• Andrew Woodruff

WRs In No-Man's Land

Twitter: @ff_awwoodruff33

Continuing with the work that was shown in the thread by @DynastySflex on Twitter, he went on and looked at receivers who were in that height range between six feet and six foot two tall. The metrics were different with this new differently structured prototype receiver. It is encouraging seeing that if you applied his standards for the NFL’s classes since 2009, it sits at 78.3% for a WR2 or better season currently with Shenault going to affect that number in the future slightly up or down. His summary of the process can be seen at the following link.

Knowing the advantage it has to see certain players with better odds of being relevant, can help open our eyes on various prospects and the risk we take at different points of the draft. Let’s see the following criteria and some of my thoughts based on what we see formed. First our criteria for the study:

6’0” to 6’2” Range WR Prospects

  1. 1st / 2nd round draft capital

  2. College DOM rating >29.5%

  3. BMI >25.25

  4. AVG MS REC YDS > 25%

  5. BOA 18-20 years old

  6. 40 time of 4.60 or less

Next, we have our list of players with what we currently know ( or can realistically project with draft capital ). Please note that for Chase, Darby, and Palmer there is an asterisk on their AVG market share of receiving yards. The reason is that I only factored in the seasons where they had a more pivotal role. For example, Chase was listed as involved for nine games as a freshman but only saw 36 total targets at that point. It is unfortunate he could not provide a second season as a starter for reference so I believe his number should be listed closer to the listed number from his starting year than the average of his freshman and sophomore year. Similar processes went into the other two. Powell was also difficult to determine how to properly. Hence why we see his part along with Smith’s forty-time listed as unknown in yellow.

The top two options are guys discussed as top eight rookie picks in dynasty drafts already. Well, nothing changes here as Bateman and Chase both meet everything we should hope to see once the draft finishes the first round at the end of this month. They both met every metric I have listed on the Dashboard as well. (To access the Rookie Database, click here.) The third one is really the one I found the most intriguing. We have seen more of the name Austin Watkins as the NFL thought enough of his prospects to have him come to the Senior Bowl. He was often mentioned as a draft-day riser for his performance for the week. He did recently just have his pro day where the results seemed positive along with news of him meeting with the Bears and presumably others.

Looking at Watkins’s profile of stats I focus on for the position’s upside, he hits a large majority of it. Now I have seen some people not dig into him too much so I do want to make sure it is clear he did play two years of junior college football before coming to UAB. Because of that, I am having to just use his stats from his time at the D-1 level. Because of him being in year 3 from high school, I was disappointed in his first season with the team, but I do not know how often first-year guys in that school scheme see playing time. However, he took over these past two seasons and showed out. For him to join this high percentage of guys who have increased chances for performance ( REMEMBER this is not an end all be all to fantasy relevance as he hits most of my standards just wanting top three rounds), we are hoping to see his name sometime in round 2 of the draft. However, he is still seen as a back half rookie draft dart throw so he is a high value to monitor.

The more fun name we have seen debated is DeVonta Smith, our college Heisman winner this past season. It is easy to watch his tape and see the talent is there. His analytics of course shows there are some things to discuss. Let’s look over his profile first and discuss.

First, let’s start with the early declare part. There were groups last year who already claimed at that time that Smith was the best prospect of the group of Smith, Waddle, Jeudy, and Ruggs. I saw talk often of him going as a 2nd round prospect. He bet on himself and it will literally pay off with him projected as a top 12 player in this upcoming draft. I know the next big one is breakout age. Let’s start with his freshman year at Alabama. The leading quarterback was Jalen Hurts. The team saw Calvin Ridley lead the team with 63 catches and then second up was obviously Bo Scarbrough with 17. Yes, I am being serious. I was very shocked just looking that up.

(Picture Credit: Pro Football Reference)

We see talents like Jerry Jeudy, Irv Smith JR, Ruggs, and DeVonta Smith not really have a role because that was not the style of offense they used yet. It went through the backfield and legs of those guys there. That pattern changes with Tua next season, but Smith is just playing his part as the team focused primarily on Jeudy as the WR1 and the talented speedsters. Because of this, it also caused Smith to miss my stat of wanting relevant receivers able to hit 20% of the market share of yards in either of his first two seasons.

(Picture Credit: Pro Football Reference)

The last part of the Smith debate comes down to his literal size overall as a player and athletic testing. For his size, Smith claims he is 170 pounds without being willing to step on a scale. Would that have helped? Who knows honestly. But he is small overall leading to him fighting as an outlier with the history of small BMI guys and their chances for fantasy relevance. Now he played at a tough school without missing time, but that will be a concern as there will be the most elite now facing him weekly in the NFL. Now we do not have him running the forty which was also a factor, but Sam mentions in his article that Smith does face around the 2nd highest amount of missed games for his BMI category. Even a sub-4.40 time, he would still be facing a higher than average chance of missed games. Overall he is very fascinating to watch him set the case for or against future guys like him.

It is the next tier of guys who had two missed opportunities to join that exclusive group. Looking at Brown, Smith-Marsette, Fitzpatrick, and Darby. Of these, the first two guys carry I believe the highest upside for late 3rd round values probably by the time the NFL draft comes through. I do know that Dyami actually hits most of my metrics for my upside checker while Smith-Marsette pops on film since Iowa runs with a bad QB and focuses the game through the tight ends. Fitzpatrick also hits six of my ten known metrics currently with draft capital going to help dictate how I would handle him in rookie drafts. Darby is not as intriguing enough for me personally unless I see him as a surprise pick earlier than intended.

The last group of guys I am hesitant to put in anything more than priority waiver pickups Palmer struggled until he was older at a small school with Memphis. I basically look at it in terms of high school football. I am more impressed seeing a freshman who can consistently win against the juniors and seniors that primarily play at that level than I am with a senior who is playing as one of the older members on the field against everyone. Powell never really separated during his time which I do not see a common track record of guys like that who translate to the next level. Schwartz has the one thing of this group that probably gets him drafted much earlier with speed. I know he will be taken with the hopes he can develop as a special team returner and maybe a gadget weapon on offense. Not going before round 4 for me as I do not see him becoming a WR2 for a team soon.

Stayed tuned for what should be a final conclusion with our shorter receivers of this draft class and which ones maybe we need to be targeting sooner or looking to avoid together. Until then enjoy our content and podcast we have consistently pumping out. Feel free to ask me questions if you have any ideas to explore.