The Converse: Fast Wide Receivers Drafted in Rounds 1-3 & Their Fantasy Prospects

The saga continues on WR speed. Yesterday I looked at wide receivers who ran slower than 4.56 40 in the NFL Combine Results database who were drafted in between rounds 1 and 3. Today, we will look at wide receivers with a 40 time faster or equal to 4.55 seconds (the sweet spot of 40 times for WR performance) drafted in between rounds 1 and 3.

As you can imagine, as WR speed increases, the likelihood of being drafted in rounds 1 through 3 increases. The first table had just 28 players; the table of players this time includes 115 individuals.

Year Name College Height Weight 40 Vert Leap (in) Broad Jump Shuttle 3Cone Top 30 Seasons
1999 Peerless Price Tennessee 71 180 4.55 35 116 4.09 7.28 2
2012 Rueben Randle LSU 75 210 4.55 31 121 4.36 6.99 0
2009 Ramses Barden Cal Poly 78 229 4.55 33.5 118 4.26 0
2010 Eric Decker Minnesota 75 217 4.54 1
2007 James Jones San Jose State 73 207 4.54 34 119 4.2 7.06 1
2002 Reche Caldwell Florida 73 194 4.53 41.5 130 4.1 7 0
1999 Travis McGriff Florida 68 185 4.53 35.5 113 4.13 7.28 0
2010 Damian Williams Southern California 73 197 4.52 38 118 4.24 6.79 0
2004 Devard Darling Washington State 73 212 4.52 37 129 0
2007 Dwayne Bowe Louisiana State 74 221 4.51 33 125 4.35 6.81 4
2009 Hakeem Nicks North Carolina 73 212 4.51 36 3
2007 Sidney Rice South Carolina 76 200 4.51 39.5 119 4.34 7.09 2
2003 Nate Burleson Nevada 73 197 4.51 42.5 126 4.16 6.96 2
2008 Jordy Nelson Kansas State 75 217 4.51 31 123 4.35 7.03 1
2011 Greg Little North Carolina 75 231 4.51 40.5 129 4.21 6.8 0
2008 Harry Douglas Louisville 71 176 4.51 31 120 4.12 6.57 0
2012 Brian Quick Appalachian State (NC) 76 220 4.5 34 119 4.23 7.1 0
2007 Jacoby Jones Lane 75 210 4.5 34 129 4.31 7.03 0
2005 Chris Henry West Virginia 76 197 4.5 0
2009 Kenny Britt Rutgers 75 218 4.49 37 124 4.47 1
2012 Kendall Wright Baylor 70 196 4.49 38.5 121 4.18 6.93 0
2011 Jon Baldwin Pittsburgh 76 228 4.49 42 129 4.34 7.07 0
2002 Antwaan Randle El Indiana 70 191 4.49 0
2011 A.J. Green Georgia 76 211 4.48 34.5 126 4.21 6.91 2
2001 Rod Gardner Clemson 74 219 4.48 36     1
2001 Quincy Morgan Kansas State 73 211 4.48 33 1
2012 Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State 73 207 4.48 0
2012 Alshon Jeffery South Carolina 75 216 4.48 0
2008 Earl Bennett Vanderbilt 73 209 4.48 26 110 4.22 7.15 0
2008 Limas Sweed Texas 76 215 4.48 35 0
2007 JohnnieLee Higgins Texas-El Paso 73 186 4.48 36.5 122 4.32 6.62 0
2006 Brandon Williams Wisconsin 70 179 4.48 34.5 115 4.09 6.87 0
2001 Robert Ferguson Texas A&M 73 205 4.48 36.5 120 4.07 7.24 0
1999 David Boston Ohio State 73 215 4.47 37 116 4.09 7.2 3
2002 Deion Branch Louisville 69 191 4.47 36 117 3.76 6.71 2
2006 Travis Wilson Oklahoma 74 214 4.47 36.5 120 4.03 6.71 0
2004 Rashaun Woods Oklahoma State 74 202 4.47 39 125 4.05 6.93 0
2005 Vincent Jackson Northern Colorado 77 241 4.46 39 4
2011 Randall Cobb Kentucky 70 191 4.46 33.5 115 4.34 7.08 1
2011 Jerrel Jernigan Troy 69 185 4.46 37.5 117 4.25 7.07 0
2009 Brian Robiskie Ohio State 75 209 4.46 37.5   4.19 6.72 0
2001 Freddie Mitchell UCLA 73 185 4.46 39.5 120 4.06 6.95 0
2001 Reggie Wayne Miami 73 198 4.45 36 9
2005 Braylon Edwards Michigan 75 210 4.45       3
2009 Jeremy Maclin Missouri 73 198 4.45 2
2008 James Hardy Indiana 78 217 4.45 31.5 125 4.2 6.84 0
2007 Paul Williams Fresno State 73 205 4.45 38.5 125 4.24 7.03 0
2006 Derek Hagan Arizona State 74 208 4.45 36 124 4.07 0
2005 Reggie Brown Georgia 74 196 4.45 41.5 128 4 6.99 0
1999 Torry Holt North Carolina State 73 192 4.44 37 118 8
2007 Steve Smith Southern California 73 197 4.44 38 120 4.19 6.68 1
