IDP Speed Score Winners from the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine
I don’t know about you, but I like when new information makes sense.
With the ever-growing role of analytics in fantasy football – and sports in general – new research and stat correlations are coming out all the time. Some revelations are surprising, while others might surprise only in that we didn’t figure it out sooner.
That’s kinda how I felt upon realizing the significance of Speed Score for edge rushers back in 2017. We had already been looking at that stat for RBs for a while – thanks to Football Outsiders – and that made sense. Being unusually fast for your size should be an advantage for an NFL runner.
Well, it makes plenty of sense for a pass-rusher as well. The better size-speed combo you are, the more you’ll challenge blockers between you and the QB.
For whatever reason, I failed to make the connection at the time that it might also matter for off-ball LBs. But 2019 research by Hayden Winks – then at Rotoworld, now Underdog – turned me on to the speed score link for LBs while also confirming my earlier findings with the edge guys.
Obviously no single category guarantees NFL success for a player at any position. Look back on previous years’ lists – 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 – and you’ll find plenty of guys who haven’t made much noise in the NFL.
But you’ll also come across players such as Maxx Crosby, Alex Highsmith and D.J. Wonnum who emerged from Day 2 of the NFL Draft and beyond to post some meaningful numbers.
So with the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine just completed, let’s take a look at the speed score winners among this year’s incoming IDP rookie class.
In case you’re not familiar with speed score, here’s the equation:
200*<player weight> / <40 time>^4
Obviously, the purpose is to factor a player's size into speed ratings. It's a lot more impressive to run a 4.5 if you weight 270 pounds, for example, than if you check in at just 245.
A speed score of 99.0 currently rates 51st percentile among NFL edge players.
1. Amare Barno, Virginia Tech – 136.2
2. Sam Williams, Mississippi – 131.9
3. Travon Walker, Georgia – 131.5
4. Boye Mafe, Minnesota – 124.0
5. Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma – 116.8
6. David Ojabo, Michigan – 116.7
7. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon – 115.5
8. Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State – 115.5
9. Isaiah Thomas, Oklahoma – 109.0
10. Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina – 105.7
11. Joshua Paschal, Kentucky – 103.5
12. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan – 103.0
13. Dominique Robinson, Miami (Ohio) – 101.9
14. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Notre Dame – 100.9
15. Logan Hall, Houston – 99.8
The Combine classified the last 2 guys on that list as “DE” rather than “EDGE,” but Tagovailoa-Amosa weighs just 270. So he should probably at least be compared with the edge class. At 6’6, 283 pounds, Hall might have a bit more wiggle room in his position outlook.
It’s well worth noting that this group of 15 above-average speed scores came from just 20 who ran at the Combine. Among those who didn’t, Purdue’s George Karlaftis is expected to go in the 1st round and seems like a good candidate to deliver a speed score in this range. (Unless that’s why he skipped the 40 in Indy.) Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie looks like another candidate.
By comparison, last year’s Combine class gave us 16 above-average speed scores among 31 runners with the EDGE designation.
Amare Barno’s mark would have also led the 2021 edge class, which was dominated by Odafe Oweh (134.7). Seven more members of this class would have beaten 2021’s #2, Carlos “Boogie” Basham Jr. (115.2). No edge player in 2020 cracked 120 in speed score.
At this position, the 97.1 speed score posted by LSU’s (and now Cleveland’s) Jacob Phillips rates 49th percentile. Here are the Class of 2022 LBs who topped that mark at the Combine:
1. Troy Andersen, Montana State – 127.3
2. Brandon Smith, Penn State – 119.8
3. Leo Chenal, Wisconsin – 118.7
4. Christian Harris, Alabama – 116.3
5. Quay Walker, Georgia – 115.5
6. Channing Tindall, Georgia – 115.2
7. Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State – 111.2
8. Damone Clark, LSU – 109.6
9. D’Marco Jackson, Appalachian State – 108.7
10. Chance Campbell, Mississippi – 106.4
11. Brian Asamoah, Oklahoma – 104.5
12. Baylon Spector, Clemson – 104.1
13. Chad Muma, Wyoming – 104.0
14. Devin Lloyd, Utah – 100.5
15. Isaiah Graham-Mobley, Boston College – 100.1
16. JoJo Domann, Nebraska – 100.1
That’s 16 out of 23 LBs who ran at this year’s Combine. Last year gave us 15 out of 27 LB runners.
Do the strong percentages at both LB and EDGE vs. last year’s group signal the speed of this year’s class? Or might we be seeing more players pass on the 40 when they know they’re not going to reach a certain level? We’ll probably have to wait at least another year to find out. But it’ll be interesting to pay attention to.
Troy Andersen would have trailed only Micah Parsons (129.6) in last year’s LB group, with 6 other Class of 2022 LBs between Andersen and last year’s #2 LB, Jamin Davis (111.1).
The 2020 class had Isaiah Simmons (128.2) and Willie Gay Jr. (122.8) as 120+ guys, while 2019 presented Devin White (124.2) and Devin Bush (121.5) as members of that club.