Ask the Expert: Relative Athletic Score and the Packers Draft Picks
Gary and I did a lot of work prior to the draft figuring out who the Packers would be interested in drafting based on their athletic profiles. Post-draft, we discussed how they did in matching those profiles, but we haven’t gone super in depth.
Fortunately for us, Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) has done extraordinarily great work on identifying hits and misses in the draft based on athleticism, all via a metric he’s developed called Relative Athletic Score.
Kent writes about the Lions for Pride of Detroit and manages his own site about Relative Athletic Score, but in between work on those projects he agreed to answer a few questions for us.
Jon Meerdink: What is Relative Athletic Score?
Kent Lee Platte: RAS takes player measurements and puts it on a 0 to 10 scale compared to their position groups, then it takes an average of those numbers, which it puts on a 0 to 10 scale again compared to their position for a final Relative Athletic Score, showing generally how athletic a player is when compared to all other players at that position group since 1999.
JM: How do you calculate it and why did you develop it in the first place?
KLP: It functions very similarly to percentile, so a vert score of 8.31 is approximately 83rd percentile.
I developed the system to provide an easy to understand system for looking at player measurements. Everyone understands a 0 to 10 scale, not everybody knows that a 4.6 is bad for a RB, good for a LB, awesome for a DE. The scores provide context for whether the player measured well in comparison to other players at that position.
Likewise, the final score provides context to whether a player was relatively athletic, even if they had some poorer scores that may be mentioned more. An example would be this year's Taco Charlton who had a poor 40 and splits, but did very well in every other measurement. He may not be fast, but he's relatively athletic considering everything else.
JM: How does RAS correlate to draft position and performance on the field?
KLP: It has a very clear correlation to draft slotting regardless of position (even QB), but correlation to NFL success is different depending on position. I have found no correlation, for instance, with centers and RAS, while I've found huge ones with DE, RB, WR, DT no matter what metric I use to equate with success. The best players tend to be the best athletes.
JM: How did the Packers do in the draft in terms of RAS?
Awesome. I haven't finished compiling all the UDFA data, but Packers only drafted one player under 5.00 for RAS and most were over what we consider elite, 8.00 out of 10.
JM: Any particularly good or bad players?
KLP: Kofi Amichia had the highest RAS of any guard in this class while Kevin King had one of the best scores ever for a CB. Even the one below average player, Jamal Williams, wasn't all that bad.
JM: Did you notice any teams that had a particularly bad draft in terms of athleticism?
KLP: Several. The Eagles normally do very well picking up great athletes but seemed to do the opposite this year. Derek Barnett was one of only two players in the first round with a poor RAS. The other was Charles Harris, who was drafted by the Dolphins who similarly missed out on athleticism in this class. Each of the Vikings first 3 picks measured very poorly with RAS, the second year in a row they've drafted a slew of players who measured poorly.
JM: If the Packers were hoping to get bigger and more athletic in this year’s draft, do you think they accomplished that goal?
KLP: Yes, the Packers certainly accomplished the goal of getting more athletic.
For most positions, the most successful players tend to be the most athletic ones (shocking, I know), so going into the draft and loading up on superb athletes is a good strategy.
Kent also evaluated all of the Packers undrafted free agent signings via his metric. Take a look at how the Packers did!