2013 Justin Hunter Tennessee 76 196 4.44 39.5 136 4.33 0
2009 Juaquin Iglesias Oklahoma 73 210 4.44 34.5 116 4.4 0
2007 Anthony Gonzalez Ohio State 73 193 4.44 38 123 4.08 6.54 0
2001 David Terrell Michigan 75 213 4.43 38 0
2000 Travis Taylor Florida 73 199 4.43 37 118   7.15 0
2011 Titus Young Boise State 71 174 4.43   123 0
2008 Donnie Avery Houston 71 192 4.43 0
2000 Dennis Northcutt Arizona 71 175 4.43 37.5 123 4.04 6.96 0
2006 Greg Jennings Western Michigan 71 197 4.42 36.5 117 4.18 6.69 5
2010 Golden Tate Notre Dame 70 199 4.42 35 120 4.34 7.12 1
2003 Kevin Curtis Utah State 71 186 4.42 36 122 3.99 6.76 1
2013 Cordarrelle Patterson Tennessee 74 216 4.42 37 128 0
2008 Jerome Simpson Coastal Carolina 74 199 4.42 37.5 136 4.52 7.08 0
2005 Brandon Jones Oklahoma 74 208 4.42 37 114 4.1 7.03 0
2001 Steve Smith Utah 69 184 4.41 38.5 121 4.25 7.44 8
2000 Laveranues Coles Florida State 71 192 4.41 34 115 4.39 6.89 5
2011 Torrey Smith Maryland 73 204 4.41 41 126 4.13 6.72 2
1999 Kevin Johnson Syracuse 71 194 4.41 36.5 115 3.86   2
2005 Mark Clayton Oklahoma 71 193 4.41 36.5 118 4.07 6.95 1
2008 Devin Thomas Michigan State 74 215 4.41 28 126 4.26 7.15 0
2005 Courtney Roby Indiana 73 189 4.41 36.5 126 4 6.61 0
2003 Andre Johnson Miami 74 230 4.4 39 132 8
2012 Michael Floyd Notre Dame 75 220 4.4 36.5 122 0
2011 Leonard Hankerson Miami 74 209 4.4 36 117 4.21 6.94 0
2010 Taylor Price Ohio 73 204 4.4 37 114 4.34 6.82 0
2010 Andre Roberts Citadel 71 195 4.4 36 120 4.15 6.77 0
2010 Emmanuel Sanders Southern Methodist 71 186 4.4 39.5 126 4.1 6.64 0
2004 Lee Evans Wisconsin 71 197 4.39 34.5 120 4
2009 Percy Harvin Florida 71 192 4.39 3
2008 Eddie Royal Virginia Tech 70 184 4.39 36 124 4.34 7.07 1
2007 Robert Meachem Tennessee 74 214 4.39 37.5 121 4.31 6.97 1
2012 DeVier Posey Ohio State 74 211 4.39 36.5 123 4.15 7.03 0
2005 Terrence Murphy Texas A&M 73 202 4.39 0
2002 Javon Walker Florida State 75 210 4.38 39.5 126 4.05 6.86 3
2007 Laurent Robinson Illinois State 74 199 4.38 39 127 4.28 6.83 0
2006 Sinorice Moss Miami 68 185 4.38 0
2003 Bethel Johnson Texas A&M 71 201 4.38 38.5 127 0
2012 T.Y. Hilton Florida International 70 183 4.37 1
2012 A.J. Jenkins Illinois 73 190 4.37 38.5 124 0
2005 Mark Bradley Oklahoma 74 201 4.37 39.5 128 4.02 6.96 0
2005 Roscoe Parrish Miami 70 170 4.37 0
2000 Chris Cole Texas A&M 73 191 4.37 37.5 125 4.09 6.76 0
2002 Cliff Russell Utah 73 185 4.36 0
2007 Calvin Johnson Georgia Tech 77 239 4.35 5
2008 DeSean Jackson California 70 169 4.35   120 4
2008 Andre Caldwell Florida 73 204 4.35 33 124 4.11 6.75 0
2000 R.Jay Soward Southern California 70 177 4.35 35 124 0
2011 Julio Jones Alabama 75 220 4.34 38.5   4.25 6.66 2
2013 Tavon Austin West Virginia 69 174 4.34 32 120 4.01 0
2006 Willie Reid Florida State 71 188 4.34 37.5 117 4.26 7.06 0
2003 Tyrone Calico Middle Tennessee St 76 223 4.34 38 127 4.26 6.73 0
2001 Chris Chambers Wisconsin 73 210 4.33 45 134 4 5
2008 Dexter Jackson Appalachian State (NC) 70 182 4.33 29.5 122 4.38 6.81 0
1999 Karsten Bailey Auburn 73 205 4.33 40 121 3.99 6.99 0
2007 Jason Hill Washington State 73 204 4.32 37 123 4.22 7.02 0
2006 Chad Jackson Florida 73 213 4.32 38.5 122 4.03 6.74 0
2005 Troy Williamson South Carolina 74 203 4.32 37   4.18 7.1 0
2002 Tim Carter Auburn 73 190 4.32 39 126 3.93 6.68 0
2001 Santana Moss Miami 70 181 4.31 42 5
2009 Deon Butler Penn State 71 182 4.31 34.5 118 4.48 7.01 0
2007 Yamon Figurs Kansas State 71 174 4.3   123 4.21 6.85 0
2009 Mike Wallace Mississippi 73 199 4.28 40 129 4.27 6.9 4
2012 Stephen Hill Georgia Tech 76 215 4.28 39.5 133 4.48 6.88 0
2009 Darrius Heyward-Bey Maryland 74 210 4.25 38.5 126 4.18 6.8 1

