The National Football League is full of some of the greatest athletes to ever play sports, but the athleticism required can greatly differ depending on the position they play. A speedy wide receiver is just as athletic as a mammoth defensive tackle, but their athleticism shines through in different ways.
If there was a way to run some odds comparisons to know the chances that elite athletes drafted can become elite football players, that would be the future of scouting, but for now we have the fantastic RAS database to check out how these players all shape up among their peers.
The Relative Athletic Score (RAS) that has been developed by Kent Lee Platte (From Pride of Detroit) is a way to “provide a metric that can easily and intuitively gauge a player’s athletic abilities relative to the position they play and provide tools to contrast and compare based on known measurables.”
It takes more than athleticism to play football, but the RAS is an interesting way to see how players stack up solely based on their physical capabilities, i.e. pro day and combine numbers, going all the way back to the 1987 season.
RAS is sortable by team, so I checked out all the top athletes that have been charted in their Chicago Bears database and built a hypothetical first string offense and defense for the Windy City.
Here’s their All-Time RAS Offense and tomorrow I’ll reveal the defense. I used the player’s position with the Bears as a guideline, so for example Rex Tucker would have been the most athletic Chicago tackle according to RAS, but he played guard with the Bears so I continued down the list.
Each player’s RAS is in parenthesis.
QB - Dan LeFevour (9.50): Right off the bat the offense is in trouble with the 2010 sixth-round pick. He struggled to catch on in the NFL with 4 different teams, but did manage to hang around for 6 years in the CFL. The next RAS Bears QB would have Cade McCown, so it could have been much worse.
RB - Matt Forte (9.71): With LeFevour slinging the rock and Forte as the lead back, this team would be all about the running game. What made Forte so dangerous was his ability to line up anywhere. His 1,933 yards from scrimmage in 2013 is the 5th best season in Bears history, his 1,846 in 2014 is 8th most, and he’s tied for 10th best with 1,715 yards from scrimmage in 2008. There’s only one other name on that top 10 list, Walter Payton.
FB - Brad Muster (9.33): Muster was a damn good all around fullback for the Bears from 1988 to 1992, and if you played Tecmo football during that time he’s one of the more exciting Bears to use.
TE - Dustin Lyman (9.92): A third-round pick in 2000, Lyman was never able to get his athleticism to shine through with production on the field. A revolving door at quarterback probably helped contribute to his 37 catches in 5 years.
WR - Dez White (9.98): This is the highest rated RAS player on offense for the Bears, and he was also taken in the third-round of that 2000 draft. That draft also had the highest RAS player on the Bears taken in the first round, so GM Mark Hatley might have had a plan that day.
WR - Marcus Robinson (9.95): Robinson was a great athlete, but what helped him stand out during his brief run with the Bears was his go-up-and-get-it size (6’3”, 215). His 1,400 receiving yards in 1999 is the third most in Bears history.
OT - Marc Colombo (9.57): Injuries hampered his time in Chicago, but the 2002 first-round draft pick started 88 games from 2006 to 2011 with the Cowboys and Dolphins. At 6’8”, 320 pounds, he was always known as a people mover in the run game, but he was a good all around right tackle once he put the injuries behind him.
OG - Bob Sapp (9.88): The most athletic offensive lineman drafted by the Bears in the RAS era never played a snap for them. He failed to make the team after being the 69th overall pick (3rd-round) in 1997, but he did play in one game for the Vikings that year. Sapp went on to a professional wresting, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and acting career.
C - James Daniels (9.24): I don’t think enough was made of Daniels’ athleticism when the Bears grabbed him in the second-round of the 2018 draft. In this hypothetical All-RAS team, the Bears would lean on Daniels and Colombo to keep Sapp in line and focused.
OG - Kyle Long (9.84): The last time the Bears picked 20th overall they grabbed the inexperienced but athletic Long. He was a classic mauler before injuries sapped him of some of his strength.
OT - Gabe Carimi (9.56): I was high on Carimi when the Bears drafted him, but like several others on this team, injuries did him in. He was never the same player after dislocating his knee cap as a rookie. Had he stayed healthy he could have had a long and productive career with the Bears.
Extra - Greg Olsen (9.50): With a run first, play action team, I figured I’d grab an another tight end as my 12th man on offense. Olsen wasn’t a good blocker when he first entered the NFL with the Bears, but he worked himself into being serviceable in that department.
What do you think about this athletic first team offense for the Bears?