Big, Fast and Explosive Running Backs

We already knew that Jonathan Taylor was a beast in college, having rushed for 2,000 yards twice and missing a third time by just 23 yards. Those are insane statistics. I'm equally in awe over his combine performance last Friday. His 4.39 40-yard dash put's him in the 99th percentile for running backs when adjusted for weight. His vertical leap of 36 inches has him in the 71st percentile among backs. It got me curious. First, how many running backs his size with his speed and explosiveness have competed at the combine? Second, where in the draft did they get drafted? So, I looked it up.

Hint: There are not very many. I loosened the parameters a bit to create a larger sample. I set them at running backs who:

  • Weighed 215 pounds or more at the combine
  • Ran the 40-yard dash at 4.4 seconds or lower
  • Jumped 35 inches or more in the vertical leap 

The results conveniently narrowed it down to 10 running backs who met the above criteria. They are, in order of 40-time:

  • Cedric Peerman, 2009 | 216 pounds | 4.34 seconds | 40 inches | 6th round, 185th
  • Ben Tate, 2010 | 220 pounds | 4.34 seconds | 40.5 inches | 2nd round, 58th
  • Andre Brown, 2009 | 224 pounds | 4.37 seconds | 37 inches | 4th round, 129th
  • Ryan Mathews, 2010 | 218 pounds | 4.37 seconds | 36 inches | 1st round, 12th
  • Kevin Jones, 2004 | 227 pounds | 4.38 seconds | 37.5 inches | 1st round, 30th
  • Jonathan Taylor, 2020 | 226 pounds | 4.39 seconds | 36 inches | ???
  • Chris Henry, 2007 | 230 pounds | 4.4 seconds | 36 inches | 2nd round, 50th
  • Adrian Peterson, 2007 | 217 pounds | 4.4 seconds | 38.5 inches | 1st round, 7th
  • Roy Helu, 2011 | 219 pounds | 4.4 seconds | 35.5 inches | 4th round, 105th
  • Saquon Barkley, 2018 | 233 pounds | 4.4 seconds | 41 inches | 1st round, 2nd

Taking the average of the above players mentioned, you end up with an average of the 64th overall pick. Essentially the last pick in the 2nd round. It think it's pretty safe to say Taylor will go earlier than that. If we just use the players drafted in the first two rounds, it averages out to the 27th pick. Looking at the first round of this year's draft class, that would be in the range of Miami, Baltimore and Tennessee. If we just looked at the above sample and only included the 1st round picks (which I think Taylor will be) it averages out to the 13th pick, which is right in the range of the Colts, Buccaneers, Broncos and Falcons. That would be very interesting. What do you all think? Where does Jonathan Taylor end up?

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