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Agility Scores, Giovani Bernard, and Kendall Hunter

giovani bernard

As the draft approaches, many scouts are comparing North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard to Ray Rice. Our research at RotoViz suggests that may be a stretch. In fact, Zac Stacy is probably a much better comp for the Baltimore Ravens star.

If you haven’t been following our series on using Agility Scores to project college running backs, this introduction is a must read. In short, the Combine agility drills appear to help predict the success of NFL backs in space and in the passing game.

Following the format I’ve been using in projecting Le’Veon Bell, Zac Stacy, and Christine Michael, I’m going to use size, speed, production and Agility Score to generate some comps for Bernard.

Agility Score between 10.92 and 11.14, 40 time between 4.4 and 4.6, Weight between 190 and 210, Min. 2000 yards rushing

Name College College Yards College YPC College TD College Rec Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Speed Score Agility Score
Giovani Bernard North Carolina 2481 5.9 25 92 202 4.53 95.9 11.03
Name College College Yards College YPC College TD College Rec Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Speed Score Agility Score
Kendall Hunter Oklahoma State 4181 5.9 37 63 199 4.46 100.6 10.95
Brian Allen Stanford 2117 4.4 13 23 209 4.46 105.6 10.98
Noah Herron Northwestern 2524 5.5 26 72 200 4.6 89.3 10.99
Antonio Pittman Ohio State 2945 5.3 22 37 207 4.4 110.5 11
LaMichael James Oregon 5082 6.6 53 51 194 4.45 98.9 11
Dion Lewis Pittsburgh 2860 5.3 30 52 193 4.56 89.3 11.08
Felix Jones Arkansas 2956 7.7 20 39 207 4.44 106.5 11.09

While Stacy’s comps came back with Ray Rice and Doug Martin, neither appears here for Bernard. That doesn’t mean Bernard can’t be a valuable NFL player. I first started thinking about the Agility Score due to the disdain Darren Sproles received coming out of college and his resultant underutilization in San Diego (a team that appeared not to value his talents even after they franchised him once). Backs who are explosive in space are increasingly valuable in the modern NFL. Bernard would seem to fit in that category.

Although the lack of current NFL stars is disconcerting, Bernand’s comps leave room for a wide variety of professional outcomes. Felix Jones and Dion Lewis have been disappointments. LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter will probably battle for carries in San Francisco’s backfield for years to come. Hunter has been impressive in limited action and could eventually be slated for an early down role. James is a perfect fit for the spread elements the 49ers figure to employ with Colin Kaepernick.

Giovani Bernard Dynasty Value

This is a situation where perception and value combine to shape the necessary strategy on a player. If the expectations surrounding Bernard were similar to those experienced by Sproles or James, he’d be the perfect undervalued target. Unfortunately, the lack of depth at the running back position and rampant comparisons to Rice are likely to push him well above his true value.

The next Agility Score article will look at Kenjon Barner. In many ways, these two backs are almost carbon copies, and that may represent an excellent arbitrage opportunity. If you have an early dynasty selection and there’s a market for Bernard, I recommend trading down and selecting Barner instead. Similarly, you could target LaMichael James or Kendall Hunter in a trade.

On the other hand, sometimes perception does shape reality. If Bernard lands with a team that plans to make him a rookie starter, his fantasy value will obviously skyrocket.

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