Following the 2017 NFL Draft, it’s time to look ahead — which is exactly what free-agent cornerback Trevin Wade is doing.
Every year, NFL organizations strive to create a team that’s greater than the sum of its parts through the NFL Draft. Part of their strategy requires using math and statistics for analytics. The Draft is essentially a game of numbers. However, as former New York Giants cornerback Trevin Wade (currently a free agent) will tell you, math plays a vital role into the success of players and teams long after the three-day event in April (coincidentally also Math and Statistics Awareness Month) is over.
Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the seventh round (245th overall pick) of the 2012 NFL Draft — just a few picks ahead of Mr. Irrelevant — Wade had a slim chance of becoming a starter and playing several years in the NFL. The rate of seventh-round defensive back draftees becoming starters is approximately 11 percent (compared to 64 percent of the first round), per Arrowhead Pride. However, Wade beat the odds to become a fifth-year veteran and attributes part of his success to math.
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To him, the connection between math and football is pretty simple as both involve statistics and a basic order of operation. Wade (a substitute math teacher during the offseason) further explained the mathematical aspects of the gridiron.
“Being a defender, I know that offenses are based off timing,” Wade said. “I know if I am guarding a receiver that he only has a certain amount of seconds to run his route within 6-15 yards. Knowing this math in my head helps me get an idea of what route he would do.”
These mental calculations help Wade position himself correctly at the right time to make big plays. In Week 9 for the Giants, Trevin Wade was able to keep up with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews and defend an inside fade play on fourth down, which resulted in an incomplete pass. This was the last defensive play of the game and helped secure the Giants a 28-23 win. It also allowed the New York Giants to snap a four-game losing streak against the Eagles.
The next week, Wade broke up a pass in the end zone intended for Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd on third-and-5 in the third quarter. In a game which the Giants won by a single point, Wade forcing the Bengals to settle for a field goal proved to be critical.
During both of these plays, he edged out the receivers and was able to do so by reading the coverage.
“The QB can take a 3 step drop or 5,” Wade said. “The 3 step tells me the ball will be thrown quick and the 5 steps tells me the ball will be thrown later. This gives me an advantage to stay ahead of everyone.”
Math also helps the free agent cornerback improve his game because both of the fields present challenges, which he loves. The challenges sparked his interest in math and he aims to do the same for his high school students. Wade, like former teammate Rashad Jennings, believes anything can be done with a challenge, whether it be a math challenge or a reading challenge.
Wade loves challenges, but understands that some, such as financial challenges, are tougher than others and not as enjoyable. Therefore, he teaches teammates that math is used in basic day-to-day matters such as to “count money, pay bills or figure out if a new bed frame fits in your bedroom.”
Furthermore, he encourages them to learn about math and gives advice as to how they can manage their income and protect themselves.
“Most things people get cheated out of is money. Math will teach you how to always have the correct figures. I love to talk to young guys on my team about their finances, I want them to know how to manage their income and protect themselves,” Wade said.
The purpose of Math and Statistics Awareness Month is to increase the understanding and appreciation of mathematics and statistics. Wade is doing his part by passing along valuable lessons and demonstrating how an element of math is found in just about anything. He’s being proactive in his year-round efforts to make people realize the importance of math through his game and using it as an advantage. He shows that, like him, math is often overlooked but vital to success.