If you Like Green Bay’s Charles Johnson, You’ll Love Baltimore’s Aaron Mellette
THE SANFORD HERALD | WESLEY BEESON Saturday, September 24, 2009 in , N.C.
Courtesy of Flickr.

I thought it was time to slip a quick wide receiver post in the middle of all of my running back ranting. Very simply, if you are intrigued by Charles Johnson, Aaron Mellette is someone you need to be paying attention to.

I think the love on this site for Charles Johnson is warranted. He’s a physical specimen who dominated his small-school college offense and was drafted late by a team known for having a savvy GM. The funny thing is, that’s exactly what Aaron Mellette is. And while Johnson has been creeping up rookie draft boards (he’s still a 5th round pick according to MFL rookie ADP but he just went at 31st overall in the @RotoPat dynasty league), Mellette is often going undrafted.

Take a look at the similarities between these guys. Here’s a key for the abbreviations of from Shawn Siegele’s work:

HaSS – Height Adjusted Speed Score
DR Total – The player’s market share of a team’s total offensive yards and TDs (max value 1)
DR Rec – The player’s market share of a team’s passing yards and TDs (max value 1)

Player School Draft Slot Height Weight Forty HaSS DR Total DR Rec Vert Broad Shuttle 3 Cone Rec Rec Yds YPR Rec TD
Charles Johnson Grand Valley State 216 74 215 4.39 113 0.25 0.50 39.5 133 4.31 6.96 72 1199 16.7 16
Aaron Mellette Elon 238 75 217 4.54 106 0.46 0.55 33.5 123 4.41 7.11 97 1408 14.5 18

There’s no denying Johnson’s physical measurements are better than Mellette – he beats him on every single drill.  But Mellette is no slouch either. Then again, Mellette beats Johnson in all of the raw college stats (except YPR) as well as all of the market share metrics. I included Total DR because I wanted to point out how insane it is that Mellette accounted for 46% of Elon’s entire offensive yards and touchdowns last season. The only player in the sample of WRs I’ve been looking at to record a higher percentage was Vincent Jackson. That’s something to consider.

Just for fun, I decided to see how Mellette would rank on my upside score metric (he was off my radar at the time I put the piece together). He would have scored an NBR of 26.8 which would put him at number 5 from this class, bumping Stedman Bailey down one spot.  Not too shabby.

What makes Mellette even more intriguing to me is the opportunity he has to go along with the athleticism and the production. Jon Moore did a fantastic job outlining the WR snaps lost this offseason and qualifies the Baltimore situation as “…the first REALLY INTERESTING situation…” in his article. By Jon’s numbers, the Ravens lost 878 WR snaps when Boldin was shipped off to San Fran. Someone has to pick up that slack.

Some of it will no doubt be sopped up by Dennis Pitta. He has a pretty favorable 2013 projection on the TE Similarity Score App, with a median 9.9 points per game in PPR format. And it’s even more favorable if you consider that his comps actually have his targets and receptions and TDs down next year. Keeping the TD rate constant and adding some more targets could mean very good things for Pitta next year. But he was already tied at 9th for TE receptions with Jermichael Finley at 61. Could he be an 80 catch guy next year?  Perhaps.  But he’s not replacing all of the Boldin production.

Jacoby Jones may be atop the WR2 spot on their depth chart right now, but this will be his 7th season in the NFL and he’s yet to record a top 30 WR finish despite playing with Matt Schaub during his career year in 2009 with Andre Johnson drawing all the double coverage. Even though Jones was not a first round selection, I think Matthew Freedman’s concept rings true that the longer it takes a player to have success, the less likely he is to ever have it. Discussing it with Matthew, the factors he uses to look at later-drafted WRs are slightly different than for first rounders, but as Matthew put it, “Jones is about to turn 29!…He could be the next Brandon Lloyd, but I wouldn’t bet on it.” Plus, the WR Similarity Score App confirms it – Jones projects an average of 1.98 receptions and .16 TDs per game for a median PPR format 5.8 points per game. You can check out the full set of comps for yourself, but the top 10 matches in Jones’ comp list are pretty awful. Just look at all the negatives in the FPOP column.  (FPOP is a fantasy efficiency metric developed by Fantasy Douche which measures how good a guy is relative to the average player).

NAME SEAS AGE WEIGHT GMS TRGS RECS YDS TDS recFPOP YPT
Jacoby Jones 2012 28 220 16 3.44 1.88 25.38 0.06 -0.12 7.38
Josh Cribbs 2011 28 215 15 4.47 2.73 34.53 0.27 0.12 7.73
Justin McCareins 2007 29 215 12 3.83 1.58 19.33 0 -0.55 5.04
Ernest Wilford 2007 28 218 16 4.62 2.81 32.38 0.19 -0.12 7
Derrius Thompson 2004 27 220 15 3.2 1.53 23.93 0.27 0.23 7.48
Ernest Wilford 2008 29 218 4 1.5 0.75 6.25 0 -0.91 4.17
Legedu Naanee 2012 29 215 3 1.67 0.33 6.33 0 -0.54 3.8
Ben Obomanu 2012 29 204 4 2.25 1 14.5 0 -0.25 6.44
Reche Caldwell 2006 27 215 16 6.38 3.81 47.5 0.25 -0.06 7.45
Jamal Jones 2010 29 214 16 5.44 3.12 42.44 0.31 -0.04 7.8

On the 2 Mugs Fantasy Football podcast, Jon Moore expressed why he thinks Tommy Streeter has a shot to claim the job, and he may be right. His thoughts from the show are summarized here. Streeter is another athletic freak, and while he hits on some of the Yards Per Target and TD related efficiency measures, he falls just a bit short of the “Eric Decker Factor” market share thresholds. I do think ultimately it comes down Mellette or Streeter surpassing Jacoby Jones as the WR2 in the Baltimore offense this year. I like Mellette just a bit more.

Before you throw Tandon Doss at me, consider that he’s smaller, slower, and was less productive in college than either Streeter or Mellette. He also dropped two of his nine catchable balls last year according to Pro Football Focus. I just don’t see it happening.

Mellette is someone I’ll be targeting late in my rookie drafts, especially if the Charles Johnson hype train starts destroying his value by pushing him further up draft boards in the coming months. Mellette’s athleticism is in the neighborhood of Johnson and he has insane college production to back it up. That’s a fantastic combination for a player going into a wide-open competition for playing time on a solid offense. He’s a player I’ll flop with.

 

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