How to Build an RB1
In continuing on the theme of breaking down how to find an elite running back, I'm taking a look at how your average RB1 (Top 12) is built. If you want to see my first article talking about "The NEW Elite RB1", check out my article from Feb. 21st. For today's article, I'm using size and some athletic measurables. I took the Top 12 finishers from each season, dating back to 2011, and here were the results.
For those of you who maybe don't look at this often, these are good numbers all the way around. The height, weight and BMI suggest a medium sized back who is big enough to handle a large workload, but not so big that they lack speed and quickness. I consider any 40-time below a 4.55 or a 3-cone time below 7.0 seconds to be good. Obviously the lower the better. And, any vertical above 32" or broad jump above 118" is adequate enough to show explosiveness.
When evaluating the Pro Days that will start to come in next month across the country, pay attention to these metrics. As long as most of them land somewhere around the numbers you see above, you're looking at a back with a good probability to succeed. You just don't want to see any glaring numbers pop up. If they do, hopefully that metric is countered somewhere else with an exceptional metric. For example, Le'Veon Bell ran a very slow 40-time (4.62) during the 2013 combine. However, he countered that with an elite 3-cone drill of 6.75, the 2nd fastest time in that category over this sample size. And it showed in his play. He lacked top end speed, but he had insane shiftiness combined with elite vision and patience, which led to him being an elite back for fantasy.
I'm a firm believer that size and athleticism matters in sports. Yes, you can have outliers who do not score very well. Josh Jacobs is a great example of this. I just don't like betting on those players, because the odds are against them. And even when you compare the top RB1's vs the bottom RB1's, you do see a widening gap. You can see it in the table below.
To wrap up, this isn't the end all be all for finding an RB1 in this year's running back class. It's just another piece of the puzzle, and the more pieces you have, the more likely you are to finish the RB1 puzzle.