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How analytics help the Vikings at the NFL Combine

By Matthew Coller

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INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – Everyone at the NFL Combine agrees: Testing results mean something, not everything.

Tom Brady famously looked like your dad running the 40 and then turned into one of the greatest football players to step onto an NFL field. So nothing is an exact science, but Vikings GM Rick Spielman said Wednesday that the team’s use of analytics has revealed trends in combine results that point them toward which numbers should affect their thinking.

“What we’re finding out now as we evolve in the analytics is what tests are the most important for each position,” Spielman said. “So the three-cone may be more important at one position and not as important at another. I think analytics have helped clarify the specific athletic drills for us that are important for that position and where you can almost clone guys that are playing at a very high level in our league and compare these guys coming out. That’s just one facet of it, what they did in those drills.”

Studies of draft success and failure have shown that whether a draft class turns into a win or loss is nearly impossible to predict – just take the 2016 Vikings draft, which was graded highly right after the draft but produced the second fewest snaps in the league last year. Or take Seattle’s famed Russell Wilson draft, which was widely scorned by draft experts.

The predictability of draft success may change, though, with more available data added to traditional scouting methods.

“It’s always going to come down to film,” Spielman said. “We have a lot of different tools involved in a lot of different ways. There’s so much technology coming out now from the Zebra technology and everything that’s in place, but I still think you always are going to have to rely on your gut instinct and rely on what you see on tape.”

Zebra technology refers to player tracking done by many NFL teams, especially in practice to measure how far and fast players traveled. It is most useful in trying to avoid injuries or getting players the proper amount of workouts when coming back from injury.

A study from Harvardsportsanalysis.org had some fascinating findings, including that faster guards had more success but how much a guard bench pressed didn’t really matter. Also that combine results were less telling for wide receivers than cornerbacks. Here’s one example of a chart on 40 times for corners.

The post How analytics help the Vikings at the NFL Combine appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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