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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 7:31 pm 
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With the Combine in the rear view mirror, I thought it time to post the results of a project I've been working on. Special thanks to the excellent work of Dane Brugler @dpbrugler (formerly of NFLDraftScout.com and now writing for The Athletic) for his exhaustive list of measurements; to Zack Whitman @zjwhitman of 3 Sigma Athlete for stat fill-ins and z-scores; and to Kent Lee Platte @MathBomb, whose Relative Athletic Scores website should have landed him a job with an NFL team long ago (despite being a Lions fan), for his RAS scores.

Ryan Pace has been in charge for four drafts now, so as we approach his fifth there are trends that have become apparent over his 27 draft selections. This analysis will also plug in an additional 17 UDFAs from those years that either spent time on the active roster or remain on the team (including practice squad). I didn't consider any free agent signings of players who played elsewhere before coming to the Bears because this analysis is focused on the draft.


DAY 1: elite traits
Kevin White (2015); Leonard Floyd (2016); Mitchell Trubisky (2017); and Roquan Smith (2018)

Each of these players has something elite: elite athleticism with Power 5 production (White, Floyd), elite Power 5 production with plus athleticism (Smith), or elite potential from a Power 5 school (Trubisky). Each also all came in the top 10, so we've no evidence at present how Pace looks at the second half of Day 1. (We have a couple of clues, which I'll get to shortly.) The theory here is swinging for the fences on elite traits while trying to mitigate the risk somewhat by picking from the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and Pac 12.

In the last two drafts he was a part of in New Orleans, the same thing happened: in 2013 the Saints tabbed Kenny Vaccaro at the 15th spot (Big 12) and in 2014 they took Brandin Cooks 20th (Pac 12). These are the first of those clues I mentioned before, though it's important to remember that Pace didn't run the draft for the Saints.


DAY 2: productive Power 5 athletes
Eddie Goldman and Hroniss Grasu (2015); Cody Whitehair and Jonathan Bullard (2016); Adam Shaheen (2017); James Daniels and Anthony Miller (2018)

Generally, Pace values productive Power 5 players who are at least NFL-average athletes for their position. Goldman, Grasu, Whitehair, Bullard, and Daniels all fit the mold.

Adam Shaheen is an exception to the rule, and doubly so because he was a Division II player at Ashland College. His athletic traits are so outstanding, though, that it almost feels like Pace was following first-round rules seeking elite traits. In 2013 Pace was there when the Saints did something similar (albeit in Round 3) with Terron Armstead out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Anthony Miller doesn't quite fit either, though considering the way they jumped up to grab him in the middle of Round 2 last year (and what they were willing to pay), I'd bet my mortgage payment that they had a Round 1 grade on Miller. Sometimes a value pick is a value pick.


EARLY DAY 3: calculated risks
Jeremy Langford and Adrian Amos (2015); Nick Kwiatkoski, Deon Bush, Deiondre' Hall, and Jordan Howard (2016); Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen, and Jordan Morgan (2017); Joel Iyiegbumiwe and Bilal Nichols (2018)

This goes back to the axiom I have about the NFL draft: it's 150 picks long, every year, give or take. Beyond that, you're more or less playing bingo.

Here is where the dice are rolled — on non-FBS prospects who display athletic potential (Hall, Cohen, Morgan, Nichols), on terrific athleticism with iffy production (Bush) or terrific production with iffy athleticism (Howard, Kwiatkoski), and on terrific production with injury risks (Jackson). Pace learned this in New Orleans too; in 2013 the Saints took a chance on an immature Kenny Stills in Round 5, and in 2014 with an underachieving Khairi Fortt in Round 4.

The anticipation, of course, is that you hit more than you miss here. So far, Pace has done that in Chicago.


LATE DAY 3: lottery tickets
Tayo Fabuluje (2015); DeAndre Houston-Carson and Daniel Braverman (2016); Kylie Fitts and Javon Wims (2018)
Everything past the first third of round 5, then, is chasing lightning in a bottle. Prospects here aren't going to check all the boxes. Instead, they might check two or three. You're still targeting traits, but they're individual talents, ones you hope to corral somehow.

Tayo Fabuluje had elite size they hoped to harness. (Allegedly needed a fire lit too.) DeAndre Houston-Carson had elite production but has sub-par athleticism. Kylie Fitts has elite athleticism but a long list of injuries and spotty production.

Once again, Pace learned this during his time in New Orleans. In 2013 the Saints took a flyer on Rufus Johnson of D2's Tarleton St, and in 2014 took a pair of injury-plagued Power 5 guys in Round 5 (Vinnie Sunseri and Ronald Powell) and an athletic but undersized and medically-risky Tavon Rooks.


Big picture
There are a couple of overall tendencies that have cropped up when pulling back for a more wide-angle shot of Ryan Pace's draft picks and successful undrafted free agents.

  • The broad jump is a measurement that matters to Ryan Pace (24/27, or 88.9%, of draftees and 15/17, or 88.2%, of UDFAs that made the roster recorded a broad jump more than 8 1/2 feet). Two draftees and two UDFAs did not have a recorded broad jump.
  • A 3-cone time adjusted for body mass formula result higher than -3.0 (which is roughly the median for NFL athlete) matters too (18/27, or 66.7%, of draftees and 10/17, or 58.8%, of UDFAs). Of the 11 that did not, 7 lasted less than 3 yrs with the team. Three draftees and two UDFAs did not have a 3-cone time recorded.

Additionally, there are a few positional indicators in Ryan Pace's drafting.
  • Offensive lineman have been drafted each year, and most often on Day 2. Seven total have been drafted or stuck as UDFAs over the four year period. They are quite similar in size (Fabuluje being the outlier) and have short shuttle times under 4.77 (except Dejon Allen).
  • Six wide receivers have been added over the four year period. Wide receivers tend to have 3-cone times 7.0 or below (Tanner Gentry is the outlier) and have 75" or greater wingspans (there is no wingspan measurement for Cam Meredith).
  • Six safeties have been added over the four year period, at least one each year. They are over 6 ft tall and 4.55 or faster in the 40. (Harold Jones-Quartey is the outlier, but his athleticism was high-end and he came from D2, so they hoped there was something there to mold.)

Any projections for draft picks must take these two lists into consideration.

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Last edited by thunderspirit on Wed Mar 06, 2019 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:43 pm 
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Nice work dude.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:15 am 
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Very well done post! I fixed the URL in the beginning, also.

I'm curious to see how Nichols does in year two after an excellent debut and if Iyiegbumiwe gets more use outside of special teams. Fitts didn't light things up his rookie year, but I feel like he could have a role if he stays healthy.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 1:56 pm 
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Fantastic breakdown, thunder! It'll be interesting to do a mock draft based on these tendencies.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 1:58 pm 
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I'm expecting a future HOFer in the 4th now after Jackson and Cohen


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:45 pm 
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Thanks for the fix, UOK.

I'm not expecting a future HOfer in the 4th, but it has certainly been Pace's most successful area of the draft.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:46 am 
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Great work.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:19 pm 
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Great post and analysis. Nicely done! :thumbsup:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:30 pm 
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He also loves to gamble on potential top picks who get hurt.
https://www.nfl.com/prospects/bryce-lov ... be320b56b7
Makes me think this is our third round pick.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:27 pm 
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EricTighe wrote:
He also loves to gamble on potential top picks who get hurt.
https://www.nfl.com/prospects/bryce-lov ... be320b56b7
Makes me think this is our third round pick.


I think the third miiiiight be a little too high for him, but yeah man if this kid is healthy I'd LOVE to have him on the beloved.

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