Bests Athlete on the Roster?

Submitted by Jedelman11 on July 20th, 2011 at 10:54 AM

In an attempt to avoid doing "real" work this morning I figured I'd start a thread that might get some action. If this works, I'll have something to compulsively check, you know ... as opposed to continuously refreshing the main page and hoping new/interesting topics appear. Without further adieu:

Who do you guys think is the best pure athlete currently on the roster. I'm aware that athletic ability can be measured in a variety of ways, so I figured I'd just take the easy way out and define athletic ability in terms of SPARQ scores. As noted by TomVH, a player’s SPARQ score is determined by a combination of their forty yard dash, shuttle, Powerball  (tossing a medicine ball from their knees), and vertical leap. Additionally, I'd like to add bench press into that equation to help level off the apparent skew towards smaller ninjas and away from the big hog-mollies (and because it's tested at the NFL combine).

Here are my best guesses ... for whatever they're worth ...

Smaller players (DB, FS, WR, RB, QB) -- Mike Cox. While he's been doing his best to avoid playing time with some (apparent) playbook and fumbling issues, his raw athletic ability is well documented. Enough said. Honorable Mention: Devin Gardner, Denard Robinson, Carvin Johnson, Fitz Toussaint. Best Incoming Player: Thomas Rawls

Mid-sized players: (SS, LB, TE, Big Tweeners) -- Marvin Robinson. While this category probably encompasses the smallest number of players on the roster, it also houses (IMHO) the majority of the top 5 athletes. MRob has a great combination of size and speed, and hopefully he's see him on the field this fall snagging INTs, breaking opposing players ribs, and wreaking havoc on the occasional blindside blitz. Honorable Mention: Josh Furman, Kevin Koger. Best Incoming Player: Frank Clark

(EDIT: After a bit of research it looks like Furman would likely do better than Robinson. I'll leave my original opinion up there for debate, but I'm going to go on record as saying that I've since changed my mind would pick Furman. Of note, I was a bit surprised that a) Rivals claims Furman can do 26 reps on the bench and b) that Marvin Robinson has a listed vertical of 38 inches.)

Large Players: (OL, DE, DT, Jumbo Tweeners) -- Craig Roh. While this category seems to encompass the strongest overall players, Roh posses the natural speed and agility that most NCAA big boys just dont have. Honorable Mention: Taylor Lewan, Mike Martin. Best Incoming Player: Brennen Beyer

I'm sure I've missed some people, so feel free to discuss.



July 20th, 2011 at 11:12 AM ^

Based on scout profiles from when they were being recruited Denard has him beat in vertical by 1/2 an inch (36 v 36.5), dominates him in shuttle and 40 time but loses in broad jump by 3 inches. No word on Cox's bench or squat but Robinson claims a 315 bench and 405 squat.  Like I said, these are older and not necessarily 100% reliable but it's something.



July 20th, 2011 at 11:03 AM ^

The OP is wrong.  Denard was originally recruited as a DB (scout had him ranked 16th best corner in the nation) and then he comes in and plays QB damn well.  He's fast as hell and could play QB, RB, WR, or defensively.  The only thing he wouldn't be solid at is on the line, to me there is no question on this one.


July 20th, 2011 at 11:45 AM ^

You make it sound like we recruited him as a DB and moved him to QB where he magically became awesome.  He was recruited as a QB (not DB), he played QB in HS, and excelled as as QB in HS and NCAA, but was also ranked by Scout on the defense side of the ball because he was a two-way player (as many are) in high school.

That said, Denard is definitely top 3 athlete on the roster, IMO.


July 20th, 2011 at 11:52 AM ^

We did recruit him as a DB first and he turned us down.  When he decided he wanted to play QB in college we recruited him for that as well.  He played both ways him high school cause many do, like you said.  Very few are top 20 on both sides of the ball though.

Mr Miggle

July 20th, 2011 at 1:32 PM ^

Using that criteria how could it even be a contest? Denard would likely be our best RB, CB, FS, slot and possibly WR. He would almost certainly be our best return man. One would think if Cox was a better athlete than Denard he'd find some way to get on the field. We could have used some help an the other side of the ball and in the return game.


July 20th, 2011 at 10:58 AM ^

Mike Shaw coming out of high school was a really fast guy.  I think his size/speed combo is great but I'm not sold on his agility.  Odoms is a guy that has a lot of pure athletic ability but is limited by his size.  Ultimately, this is really hard to determine but my guess would probably be someone like Hemingway who seems to have a well rounded combination of size, speed, strength, and coordination.


