Rookie Reports from College Football MetricsCollege Football Metrics

NFL DRAFT 2013 - RB-P

By R.C. Fischer
Release Date:
3/21/2013

NFL Draft 2013: Statistical Analysis of RB Jordan Roberts, Charleston

*Our RB grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro-Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.

*We use the term "Power RB" (RB-p) to separate physically bigger, more between the tackles capable RBs from our "speed RBs" group. "Speed RBs" (RB-s) are physically smaller, but much faster/quicker, and less likely to flourish between the tackles.

 

Jordan Roberts is currently rated as ESPN's number...wait a minute...sorry, not on their list. Not included in their top-70 RB prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Jordan Roberts on CBS Sports Draft list for RBs...hold on a second...where did I see him...oh, nope, sorry he's not on their list of the top-55 RB prospects.

Let's go off the grid. Let me check some non-mainstream websites...not listed on this one...not on that one...nowhere to be found here. Jordan Roberts is currently an NFL Draft ghost prospect. At best, he is afforded the typical small-school label, "keep an eye on this small-school guy." He and fifty other D2 names are usually covered with that blanket statement. However, when it comes to money and mouth today...Roberts is not likely going to be found on a prospect ranking list in the mainstream.

At this stage of our 2013 evaluations, Jordan Roberts is among our top-10 RB prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft. We'll step out first and then the rest can follow...

We are not saying this to be cute, or attention-getting. This evaluation comes straight from our computer scouting models based on statistical performance (adjusted for competition level) mixed with a physical measurables analysis. There are few RB prospects in this draft (or any) that are built like Roberts.

It is logical for the mainstream scouting, and for football fans in general, to scoff at FCS/D2 level RB prospects. We hear urban legend tales about these mythical creatures all the time. We want to believe in the Disney fairy tale. We want to believe that somewhere the greatest NFL RB in history is hiding in a meat-packing plant punching sides of beef and drinking raw eggs for breakfast. Hard-core draftniks get excited about these D2 hopefuls until about 15 minutes after the season starts, and then go in search of new enthusiasm after these NFL Draft deep sleepers wind up on a perpetual practice squad.

Here are the top selected FCS/D2 RB in each of the last seven drafts: Daryl Richardson (2012), Taiwan Jones (2011), Deji Karim (2010), Bernard Scott (2009), Tim Hightower (2008), Garrett Wolfe (2007), none (2006).

It makes even more sense now why no one should care about a "top" D2 RB prospect for the NFL Draft. Recent history shows it to be a mostly fruitless exercise.

What do most of the recent top FCS/D2 RBs listed above have in common? They are mostly more speed-oriented RB prospects, who are smaller (205-pounds and lighter RBs). The most notable/NFL-successful name on the list is 220+ pound power RB Tim Hightower.

The reason I cut off the list above after seven years was for "dramatic" effect. The top D2 RB taken in 2005...Southern Illinois Brandon Jacobs. The top D2-ish RB taken in 2004...Northern Illinois Michael Turner (N. Illinois was in the D1 MAC conference, but back when the MAC was much lesser accomplished conference). Hightower, Jacobs, and Turner...a running theme of physically bigger, but NFL fast/agile RBs.

Jacobs was a freak at 6'4", 267-pounds and running a 4.56 time in the 40-yard dash...that's unheard of. Turner ran a 4.49 time in the 40-yard dash at 237-pounds in 2004. Both of these runners were/are physically massive, straight ahead runners/runaway freight trains. Jordan Roberts is a 5'10" and 220-pound (a great NFL RB size) RB prospect who is a notch smaller than Jacobs/Turner, but who has similar characteristics...and also a couple of positive attributes they did not.

Roberts is measuring with a superior agility level than Turner/Jacobs. Among a million accolades Roberts can claim at Charleston is that he was also a top kick returner. Watching tape on Roberts, you can see an NFL-ability for change of direction (for his size). Roberts is a 4.5+ 40-time runner with NFL agility and size...and one more thing he has over Turner/Jacobs -- he comes in much stronger than they did.

