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.
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.
MOST COMPARABLE PLAYERS
Tyler Badie has fallen a bit in mock drafts post-combine, but he is still solidly in the middle of Day 3 and has the 11th-best expected draft position among backs in the class. He had an underwhelming NFL combine, posting a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at only 197 pounds.
The Missouri product's sub-200-pound weight doesn’t disqualify him for a workhorse role in the NFL, but it calls into question whether his elite usage in both the running and passing games will translate to the NFL.
He functioned mostly as a receiving back until his senior season in 2021 when his rushing attempts jumped from a previous season-high of nine per game to over 22 per game while gathering a team-leading 54 receptions on 68 targets.
Badie was the Missouri Tigers' offense last year.