In honor of on-field workouts for the NFL Scouting Combine beginning today, I decided to look back at the 20 best performances by Washington Redskins players at the combine in the last 20 years.
Before we dive into the rankings, we first need to specify by what means these players will be ranked and which players qualify as Redskins that participated in the combine.
The Measuring Stick
I wanted to rank the players in a way that both wasn’t subjective and rewarded them for overall combine performance, instead of for their results in just one or two drills. That meant I would need to use a composite score based on all of the players’ measurements and results. The choice was an easy one.
For my money, Kent Lee Platte’s Relative Athletic Score (RAS) metric is the most accessible and comprehensive measure of overall athletic ability out there. Nobody I have found has both incorporated as many different factors into their athletic scores and has been able to do so with as many players as Kent with his RAS.
Here are a few brief explanations of the RAS metric from Kent himself:
Relative Athletic Scores take player measurements and put them on an easy to understand 0 to 10 scale compared to their position group. A final score is then produced which is also on a 0 to 10 score to show overall athleticism for a draft prospect. This data can be used to chart trends over time, showing that overall athleticism is likely a contributing factor to player success in the NFL.
Because RAS is distributed uniformly, rather than on a standard bell curve, approximately 10% of players rank from 0.00-1.00, and roughly the same amount are present at any 1.00 interval. Likewise, 0-5.00 contains half of all players, 5.00-10.00 the other half.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 1, 2018
Next, here’s how I used the RAS data to rank the players:
- These players are ranked by the average of their 2018/current RAS and their draft-year RAS. This was done to reward players who posted high scores relative to their contemporaries.
- All RAS calculations are up to date as of 2/27/2018. In other words, players from the 2018 combine were not included.
- Some websites report different testing measurements and times, but we will only incorporate the numbers recorded on Relative Athletic Scores for our RAS calculations.
- Combine measurements and times are used by default to calculate RAS when both combine and pro day data is available. Only combine measurements and times were used in these RAS calculations.
- Pro day data was deleted (yellow shaded cells) when it was the only information available for a particular measurement or time. Doing this changes a player’s RAS score to only reflect their performance at the combine.
Player Inclusion Criteria
Finally, we must determine which players should be counted as Washington Redskins that participated at the combine.
Time constraints obviously prevented me from collecting and sorting this data for the hundreds and hundreds of men who have played for the Redskins since the combine began. Secondly, and most importantly, you probably wouldn’t be nearly as interested in reading an article that involved the ranking of guys who barely saw the field for the team.
I also needed to be sure that the focus was on players who we A) have combine data for, and B) actually participated in the majority of the drills at the combine. The combine is one our main themes here, after all.
This list clearly needed to be narrowed down to a more manageable and recognizable set of players who we actually had enough data on. Here’s what I came up with:
The player must have met both of the following combine-related criterion.
- Participation in one the last 20 combines (1998-2017), which is as far as most combine data goes back.
- They participated in at least three of the following six drills at the combine: 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone and 20-yard short shuttle.
If the players met one of the two following criterion they qualified as Redskins and their inclusion in these rankings was allowed:
- Played in 33 or more regular season games as a member of the Washington Redskins. This restriction keeps out players who were only on the team for a season or two.
- Players currently on the team’s roster that have met one of the following three benchmarks over the course of their careers:
- Playing on offense or defense in 10 or more games as a member of the Washington Redskins.
- Starting at least one game for the Redskins.
- Playing on 100 or more offensive or defensive snaps for the team.
The Top-20 Redskins Combine Performances
20. Pierre Garcon
Average RAS: 9.33
The only drill Garcon truly excelled in was the bench press, but he makes this list on the strength of a very solid all-around combine. Garcon is the owner of a 121.2 SPARQ-x score, which places him in the 89th percentile among wide receivers.
19. Josh Doctson
Average RAS: 9.41
Garcon is narrowly beat out for the top receiver score on our list by the man who replaced him and who ironically posted an identical draft-year RAS score of 9.41, Josh Doctson.
Doctson showed off his insane leaping ability in Indianapolis by posting a 41-inch vertical and a broad jump of just under 11 feet. Those numbers give J-Doc a 97th burst score and a 96th percentile catch radius.
