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2022 NFL Draft Player Comparisons: Isaiah Spiller's stock is falling, but he has a path to NFL success

Columbia, Missouri, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Isaiah Spiller (28) runs for a touchdown against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Comparing current NFL draft prospects to those of years past is standard procedure in draft evaluation, though most comparisons are built on the memory recall and subjective opinion of the particular evaluator.

In this series of articles, I will compare the 2022 draft prospects to prior years and pick out the most similar comps with a clearly delineated and quantifiable method.

PFF data scientist Eric Eager has done tremendous work building college-to-pro projections, which are built off the robust college data we’ve collected since 2014 and have been applied to exercises like building an “analytics” mock draft. In this analysis, I will use some of our advanced stats for comparison but primarily rely on traditional stats to go back further and compare the 2022 prospects to draft classes since 2006.

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METHODOLOGY

The comps below were derived from a two-step process. First, I converted all the most statistically relevant stats and measurables to percentiles based on the thousands of prospects who have entered the NFL since 2006.

The matching features were transformed by principal component analysis (PCA). I found the closest statistically comparable players by the Euclidean distance between the players' principle components, listed in the top 10 below.

For draft position, I’m using an estimate based on the mock data collected at GrindingTheMocks.com. The college statistical metrics for PCA are best-season market share of team total yards, market share of team touchdowns, rushing attempts per game and market share of team receptions.

I also included the most important workout metrics for NFL and draft position for running backs: weight and 40-yard dash time. I’m taking the best number from either the prospects' NFL Scouting Combine or pro-day performances. If the 40-yard dash time is missing, I estimate it based on historical modeling with weight and available other workout metrics.

2022 NFL Draft position rankings:
Top 10 players at every position

QB | RB | WR | TE | iOL | OT | DI | EDGE | LB | CB | S

MOST COMPARABLE PLAYERS

According to my combine effect model, Isaiah Spiller was one of the biggest losers of the combine and pro-day circuit when many other running backs put up stellar results. The mock draft industry is similarly skeptical, with Spiller’s expected draft position falling from the early second round towards possibly ending up a Day 3 pick.

Spiller has a well-rounded production profile, though nothing was spectacular. He accounted for 28.5% of his team’s total yards and 23.1% of total touchdowns, solid marks you’d ideally like to see around 30%. He was also used significantly in the passing game for a running back with a 12.0% share of receptions (2.1 per game). Running a 4.63-second 40-yard dash at 217 pounds isn’t disqualifying, but it was guaranteed to hurt Spiller’s draft stock.

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