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Opinion Bear’s top 50 prospects in the 2023 draft

In her search for the draft’s most Bear-worthy prospects, Opinion Bear develops a new metric for evaluating this year’s draft class.

NFL Combine
Massive Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones falls surprisingly low in the rankings...

Every year I eagerly anticipate the combine weigh-ins so I can take note of the potential draftees who clearly know how to pack on a pound and tip a scale. This is partly because I want to know who will look best running the 40, potentially with a tasteful amount of midriff showing and a jaunty jiggle as they pound their way across the track with phenomenal momentum. But mostly, it’s because those are the prospects I’m most likely to fantasize being drafted by my Chicago Bears. I like my football players massive with generous amounts of soft tissue to pad them from the perils of this violent sport. It’s not a sexual thing, for you pervos that were wondering, and it’s not meant to body shame the smaller players. It’s just how I prefer to see my Navy and Orange uniforms filled in.

Is that weird? Probably. So let’s get to it.

The problem with looking at weight alone is that muscle is heavier than fat, and that it doesn’t give any information of the distribution of that mass, which ideally would be central in the body and round in shape. Converting height and weight to BMI helps some with the distribution problem, but it doesn’t address the muscle mass issue.

Given my preference for volume, muscle mass that translates to large muscles is not a huge problem, but dense, sinewy muscles will absolutely lead to trouble because they will raise BMI while likely decreasing the overall appearance I’m trying to prioritize. For simplification’s sake, I’ve decided to refer to the amount of dense unvoluminous muscle as muscle tone. The closest surrogate we have for quantifying a prospect’s muscle tone is the number of times they can repeatedly perform a moderately strenuous exertion of their muscles, i.e. the bench press. This is perfect because arm muscle is generally the most useless, as it doesn’t do much to help my favorite Bears move their massive forms with awe-inspiring velocity. Total waste of mass.

While the BMI does a lot to stamp out potential prospects whose forms are simply stretched out, who may have minimal volume at any one point along their axis, but it sums up to a large amount just because of their elongated frame. Basically, the physical manifestation of Eli Manning’s career—he played for a long time and amassed impressive stats, but was he ever that impressive along the way (I mean, his most famous throw was so off-target the defender literally had to help the receiver by putting the ball on his head for him). But the length of limbs is not accounted for in this calculation. Certainly, we don’t want to give credit for extra mass due to having extra length in the gangly, borderline-vestigial appendages that extend away from the central focus of this analysis: the rotund torso. Luckily, the combine measures arm length, so we can adjust our valuation accordingly, punishing those prospects with longer arms. This is especially important because shorter arms tend to lead to higher repetitions in the bench press drill. If we were to only adjust for bench press values, we would be unwittingly punishing those prospects who do not waste mass with unnecessarily lengthy arms.

So, with the variables decided upon, I crafted a relatively simple formula for my ranking score: (BMI/(Bench/average bench))/(arm length/average arm length)

For prospects who did not perform the bench press, I assumed average bench press values, which were just over 21 at this year’s combine, if you’re curious.

Because this formula is essentially BMI updated for muscle tonality, I’ve decided to call it the Tonality-Updated BMI Score: TUBS.

So here are the rankings, with a surprising and somewhat familiar name at the top:

Top 50 Prospects in the 2023 NFL draft by TUBS

This project has really opened my eyes to a lot of prospects I knew little about. Before I started, I assumed either Siaka Ika or Dawand Jones would come out on top. Instead, Ika ranked 3rd, and Jones, due to his massive wingspan, dropped out of the top 20. It’s possibly I over-penalized him for that, but I suspect if he had put up an appropriately-low result in the bench press, he may have made up some ground.

No matter how you look at it, there should be value to be found in the later rounds of this draft!