Combine Comparisons: RBs

I thought it would be interesting to take this year’s combine results and compare them to the results of the past six seasons to see if we can make some kind of athletic comparison for each individual player. So I built an Excel spreadsheet that has all of the results and automatically compares them when I input a player’s name. There are eight potential categories that could be used to compare prospects: height, weight, 40 speed, 3-cone, shuttle, vertical jump, broad jump and bench press.

Below is a look at five of the first six running backs taken in the draft, along with their closest athletic comparisons. (Daniel Thomas only participated in the 40-yard-dash, so I skipped him.) Keep in mind that the Similarity Score on the far right is how close of a match the two players are — the lower the score, the better the match.

This is by no means meant to be an absolute comparison. There are a number of factors that may lead a player to post subpar (or better) numbers at the combine than they do on the football field. Some players are beasts at the combine and can’t cut it on the field, while others look dreadful in shorts, but once the pads go on, they’re productive. Still, it’s interesting to see how different prospects compare to current NFL players.

Mark Ingram, Saints

Ingram is not the type of back that is going to impress people at the combine. His 40-yard dash is only average, and none of his other numbers stand out. He was drafted in the first round because he’s a strong, natural runner who has great vision.

Ryan Williams, Cardinals

Again, Williams’ speed is not that impressive, though his three-cone, vertical and broad jump numbers are all above average. Side note: It’s hard to believe that Marion Barber once had sub-4.50 speed.

Shane Vereen, Patriots

Vereen’s measurables say that he’s more of a scatback, but in reality, he’s only an inch shorter and five pounds lighter than Green-Ellis. His presence certainly muddies the waters in the New England backfield, as he’s a player who could threaten both BGE and Danny Woodhead.

Mikel LeShoure, Lions

Leshoure showed average speed, but was above average in the three-cone drill and has good leaping ability (for what it’s worth). For a big guy, he showed pretty good quickness. He’ll probably play Thunder to Jahvid Best’s Lightning.

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys

Murray is like Ryan Torain with a lot more speed. His numbers are pretty similar to Ronnie Brown as well.

One Response to “Combine Comparisons: RBs”

  • TW:


    This is exactly the kind of stuff I love to read. As a relative newcomer to fantasy football, I’m definitely behind the 8-Ball. However, I enjoy comparing combine and / or pro-day numbers of the top prospects against guys I think have performed well on the NFL level. I know the numbers alone don’t define a “football player,” but I do think they can point you in the right direction.

    I recently created a measureable spreadsheet for WRs & RBs on a pre-draft basis. It’s posts like this that will enable me to take it a step further and improve my analysis.

    With your background, I’d love to read more posts on this subject. Keep up the terrific work.