By Alex Kozora
There’s no question wide receiver is being talked about as a position of interest for the Pittsburgh Steelers for this May’s draft.
Often times, the discussion centers on tall prospects. 6’4 or taller. In this group, there are plenty of them. But height isn’t the only factor of determining who is tall. In my study below, I evaluated 42 receivers who worked out at the Combine.
By combining their height, arm length, and vertical, a “true height” was created to more accurately show a player’s height. For example, Player “A” might be one inch taller than Player “B” with equal verticles. But if the “B’s” arms are two inches longer, he should be considered taller.
Of course, it isn’t a perfect system and I’ll discuss its flaws below, but it’s another, and in a sense, more accurate way to look at it.
First, the chart. It is listed from tallest to shortest. Players who did not record a vertical at the Combine were not included. The final true height is represented in both feet and inches.
|NAME||COLLEGE||HGT||ARM LNGT||VERT||TRUE HGT (FT)||TRUE HGT (IN)|
|Mike Evans||Texas||6’4/6||35 1/8||37||12.41||148.92|
|Martavis Bryant||Clemson||6’3/6||32 5/8||39||12.29||147.48|
|Donte Moncrief||Ole Miss||6’2/3||32 3/8||39.5||12.19||146.28|
|Marcus Lucas||Missouri||6’4||33 5/8||36||12.14||145.68|
|Allen Robinson||Penn St||6’2/5||32||39||12.13||145.56|
|Devin Street||Pittsburgh||6’2/7||33 3/8||37||12.1||145.2|
|Davante Adams||Fresno St||6’0/7||32 5/8||39.5||12.08||144.96|
|Jeffrey Janis||Saginaw Valley||6’2/7||32 1/2||37.5||12.07||144.84|
|Kelvin Benjamin||Florida St||6’5||34 7/8||32.5||12.03||144.36|
|Jordan Matthews||Vanderbilt||6’3/1||33 1/4||35.5||11.99||143.88|
|Tevin Reese||Baylor||5’10/4||31 5/8||41||11.93||143.16|
|Paul Richardson||Colorado||6’0/3||32 5/8||38||11.92||143.04|
|Odell Beckham||LSU||5’11/2||32 3/4||38.5||11.87||142.44|
|Damian Copeland||Louisville||5’11||31 3/8||40||11.86||142.32|
|Marqise Lee||USC||5’11/6||31 3/4||38||11.79||141.48|
|Bennie Fowler||Michigan St||6’1/2||32||36||11.77||141.24|
|L’damian Washington||Missouri||6’3/7||33 3/8||32||11.77||141.24|
|Charles Hazel||Coastal Carolina||6’1||31 3/8||36.5||11.74||140.88|
|Bruce Ellington||South Carolina||5’9/3||31||39.5||11.66||139.92|
|Kevin Norwood||Alabama||6’2||32 1/8||33||11.59||139.08|
|Michael Campanaro||Wake Forest||5’9/3||30||39||11.53||138.36|
|Joshua Huff||Oregon||5’11/2||31 1/4||35.5||11.5||138|
|Austin Franklin||New Mexico St||5’10/5||31 1/4||36||11.49||137.88|
|Willie Snead||Ball St||5’11||33||33.5||11.46||137.52|
|Albert Wilson||Georgia St||5’9/3||30 3/8||37.5||11.44||137.28|
|Josh Brown||Pittsburg St||5’10||30 1/2||36.5||11.42||137.04|
|Cody Hoffman||BYU||6’3/7||33 1/4||27.5||11.39||136.68|
|Brandin Cooks||Oregon St||5’9/6||30 3/4||36||11.38||136.56|
|Allen Hurns||Miami (FL)||6’1/2||32||31||11.35||136.2|
|Corey Brown||Ohio St||5’11/3||31 1/4||33||11.34||136.08|
|TJ Jones||Notre Dame||5’11/5||30 5/8||33||11.27||135.24|
|Robert Herron||Wyoming||5’9/1||30 1/2||35.5||11.26||135.12|
|Jared Abbrederis||Wisconsin||6’1||31 3/8||30.5||11.24||134.88|
|Josh Stewart||Oklahoma St||5’9/7||30||35||11.24||134.88|
|Walter Powell||Murray St||5’11/3||31 5/8||31.5||11.21||134.52|
|Isaiah Burse||Fresno St||5’10/3||30 1/4||31||10.97||131.64|
|Jarvis Landry||LSU||5’11/4||31 1/4||28.5||10.94||131.28|
Looking at the group as a whole, some number crunching.
The average true height was 11.66 feet or 139.92 inches. As a point of reference, South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington falls directly on that line.
In inches, the standard deviation was 4.42. There were no outliers in this group and no one came very close. Outlier range was anything below 125.93 inches to 154.37 inches.
Texas A&M’s Mike Evans was the only player at least two standard deviations away from the mean.
As the chart shows, the tallest receiver in height didn’t correlate to being the tallest in his “true height.” Brandon Coleman was the tallest wideout at Indy at 6’6, but finished 10th in these rankings due to average arm length and below average vertical.
It’s easy to see why teams and draftniks love Evans. Tops the list and relatively speaking, it isn’t even close. Nearly 1.5 inches “taller” than the player after him, the second largest separation in the chart between consecutive spots.
The first player under six feet appears at number 13, Baylor’s Tevin Reese. 41 inch vertical topped the position. That’s ahead of 11 other receivers above that threshold, including the 6’3/7 L’damian Washington and 6’2 Kevin Norwood.
Jared Abbrederis came in last of the receivers taller than six feet, finishing 37th. His arm length is a tick below average and his vertical was a paltry 30.5 inches.
Cody Hoffman’s results are particularly disappointing. Just under 6’4 from BYU, his Combine-worst 27.5 vertical killed him. His Pro Day vertical of 31 inches was only slightly better. Players like Hoffman is why I wanted to do this study. Sure he’s tall, but prospects like the 5’9/3 Albert Wilson surpass him. The height doesn’t tell the whole story.
I’ve been a big fan of Fresno State’s Davante Adams and this study only furthers my point that he can be selected over a “big” wide receiver. Adams finished ahead of Coleman, Kelvin Benjamin, and Jordan Matthews. 39.5 inch vertical gives him a big boost and he owns above average arm length for his frame.
Devin Street and Allen Robinson also play bigger than prospects like Benjamin.
LSU’s Jarvis Landry brought up the rear of the group. A vertical of 28.5 inches doesn’t speak well for his athleticism. His counterpart, Odell Beckham Jr, is a quarter inch shorter but finished 28 spots higher on this list. Landry finished over 17 inches behind Evans.
As I stated, this study isn’t perfect. Clearly, there will be few times where a player will get to jump straight up and fully extend his hands above his head. Admittedly, it isn’t the most practical study ever.
But it shows the other components in evaluating a player’s size. It could probably even be taken one step further by somehow incorporating weight.
It furthers the idea evaluating prospects is not the time to turn the blinders on. Don’t focus on the ones that are just listed as tall. There’s a lot more to the story.