Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft Guide – Player Measurables

DMN draft guru Rich Gosselin has an excellent column explaining why some players who were superstars in college football, winning the Heisman Trophy and various positional accolades, often fall deep into the NFL draft while unheralded contemporaries go in the 1st round. It all comes down to measurable physical attributes and players who don’t fit the tried-and-true protype are downgraded considerably.

The article is a must-read but below is the summary chart:

The minimum measurables for each position in the NFL draft:


Measurables: 6-3, 220, 4.75 speed

Key trait: A quarterback doesn’t need to be a runner, but he must have foot quickness for escapability.

Prototype: Jay Cutler (6-3, 226, 4.77 speed). Denver, 1st round, 2006.

Exception: Drew Brees (6-0, 213, 4.81 speed). San Diego, 2nd round, 2001.


Measurables: 5-11, 215, 4.40 speed

Key trait: Defenders are bigger in the NFL and deliver bigger hits than they do in college. So runners must have some thickness through their legs and chest to absorb 16 weeks of punishment.

Prototype: Joseph Addai (5-11, 214, 4.40 speed). Indianapolis, 1st round, 2006.

Exception: Maurice Jones-Drew (5-6½, 207, 4.39 speed). Jacksonville, 2nd round, 2006.

Measurables: 6-0, 240, 4.60 speed

Key trait: NFL looks for fullbacks who are blockers first, receivers second, runners third. So the day of the 230-pound fullback is coming to an end.

Prototype: Cory Schlesinger (6-0, 247). Detroit, 6th round, 1995.

Exception: B.J. Askew (6-3, 233). N.Y. Jets, 3rd round, 2003.
Wide receiver

Measurables: 6-2, 200, 4.40 speed

Key trait: Speed to stretch the field. You can find possession receivers in the second day of every draft. The speed all goes in the first day.

Prototype: Roy Williams (6-2½, 212, 4.37 speed). Detroit, 1st round, 2004.

Exception: Anquan Boldin (6-0½, 216, 4.62 speed). Arizona, 2nd round, 2003.

Tight end

Measurables: 6-5, 250, 4.50 speed

Key trait: Running teams want bigger tight ends to block. Passing teams want faster tight ends to stretch defenses.

Prototype: Todd Heap (6-5, 252). Baltimore, 1st round, 2001.

Exception: Alge Crumpler (6-2, 262). Atlanta, 2nd round, 2001.

Offensive tackle

Measurables: 6-5, 310, 34-inch arms

Key trait: Pass protection is more steering than blocking on the edge. So tackles need long arms to shove rushers wide of the pocket. Height and 35-inch arms are the attractive commodities.

Prototype: D’Brickashaw Ferguson (6-6, 312, 35½-inch arms). NY Jets, 1st round, 2006.

Exception: Jordan Gross (6-4, 300, 33¼-inch arms). Carolina, 1st round, 2003.

Measurables: 6-4, 305, 33-inch arms

Key trait: Arm length is less important inside, where guards are asked to block in a closet. It’s more important to have lower-body thickness to anchor against the growing number of 310-pound defensive tackles.

Prototype: Logan Mankins (6-4, 307). New England, 1st round, 2005.

Exception: Jake Scott (6-5, 295). Indianapolis, 5th round, 2004.

Measurables: 6-3, 300, 32-inch arms

Key trait: Bulk is less important than athleticism. A center needs to pull, slide over to help the guard and also step out on the middle linebacker. But the center also needs some anchor against 3-4 defenses when a nose tackle is on his helmet.

Prototype: Nick Mangold (6-3½, 300). N.Y. Jets, 1st round, 2006.

Exception: Todd McClure (6-1, 289). Atlanta, 7th round, 1999.

Defensive end

Measurables: 6-4, 270, 4.6 speed

Key trait: Size is flexible depending on if it’s a 4-3 defense or a 3-4, or if the end is playing strong side or weak. Bulk is needed on the strong side, speed on the weak side.

Prototype: Justin Smith (6-4, 275, 4.58 speed). Cincinnati, 1st round, 2001.

Exception: Dwight Freeney (6-1, 268, 4.39 speed). Indianapolis, 1st round, 2002.
Defensive tackle

Measurables: 6-3, 305

Key trait: In an era of specialization, the NFL rotates pass rushers into the game on passing downs. The NFL wants tackles who can play the run.

Prototype: Kevin Williams (6-4, 304). Minnesota, 1st round, 2003.

Exception: Casey Hampton (6-1, 314). Pittsburgh, 1st round, 2001.

Outside linebacker

Measurables: 6-3, 240, 4.50 speed

Key trait: The outside linebackers need to be the most versatile players on the field. They must have the bulk to stalemate pulling guards and tackles on run downs and the speed to chase running backs down the field in pass coverage.

Prototype: Derrick Johnson (6-3, 242, 4.50 speed). Kansas City, 1st round, 2005.

Exception: Ernie Sims (5-11, 231, 4.50). Detroit, 1st round, 2006.
Middle linebacker

Measurables: 6-2, 240, 4.60 speed

Key trait: Middle backers often have to engage a center or guard on rushing downs, so he must have the upper-body strength to stalemate a block in the hole.

Prototype: Dan Morgan (6-2, 240, 4.59 speed). Carolina, 1st round 2001.

Exception: Lofa Tatupu (5-11½, 238, 4.83). Seattle, 2nd round, 2005.


Measurables: 5-11, 190, 4.40 speed

Key trait: Speed, speed, speed: Speed to break on the ball, speed to turn and run with a wide receiver, speed to come up in run support.

Prototype: Marcus Trufant (5-11, 199, 4.38 speed). Seattle, 1st round, 2003.

Exception: Jason David (5-8½, 175, 4.37 speed). Indianapolis, 4th round, 2004.


Measurables: 6-0, 200, 4.45 speed

Key trait: In the 1990s, the NFL looked for run-support safeties. In the 2000s, the search is on for ballhawks. Now it’s more important to play the ball when it’s in the air than when it’s on the ground. So the days of the 4.50 safeties are dwindling.

Prototype: Michael Huff (6-0, 204, 4.34 speed). Oakland, 1st round, 2006.

Exception: Bob Sanders (5-8, 204, 4.40 speed). Indianapolis, 2nd round, 2004.

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