Thesis explores future of non-BCS players in NFL

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  1. cowboyjoe

    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    Thesis explores future of non-BCS players in NFL
    Wed, 05/05/2010 - 19:51 By JESSICA STAHL
    Recent BYU graduate Lyndon Plothow of Orem may have revolutionized how college football players will be evaluated for the NFL.

    Most people have their own opinions on the NFL draft and who should be drafted when, but none of those opinions seem to agree. Of course, even when they do, some players never live up to the potential expected of them.

    There’s no way to know how a player is going to perform, although there are all sorts of methods: the combine tests, personal interviews, college stats, which college they played for and of course, the infamous gut instinct.

    Plothow may have come up with a new strategy: math.

    “It’s BYU,” Plothow said. “We’re always getting shafted by the BCS. I thought it would be interesting to look at whether that bias against BYU was valid or not.”

    Plothow wrote his honors thesis on the NFL draft to find out which statistics NFL scouts trust the most. He found that for each position he measured – quarterback, wide receiver, running backs and offensive linemen – there were different statistics that a player could have which would add or drop him spots in the draft.

    “I tried to go with what was specific to each position,” Plothow said. “To be a running back, you have to be strong. That’s why I included the bench press. To be a wide receiver you have to be fast, so I included speed variables.”

    Many of the statistics (weight, height, combine test results) are significant to a player’s actual performance in the NFL. However, Plothow found that one of the most significant things was whether or not the player was from a BCS school.

    To see which of the statistics were actually the most telling, Plothow included a section on how many of the players were still in the NFL after three years. He measured the statistics using college data vs. college and combine tests vs. a player’s draft number.

    “About half the draftees make it to the three-year mark, so it is a good indication as to whether a player has met with success,” wrote Plothow in his study.

    “Actually, the wide receivers from non-BCS schools with the same speed and college numbers are picked about 75 positions later in the draft and they outperform, on average, the BCS players 200 yards per year,” Plothow said. “And they’re 15 percent more likely to stay in the NFL longer than three years than BCS receivers are.”

    One notable example is BYU alumni Austin Collie, drafted by the Colts in the fourth round. Collie had impressive college statistics and an equally impressive rookie year. Plothow argues that he was drafted so late mostly because Collie was from a non-BCS school.

    Plothow made national news when he tested his theory by predicting former BYU tight end Dennis Pitta’s spot in the draft. Plothow predicted Pitta would be the 113th pick, the exact position predicted on the draft board of general manager Ozzie Newsome of the Baltimore Ravens, as reported by ESPN. Pitta was the 114th pick.

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