The 2016 NFL draft is just around the corner and the rumor mill is still churning at full speed. The Detroit Lions have been linked to no less than 30 NFL prospects via mock drafts from nearly every position (Yes, even quarterback at one point). The team’s more concrete interest has been shown in their visits and the types of players they have contacted, but new general manager Bob Quinn has been very tight-lipped about their approach. Since we don’t have the evidence to really posit based on any more than guesswork, let’s take a look at the draft prospects linked to the Lions in the 1st round a different way. I’m going to look at their athletic profiles and asses the risk based on who has been successful in the past. As usual, we’ll be using RAS to gauge athleticism and we’ll be looking at pro bowls for a measure of success.
The Detroit Lions have been linked to at least 7 linebackers in the first two rounds, 4 of them in the first round. Those players are Leonard Floyd from Georgia, Darron Lee of Ohio State, USC’s Su’a Cravens, and of course Alabama ILB Reggie Ragland. With about 99% of this year’s numbers in place, Floyd leads the pack with a 9.45 out of 10 RAS, which is why he was chosen for the recent RAS mock draft. Darron Lee comes in next at a very good 8.10, while LB/SS hybrid Su’a Cravens only managed 3.41. Mock favorite Reggie Ragland trails the pack with only a 2.42 out of 10.
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So what does this mean in terms of pro bowl play for linebackers? Well, I have RAS for 29 pro bowl linebackers since 2005. 20 of these were above average and 18 of those were above 6.50 RAS. At its most basic, elite athleticism has had a large correlation to linebackers and in general it’s more than just checking boxes.
Leonard Floyd measured in the elite territory, so no matter who I compare him to I’m going to get flack for it. Fortunately I don’t have to pick and choose as his final RAS actually tied someone you have probably heard of.
Darron Lee fell into a weird spot with his final score. Not that it was bad, an 8.10 out of 10 is well above average and a very clean score. It’s actually sandwiched between pro bowlers Aaron Barr and Justin Houston. To find a good comparison, though, I needed an undersized, speedy LB and I needed to look a bit further up to find one.
But what about the 9 linebackers below that 5.00 average line? Surely we can’t just write of Cravens and Ragland completely, right? I mean, 1 out of 3 isn’t great, but it’s not 0.
These are only athletic profiles, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, if you’re looking for a best case for your favorite draft prospects, you can see those here. What about other positions? We’ll be posting defensive tackles later this week, so check back in to find out how your favorite players measured out and who they compare to! Who do you want the Detroit Lions to pick in the 1st round of the draft? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter @SideLionReport or give me a follow @MathBomb for all your draft metrics needs (you probably didn’t even realize you needed)!