NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Tight End Prospects: Relative Athletic Scores (RAS)

Today I wanted to analyze some great data from Kent Lee Platt’s Relative Athletic Scores (RAS) for the tight ends. Here is a link to Platt’s website in case you haven’t seen his work To qualify for a RAS score, a player must have a total of six recorded metrics from any of the following: Height, Weight, Forty-yard dash, 20-yard split, 10-yard split, Bench Press, Vertical Jump, Broad Jump, Short Shuttle, and 3-Cone. The player is then graded on each in comparison to the positional database since 1987 to get more of a feel of their size, speed, explosion, agility, and total value, giving context to the raw numbers.

The goal of the series is to provide the RAS from Platt, with a bit of my own twist with a size score and visualize it to get a simultaneous view of all the players at their position that participated at the combine. Here are the players that qualified for a RAS (NOTE: Positions are grouped from the Combine results tracker compiled by Dave Bryan and Alex Kozora):

Right away we can see the class is extremely athletic, with over half (eight) of the 15 qualifying prospects having above nine RAS scores compared to just three in the 2022 draft. Old Dominion’s Zach Kuntz tops this year’s list with a perfect 10 RAS score. He has elite speed, explosion, and agility, great size, with an impressive 40” vertical jump his best mark that’s very valuable for the position and weight (255) his lowest but acceptable result. Georgia’s Darnell Washington (9.88 RAS) has elite size and speed, good explosion, but didn’t qualify in agility, with a 4.08 shuttle his best workout and 31” vertical the lowest, which is just above the threshold that Pittsburgh has drafted in the past. Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker (9.86 RAS) has elite speed and agility, great explosion, and good size, with a 6.81 three cone his strongest mark, and weighing 251 pounds his lowest but right at the acceptable cusp of Steelers draft history. Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave (9.76 RAS) has elite speed and explosion, good size and agility, with a 1.54 10-yard split his best result and a 4.41 shuttle the lowest.

South Dakota State’s Tucker Kraft (9.67 RAS) has great speed and explosion, good size and agility, with a 1002 broad jump his best and weight (254) his lowest but an acceptable number. Iowa’s Sam LaPorta (9.5 RAS) has elite speed and agility, great explosion, but poor size, with a 1.55 10-yard split his best mark and height (6032) his lowest in the historical database, and weight (245) a bit lower than what the Steelers typically look for. Miami’s Will Mallory (9.35 RAS) has elite speed, great explosion, but poor size and no agility testing, with a 2.61 20-yard split his best workout but weight (239) a concern through Pittsburgh lenses. Penn State’s Brenton Strange (9.02 RAS) has elite explosion, great speed, okay size and agility, with a 1.58 10-yard split his best result, and height (6037) his lowest (but acceptable) mark.

Four players have RAS’s in the eight range, accounting for all but three of the remaining prospects. Cincinnati’s Josh Whyle (8.94 RAS) who has great speed, good size, explosion, and agility, with height (6064) his best metric and weight (248) his lowest which is just shy of Pittsburgh’s past thresholds. Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer (8.8 RAS) has great agility, good speed and explosion, okay size, with a 6.97 three cone his best and weighing 249 pounds his lowest number. Clemson’s Davis Allen (8.51 RAS) has elite explosion, good size and speed, okay agility, with a 38.5 vertical jump his best mark but weight (245) his lowest. Wake Forest’s Blake Whiteheart (8.32 RAS) has great speed, good explosion, but poor size and no agility testing, with a 1.6 10-yard split his strongest number and another player with weight as their lowest mark (247).

Nebraska’s Travis Vokolek is the only prospect in the seven range (7.85 RAS), and has great size, good agility, okay explosion, but no speed testing, with height (6061) being his best number and a 31” vertical his lowest, just above Pittsburgh’s past draft thresholds.

After a big drop off we see Purdue’s Payne Durham (6.47 RAS), who has good size and explosion, okay speed and agility, with height (6055) his strongest number but 14 reps on the bench quite a bit lower than what the Steelers tend to draft.

The final player is Oklahoma’s Brayden Willis (4.62 RAS) has good explosion, okay agility, but poor size and no speed testing, with a 909 broad jump his best workout. Weighing 241, his lowest, might have Pittsburgh looking elsewhere if they draft the position.

