Is NextGen NFL Fastest Player Data Surprising? Not Really…

The NFL now has NextGen Stats which record and calculate player running speed during games. The concept is new and interesting…gives viewers an idea of how fast a player is in pads during a variety of play scenarios. The question is how much does this data really tell us that we didn’t already know? For example, is anyone surprised that players like Marquise Goodwin, Leonard Fournette, Ted Ginn, Travis Benjamin, Todd Gurley, or Tyreek Hill appear on their fastest “ball carrier” list? We aren’t either.

Sure, it can be argued that the NextGen list is comprised of speed data based on players in pads during games and not simply 40 times or track times. However NexGen’s lists generally reflect players that have outstanding high school track times, college track times, and solid NFL Combine performances.

So what about players like Kareem Hunt, Melvin Gordon, Isaiah Crowell, Tevin Coleman, Alvin Kamara and Jordan Howard? They all appear on the NextGen fastest “ball carrier” lists. None of them are considered track burners. Right? They just have great “game” speed. Right? You might be surprised!

Notice there are 29 players (see chart below) on the NextGen NFL fastest ball carriers list for 2016-2017.  Twenty-three of those players had high school track backgrounds and about six had some collegiate track experience. Nineteen of the players ran the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine, and 19 ran the 100 meters in high school. The event averages alone indicate most players were fast in high school, fast at the NFL Combine, and not surprisingly fast during NFL games.