The raw data tells us initially that 37% of these receivers running faster than a 4.55 post at least 1 top-30 season, and that 24% of these players record multiple top-30 seasons, compared to 32% and 21% for players running slower than a 4.55. 27, or 62%, of the 43 players with top-30 seasons were 6 feet or taller. Compared to the slower wide receiver graph, where every single player that posted a top 30 season was over 6’1″. That immediately gives us a correlation to height for wide receiver performance. The slower a pass catcher is, the taller they need to be to increase their odds at a top 30 season.

Removing all of the rookies and 2nd year players (T.Y. Hilton, Rueben Randle, Brian Quick, Kendall Wright, Justin Blackmon, Alshon Jeffery, Michael Floyd, DeVier Posey, A.J. Jenkins, Stephen Hill, Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, Tavon Austin from the fast table; Mohamed Sanu, Ryan Broyles, DeAndre Hopkins from the slow table), the percentages change a bit. 36% of the slower players posted a top-30, and now 41% of the faster players have done so, with 27% of them doing it twice. That is statistically significant territory, especially when factoring in the height requirements for the slower players.

Now, there is the matter of height for the quicker players. This table represents height in relation to top 30 seasons for faster players:

Height (inches) 77 76 75 74 73 72 71 70 69
WR’s w/ Top-30 Seasons 2 2 6 5 12 8 8 6 2

24 of the 126 top-30 seasons represented in the original table are found in the top 19 tallest players! Height clearly matters. Just as there is a sweet spot for 40 times (4.55), there seems to be a sweet spot for height as well. We’re increasing our sample size from the slow WR table, so it’s not entirely surprising that receivers as short 5’9 are producing top 30 seasons, but 73 inches, or 6’1″, remains the sweet spot for WR height, although more occurrences of top 30 seasons were produced by those shorter than 6’1″.

This introduces a converse relationship that I have suspected since the beginning of this research but now have real proof for. With the exception of Peerless Price, all of the 6′ or shorter WR’s had a 40 time faster than 4.47 and 13 of them had a 40 time faster than 4.42. This provides some evidence to the idea that not only is there a baseline of 4.55 speed, but that even with the ‘fast’ wide outs, there are separate tiers where height becomes less of an issue, as a player gets faster.

Weight is still a constant for the faster players. 37 of the 43 top-30 players weighed over 191 pounds, and 29 of them weighed out at 197 or heavier. Even as speed increases, and regardless of height, it helps to have prototypical NFL weight to avoid being muscled in the redzone and off of deep routes.

It’s hard to quantify the effects of Vertical Leap and Broad Jump (better statisticians than I have already found that short shuttle and 3-Cone times are hard to correlate to WR performance) because so many of the players, top-30 season having or not, don’t have recorded times. It’s worth noting that of the players shorter than the ‘sweet spot’ for height, all but Randall Cobb, Laverneus Coles, Lee Evans and Golden Tate had a higher than positional-average (according to Mock Draftable) vertical leap and only 11 of the 44 4.55 or faster players had a below average broad jump.

What Did We Learn About Fast Players?

Well, you don’t have to be as tall if you run a 4.55 or faster. It helps, but it isn’t a requirement. In between 1999 and 2011, 41% of wide receivers who ran a 4.55 40 or faster posted a top-30. That’s significant in and of itself. However, it is my thinking that if were to apply Jon Moore’s “Eric Decker Theory” (That a prospect who catches 35% of his teams yards, 35% of his teams touchdowns and turns 30% of his red zone targets into touchdowns is a legit NFL wide out) to the guys who posted solid 40 times and were drafted in rounds 1-3 but flopped as NFL players, we would find that NFL scouting departments weren’t doing a fantastic job. That will be my next post in this series.

About Davis Mattek

20 Year old student of English at Kansas State University. Writer for Sports Wunderkind, The Fake Football and Hockey, and various other media outlets. Fan of the Cowboys, Thunder, Avalanche and Royals

About Davis Mattek

20 Year old student of English at Kansas State University. Writer for Sports Wunderkind, The Fake Football and Hockey, and various other media outlets. Fan of the Cowboys, Thunder, Avalanche and Royals
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