18. Roy Helu
Average RAS: 9.41
Before there was Chris Thompson, it was Roy Helu who operated as the Redskins’ third-down back. Helu put up otherworldly agility numbers, which still rank among the best ever by a running back at the combine. Those skills helped the former 4th rounder catch 138 passes for over 1,200 yards in his career. He is the highest ranked RB in this top-20.
17. Ziggy Hood
Average RAS: 9.46
Nine years ago, your current starting nose tackle of the Washington Redskins put up impressive workout numbers across the board.
His most best showing was in the 40-yard dash, where he posted a sub 5-second time as a 300-pounder. Relative Athletic Scores has Hood with a time of 4.97 seconds, but most sites have him with an even more amazing 4.83. The latter number ranks in the top-20 by a defensive tackle/interior defender and in the top-5 among 300-pound players at the position.
Perhaps his athleticism is what has allowed the former 32nd overall pick to last into his 30s.
16. Brian Orakpo
Average RAS: 9.53
Like Hood, Brian Orakpo was drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft. Rak put up great numbers in the 40-yard dash and bench press, but his performance in the drills most closely tied to explosiveness are where he really shined.
The Texas product jumped his way into the 96th and 98th percentile at the position in the vertical and broad jump (pro day). That explosiveness has been vital to Orakpo, who has tallied 64.5 sacks and 115 quarterback hits in his career.
15. Cornelius Griffin
Average RAS: 9.60
Griffin is another D-tackle who ran the 40 in under 5 seconds, was a top-50 pick in the draft and came to Washington via free agency. He started on the interior of the Redskins’ defensive line for six years.
14. Trent Williams
Average RAS: 9.60
The six-time Pro Bowler is the only offensive tackle on this list. Most sites have him with a 4.81 40-yard dash time at the combine, which ranks 5th all-time at the position behind the following players: Tony Mandarich, Terron Armstead, Lane Johnson, Bruce Campbell and Joe Staley. The Silverback also ranks in the top-10 all-time among OTs in the vertical jump and top-25 in the broad jump.
13. David Amerson
Average RAS: 9.65
David Amerson’s 4.44 time in the 40 is well above average for a cornerback, but what makes it really impressive is that he is 6’1 and weighed 205 pounds at the time.
Here are the other corners who have accomplished this feat at the combine: Xavier Rhodes, Jimmy Smith, Ronald Bartell and Jalen Ramsey. You could also add Brian Allen and Antonio Cromartie to that group depending on the site you’re looking at.
Throw in Charles Tillman and a few other names and you basically get the same list for corners who had a broad jump of 127 inches or better at this size.
12. Chris Chester
Average RAS: 9.69
Chester’s reported 40 time varies across the internet, but whether you use the RAS time of 4.88 or the more popular 4.83, you find that he was one of the fastest interior O-lineman in recent history. The only four that put up better times at the combine in the last 30 years are Randall McDaniel, Bill Michel, Justin Burroughs (4.86) and Richie Incognito (4.84). J.R. Sweezy (4.84), Lance Louis and Kristjan Sokoli (4.86) posted sub 4.88 times at their pro days. His 3-cone time of 7.33 also ranks in the top-12 all-time among interior linemen.
He was drafted as a center, but I changed his position to guard because that is where he played at during the majority of his NFL career. As a center, his RAS score jumps to a perfect 10. Taylor Lewan and Brandon Brooks are the only other linemen in the RAS database with an RAS of 10. Chris Chester is one of the most athletic interior offensive linemen of all time.
11. Laron Landry
Average RAS: 9.74
The hard-hitting safety out of LSU ran a blazing 4.37 at the 2007 combine, which ranks in the top-10 all-time among safeties, and at 213 pounds, gives him the best speed score among all of the defenders on this list.
It should be noted that poor agility numbers at his pro day brought Landry’s overall/non-combine RAS scores down to 8.97 (current) and 9.24 (draft year).
10. Montae Nicholson
Average RAS: 9.75
Current Redskins safety Montae Nicholson just edges out Landry for our top average RAS score by a safety. Nicholson was nearly as fast and explosive as Landry, despite actually being a bit bigger.
It sounds like Jay Gruden plans on having Nicholson manning the free safety spot for the foreseeable future.