Turner/Jacobs entered the NFL as "strong enough" in bench press strength, but their 230-260+ pound frames added a dimension of bulk/mass that few other RBs have ever had in NFL history (with their foot speed). Where Roberts somewhat trumps them -- he just posted 32 bench press reps at his regional Pro-Day. Roberts has the bench press strength (32 reps) of an elite offensive lineman prospect. He out-benched Luke Joeckel (27) and Matt Kalil (30), as a comparison to recently elite OTs.

Roberts could be classified as a small offensive lineman...just one who happens to play RB and has 4.5+ speed and NFL/RB agility measurements.

Roberts is not just a "workout warrior" prospect. Roberts is coming off back-to-back seasons with 1,400+ yard rushing and 18+ TDs (not including his kick return and passing TDs). In his final game in college, Roberts rushed for 190 yards...in a quarter. A Division II record.

His final season of high school football wasn't bad either: 3,800+ rushing yards and 48 TDs, and winning the award best football player in West Virginia his final year. All that got him was a walk-on spot at West Virginia. In 2009, Roberts made five tackles on special teams for the Mountaineers. In 2010, Roberts left WVU for more playing time. He scored 11 TDs on 413 yards rushing in a split backfield role in 2010. He would go on to break several school and conference records in his final two seasons.

When I watch Roberts on tape, it's hard to get a handle on just how good he is. Roberts looks like a video game character against his West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) foes. He further added to his reign of terror in the Aztec Bowl (college All-Star game) by rushing for a TD, returning a kick for a TD, and blocking two punts.

The scouting dilemma is obvious: He may have an all-world physique and gaudy performance numbers, but can we trust a big D2 performer to translate to NFL success? How can we even evaluate what Roberts is capable of when he has only faced inferior athletes for the last three seasons?

 

 

Jordan Roberts, Through the Lens of our "Power-RB" Scouting Algorithm

It is likely a wasted effort to try to break down Roberts' performance in the WVIAC. A big game against West Virginia State (28 carries, 301 yards, 5 TDs, 190 yards rushing in a quarter) and weaker game against Shepherd (12 carries for 20 yards). Does this all really mean anything to anybody?

Looking historically at D2 prospects, if you can establish that the NFL measurables are there (and with Roberts, they are), then you want to see total domination statistically. Bernard Scott, Danny Woodhead et al destroyed the D2 stat sheets. Roberts checks that box as well. He has maintained a stout yards-per-carry average (6.6 and 6.9 ypc the past two seasons) and has accounted for nearly two TDs per game (rushing, receiving, returns, and passing TDs combined) the last two seasons.

When we cannot fully go apples-to-apples on performance output, then we have to rely more upon the physical measurables. Below we will take a look at Roberts as a purely physical profile with historical NFL RB prospects. However, let's take a second to compare him physically to the 2013 RB class.

Roberts is on the upper-end (if not the top) of the RB class for physically strongest RB. There may be no RB that will beat his bench press tally by process end (unless it's a FB/H-back type). Among the 215-220+ RBs, Roberts has speed times in a normal to slightly above-average range for a top NFL power-RB prospect. Roberts also shows overall athleticism with an impressive vertical and broad jump.

If we were profiling Roberts against the 2013 RB class, I would call him a similar speed/agility, but stronger Montee Ball or Le'Veon Bell. He is not the overall superior athletic profile of a Knile Davis or Christine Michael (and almost no 2013 RB prospect is as athletic as those two), but Roberts also did not fumble last season (where Davis fumbles frequently), and he has also yet to oversleep for critical NFL interviews (like Michael has).

Roberts warrants attention and scrutiny among the upper-end of the 2013 RB class, and not as a prospect virtually ignored by the mainstream.

 

The NFL "Power-RBs" that Jordan Roberts most compares to statistically in college, within our system analysis:

Roberts is tough to profile historically -- he's a bit of an anomaly in our system. One of the main reasons for that is his amazing size-mass-strength measurements compared to other RBs. We kinda have to profile Roberts like a Frankenstein of several RBs.

We would call Roberts a faster, stronger Brandon Bolden (who started at times for the Pats this past season, and was undrafted).

We could also say he is a slightly slower Robert Turbin (4th-round pick of Seattle in 2012).

He is a much more athletic Joe Martinek. A Rutgers RB who our computer kinda liked as a sleeper at power-RB last year (2012 undrafted, NY Giants hopeful).

