Brandon Kaufman is a name you do not hear much about this NFL Draft season. He is projected to be a late-round pick come April, but has a strong statistical resume that needs to be acknowledged. His relative anonymity comes primarily from playing at Eastern Washington University (Go Swoops!) in front of just over 8,000 fans per home game in 2012. But the really interesting thing about Kaufman is that he has rare size at 6’5”.Now that everyone is caught up, here is why you should keep Kaufman in your thoughts heading into the draft and beyond:
In the world of metric-based projections for college receivers, if you can play, you can play. Kaufman can play. After appearing in just four games in 2011, Kaufman came into his own his final college season. His aggregate statistical line of 93-1850-16 looks like a video game, which is why the market share of Kaufman’s team is a better gauge of his level of dominance. While his team threw for nearly 4,500 yards and 37 touchdowns, Kaufman still dominated the production in the passing game. The second-most productive receiver on the team posted just half of Kaufman’s yardage and seven touchdowns. Defenses knew where the ball was going in the passing game and Kaufman continued to dominate.
As Jon Moore and I discussed on the Under the Helmet podcast, we like to see a progression in a receiver’s college production, an improvement all the way to the end. Despite averaging 132 yards per game and more than a touchdown per game in 2012, Kaufman was at his best to close out his career. In his final four college games, Kaufman had nine or more receptions, at least 160 yards each time out and added six touchdowns in his final two games alone. Another factor is the ability to make big impact plays at the college level. Kaufman had at least one reception of 40+ yards in 11-of-14 games in 2012. He was constantly downfield making impact plays. The defense knew what was coming and could not stop it with any regularity.
The first set of comparable prospects below is looking for the absolute closest drafted players in terms of size, speed for their size, and generally similar production.
*MS = Market Share of Team Production
|YR||RD||Player||TD/G||YD MS||TD MS|
Kaufman had the advantage of playing in a less-than-stellar conference, but produced more than 2-of-3 on this list his final season. All four of these receivers are tall, slender, and slower than the average drafted receiver for their size. Among the three comparable players lies a full spectrum of potential: Sidney Rice was a top-50 pick that has flashed impact ability at the NFL level. Justin Gage stuck around as a usable option, but was hardly a fantasy impact. Dallas Baker was an outright bust like most late-round NFL draft picks.
The second group of similar receivers below includes Kaufman’s level of production alone. Specifically, I pared the 370+ receivers drafted since 2000 down to those with at least 35% of their teams’ touchdowns and 40% of their teams’ yardage in their final college season. These are players from good offenses that still dominated the passing production.
*FP/G is the peak PPR fantasy points/game for each player in their first three seasons as a pro.
|YR||RD||Player||HT||BMI||FP/G||TD/G||YD MS||TD MS|
This list really illustrates Kaufman’s potential at the next level. While they come in many sizes and speeds, the list is pretty impressive from a production standpoint within their first three NFL seasons. Of the nine receivers to have more than one NFL season under their belt, five have had double-digit seasons in fantasy points per game at their apex and three others had seasons of six to nine points per game. Jamaar Taylor was the only receiver that was similarly productive to Kaufman, that did not produce in his first three seasons.
Finally, I wanted to show some similarities to a certain stud receiver that was a top-5 NFL draft pick and one of the most valuable commodities in any fantasy league.
|Player||HT||BMI||TD/G||YD MS||TD MS||10 yd Split|
Many more people would be talking about Brandon Kaufman if were actually A.J. Green 2.0. What I am pointing out is that the world of projecting college players into the NFL has a wide range of possibilities for many receivers each year.
When looking at late-round picks, I want the ones that produced at a high level in college. Kaufman did that in all facets while being on a high-powered offense. He is likely to be a Day 3 draft pick and only on draft boards for dynasty owners playing in leagues of 30+ offensive players on a roster. All that said, this is the time to earmark players to monitor going forward, before an owner picks him up in 2014 while the rest of the league scrambles to figure out who Brandon Kaufman is.