CLEVELAND — How NFL teams incorporate combine-style drills into their scouting isn’t always clear. But taking a closer look at John Dorsey’s draft picks during his time as a general manager reveals that players able to jump seem to get his attention.
This is connected to Dorsey’s belief that the NFL gets significantly quicker every five years, meaning that first steps after the snap become more important. When Dorsey was in Kansas City, the team developed a formula from combine data that he felt was an indicator for athleticism, and the jumping drills — which measure explosiveness — seem to be part of that.
Of Dorsey’s 21 Chiefs draft picks who competed in the vertical jump and broad jump at the NFL combine, 10 scored in the top five for their position groups in one or both drills. No other drills had so many Chiefs draft picks perform so well during Dorsey’s tenure.
The Browns’ 2018 draft class followed suit. Take out Baker Mayfield (quarterbacks are evaluated differently), and seven of the remaining eight Browns draft picks last year excelled in the vertical and/or broad jump at pre-draft workouts. Six players finished in the top five in both jump drills (or had pro day results that equated to a top-five finish at the combine).
Now in 2019, Dorsey draft picks continue to be jumpers.
Third-round pick Sione Takitaki was second in the broad jump (125 inches) and sixth in the vertical (37 inches) among linebackers at the combine.
Fifth-rounder Sheldrick Redwine was third in the broad (130) and fourth in the vertical (39) among safeties.
Offensive lineman Drew Forbes, a sixth-round pick, wasn’t at the combine, but his pro day numbers equate to third among linemen in the vertical (30.5) and fifth in the broad (107).
There are exceptions, of course.
Second-round pick Greedy Williams, who only did the 40-yard dash at the combine, had pro day jumps that would not have been among the top 15 cornerbacks. And fifth-round pick Mack Wilson, who was at the combine, was near the bottom among linebackers in both drills. (Cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr., the Browns’ seventh-round pick, has been recovering from a foot injury during the pre-draft process, so we don’t have data on him.)
Being a jumper isn’t a requirement for NFL success. Marcus Peters, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback and first-round pick of Dorsey in 2015, performed at middle-of-the-pack levels during his combine. And Antonio Callaway hardly stood out in the vertical and broad jumps in 2018.
But if you want to get an idea of players who might land with the Browns in 2020, history shows that the top jumpers at the combine are a good place to start.