Let's get to know the free agents the Buffalo Bills added this offseason that made the roster in a unique way.
Instead of simply reviewing these players' past performances while on different teams, we will examine athleticism. Typically, you can get an idea of how well someone will play based on athletic ability.
This, from analytics enthusiast Zach Whitman, applies to this topic:
"Not all good athletes are good players. Very few poor athletes are good players. Most great players are great athletes."
To provide a better understanding of the capabilities of Bills' acquisitions, let's find a relatively well-known, comparably athletic player.
Bills running back Taiwan Jones (Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon)
Height: 6'0" (5'9")
Weight: 194 (209)
40-yard dash: 4.33* (4.41)
Vertical: 39 1/2"* (40 1/2")
Broad: 132"* (132")
Three-cone: 6.90* (6.83)
*Denotes a number taken from a pro day, not the NFL Combine.
McKinnon is more stoutly built than Jones -- he's shorter and measured in 15 pounds heavier -- so, overall, he's the more impressive athlete. However, the two running backs clearly pack plenty of explosiveness. Those vertical and broad jump numbers are dynamic.
Jones has very little running back experience, while McKinnon has been a role-playing backup in each of his three years with the Vikings, so a statistical comparison is difficult. However, the two currently have the same career yards-per-carry average of 4.2. McKinnon has toted the rock 342 times; Jones has just 44 rushing attempts in his pro career.
In college, Jones accumulated 2,955 yards at 7.7 yards per carry while at Eastern Washington in 2009 and 2010. He also scored 29 rushing touchdowns.
At Georgia Southern in 2012 and 2013, McKinnon totaled 2,867 yards on 430 rushes (6.6 yards per carry) with 32 rushing scores.