RAS and Receivers: Predicting Success

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RAS and Wide Receivers

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

“Measure what is measurable, make measurable what is not so.” – Galileo Galilei

When evaluating prospects for the NFL Draft, we always try to find an edge as an evaluator.  In most cases, it’s our outlook that sets us apart, different ways of looking at the same tape.  Trying to find that niche, something that you can see that helps you project a player for the college game to the NFL.  There probably isn’t any magic formula, no mathematical way to take college tape, put a number on it, and plug in the numbers to have it tell you if the prospect you’re developing will become an NFL star.  Tape, as it is, will always be subjective.  Different evaluators will see different things, and due to preferences, skill, or plain old personal bias, their conclusions will always vary.  But what if there WAS a mathematical way to project NFL success based on something measurable?

RAS is a measurement I developed a few years ago and have been refining each season.  Those who follow me on Twitter are familiar with it, but for those who are not it is a relative score that compares a player’s measurement to those of his position group and places it on a 0-10 scale.  Ten combine measurements are scored this way and then the scores are averaged.  This average is then run through a similar calculation to weight it statistically against all scores by players with at least 6 scores.  This final number is what I have referred to as a player’s RAS, or Relative Ability Score.  This 0-10 grade tells us on a relative scale how a player measured for his position.  It should come as no surprise that measure well find success in the NFL, for when you look at it the other way around the best athletes are those who are more likely to measure well.  Individual measurements like the 40 yard dash, the bench press, the short shuttle, have been used to project NFL success for years, with varying degrees of success.  Recently, with RAS, I had a breakthrough.

Using RAS, I have been able to project Wide Receiver success using pretty much any statistic.  With this method, I’ve found a 2 to 1 correlation or higher when using ANY statistic to measure success.  Comparing their RAS to receptions, yards, touchdowns, or any combination thereof and I’ve found this to be true.  The amazing part?  It doesn’t matter what measure I use for success.  Whether I look at 1,000 yards or 200, the ratio remains the same or better.  Defining success has always been the hard part of figuring this all out, but now I’ve broken the code by simply finding a way to measure it regardless of what you consider as success.  And it freaking works.  Cue lightning bolt, thunder, and mad scientist laugh.  Buckle up, kiddoes, I’m going to show you how to give yourself 2 to 1 odds as to whether a receiver will be successful without having seen him play a single down (Though that helps, a LOT).

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