A True Height Study Of The Top Draft Hopeful Wide Receivers

By Alex Kozora

There’s no question wide receiver is being talked about as a position of interest for the Pittsburgh Steelers for this May’s draft.

Often times, the discussion centers on tall prospects. 6’4 or taller. In this group, there are plenty of them. But height isn’t the only factor of determining who is tall. In my study below, I evaluated 42 receivers who worked out at the Combine.

By combining their height, arm length, and vertical, a “true height” was created to more accurately show a player’s height. For example, Player “A” might be one inch taller than Player “B” with equal verticles. But if the “B’s” arms are two inches longer, he should be considered taller.

Of course, it isn’t a perfect system and I’ll discuss its flaws below, but it’s another, and in a sense, more accurate way to look at it.

First, the chart. It is listed from tallest to shortest. Players who did not record a vertical at the Combine were not included. The final true height is represented in both feet and inches.

NAMECOLLEGEHGTARM LNGTVERTTRUE HGT (FT)TRUE HGT (IN)
Mike EvansTexas6’4/635 1/83712.41148.92
Martavis BryantClemson6’3/632 5/83912.29147.48
Donte MoncriefOle Miss6’2/332 3/839.512.19146.28
Marcus LucasMissouri6’433 5/83612.14145.68
Allen RobinsonPenn St6’2/5323912.13145.56
Devin StreetPittsburgh6’2/733 3/83712.1145.2
Davante AdamsFresno St6’0/732 5/839.512.08144.96
Jeffrey JanisSaginaw Valley6’2/732 1/237.512.07144.84
Brandon ColemanRutgers6’63432.512.04144.48
Kelvin BenjaminFlorida St6’534 7/832.512.03144.36
Jordan MatthewsVanderbilt6’3/133 1/435.511.99143.88
Tevin ReeseBaylor5’10/431 5/84111.93143.16
Paul RichardsonColorado6’0/332 5/83811.92143.04
Odell BeckhamLSU5’11/232 3/438.511.87142.44
Damian CopelandLouisville5’1131 3/84011.86142.32
Marqise LeeUSC5’11/631 3/43811.79141.48
Bennie FowlerMichigan St6’1/2323611.77141.24
L’damian WashingtonMissouri6’3/733 3/83211.77141.24
Charles HazelCoastal Carolina6’131 3/836.511.74140.88
Shaquelle EvansUCLA6’13235.511.73140.76
Bruce EllingtonSouth Carolina5’9/33139.511.66139.92
Kevin NorwoodAlabama6’232 1/83311.59139.08
Ryan GrantTulane6’0/33135.511.57138.84
Sammy WatkinsClemson6’0/6323411.56138.72
Michael CampanaroWake Forest5’9/3303911.53138.36
Joshua HuffOregon5’11/231 1/435.511.5138
Austin FranklinNew Mexico St5’10/531 1/43611.49137.88
Willie SneadBall St5’113333.511.46137.52
Albert WilsonGeorgia St5’9/330 3/837.511.44137.28
Josh BrownPittsburg St5’1030 1/236.511.42137.04
Cody HoffmanBYU6’3/733 1/427.511.39136.68
Brandin CooksOregon St5’9/630 3/43611.38136.56
Allen HurnsMiami (FL)6’1/2323111.35136.2
Corey BrownOhio St5’11/331 1/43311.34136.08
TJ JonesNotre Dame5’11/530 5/83311.27135.24
Robert HerronWyoming5’9/130 1/235.511.26135.12
Jared AbbrederisWisconsin6’131 3/830.511.24134.88
Josh StewartOklahoma St5’9/7303511.24134.88
Walter PowellMurray St5’11/331 5/831.511.21134.52
Jalen SaundersOklahoma5’8/7303411.07132.84
Isaiah BurseFresno St5’10/330 1/43110.97131.64
Jarvis LandryLSU5’11/431 1/428.510.94131.28

Looking at the group as a whole, some number crunching.

The average true height was 11.66 feet or 139.92 inches. As a point of reference, South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington falls directly on that line.

In inches, the standard deviation was 4.42. There were no outliers in this group and no one came very close. Outlier range was anything below 125.93 inches to 154.37 inches.

Texas A&M’s Mike Evans was the only player at least two standard deviations away from the mean.

As the chart shows, the tallest receiver in height didn’t correlate to being the tallest in his “true height.” Brandon Coleman was the tallest wideout at Indy at 6’6, but finished 10th in these rankings due to average arm length and below average vertical.

It’s easy to see why teams and draftniks love Evans. Tops the list and relatively speaking, it isn’t even close. Nearly 1.5 inches “taller” than the player after him, the second largest separation in the chart between consecutive spots.

The first player under six feet appears at number 13, Baylor’s Tevin Reese. 41 inch vertical topped the position. That’s ahead of 11 other receivers above that threshold, including the 6’3/7 L’damian Washington and 6’2 Kevin Norwood.

Jared Abbrederis came in last of the receivers taller than six feet, finishing 37th. His arm length is a tick below average and his vertical was a paltry 30.5 inches.