Next, I wanted to provide more context with a size score using the RAS for the players height and weight, which includes all the combine invites since all the players are measured:

Two players have above nine size scores compared to none in the 2022 draft, starting with Washington (6065, 264) who pairs this with his second ranked 9.88 RAS checking all the boxes for what the Steelers have looked for at the position, including elite speed that’s intriguing given his size. North Dakota State’s Noah Gindorff (6060, 263) didn’t qualify for a RAS, pairing this with 33 1/8” arms and 16 reps on the bench, with the latter being lower that what Pittsburgh typically looks for.

Three prospects land in the eight range. Vokolek (6061, 259) checks many of the boxes, but important to recall he didn’t participate in speed testing. Kuntz (6073, 255) has excellent numbers with complete testing highlighted by his perfect RAS score, and easily fits every aspect athletically that Pittsburgh could want. Air Force’s Kyle Patterson (6051, 260) does have nice size, but shorter arms (32.5) for this frame along with 17 reps on the bench being a possible deterrent.

There are two players in the sevens beginning with Musgrave (6057, 253) who also had a strong 9.76 RAS and checks several boxes except arm length (32 5/8) and just shy in the bench (19). Durham (6055, 253) fits in this regard, but had a 4.87 40-yard dash and a low 14 reps on the bench that contributed to his second lowest 6.47 RAS that may have Pittsburgh looking elsewhere.

In the six range there are four prospects, including Kraft (6046, 254) which fits the bill along with his strong 9.67 RAS that checks most boxes, but a 32.75 arm length that is a tick lower than the Steelers like. Whyle (6064, 248) missed the ideal weight slightly along with 31.5” arms that could steer Pittsburgh in another direction. Schoonmaker (6052, 251) pairs his size with the third ranked 9.86 RAS, providing a lot athletically but a 32 7/8” arm length that is a tick short of past thresholds. After a drop off we see Allen (6057, 245) with the latter a being bit light, along with a 32.25 arm length slightly missing the mark.

Three players land in the fives. Cincinnati’s Leonard Taylor (6045, 250) fits in these terms, but didn’t qualify for an RAS and had less than ideal results in the drills he took part in, including a low 10 reps on the bench and 4.98 shuttle that were both historically low. Mayer (6044, 249) fits all the past threshold except for weight (barely). Strange (6037, 253) checks all the boxes of past tendencies except for arm length (31 1/8”).

After a big drop off, we have three prospects in the four range: Alabama’s Cameron Latu (6043, 242), Mallory (6044, 239), and Whiteheart (6036, 247) with the latter fitting the Steelers mold the closest, though missing as many prospects have in the weight and arm length thresholds.

Two players have size scores in the threes: Utah’s Dalton Kincaid (6035, 246) who didn’t test athletically and missed in the same two metrics, with the same being true for LaPorta (6032, 245) who fit in every other way in is complete workout.

Willis bottoms another list (6034, 241) with the latter being the main concern, and important to recall no speed testing.

To wrap up, here is a visual layering the RAS and size score to take it all in:

There are clearly great options for Pittsburgh if they so choose, highlighted by Washington who has the best balance of both, with a nine+ RAS and size score. Kuntz also fares extremely well with his perfect RAS score along with an above eight size score. Musgrave provides a lot as well with a high nine RAS and an upper seven size score, though he doesn’t fit as well athletically as the previously mentioned players. Kraft and Schoonmaker land above the mean in size scores along with strong nine RASs but raise the question if Pittsburgh’s draft tendencies will change if they in fact draft the position. Whyle also lands above the mean in both metrics, but the only such prospect shy of a nine RAS, and fits the same bill as Kraft and Schoonmaker. LaPorta, Strange, and Mallory highlight the group on the bottom right with great athleticism but lack size comparatively, with the former two prospects fitting a bit more, particularly Strange. Vokolek is also an option I could see in the black and gold, and it will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh spends a draft pick on the position with other needs and depth at other positions more glaring with the re-signing of Zach Gentry.

For those that like the numbers, it’s unfortunate a few players didn’t test fully, and it will be interesting to monitor the pro days and continue to see how the men stack up in the coming weeks when Platt updates the site with the unofficial numbers.

What are your thoughts on the data? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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