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Using the Explosion Index to Look for Breakout Running Back Candidates


A number of weeks ago I listed the running backs in the 2013 draft class based on an Explosion Index, which is basically just an average z-score for the following measures: weight, 40 time, vertical leap, and broad jump. Of the incoming rookies, Christine Michael looked the best on that measure. I thought it might be a good exercise to go through some recent entrants to the NFL and look at their Explosion numbers so that we can put them in context should their opportunity situations change. Below I’ve listed all of the backs that averaged more that a .30 on the Explosion Index (the average of their z-scores for the three measures is .3 or greater). I left on the names of guys that you couldn’t actually get for cheap so that you can understand the athleticism of the guys you can get for cheap. For instance, you can’t actually get Doug Martin for cheap anymore. But you can see the names of guys who actually have better Explosion Index numbers, like Bernard Pierce of the Ravens. Both David Wilson and DeMarco Murray will cost something to acquire in a fantasy draft, while guys like Ryan Mathews, Mikel LeShoure and Ryan Williams will be a lot cheaper.

You’ll note that a few of the players on this list have had injury plagued careers. I don’t know if that says something about carrying around that kind of weight with that level of athleticism, or if they’re injured about as often as the typical RB. I think it’s also interesting to note that a few of these players are on the Ravens’ roster. Ozzie Newsome, I see you bro.

Name Comments SEAS WT 40 Time Vertical Broad Index
David Wilson-Virginia Tech Breakout waiting to happen 2012 206 4.49 41.00 132 1.24
Robert Turbin-Utah State Promising rookie year, now in a muddied depth chart 2012 222 4.50 36.00 122 0.62
Bernard Pierce-Temple Promising rookie year, played even though team had star already on roster 2012 218 4.49 36.00 123 0.61
Terrance Ganaway-Baylor I have no sense as to NFL outlook. He’s likely buried on the Rams depth chart and maybe won’t even make the 53 man roster. On the athletic measures, only his 40 time is bad. 2012 239 4.67 37.00 119 0.51
Doug Martin-Boise State Huge rookie year 2012 223 4.55 36.00 120 0.44
Brandon Bolden-Mississippi Flashed during rookie year 2012 222 4.66 38.00 119 0.32
Anthony Allen-Georgia Tech Bounced between Ravens practice squad and active roster 2011 228 4.56 41.50 120 0.98
Demarco Murray-Oklahoma Has shown flashes 2011 213 4.37 34.50 130 0.96
Jordan Todman-Connecticut Has been injured, probably a long shot to make the Jags 53 man roster. If he did get healthy and also made a roster, note that he’s not far off physically from David Wilson. 2011 203 4.40 38.00 126 0.85
Mikel Leshoure-Illinois Tore achilles, had mediocre 2nd season 2011 227 4.56 38.00 122 0.75
Jamie Harper-Clemson Just cut from Titans. 2011 233 4.53 36.50 120 0.70
Roy Helu Jr.-Nebraska Injury plagued career thus far. 2011 219 4.40 36.50 119 0.68
Ryan Williams-Virginia Tech Injury plagued career thus far. 2011 212 4.59 40.00 123 0.64
Delone Carter-Syracuse Nothing to write home about 2011 222 4.54 37.00 120 0.53
Ben Tate-Auburn Even though he’s been injured, has looked very good. 2010 220 4.34 40.50 124 1.40
Montario Hardesty-Tennessee Injury plagued career thus far. 2010 225 4.49 41.00 124 1.21
Ryan Mathews-Fresno State Injury plagued career thus far. 2010 218 4.37 36.00 121 0.78
Toby Gerhart-Stanford Primary backup to AP 2010 231 4.50 38.00 118 0.77
Lonyae Miller-Fresno State Backup to Ryan Mathews at Fresno St. Currently with the Ravens 2010 221 4.43 36.50 120 0.70

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