Sanders scores dipped a bit. Elliott’s and Barkley’s increased ever so slightly.
You’ll notice, Barkley’s score was near perfect, with great size and elite speed. He’s the fastest of the four backs, and the heaviest, but Gibson’s not far behind. What I actually find striking is that Elliott is the “least” athletic of the group. That said, he’s still far more athletic than his backfield mate (and Gibson’s college teammate), Tony Pollard, with a RAS of 7.24.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.