In the first part of this series Shawn Siegele articulated why he has a negative view of Randall Cobb going into the 2013 season. In this installment Frank DuPont/The Fantasy Douche will share his thoughts on Cobb.
Shawn and I probably agree on the big broad strokes that are relevant to whether you want to own Cobb in 2013. But before I get to the areas where we might agree, I thought I should at least cover the areas where we might disagree.
I think that our biggest disagreement will be over Cobb’s inherent quality as a receiver. Shawn makes the points that from a physical tools standpoint, Cobb isn’t as impressive as a lot of people assume that he is. I won’t disagree with that other than to offer a caveat related to pre-draft physical measurements and the fact that they are often taken from extremely small sample sizes. Most of the time we only get one or two 40 times and then we all just mentally throw out the higher 40 time. I would like to see the Combine move towards requiring each guy to run three or four times and then we could take the average of those times. Four observations is still small, but I think that would be a massive improvement. As this problem relates to Cobb, we know that we have one observation of him running a 4.49. But I think you would expect that a guy that runs a 4.49 is also going to run mid 4s sometimes and maybe even run low 4s every once in a while (he’s probably also going to run in the 4.5s sometimes). But anyway, we know that Combine drills predict just a tiny part of a receiver’s pro career, and some of that is related to the fact that they are not actual skills tests – they’re physical tests – but some other part of it is also probably related to small sample sizes and the fact that little endurance is required of the Combine tests. I will stop short of doing the super blowhardy move of saying “I want to see them run in pads!!!!”
My point in the paragraph above can probably be more succinctly put as “He might not be a physical specimen, but he might also have the threshold amount of athleticism and if he does, then it’s largely his pro career that should serve as the meaningful dataset.” I think that Cobb’s pro career might also offer some supporting evidence to the idea that he has the threshold amount of athletic ability. Cobb’s kick return average over the past two seasons is 4th among guys who have at least 20 returns and Cobb had one 108 yard return. We’ve seen him get to the edge and then run away from guys on punt returns.
But I think probably the best evidence to support the idea that Cobb is a good receiver is that he has been a good receiver in the NFL. A good amount of that is I’m sure related to Aaron Rodgers. I think it’s probably also safe to say that Green Bay’s other good receivers are also responsible for some part of Cobb’s efficiency as a pro. It’s almost impossible for a defense to lock down all of the Packers receivers… almost. But I think it’s fair to say that Cobb has been good enough as a pro receiver that if we thought that his usage was going to increase, it would be totally reasonable to pencil him in as a top 10 guy. I don’t think his lack of freakish physical ability would be enough to hold him back. My formula would be something like “Athletic Enough + Awesome QB + Usage = Top 10 Guy.”
But the usage issue is the problem for me and that’s where I end up landing in the same place as Shawn. It’s just really tough to talk yourself into believing that Green Bay will make Cobb the featured receiver and I think you have to believe that they will in order to draft Cobb as WR12, which is where it looks like early ADP has him. My draft strategy related to wide receivers is that I want to mostly own big wide receivers that I can get at a discount to their projected value (based on Similarity Scores). Cobb isn’t either a big receiver, or being drafted at discount to his projected value. So he doesn’t fill out either of my requirements. As either a re-draft or a keeper issue, I’m probably not going to own Cobb. But I do think that dynasty owners can feel good about Cobb. They probably got a pretty good deal on him and already have a good amount of equity.