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Explosion Index – Ranking the 2013 Running Back Class
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David Wilson has one of the higher numbers in the Explosion Index over the past 10 years. Image via Football Schedule/Flickr

With inspiration from several of the other RotoViz writers, and based on some work that I posted yesterday, I created a very simple Explosion Index.  As I discussed yesterday, there are probably about two primary components of athleticism in the Combine measures.  There is the agility component, which probably should include the Shuttle, 3 Cone and 40.  Then there is the explosion portion of the drills, which should include the 40, Broad Jump and Vertical Leap.  I think it’s reasonable to include 40 time in both indices because 40 time is the drill that crosses over in terms of correlation.  I’m also adding weight to the index, as weight correlates with things like 40 time and the 3 Cone.  Because it might look like I’m trying to do some double counting here, let me just say that I think the value of the compositing of these measures is to overcome what are small samples in taking the measurements.

In the table below I’ve taken the prospects that we have measurements for (so excluding primarily Eddie Lacy) and standardized their measurements on the various tests so that we can get them into the same units.  I don’t actually show the standardized scores except in the composite column, but the colored table should be your clue as to how each measurement stacks up in terms of being above or below the mean.

The Composite column is a simple averaging of the 4 measures that go into the Explosion Index.  You can actually read that number as being X number of standard deviations above or below the mean (averaged for the 4 measures).  There is no weighting taking place because I haven’t backtested this at all to see if any weighting should take place.  Because no backtesting has taken place, I’m also not ready to say anything like “The players at the top are good and the players at the bottom are bad.”

Combine data via MockDraftable.com.

Player WT 40 Time Vert Broad Composite
Christine Michael-Texas A&M 220 4.54 43 125 1.51
Michael Ford-Louisiana State 210 4.50 38.50 130 1.40
Onterio McCalebb-Auburn 168 4.34 34 121 0.79
Cierre Wood-Notre Dame 213 4.56 37.50 124 0.76
Knile Davis-Arkansas 227 4.37 33.50 121 0.65
Kenjon Barner-Oregon 196 4.52 35.50 122 0.52
Rex Burkhead-Nebraska 214 4.73 39 125 0.51
Kerwynn Williams-Utah State 195 4.48 35 118 0.34
Giovani Bernard-North Carolina 202 4.53 33.50 122 0.26
Joseph Randle-Oklahoma State 204 4.63 35 123 0.21
Matthew Tucker-Texas Christian 221 4.55 35.50 118 0.20
D.J. Harper-Boise State 211 4.52 33.50 120 0.17
Zac Stacy-Vanderbilt 216 4.55 33 122 0.15
Andre Ellington-Clemson 199 4.61 34 122 0.09
Mike James-Miami (FL) 223 4.53 35 115 0.01
Johnathan Franklin-UCLA 205 4.49 31.50 115 -0.28
C.J. Anderson-California 224 4.60 32 119 -0.29
Mike Gillislee-Florida 208 4.55 30.50 119 -0.32
Le’Veon Bell-Michigan State 230 4.60 31.50 118 -0.41
George Winn-Cincinnati 218 4.75 34.50 119 -0.42
Montee Ball-Wisconsin 214 4.66 32 118 -0.52
Theo Riddick-Notre Dame 201 4.68 32 118 -0.57
Stefphon Jefferson-Nevada 213 4.68 31 117 -0.75
Montel Harris-Temple 208 4.68 32.50 113 -0.82
Robbie Rouse-Fresno State 190 4.80 34 114 -0.92
Zach Line-Southern Methodist 232 4.77 30.50 111 -1.42
Stepfan Taylor-Stanford 214 4.76 30 110 -1.51

Just in case you’re wondering what the scores of some running backs already in the NFL look like, here is a table which has some select names that I think you’ll find interesting.

Player HT WT 40 Time Vert Broad Composite
Ben Tate-Auburn 71 220 4.34 40.50 124 1.41
David Wilson-Virginia Tech 70 206 4.49 41 132 1.25
Jonathan Stewart-Oregon 70 235 4.46 36.50 128 1.25
Adrian Peterson-Oklahoma 74 217 4.40 38.50 127 1.19
Brandon Jacobs 76 267 4.56 37 118 1.19
LaDainian Tomlinson-Texas Christian 70 221 4.46 40.50 NA 1.15
Joseph Addai-Louisiana State 71 214 4.40 38.50 125 1.05
Demarco Murray-Oklahoma 73 213 4.37 34.50 130 0.97
Deuce McAllister 73 222 4.41 37.50 NA 0.97
Edgerrin James 73 216 4.38 NA NA 0.86
Jamal Lewis 73 240 4.58 NA NA 0.85
Darren McFadden-Arkansas 73 211 4.33 33 128 0.80
Ryan Mathews-Fresno State 73 218 4.37 36 121 0.78
Andre Brown-North Carolina State 73 224 4.37 37 115 0.71
Marshawn Lynch-California 71 215 4.46 35.50 125 0.68
Rudi Johnson-Auburn 70 227 4.57 37.50 NA 0.63
Robert Turbin-Utah State 70 222 4.50 36 122 0.62
Bernard Pierce-Temple 72 218 4.49 36 123 0.62
Chris Johnson-East Carolina 71 197 4.24 35 NA 0.58

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