Field Gulls' Zach Whitman, who took our basic look at studying athleticism (SPARQ) in Draft prospects, and expanded it into something extremely robust and comprehensive, has started a new blog dedicated to some of the research he's done into the subject. It's called Three Sigma Athlete, and it's going to be really good. Read it. Bookmark it.
With Combine week upon us, there will be those who feel compelled to remind the masses that football is played in pads and not underwear, fought on a gridiron and not a track. To many people, the idea that such a complex sport could be influenced by a participant's vertical jump or short shuttle time is laughable and quickly discarded. This isn't entirely unreasonable, as there's too much variability inherent in the career arc of any given prospect for there to be a universally accurate projection system.
This doesn't mean that all athleticism data should be thrown out without examination. The best approach to the draft is to look at all available data, considering information with as little bias as possible. This should never be a scouting vs. analytics issue, but rather a scouting and analytics method.
Because listing things is much easier than writing points into the natural flow of an article, here's a list of three keys ways in which analytics can inform the scouting process.
1. Players generally won't succeed without a certain level of athletic ability, or "functional athleticism."
2. More athletic athletes are better athletes.
3. Analytics should make us ask questions and re-evaluate.
Zach will still be contributing to Field Gulls but I just wanted to let you all know about his new venture. It's going to be awesome.