July 20th, 2011 at 11:02 AM ^

There's no way Marvin Robinson is ahead of Furman in this metric.  Furman is bigger, stronger, and faster than Robinson.  I would guess than in a SPARQ competition, Furman would beat Robinson in all five sections.  He might be the top guy on the whole team.


July 20th, 2011 at 11:19 AM ^

That was the hardest decision I had to make. You might be totally right, but I (maybe incorrectly) thought that Furman was a little bird-like in the legs. Robinson is built like a tank and certainly worthy of his OMG shirtless status.

According to Rivals Robinson benches 335 and squats 345 while Furman's only listed number is that he can do the 225 bench 26 times (more than i would have guessed).

Speed wise there is no comparison (Furman is faster) but their vertical jumps are also closer than I thought (38 inches to 40 inches).

All in all you're probably right. Furman takes at least 3/5. I'll revise the OP.


July 20th, 2011 at 12:03 PM ^

Furman may be a little bird-like in the legs, but outside of speed (where we know he excels) leg strength isn't shown in any of these.  His upper body strength is very good, and I think he's at least on par with MRob in the two strength measures.  Benching 225 26 times is incredible, I'm not sure I even believe that but many of the guys at the NFL combine can't do that.

EDIT:  Of all safeties in the 2011 NFL combine, the top S on the bench press was Jeron Johnson from Boise St. who did 23 reps at 225.  Only 5 LBs did 26 or more.  Gabe Carimi, the massive OT and Outland winner from Wisconsin did 29.  Either that number is five FAKES out of 5 or Furman is already ready for the combine.


July 20th, 2011 at 11:16 AM ^

Even the question of who is the best all around athlete on the team is hopelessly broad (yet fun to consider during the offseason).  Perhaps a more answerable question is who dominates the competition the most on the field.  In 2009, that person was arguably Brandon Graham.  In 2010, that person was Denard Robinson.  In 2011, that person will in all likelihood be Denard Robinson.  Denard not only has elite speed, he has super-elite acceleration.  With that combination of acceleration and speed, he leaves fools in the dust.


July 20th, 2011 at 11:16 AM ^

I think it's either Denard Robinson or Mike Martin.  DR's qualifications are obvious.  As far as Martin, he is freakishly strong as evidenced by many threads on this site.  I still think it's amazing that he won Michigan's state wrestling title in his first year in the sport.  Also a record holder in discuss and shot.


July 20th, 2011 at 11:17 AM ^

Well first off, Mike Cox is bigger than Marvin Robinson, isn't he?

Second off, I can't believe Brandon Gibbons isn't being considered.


July 20th, 2011 at 11:19 AM ^

Denard.  No explanation needed.

Furman over MRob (think about it - Carvin Johnson or Kovacs?  FS wins out most of the time in terms of athleticism).

Mike Martin.  Craig Roh wasn't able to play the "multiple" position that Martin showed in the Spring Game.  Until Roh unseats Martin, there is no way he is ahead of him.  


July 20th, 2011 at 11:29 AM ^

at the top of the Large category just because I think the Linemen get should measured by a different stick than the skill players. 40 and shuttle times aren't the favorable traits for a Linemans athletecism so much, and Martin was already a super athlete/wrestler/strongman in high school so of all the guys in the trenches I think he'd make it out of the phone booth. WDE I'd list in the mediums with some of theTE's, the LBs, and FBs.

Good debate, though. I like it.


July 20th, 2011 at 11:39 AM ^

Tacopants. No bout adoubt it.


On a more serious note, this is a fun convo to have. Thanks for starting it, OP!  How about Thomas Gordon though? I have absolutely nothing to base that on, but his nickname around here is Prison Abs. I think he should at least get an honorable mention for that.


July 20th, 2011 at 3:49 PM ^

Is there a way the answer isn't Denard?

Out of High School, he was thought of being one of the best athletes in YEARS, just without an obvious position.

I'd contend that if your answer to "Who is the best _____?" is "Mike Cox", the superlative you're looking for is completely unrelated to success at football.


July 20th, 2011 at 3:48 PM ^

Don't forget about Omameh as one of the more athletic big players.  Dude is 300 lbs and he still seems incredibly athletic and able to move.


July 20th, 2011 at 4:16 PM ^

isn't considered to be small player because he's 6'1" and 215 lbs.  That's a mid-sized player despite the position.


Based on your criteria(say use Wisconsin for example), PJ Hill would be in that small player category but he really isn't a small player. He's huge at over 250-260 lbs.