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2015 NFL DRAFT

Looking for explosive athletes in the draft? Check these indicators

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Pat Kirwan ranks Star Lotulelei's explosiveness in the top 8 of the draft. (USATSI)
Pat Kirwan ranks Star Lotulelei's explosiveness in the top 8 of the draft. (USATSI)

Every time a ball is snapped to start a play there is a critical element of explosiveness that takes place. When two players collide in an attempt to physically dominate each other, the athlete with the edge in explosiveness has the best chance to win the confrontation. It could be a blocker vs. a tackler, a tackler vs. a ball carrier, or many other examples of winning at the point of contact.

Explosiveness is defined in the dictionary as a violent release of energy, a sudden outburst. Football is a series of explosions. How do you measure it in athletes trying to play NFL football?

The Combine and pro day results tell us very little as compared to watching players on game tape but there are indicators about potential explosiveness in the athletes. No one test can indicate success in NFL football, but for years I have combined the results of three measurements taken to get a better picture of an athlete’s potential explosiveness.

Keep in mind there are no 'locks' to confirm an athlete’s level of explosiveness or consequently a prediction of success, but I do know a combined score on the three test results I looked at have been good for many years.

Take the vertical jump, standing broad jump and the bench press test results and add them together. If the combined score is over 70 there is a reason to consider the candidate at some point in the draft process for his explosiveness. Of course football intelligence, skills related to the position, health, and off the field behavior all factor in to a full player profile.

But if you want explosive athletes to work with try looking at my explosion equation.

I went through every combine and pro day result to date in search of the most explosive athletes in this draft, finding 40 candidates for the 2012 draft that hit the 70 mark or higher. Some of the players did not complete the three measurements so they were eliminated from the results. Instead of listing all 40 draft eligible players here’s a look at the top 20. A high score in this area doesn’t make you a first-round pick, but for me, it was a tie-breaker in the round a player was graded.

Top 20 Explosive Players (based on workout results)
NAME SCHOOL POS. BENCH VERTICAL BROAD TOTAL
Cornelius Washington Georgia DE/OLB 36 39 10-8 85.8
Margus Hunt SMU DE 38 34.5 10-1 82.6
Tommy Bohanon Wake Forest FB 36 35 9-11 81
Christine Michael Texas A&M RB 27 43 10-5 80.5
Shamarko Thomas Syracuse S 28 40.5 11-1 79.6
Trevardo Williams UCONN OLB 30 38 10-4 78.4
Sio Moore UCONN WLB 29 38 10-7 77.7
Star Lotulelei Utah DT 38 30 8-11 77
Zaviar Gooden Missouri WLB 27 38.5 10-11 76.6
Akeem Spence Illinois DT 37 30 8-11 76
Brandon Williams Missouri So. DT 38 29.5 8-6 76
Terron Armstead Ark.-Pine Bluff OT 31 34.5 9-4 74.9
Knile Davis Arkansas RB 31 33.5 10-1 74.6
Vance McDonald Rice TE 31 33.5 9-11 74.6
Reid Fragel Ohio St. OT 33 30 9-5 72.5
Jamie Collins So. Miss. OLB 19 41.5 11-7 72.2
Lane Johnson Oklahoma OT 28 34 9-10 72
Sheldon Richardson Missouri DT 30 32 9-8 71.8
Shawn Williams Georgia S 25 36 10 71
Corey Lemonier Auburn OLB 27 34 9-11 71

Pat Kirwan has been around the league since 1972, serving in a variety of roles. He was a scout for the Cardinals and Buccaneers, a coach for the Jets as well as the team's Director of Player Administration where he negotiated contracts and managed the team's salary cap. He is the author of Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look, and the host of Sirius NFL Radio's Moving the Chains.
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