Gruden said Montae Nicholson is “really an important piece.” Compared his value to Jordan Reed on offense. That’s high praise— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 1, 2018
9. Randy Thomas
Average RAS: 9.79
Chris Chester isn’t the only offensive lineman in our countdown to run the 40 in 5 seconds or less; guard Randy Thomas accomplished that same feat. Like with Landry and Nicholson, size was the difference. Thomas joins Evan Mathis, Kyle Long, Joe Thuney, Ben Sobieski, Elton Brown and Joel Bitonio as the only guards to have run the 40-yard dash in 5 seconds or less while weighing in at over 300 pounds and standing at 6’4” or taller.
He also posted plus results in the bench press, vertical and broad jump drills.
8. Kedric Golston
Average RAS: 9.79
Ziggy Hood’s predecessor is yet another 6’4” 300 pounder who ran the 40 in under 5 seconds. Golston is one of the few D-tackles who has posted a time of 4.94 or better at that size. It’s also quite rare to see a player of his size register a vertical jump of 33 inches. Kedric Golston’s 9.73 RAS ranks 25th all-time among defensive tackles.
7. Preston Smith
Average RAS: 9.81
People forget how athletic Ryan Kerrigan’s running mate really is. At just a hair under 6’5” and with a wingspan of over 82 inches, Preston Smith boasts incredible length; add this to the fact that each of his testing composite scores are over 8 (out of 10), and you’ve got a legitimate freak on your hands.
Smith ranks 18th among all defensive ends/edge rushers in RAS. Check out the names of some of the few edge rushers who posted a better RAS than he did: Jevon Kearse, Mario Williams, Jordan Willis, Vic Beasley, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Danielle Hunter, Shawn Merriman and Myles Garrett.
6. Champ Bailey
Average RAS: 9.84
The 12-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer, Champ Bailey, had a combine for the ages. Bailey’s times of 4.28 in the 40-yard dash and 3.79 in the short shuttle both rank in the top-12 all-time (regardless of position) at the combine. He still ranks top-20 all-time in both drills even if you include all pro day results (6th in the shuttle).
5. Robert Griffin
Average RAS: 9.87
The only quarterback who ever ran a faster 40 than Robert Griffin was Michael Vick (4.33), and that depends on the site you look at, because some have Griffin running a 4.33, as well. He also ranks top-5 at the position with a vertical jump of 39 inches. RG3’s 9.85 RAS ranks 10th among all quarterbacks.
Robert Griffin’s legendary athleticism propelled him to a Heisman Trophy win in 2011 and a historic Rookie of the Year season with the Redskins in 2012. Unfortunately, his game relied far too much on his physical abilities.
4. Barry Cofield
Average RAS: 9.88
Barry Cofield is another free agent defensive tackle who left the Giants in free agency, and is yet another 6’4” 300-pounder to run the 40 in 5 seconds or less.
Cofield’s vertical jump, short shuttle and bench press numbers all put him in at least the 90th percentile at the defensive tackle position. Only a dozen of the 881 DTs in the RAS database earned a better overall score.
3. Will Montgomery
Average RAS: 9.93
Montgomery posted top-tier agility numbers and his 35 bench-press reps ranks in the top-10 by a center at the combine.
If you count Chris Chester as a guard like we did, that gives Will Montgomery the top RAS ever by a center.
2. Carlos Rogers
Average RAS: 9.95
Carlos “Roach” Rogers is the top ranked defender on our list. Roger’s amazing 10.30 agility score ranks 4th all-time, regardless of position. His 9.91 RAS is only bested by 11 of the 1,206 cornerbacks in the site’s database,
1. Vernon Davis
Average RAS: 9.96
After all of this, I’m still not sure people understand how athletic Vernon Davis really is. I’ll try my best to change that right now.
Davis’ 42-inch vertical and his 128 broad jump rank 3rd and 8th all-time among tight ends. Anthony Becht and Jordan Cameron are the only tight ends with a higher RAS. He ranks 1st in both pSPARQ and SPARQ-x at the tight end position.
Yes, Vernon Davis put up the best TE SPARQ of anyone in the last 18 draft classes. 4.38 in the 40, 1.51 10-split, 42" vert... bananas https://t.co/PP9lP4xkpd— Zach Whitman (@zjwhitman) January 12, 2017
Most sites have Davis with a 40-yard dash time of 4.38, which is the fastest time ever recorded by a true tight end and a player that weighed more than 242 pounds. Patrick Willis, Terrelle Pryor and wide receiver Matt Jones all ran a 4.37 or a 4.38, but weighed between 240 and 242 pounds. Calvin Johnson ran a 4.35 at 239 pounds, which gave him a speed score of 133.5.
