Sports Analytics Blog


It’s Combine Time

I love NFL Draft analytics. And while you would have to pay me cash money to watch the NFL Combine, I am interested in its usefulness. There are a couple of articles today on the subject.

First, Brian Burke from Advanced Football Analytics talks about the survivor effect of the Combine. Basically, measurable aspects of performance do matter greatly. But the statistical comparisons of the numbers are misleading because we can only observe a small subset of the overall population of players.

Second, Bill Lotter from the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective examines if the Combine does matter. Just as Brian Burke pointed out, Lotter submits that it does. He askes whether performance at the combine relate to future performance in the NFL and if performance at the combine correlate to where a player will be drafted? The answer to both is yes. Some of the key points he makes:

  • From combine stats alone, you can significantly predict how well a player will do in the NFL.
  • The 40 yard dash is the most important drill at the combine.  Weight and the 3 cone drill follow next in overall importance.
  • The bench press is highly overrated and is the least significant factor.  The bench press is most important for CB’s.  And WR’s can expect the biggest movement up in the draft by benching well.
  • In terms of predicting success, the combine is most important for DE, OLB, and CB.  It’s least important for WR and FS.  WR was the only position for which the combine didn’t have significant predictive power.
  • In terms of having an effect on draft position, the combine is most important for C, OLB, QB, and CB.  It’s least important for ILB and WR.
  • NFL teams overvalue the forty and the bench.

A good read, check it out.

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