If you intuitively thought that the Rams needed to get taller at wide receiver and heavier at offensive line last season, you might have been right. Pro Football Outsiders has been one of the best analytics resources for the NFL community over the last several years. Recently they released a new study that looked at snap-weighted height, snap-weighted weight, and snap-weighted BMI.
Football Outsiders initially did this by group (offensive, defensive, special teams), but recently they just broke it down by position. Their introduction:
“Last week, we introduced snap-weighted size for offense, defense, and special teams, finding the biggest and smallest NFL clubs as measured by height, weight, and BMI, accounting for how many snaps each player was actually on the field. Today we’re going to look at things in more detail, one position at a time. We’re also going to check for correlations between size at each position and some of our most common offensive and defensive statistics to seen if any trends emerge. We’ll go ahead and start with everyone’s favorites, the quarterbacks.”
Interestingly though, when you look at where the Rams rank in some of these, they rank near the bottom of the league in some areas, notably snap-weighted BMI for wide receivers and offensive linemen.
Rams Wide Receivers
About the Rams wide receivers, Football Outsiders said,
“The skinniest wideouts in the NFL played for Sean McVay in Los Angeles. The Rams used five wide receivers last year, and the thickest of those was Cooper Kupp, who stands 6-foot-2 at 208 pounds, which works out to a BMI of 26.7. And now they have drafted someone even smaller. Second-round draftee Tutu Atwell weighs in at only 155 pounds; even at 5-foot-9, that works out to a wafer-thin BMI of 22.9″
Likely there is not much correlation here to offensive success. However, what Football Outsiders did find was that the teams with bigger wideouts tend to run more often and also tend to give up fewer sacks. The correlation between SWBMI and sack rate is -0.231.
This also might point to what the Rams did this offseason at wide receiver. DeSean Jackson and TuTu Atwell might not be the best examples of this as they are both smaller wide receivers. However, the Rams let a skinnier wide receiver in Josh Reynolds walk in free agency. Reynolds was 6-3, 196-lbs. Meanwhile, Ben Skowronek is 6’3, 225-lbs.
That’s not to say that Skowronek is going to replace Reynolds, but he’s a bigger wide receiver that has that frame that the Rams were clearly missing.
I also think it’s worth noting that while teams with wide receivers that have less BMI seem to run less and give up more sacks on a per/snap basis, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are excellent run-blockers and the Rams don’t necessarily give up that many sacks.
I’ll be looking to see if adding someone like Skowronek helps more in the red zone where having a big wide receiver is good to have. While he’s a tight end, Jacob Harris is worth mentioning here as well as he played wide receiver at UCF.
Rams Offensive Line
Now we move to the offensive line. Again, the Rams ranked near the bottom of the league in snap-weighted BMI on the offensive line. A lot of fans criticized the Rams on the offensive line last season. This was despite their third-ranked rating via Pro Football Focus. The main criticism is that they got pushed around in pass protection.
While the Rams have one of the taller offensive lines in the league, ranking third, they also rank just 20th in snap-weighted weight. This combines for a snap-weighted BMI that ranks 28th in the NFL.
Again, this is something that’s just interesting to point out as it may not exactly mean anything. Football Outsiders found that high-BMI lines tend to fare better in the run game, however, they tend to give up more pass pressures.
However, according to Pro Football Focus, the Rams offensive line was actually great in the run game, but average in pass protection. This is the opposite of what the Football Outsiders Correlation Suggests
In the end, this might just be a lot of nothing, but it’s interesting to look at nonetheless. It’s worth noting that the Rams ranked 29th snap-weighted height on the defensive line, but ranked sixth in snap-weighted BMI. At linebacker, the Rams ranked fourth in snap-weighted height and 10th in snap-weighted weight.
It’s the offseason and now is the time to look at useless stats like this and see if they correlate to anything. I do think there is something to be said about the wide receiver position and adding players like Harris and Skowronek who are much bigger than who the Rams had. Those two players should add some variety in the Rams’ receiving weapons – that’s what I think is important.
On the offensive line and other places, there doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation. What this might point to more is how teams prefer to build their rosters and different position groups. Some teams might prefer players who are somewhat short, but bulky while others prefer players who are relatively smaller and faster across the board.