Roberts could surprise like a slightly slower Bryce Brown -- RBs who run like a downhill, runaway train.

Roberts emulates scouting pieces of many recent RB prospects. All good, promising (pre-injuries for some) RB prospects as you will see on the computer's profile list below.   

 

RB-p RatingNameNameCollegeYrHHWSpeed MetricAgility MetricPower MetricHands Metric
7.69RobertsJordanCharleston2013510.02193.807.2311.317.24
5.69Bolden BrandonOle Miss2012511.02220.007.127.4411.77
6.66Turbin RobertUtah State201259.52227.174.5110.634.85
7.60Martinek JoeRutgers2012511.32216.757.209.145.30
5.37Ballard VickMiss State2012510.12190.037.746.976.87
5.25Brown BryceKansas St2012511.42235.223.187.724.44
8.47Hardesty MontarioTennessee2010511.62257.449.157.988.84
9.01Maroney LawrenceMinnesota2006511.72177.727.407.636.99
10.45LeshoureMikelIllinois2011511.52276.1810.098.537.09

 

Jordan Roberts Overall Metrics Scouting Score = 7.69 ("C" grade level prospect)

*A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of RBs going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system, and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL RB.

All of the RB ratings are based on a 0-10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.

Overall RB-P score = A combination of several on-field performance measures, including refinement for strength of opponents faced, mixed with all the physical measurement metrics -- then compared/rated historically within our database and formulas.

Raw Speed Metric = A combination of several speed and size measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

Agility Metric = A combination of several speed and agility measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

Power-Strength = A combination of unique metrics surrounding physical-size profiling, bench press strength, etc.  High scorers here project to be more physical runners, short-yardage specialists, better blockers, and less injury-prone. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

"Hands" = A combination of unique metrics surrounding on-field performance in college, usage in the passing game in college, and physical profiling of successful receiving RBs in the NFL. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

 

2013 NFL Draft outlook...

Since Roberts is barely listed as alive on mainstream scouting websites, one would figure that he would go undrafted for sure...and he might. However, most of the NFL scouting departments are a little swifter than the mainstream media scouting. At this stage of the game, there is no advantage to NFL teams that have Roberts rated well to pop their mouths off about it. I like Roberts as a prospect too, and if I knew he could sail through the draft, and I could get him undrafted for virtually no financial commitment; I'd want to from a business perspective. At some point, Roberts is going to start to hit radar screens. In the end, I would project him as a 6th or 7th-round pick, but wouldn't be shocked if a D2 bias grips, and he goes undrafted.

Roberts' size, speed and versatility warrant him being selected at some point in the 2013 NFL Draft. RB valuations in the NFL are not what they used to be. The price/payroll/urgency of the RB position for many NFL teams is declining (except for the Carolina Panthers), and Knile Davis and Christine Michael are even more physically intriguing bigger RBs who could fall in the draft as well. It's a bad year to be a "sleeper" power-RB...there is a growing list of them. Roberts does have the advantage of not having the baggage the others do...just a D2/FCS stigma/bias.

If I were advising an NFL franchise on the draft, obviously I have Roberts as a prospect of interest. To me, Knile Davis is too special to ignore...and I'm willing to overlook all the Davis warning signs (fumbling and injuries) as the draft grows later. However, at a certain point, I'd like to collect Roberts as well...undrafted if I could get away with it. Not only would I take a look at Roberts as a RB, I would also ask him if he ever considered playing linebacker or strong safety. From interviews I've read, it looks like Roberts is willing to be anything a team needs. There is a place for Roberts' talents, effort, and willingness in the NFL-universe. He's a coach's "wet dream."

The NFL career projection for Roberts is wide-open. It took Andre Brown four seasons of wandering around and a few teammate injuries to finally usher him onto the scene as a fearsome power runner. Bryce Brown was able to see action right away, and dominated his first two starts. We'll have to see where Roberts lands, and what the team's depth chart looks like. It could be Roberts starts out as a developmental RB. It also could be that he winds up as a top linebacker or safety in a few years. Perhaps, he'll just be a notorious special teams captain type of player. The possibilities are intriguing. His talents and physical gifts are unique. Barring injury, Roberts will force his way into some kind of impact as an NFL player...and a team is going to be lucky to have landed him.