Inducting a New 3-Sigma Athlete

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.

The idea of the club was brought up by Mathis, the All-Pro Eagles guard.

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.

We do have a 3sigma athlete in 2015: Byron Jones, a cornerback from the University of Connecticut. I waited a few days to post in hopes that we’d reach a consensus on his pro day numbers, but given the reported range of 40 times, he’s almost certain to qualify. Even assuming a relatively conservative 40 of 4.4-flat, Jones managed to land a whopping 3.2 standard deviations from the positional cornerback average.


It’s mostly trivia, but it’s fun trivia. Jones is also a perfect test case for the argument that the NFL Combine doesn’t matter. NFLN analyst Daniel Jeremiah was the only national analyst to put Byron in his top 50 prior to Indianapolis, and now the UConn corner is being discussed as a possible first-round prospect.

If Byron Jones, by some miracle, fell to the Seahawks at 63, I would explode. It’s probably for the best that he’ll be long gone by then.


7 thoughts on “Inducting a New 3-Sigma Athlete

  1. Jake

    Love the site, this is great stuff.
    I was looking at some combine/pro day numbers from the past few years and wondering how far off Demarucs Ware and Von Miller are from this exclusive club. They both put up freakish numbers even relative to other edge players. Does the edge position group make it more difficult to go 3 SD above due to the amount of freakish athletes in that group?


    1. zachwhitman Post author

      Von and DeMarcus are both closer to the 2-sigma club. The issue, as you note, is that the EDGE group is full of freaks, so a 3-sigma has to be *really* impressive. Much like tight end, where even Vernon Davis is only a 2.85 sigma. There’s just too many Virgil Greens and Jordan Camerons.


  2. Jake

    Also, are you planning on updating the groups you’ve already posted for the 2015 Draft and/or adding the CB, DS, and QB groups?

    I’d love to see where Danielle Hunter stands after his pro day. From what I saw, he put up some very good shuttle/cone times plus his combine 40, BP, and long arm should make for a high score. He is another that’s probably moved himself up a few rounds due to the combine/pro day. Could see the Hawks looking hard at him in the second round.

    Again, love this and thank you for taking the time to post this stuff.


  3. Nakia

    Have you seen Taurean Nixon’s stats from Tulane? He didn’t go to the combine but I hear his 40 was clocked at 4.27. VJ 38. BJ 11. Bench 18.


  4. Pingback: NFL Draft 2015: The Philadelphia Eagles and analytics - how athleticism ... - Field Gulls - Conversion Nexus

  5. Pingback: Cowboys 2015 Draft Targets: UConn CB Byron Jones - Tonic Sports - Tonic Sports

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