Tag Archives: EDGE

A quick note on Davis Tull, the outlier

Davis Tull and Vic Beasley both performed very, very well at the NFL Combine in February. While Beasley’s freak show fueled top-5 talk, we still aren’t entirely sure what to make of Tull. A defensive end with a 1.52 10-split, 42.5″ vertical, and 11′ broad jump just sounds like a high draft pick. But those numbers from a player who competed in the Southern Conference and whose arms measured in at 31-1/4″? There’s a lot more to unpack there.

Tull recently described himself as a late-bloomer, which meant that he wasn’t recruited by elite college programs out of high school. A broken leg during his senior year led him to end up a Chattanooga Moc, where he three-peated as the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year. Even with the production at UTC, he wasn’t well-known before he blew up Indianapolis. Well, a few people had an inkling, but he was largely anonymous.

(I am shameless. Sorry, gang.)

I don’t have a clear answer for what to make of Davis Tull, mainly because we haven’t seen a Davis Tull before. His arm length of 31-1/4″ is extremely short for the position, existing in a range for which we have almost no data. Is it possible for an EDGE player to succeed with an arm length more typical of a running back than a pass rushers?

The arm length concern isn’t completely unheard of in the NFL, with both Matt Roth (30-7/8″ arm length) and Rob Ninkovich (31-1/2″) representing successful pass rushers with limited wingspan. Still, only six EDGE players have even been drafted since 1999 with an arm length less than 31-3/4″, as shown in the following table.

TULL

We can see pretty clearly that there’s no Davis Tull on that list, with the top player maxing out at a 0.9 z-score. This is really the problem; it’s tough to make smart predictions about players who fall so far outside of the typical distribution. Data analysis relies upon identifying trends and exploiting them to find value, but there’s no trend with a Davis Tull. He’s the rarest of prospects, the kind that’s unique in my 17-year prospect database.

Davis Tull has the second-highest pSPARQ of any EDGE player from 1999 to present. This isn’t just another good athlete from a small school; Tull is Combine Godzilla, ready to wreck buildings and offensive linemen with equal aplomb and impossibly short arms.

In Ninkovich and Roth, we have at least enough data to suggest that the “can’t have short arms” hypothesis might be flawed. Tull is a great, very-great, super-great athlete, the kind of rare athlete for whom we bend the rules. And even in the case that he ends up unable to make an impact as a pass rusher, he has the athleticism to play SAM linebacker in a base defense, a la Bruce Irvin for the Seahawks.

There’s trepidation about the arm length, small school pedigree, and bum shoulder, all of which are pretty terrifying. Tull is projected as a third-round prospect and would probably be projected in the first round without the questions about his health, pedigree, and frame. While all three of those issues have been overcome before, but this is a case where three negative indicators are stacked on top of each other. He’s in the discount bin for a reason, and it’s not entirely unreasonable.

Even knowing all of that, I find myself hoping that Tull ends up playing for my Seattle Seahawks. Damn the torpedoes; bring me Combine Godzilla.

–ZW

Mid-April SPARQ Rankings: EDGE

UPDATE 4/20: The SPARQ table now includes most players with pro days occurring prior to March 20th. The image is a much higher-resolution than was used previously. Note that the “Comb.” column refers to those who were invited to the NFL Combine in February. Any numbers that are underlined and italicized comes from junior day data via Tony Wiltshire.

Note that the “Percentile” and “z-score” columns refer to the NFL positional averages and not to the draft positional averages. This means that a 0.0 z-score and 50.0 percentile would represent a player who rates as a league-average NFL athlete at the position. The average NFL player is pretty athletic, so this designation is not at all a poor result.

Disclaimer: pSPARQ is not perfect and will not yield a perfect representation of any player’s athletic profile. It is meant to give us an idea of where a given player stands athletically relative to his peers. If you have any questions about the particulars, I posted an FAQ: https://3sigmaathlete.com/faq/.

Click on the images to make them readable.

All above the 50th percentile (i.e., above-average):

EDGE_top

All below the 50th percentile:

EDGE_bottom

–ZW