Relative Athletic Scores for the 2017 Detroit Lions Draft Class

Dec 29, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter (55) sacks Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Jerod Evans (4) in the second quarter during the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter (55) sacks Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Jerod Evans (4) in the second quarter during the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /

Are you at all curious about how athletic the 2017 draft class for the Detroit Lions is? Well, we have a way to determine that.

Relative Athletic Score (RAS), for those who are not familiar, is a metric developed by Pride of Detroit, and former SideLion Report writer, Kent Lee Platte and takes player measurements from combine and pro day testing, then applies an easy-to-understand number on a scale of zero to 10 to showcase that prospect’s overall athleticism, relative to his position. Measurement metrics include speed tests such as the 40-yard dash, agility drills such as the three-cone shuttle, strength tests such as the bench press, size of the player and more.

Kent posted scores for every NFL team’s draft class, so of course, I want to take a deeper look at the scores for Detroit’s rookies. Overall, it seems like the Lions drafted a relatively athletic class.

As a team, Detroit earned a ranking of 16th in the league, with an average RAS of 6.30. Only the Green Bay Packers were ahead of the Lions in the NFC North (with an impressive average RAS of 7.78  – third-best in the league).

It’s easy to tell from this chart that linebacker Jarrad Davis, Detroit’s first-round pick, is an elite athlete. Davis earned a score of 8.75, which ranked 10th out of 127 qualifying linebackers in 2017.

Jeremiah Ledbetter, who yours truly correctly predicted the Lions would take in the sixth-round in my post-combine mock draft, notched the highest score in the class with a mark of 9.07. That ranked him third out of 80 in the entire class, and 59th out of 621 qualifying interior defensive linemen since 1999.

With that said, what is important to remember is that scores are relative to positional group. So, while Ledbetter has a marginally higher score than Davis, it doesn’t automatically ensure Ledbetter is a better athlete than Davis.

What is most interesting to me is that Detroit was able to swoop up four players that ranked as a top-25 athlete at their respective positions: Davis, Ledbetter, Kenny Golladay and Jamal Agnew. Pat O’Connor, a seventh-round selection out of local school Eastern Michigan, just barely missed out, ranking 26th out of 86 defensive ends  – in an exceptional class at the position.

Golladay and O’Connor were both MAC players, and are both physical presences at 6-feet-4-inches each. While neither player was highly-touted or a recognizable name, each ranked highly within their positional group, and may be able to contribute for the Lions this season in one way or another.

Bringing down the Lions’ score a bit were Teez Tabor, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and Michael Roberts. Tabor’s struggles at the NFL Combine and his pro day were well-documented. He came in with a RAS of 2.59 (64th of 104). Reeves-Maybin gathered an overall score of 4.03 (59th of127), while Roberts checked in with just a 3.83 mark (35th of 55).

It seems that the general consensus on Tabor is that his game speed is much better than his testing speed.  He has good size and recorded 28 passes defended and nine interceptions in college. More so, according to Pro Football Focus, Tabor only gave up two touchdowns in his entire career, and allowed an NFL passer rating of 41.2. I am not worried about his playing ability at all. But for the sake of athletic scores, Tabor lowers the overall team score.

The Lions drafted both Reeves-Maybin and Roberts ahead of their consensus fifth/sixth round projections, but while athleticism may be lacking, both bring other elements of their game to Detroit. Roberts is a big body with large hands which should make him a nice red zone target. Reeves-Maybin provides Detroit with additional options at a depleted linebacker position. Despite his low overall RAS, his speed is not a concern (4.65 40-yard dash).

Rounding out the class is cornerback Jamal Agnew (Brad Kaaya did not qualify for RAS). Agnew, a fifth-round selection from San Diego, is a speedy player who received a score of 7.54. He ran an impressive 4.34-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. If not for his small frame (5-foot-10, 185 pounds), his score would likely be even higher. Agnew ranked 18th out of 104 cornerbacks in his class, and 209th out of 847 historically.

Athleticism doesn’t always mean elite status, or even a successful NFL career, and similarly, a player with low a RAS isn’t automatically going to be a bum in the league (Anquan Boldin’s score was 0.7). Regardless, it’s interesting to look at the perceived athleticism of the class and how it will later translate on the gridiron. These metrics give us a better idea of what to expect, at least.

If you want more RAS in your life, you can break down the metrics by position, by draft year and more.

Follow Kent on Twitter for more intriguing insights: @MathBomb

Extra: Relative Athletic Scores for Detroit’s undrafted free agent signees. Note how four of Detroit’s UFAs rank in the top-13 of their positional group.

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