Inducting (Another) New 3-Sigma Athlete

I wrote the last induction post in April 2015, welcoming Connecticut corner Byron Jones into the club. This is what i said at the time.

The name of this blog is 3 Sigma Athlete, which refers to the rare NFL player who stands three standard deviations above the NFL standard pSPARQ at a given position. I’ve written before about the 3 sigma athletes who are currently in the NFL: J.J. Watt, Calvin Johnson, Evan Mathis, and Lane Johnson.

On the day that this site was launched, Mathis was the one to think of the 3sigma club.

What is a 3 Sigma Athlete?

3 sigma athletes don’t show up very often. 3 standard deviations from the mean corresponds to the 99.87th percentile. It isn’t 1 in 1000, but it isn’t far off, either. In 2014, no players were added to the 3sig club, though Seattle’s 6th-round pick, Garrett Scott, did just miss, falling short by an impossibly small margin.

In the last two years, Calvin and Mathis retired. Kristjan Sokoli was tentatively in the club (if he stuck at offensive line), but he’s playing DL in Indy. That left us with three members of the club: J.J. Watt, Lane Johnson, and Byron Jones.

We now have a new member to induct; Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu. I’ve waited to announce as we didn’t have his Combine 10-split and his pro day short shuttle time was difficult to pin down. Values between 4.09 and 4.30 have been reported, and I wasn’t comfortable finalizing Obi until i knew he’d stick. With the full data back now, he’d be a 3sig even with the short shuttle lower bound of 4.30. With the more widely reported 4.09, he lands at 3.3 sigma, clearly the best safety athlete of at least the last 19 draft classes.

Obi is yet another case study in how teams value elite athleticism. Jones wasn’t a notable prospect until he set a world record in Indy, and he went in the first round. Melifonwu might end up going just as early as Jones, and there wasn’t any buzz suggesting that before the Combine. It’s not hard to see a team like Dallas or Seattle, each with a history of targeting uber-athletes, targeting him at the end of the first round.

As I said two years ago, the 3 sigma club is just trivia, but it’s fun trivia. Congrats to Obi. We really do need to get him a t-shirt.


2017 Combine Prep

Hey all,

I posted the 2017 SPARQ rankings page. Each sheet is populated by the 2017 Combine roster. I’ll be adding data to the pages as it comes along over the next week. Currently, measurements are taken from all-star games already attended, like the Shrine Game or Senior Bowl. Those measurements will be replaced by Combine measurements as they become available.

Let me know on twitter if there’s anyone that should be in a different positional category. I do my best to get players assigned to roughly the correct position group, but there’s probably a few misses in there. (but yes, listing Jabrill Peppers as a safety is intentional).

Non-combine invites and pro day measurements will be added as they come along later. Happy Combine week (feat. Solomon Thomas Day).

Combine Results: All positions posted

SPARQ rankings for Combine results at all positions are now available on the rankings page.

Please note:

–I decided not to calculate approximate SPARQ results for a few high-profile prospects who didn’t completely all Combine drills. This is particularly relevant for Robert Nkemdiche and Charles Tapper. I project each to among the top at their position.

–Rankings will be updated to reflect pro day data. I haven’t included any yet. It’s just easier to update with a big chunk of data after we accumulate a week or two of results.

–Some players are probably not at the ideal position, particularly with DL/EDGE/LB, where lines are a little blurrier than elsewhere. Let me know on twitter @zjwhitman if you feel someone listed at the wrong position.

–There will inevitably be a few birthdays where I fat-fingered the year. Let me know if something looks off (but not with Andrew Billings. Yes, he was born in 1995. Stop tweeting me about 1996, please and thank you).


Combine Results: Running Backs, Defensive Backs

We waited all Combine weekend for freaks, and they were all in the defensive back group. The best 6 projected SPARQ scores all came from the secondary.

The full rankings are now posted at the RB, CB, and Safety pages. Please note that many of the results are estimates as players did not complete all necessary drills — particularly in the case of missing agility drills, the results are approximate.

Combine Results: Defensive Line

The defensive line group tested at the Combine today. There was some good and bad.

The full rankings are now posted at the Defensive Line Rankings Page. Please note that many of the results are estimates as players did not complete all necessary drills — particularly in the case of missing agility drills, the results are approximate.

Someone, please let my favorite football team draft Jonathan Bullard. Thank you.


Combine Results: Wide Receiver:

The wide receiver group tested at the Combine today, and it was a far more promising group than we saw with the running backs yesterday.

The full rankings are now posted at the Wide Receiver Rankings Page. Please note that many of the results are estimates as players did not complete all necessary drills — particularly in the case of missing agility drills, the results are approximate.

Excluding approximate results, the top 5 Combine WR SPARQ results belonged to Josh Doctson, Devon Cajuste, Chris Moore, Marquez North, and Trevor Davis.

–Josh Doctson had an incredible day. He tested out in the 94th percentile of NFL WRs and showed excellent explosion, speed, and agility at 6’2″/200. It’s hard to imagine him not being selected in the top 20 picks in April.

–Stanford WR Devon Cajuste had an insane 3-cone for his size, one of the best ever recorded at the Combine. When considered as a tight end, he ranks in the 88th SPARQ percentile.

–Sterling Shepard is awesome and tested out much better than many expected. With a good pro day performance in the agility drills (possible considering his apparent agility on the field), he could join the elite athletic class.

–It was a no good, very bad day for Tyler Boyd, Hollywood Higgins, and Duke Williams. Higgins and Boyd will foster quite a bit of discussion over the next two months.

Corey Coleman day will have to wait until the Baylor pro day. I have not lost the faith.