Cody Hoffman’s results are particularly disappointing. Just under 6’4 from BYU, his Combine-worst 27.5 vertical killed him. His Pro Day vertical of 31 inches was only slightly better. Players like Hoffman is why I wanted to do this study. Sure he’s tall, but prospects like the 5’9/3 Albert Wilson surpass him. The height doesn’t tell the whole story.

I’ve been a big fan of Fresno State’s Davante Adams and this study only furthers my point that he can be selected over a “big” wide receiver. Adams finished ahead of Coleman, Kelvin Benjamin, and Jordan Matthews. 39.5 inch vertical gives him a big boost and he owns above average arm length for his frame.

Devin Street and Allen Robinson also play bigger than prospects like Benjamin.

LSU’s Jarvis Landry brought up the rear of the group. A vertical of 28.5 inches doesn’t speak well for his athleticism. His counterpart, Odell Beckham Jr, is a quarter inch shorter but finished 28 spots higher on this list. Landry finished over 17 inches behind Evans.

As I stated, this study isn’t perfect. Clearly, there will be few times where a player will get to jump straight up and fully extend his hands above his head. Admittedly, it isn’t the most practical study ever.

But it shows the other components in evaluating a player’s size. It could probably even be taken one step further by somehow incorporating weight.

It furthers the idea evaluating prospects is not the time to turn the blinders on. Don’t focus on the ones that are just listed as tall. There’s a lot more to the story.

 

Senior in college, blogging from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Hines is D’Man

    You should do the same study with all the DBs, since they will be doing the “jumping” to defend these passes to the WRs.

  • cencalsteeler

    Nice analysis and article!

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Good point about the weight as someone that is a lot heavier is less likely to get bumped off a jump ball. That’s why some of those slow moving TE’s still catch TD’s.

  • Alex Kozora

    Not a bad idea. I’ll try to – though my focus is still on the scouting reports and doing two more mocks.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Alex-

    Thanks for the research. It’s an interesting article. As you say, it’s not a perfect study (and it’s not meant to be) but it does provide some useful info. A lot of good WR prospects out there to be had in rounds 2-4.

    There are so many factors that go into being a successful NFL receiver. High pointing the ball. Diving for the ball. Hanging on to the ball once you hit the ground. Setting up your defender to get separation. Blocking him out using body positioning. Pure speed. Acceleration. Change of direction. Hands. Etc.

    I’ve said it before and will say it again. There’s no prospect expected to be available at 1.15 that I’d rather have than San Francisco’s picks 1.30 + 2.24.

  • RMSteeler

    I said the same thing last year about DB’s and wondered how Shamarko Thomas. Expected him to play several inches higher than his true height, but didn’t see that convert in his rookie year against taller WR’s and TE’s he covered.

  • No1Stunna

    TEs too.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I have to say the more film I study on Beckham, the more I see the reason for the Steelers’ interest. He’s an athletic freak in body control, redirecting, high-pointing the ball, and juking defenders. Plus he has very good hands and deceptive speed. Maybe the bonus x-factor that tips him to the front of the line for Pittsburgh is his skill and experience as a returner. If drafted, he would almost certainly be handed the return job (or at least be given every opportunity to win it).

    Do I covet a big/tall receiver for the Steelers like Kelvin Benjamin? Yes. But I’m also not blind to the truth that height isn’t everything.

  • Biggie

    Great list and article. Now factor in drop % (Hands) and who is a more finished product (Route Running) and we’ll have the list of receivers we need to go after.

  • steeltown

    Yea I think the only 2WRs that we’ll even have a chance to draft early AND that I actually like are Benjamin and Beckham

  • shawn

    “I’ve said it before and will say it again. There’s no prospect expected to be available at 1.15 that I’d rather have than San Francisco’s picks 1.30 + 2.24.”

    That is probably the best single sentiment that i’ve seen on this board for a long long time …. too true … wish everybody could see that !

  • shawn

    great research … but i have to chime in … these stats have almost absolutely nothing to do with true height .. ( u really can’t factor in vertical at all when discussing WR heights ) its all about the PERCEPTION of being OPEN on the field …and with that the only thing that counts is a BIG Body … not arms or vertical !

  • shawn

    Great OBSERVATION !!! … like i posted above … vertical & arm length have almost nothing to do with playing TALL … the only thing that counts when playing TALL is actually being TALL … ( size … i.e posting up, boxing out counts some too … i.e. charles barkley)

  • Alex Kozora

    Not meant to be perfect or an infalliable study…but a wide receiver that’s a great leaper is a fantastic asset. When you talk about routes you want the “tall” receivers to run, fades/go routes, you’re going to want to be able ot jump and high point the football and have the arm length to pluck the ball out of the air.

  • shawn

    Yes absolutely you are right that vertical counts A LOT when talking about players especially WRs and DBs and their ability to highpoint and catch balls …

    I just dont think it counts as much when we start discussing mismatches in Height in the RZ or elsewhere where the WR is matched up against the DB … unfortunately it just doesnt work like that

    example take a 5.9 CB against a 6.5 TE (lets say the CBs vertical is 40 inches and the TE is 32 inches) there is no way there TRUE height is anywhere close to even … ben though by your numbers they would be … he is still heavily mismatched … like i said just doesnt work like that on the field !