D.K. Metcalf turned heads and raised his draft stock at the 2018 NFL combine by displaying an incredible mixture of straight-line speed, leaping ability, and strength. He posted a 4.33 forty-yard dash, a broad jump of 134 inches, a vertical leap of 40.5 inches, and 27 reps on the bench press. I can tell you that those numbers are insane, but with no context, it’s hard to understand why. That’s where the Prospect Workout Explorer steps in. This tool was previously known as the Combine Explorer, but it’s been given an update with new functionality. The tool helps readers better understand how a player’s athletic measurables compare with other players at his position. It also generates a list of comparable prospects that sheds light on what players with similar physical attributes have achieved in their first three NFL seasons.
To demonstrate how the tool works, let’s pull up Kansas running back, Pooka Williams.
To start, we simply select Williams in the “Player” drop-down. The “Comp with Player’s Natural Position Only?” drop-down determines if the tool will search for comparable players at the selected player’s college position only. If the drop-down is set to no, the positions in the “Positions to Comp” box will be considered when the tool generates the listing of comparable players.
The tables below provide a summary of the selected player. If he participated in a drill, his result will be displayed along with the percentile of his result when compared to other players at his natural position. For example, Williams’ forty of 4.38 seconds falls in the 96th percentile among RBs.
Age – Player’s age at the combine date. (In the case of Williams, this information was unavailable)
Agility – Sum of a player’s 3-cone and shuttle.
Explosion – Sums a player’s vertical and broad jumps.
Freak Score – Describes the mix of height, weight, and speed that a player possesses. It can be calculated with the following formula: 242 + (HT*2.14) + (WT*0.60) – (FORTY*103.44).
Speed Score – Speed score was created in 2008 by Football Outsiders. It quantifies a player’s speed in conjunction with his weight. It can be calculated with the following formula: (WT*200) / (FORTY^4).
Pro day results for players that did not participate in the combine are included. Pro day forty times tend to be faster than those recorded at the combine. As a result, pro day forty times include an adjustment. In the case of the 2021 class, adjustments have not been made to these times.
Drill Percentiles and Comp NFL Points
The “Drill Percentiles” graph simply visualizes, using bars, the percentile that the selected player achieved in each drill. The summary beneath the chart counts the number of comps that scored more than 10.0 points per game (PPG) and those that scored more than 300 total points in their first three NFL seasons. This summary also averages the PPG and total points scored by the selected player’s comps in their first three NFL seasons.
As can be seen, just three of Williams’ comps managed to score more than 10.0 PPG in their first three seasons. On average, his athletic comps scored 4.0 PPG. It does need to be noted, however, that draft position and collegiate production (especially early collegiate production) are often better predictors of NFL success than athletic measurables. As a result, when evaluating prospects we place more emphasis on models that consider factors beyond those considered in the Explorer’s similarity search. Its main goal is to help users better understand where the selected player measures athletically and get an approximation of how he may be able to utilize it in the NFL.
Comp PPG and Points Years 1 – 3
I really like this graph. It helps you to quickly grasp the scoring profile of the selected player’s comps. PPG are plotted along the x-axis and total points along the y-axis. Naturally, the more players in the upper right-hand section of the graph, the better. These players scored more total and PPG than their peers. For example, it shows that Jamaal Charles scored approximately 13.0 PPG and 600 points in his first three seasons.
The final section of the tool lists the selected player’s athletic comps with the closest matches being listed first. The table can be sorted on any of the columns by clicking the desired column in the header.