Vernon Davis weighed in at 254 at the 2006 NFL combine. No player in the recorded history of the NFL has ever topped his speed score of 138.03 (using the 4.38 time and not adjusted for height).
His 165.8 SPARQ-x is the highest such score in the entire Player Profiler database.
My next statement feels hyperbolic, but I honestly believe that it’s warranted. Vernon Davis isn’t just the most athletic tight end in NFL history; he is likely one of the most athletic players in both NFL and professional sports history.
Didn’t Make the Playing-Time Cut
Average RAS: 9.67
Keith Marshall is the quintessential NFL version of a Ferrari, equipped with seemingly unimaginable speed, but forever stuck in the shop.
Marshall is the owner of the best speed score ever by a running back at the combine (126.9); however, two season-ending injuries have prevented him from ever playing in a regular season game.
Average RAS: 9.77
If he had played enough in 2017 to qualify, Robert Davis’ 9.77 RAS would have bumped fellow rookie Montae Nicholson down a spot by claiming 11th place in our countdown.
Davis is one of the most explosive receivers in recorded NFL history. He ranks in the 99th percentile among wideouts in burst score, mainly on the strength of his 136-inch broad jump, a number which ranks 8th among all players in combine history.
Average RAS: 9.98
Fabian Moreau also went for 136 inches in the broad jump, but that wasn’t the only drill he impressed in. The former UCLA Bruin ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash at 206 pounds, which gives him a 98th percentile height-adjusted speed score on Player Profiler.
Moreau ranks 3rd all-time in RAS by a cornerback (9.98), behind only likely Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis and 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore. Moreau would have topped our list if he would have met any of the playing-time criteria which was laid out.
The fact that he only played 59 defensive snaps as a rookie is highly disappointing, but, if nothing else, perhaps his epic showing at last year’s combine can give Redskins fans a little hope that the team will be alright at cornerback even after the trade of Kendall Fuller and despite the very real possibility Bashaud Breeland departs in free agency.
The Washington Redskins All-Combine Team
I thought it would be fun to wrap things up by creating an all-combine team for the Redskins.
I eased up on some of the restrictions here in order to give some love to the top athletes who didn’t quite make the cut because of the playing-time constraints. I kept the limit of 33 games for free agent additions, but allowed all players drafted by the team or currently on the roster to be included.
Also, 2018/current RAS was used instead of the average between that number and the players’ draft-year RAS.
QB: Robert Griffin (9.85)
WR: Robert Davis (9.77)
WR: Josh Doctson (9.43)
WR: Pierre Garcon (9.25)
TE: Vernon Davis (9.97)
RB: Roy Helu (9.44)
LT: Trent Williams (9.56)
LG: Chris Chester (9.65)
OC: Will Montgomery (9.97)
RG: Randy Thomas (9.66)
RT: Jim Molinaro (8.48)
The results really don’t differ much from what we saw in the top-20. The only difference is that Aldrick Robinson (8.79) and Tom Compton (8.40) would have replaced Robert Davis and Jim Molinaro if we kept the status quo.
DL: Barry Cofield (9.86)
DL: Kedric Golston (9.73)
ED: Preston Smith (9.82)
ED: Brian Orakpo (9.57)
LB: Robert McCune (9.36)
LB: Cody Glenn (8.47)
CB: Fabian Moreau (9.98)
CB: Carlos Rogers (9.91)
CB: Champ Bailey (9.73)
FS: Montae Nicholson (9.75)
SS: Laron Landry (8.97)
Once again, we don’t see many changes here. However, the lifting of the playing-time restrictions did allow Robert McCune and Cody Glenn, who combined to play in just 27 career games and make 0 starts, to replace Rocky McIntosh (7.22) and Shawn Barber (7.14) at the inside linebacker spots.
Who was the most athletic Redskin not named on this list?
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Other (explain in comments)
Which of the following options best encapsulates how athletic Vernon Davis really is?
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Davis is one of the most athletic tight ends ever
He is THE most athletic tight end of all time
Vernon Davis is one of the most athletic players in the NFL today
He is one of the most athletic players in NFL history
Davis is likely one of the most athletic players in the history of professional sports