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Agility Scores, Montee Ball, and Evan Royster

Montee Ball

Spirited debate surrounds the 2013 running back class. Much as is the case with the wide receivers, no consensus exists. There is no Trent Richardson, no Adrian Peterson, no Darren McFadden. Straight line speed is in short supply, leaving us with few Speed Score darlings. On the other hand, quite a few backs demonstrated explosive lateral quickness at the Combine. As a result, players like Le’Veon Bell, Zac Stacy, and Christine Michael all end up with a list of comps far above where most pundits have them pegged. In addition, guys like Giovani Bernard and Kenjon Barner project as excellent change of pace backs.

Because elite Agility Scores were so prevalent this year, it’s easy to start thinking those performances are no big deal. I could easily see readers perusing the previous columns and thinking, “Well, he’s just going to tell us everybody is underrated.” But just like it’s unusual to find such a dearth of draftable Speed Scores, it’s also very unusual to be faced with such a bevy of Agility Score stars. A closer look at some of the higher profile backs in the 2013 class will help illustrate this.

We begin with Montee Ball.

Agility Score between 11.20 and 11.36, Forty time above 4.5, Weight between 200 and 230, Min. 2000 rush yards

Name College College Yards College YPC College TD College Rec Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Speed Score Agility Score
Montee Ball Wisconsin 5140 5.6 77 59 214 4.66 90.8 11.28
Name College College Yards College YPC College TD College Rec Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Speed Score Agility Score
Alfred Morris Florida Atlantic 3529 4.8 27 30 219 4.67 92.1 11.20
Mewelde Moore Tulane 4364 4.8 21 189 209 4.65 89.4 11.21
Ennis Haywood Iowa State 2862 5 27 60 218 4.76 84.9 11.22
Tellis Redmon Minnesota 2235 5 13 44 210 4.61 93.0 11.22
Vernand Morency Oklahoma State 2661 5.9 23 11 212 4.51 102.5 11.22
Mikel Leshoure Illinois 2557 6 23 37 227 4.56 105.0 11.22
Vick Ballard Mississippi State 2157 5.7 29 30 219 4.65 93.7 11.22
Kevin Smith Central Florida 4679 5.2 45 55 217 4.53 103.1 11.23
Evan Royster Penn State 3932 5.7 29 61 212 4.65 90.7 11.25
Brian Calhoun Wisconsin 2760 4.5 27 90 201 4.57 92.2 11.29
Chris Polk Washington 4049 5.1 26 79 215 4.57 98.6 11.34

 

The three closest comps for Ball are Vick Ballard, Kevin Smith, and Evan Royster. Although Ball was more prolific in college, the quartet is virtually identical in terms of size, speed, quickness, and production. While many of the profiles we’ve examined so far suggest a possible disconnect with the scouting conclusions about a player, Ball’s comps confirm his scouting report. Depth at the running back position is important in the NFL, and Ball should immediately be a very solid No. 2 type back. In a perfect scheme fit, he could emerge like Alfred Morris.

The biggest caveat when comparing Ball to the rest of the group is collegiate production. There is some sentiment in the scouting community that Wisconsin runners benefit from the same type of offensive line boost that routinely makes Alabama backs look better than they are. It’s not entirely clear why that’s held against former Badgers and not Tide players. A year ago, Bill Connelly pointed out that Ball’s 2011 season was extraordinary, even after you adjust for line play.

Montee Ball Dynasty Value

Mike Mayock and others have Montee Ball ranked as the No. 2 back behind Eddie Lacy. I like Ball a lot, but there are too many athletic red flags for NFL squads to have him rated anywhere near that vicinity. Ball’s fantasy value will be highly dependent on the team that selects him. He could fall into serious value if he lands in a prime situation a la Vick Ballard. Otherwise, Ball should probably be selected outside the top five runners in rookie drafts.

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