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RAS: Relative Athletic Scores Explained

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The RAS Grade

Putting measurements on an easy to understand 0-10 scale is a neat trick, but it doesn’t really mean anything on its own.  Originally, I used an average of the 10 individual scores.  This score was adequate for what I used it for, but it wasn’t very user-friendly.  5.00 wasn’t really average for most positions, and there were no scores over 8.5 or under 2, so it wasn’t truly doing what I wanted it to do.

To accomplish my goal of making a user-friendly metric that anyone can use to show how athletic a player is, I just took the averages for each position and used an old statistical trick called “Weighting for density”.  Essentially I ranked the qualifying RAS scores from 0 to 10, where 5.00 will again be the middle, 10.00 will be the top score for that position (Like our friend Calvin Johnson in the picture above), and 0.00 will be the dead bottom.

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Why would it matter?  In general, athletic ability has a positive correlation to success in the NFL while a lack of athletic ability tends to correlate to the opposite.  RAS just puts a number on those sorts of things, and allows us to look at it from a mathematical perspective.  I’ve been pretty successful in using it to gauge draftability and even draft status so far, as it has a much stronger correlation to draft status than it does actual NFL success.  Byron Jones, for instance, considered a late 2nd to early 3rd round pick by many during the draft process jumped up charts when he had a monster of a combine.  His RAS score actually topped all cornerbacks in my database, and 11 out of the top 20 corners by RAS went in the 1st round, with the remaining 9 going in the 2nd or 3rd.

The final RAS Grade calculation allows us to show who had the best overall measurements for a position group, rating a 10.00 out of 10.00.  By attaching a number to a player’s athleticism, we can use their measurements to realistically compare success at an NFL level to how athletic a player is.  Sure, we could do that individually before, pointing out the athletic phenoms that succeed.  Players like Brandon Flowers (1.23 RAS Grade), Vontaze Burfict (0.07 RAS Grade), and Antonio Brown (0.62 RAS Grade) would never get the recognition they deserve for really defying the odds, however.  Having a higher RAS Grade tends to correlate to NFL success, but it isn’t a requirement.  The odds are just higher. 

Next: 2015 Roster Analysis: Linebackers