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The Draft's Elite Athletes: Offensive Analysis
By Nic St. Marie
Special to gzl-football.com

I'm still working on finishing my first full mock draft for this, but in the process I've done some steps to understand the strength of this class. Bear with me, as I'm pretty new to the Data Sciences, but here are some of the conclusions I've come to about this class.

Pretty much I'm looking at how athletic these guys are, compared to the players in the league. Players who are in the top 10% or who can get there are noteworthy enough to be mentioned here.

QB
Doug Eriksson - 62 SPD, 96 THP
Marcus Mariota - 82 SPD, 86 AGI, 87 ACC, 94 THP

I know what my eyes tell me about these guys, but the numbers are more interesting. Only one elite arm in the class in Doug Eriksson, who comes in with a gun but no feel for the field. Marcus Mariota, who will be the consensus best QB in the class, has the ability to break into the top 10% and no one else.

Neither of these two guys have great accuracy, and this class as a whole has a lot of short term backups in it at QB. The rest of the class includes some guys who can have good starter arms but no one else can approach guys like Stafford and the Mallett boys.

On the ground, Mariota is roughly at the 10% mark for athletes at the position. No one else is worth mentioning as the rest seem to be candidates for balanced QB.

HB
JT Bynum 96 SPD, 60 STR, 95 AGI, 91 ACC
Duke Johnson - 95 SPD, 67 STR, 92 AGI, 94 ACC
Cubby Williams - 94 SPD, 78 STR, 95 AGI, 90 ACC
Travon Wilkins - 88 SPD, 80 STR, 88 AGI, 89 ACC

This class has some athletes that push towards the top. Speed-wise a couple of them reach the top 10%, And Duke Johnson is an elite athlete and legitimate ball-carrier as well. He's the only Reggie Bush type with elite speed and ability in this class, while Cubby Williams has a speed/strength ratio to drool over, but lacks the short-area burst to be mentioned. Williams also has good ball-carrier skills and likely will go in the first round...for good reason.

Besides Cubby's power, Travon Wilkins is the one name to watch for as a Beanie Wells type prospect. Pretty good athlete, top 10% strength, and good enough RB skills to play.

WR
Willie Williams - 98 SPD, 97 AGI, 98 ACC, 95 JMP
Alonzo Jackson - 95 SPD, 95 AGI, 94 ACC, 90 JMP

This is often a diverse set of athletes and this year is no different. One athlete stands above the rest, with another just behind him. Willie Williams at 5'11" is an elite athlete. Only Jock Sanders (5'6") and Odell Beckam (much better hands) are in his league as an athlete.

Not far behind him is Alonzo Jackson. Alonzo good enough to approach those guys, but at 5'8" may not be worth the investment. There are a couple of 6'5" guys with good speed but not top 10% guys in this league.

TE
Troy Battaligia - 70 SPD, 78 STR, 69 AGI, 77 ACC
James Dabrowski - 75 SPD, 77 STR, 74 AGI, 76 ACC

So...these guys are pretty slow. But there are some noteworthy guys. In strength we have two guys who stand out and could land just outside of the top 3 with a little work.

Troy Battaligia is 6'5", 260 lbs, and brings the hammer. He's also a great blocker, and will get interest as a #2 TE. James Dabrowski is an inch taller and much faster, a legit #1 TE prospect. James is not quite the run blocker and he'll never be confused with a WR with his speed but will likely go in the 2-4th rounds with his size, strength, and "enough" athleticism.

FB
Jesus Olivas - 84 SPD, 68 STR, 69 AGI, 79 ACC

One guy can make it into the top 10%, Jesus Olivas. He's not that impressive, but with such a deviance in styles between the plodding beastly FBs and the fast FBs designed for the counter and sweep game, that Olivas would be a huge improvement for many teams as the 10th fastest FB in the league.

OL
Octavius Warren - 70 SPD, 85 STR, 69 AGI, 85 ACC
Cameron Erving - 68 SPD, 88 STR, 62 AGI, 75 ACC
La'el Collins - 66 SPD, 93 STR, 65 AGI, 80 ACC
Ereck Flowers - 60 SPD, 95 STR, 63 AGI, 74 ACC

Here's where we start to see more of these guys. Eight of them are in the top 10% for speed at 67-72 SPD. Four of them are 70 SPD and higher, placing that group in the top 2.5% of the league for speed. C Cameron Erving is a little under-powered, but is otherwise an elite C prospect and is likely to go near the end of the 1st or beginning of the second round.

5 players in this draft class place in the top 10% for acceleration, and two place there for agility. All in all, only one players is in the top 10% for all three (although several are close enough they could make it with 1-2 points added in a couple places) and his name is Octavious Warren. He's a bit like Allen Barbre, a super fast lineman who lacks blocking experience and power.

A more serious talent would be La'el Collins, who only places in the top 10% in acceleration but with +2 in each other category would cross over for each one. He's well deserving of the best OL in this class and will be a top 10 pick.

Five guys land in the top 10% in strength, and while four are plodders, LT Ereck Flowers is a good enough athlete to make him a top prospect.

That concludes the offensive portion of this analysis. This isn't looking at the outliers, but does identify star-level athleticism in this class. Hope you enjoy this look.
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