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Bishop Sankey, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Keith Price, and The Fight Hunger Bowl: “He Got Some Stank”
blogs.seattletimes.com
blogs.seattletimes.com

With the NFL regular season winding down and the college football bowl season in full swing, we at RotoViz are beginning to transition our focus from 2013 to 2014. In particular, we’re in the middle of a series of Bowl Game Previews calling your attention to intriguing players in each contest. Here are the ones we’ve done so far (they still make for good reads):

As the bowl season progresses, more previews (and other pieces) may be found at my RotoViz Author Page. Want to compare one college WR with another? Check out our College Career Graph WR App. Want to talk about other college prospects? Hit me up on Twitter. And, yes, my name is really Matt Freedman. No, I’m not nine years old.

Let’s get to it!

The Fight Hunger Bowl

Washington (8-4, Pac-12)
This game sports some great prospects, my favorite of which is Bishop Sankey. Before the season even started, I profiled the 5’10” and 203-lb 21-year-old true junior RB in my preseason piece on a small group of draft-eligible high-nQBDR rushers. (The nQBDR metric measures a non-QB rusher’s production relative to the other non-QB rushers on his team. Basically, it measures the extent to which an RB is a workhorse. For more on nQBDR, here’s my introduction to the metric. A list of my nQBDR-centric posts can be found in the New Mexico Bowl Preview.)

Here’s an edited excerpt of what I said about Sankey back in August:

What I like about Sankey is that he’s explosive and despite his smallish size still able to score TDs. And last year he caught 33 passes for 249 yards. He’s perhaps not a fantastic receiver out of the backfield, but he’s certainly good enough. In the NFL he could have sneaky three-down potential. Perhaps, just as I said about Jordan Todman, I could say this about Sankey: He strikes me as a slightly slimmer DeAngelo Williams.

Sankey is widely expected to declare for the 2014 Draft, and he’s reportedly received a third-round draft grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Based on the stats from his two years as a starter, one can see why he’s expected to be one of the first 5 RBs selected in May:

Year

Att

RuYds

RuAvg

RuTD

Rec

ReYds

ReAvg

ReTD

Total nQBDR

*2012

289

1439

5

16

33

249

7.5

0

0.85

2013

306

1775

5.8

18

25

298

11.9

1

0.66

Despite his nQBDR regression, Sankey as a junior improved in almost every category: More carries for more TDs and a higher rushing average, and more receiving yards and receiving TDs with a higher receiving average. So what should we make of his drop in nQBDR?

Year

nQBDR Carries

nQBDR Yds

nQBDR TDs

Tot nQBDR

Games

*2012

0.75

0.76

0.94

0.85

13

2013

0.67

0.67

0.64

0.66

12

Because Sankey’s carries and efficiency numbers increased, his nQBDR drop is a non-issue for me. In fact, given that UWash ran the ball a lot this year, I’m glad he doesn’t have a higher nQBDR, because that would suggest that he was overworked. Whereas last year, he had to be the guy at the goal line, this year the team could afford to use him in an even way—and on two-thirds of his team’s carries, he’s accumulated 19 TDs and over 2000 scrimmage yards. Not worried. And since I use a player’s highest nQBDR anyway, I really don’t care. His 0.85 nQBDR is plenty high on its own, and he clearly has advanced, not regressed, as a runner.

Even with his third-round grade, I think Sankey will be (depending on some of pre-draft measurables) one of the best RBs in this draft. With a good 40 time, he has an upside of DeAngelo Williams (0.88 nQBDR) and maybe the downside of Jerome Harrison (0.87 nQBDR). With an average 40 time, he’ll strike me as a higher-round Javon Ringer (0.91 nQBDR). In the end, he still seems like a more physical version of Jordan Todman (0.90 nQBDR) who is likely to be drafted before the fourth round, not after, and, in case you didn’t know, I like Todmana lot. With a decent 40 time, Sankey could be one the best values in the 2014 Draft.

Perhaps you’re familiar with Jay Kaspian Kang’s opinion that Etta James was the Queen of Stank. I’m not saying that Sankey’s the stankiest RB of this college season (he’s probably not), but I do think that, like Etta James, he’s underappreciated, and he runs with a good amount of solid stankiness. His stank doesn’t define him—but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it in spades. He got some stank. Those U-Dub boys always do.

As great as Sankey is, his teammate Austin Seferian-Jenkins has received even more hype. One scout compares him to Gronk, and ASJ has received a second-round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.

Here’s how the 6’6” 276-lb junior TE compares to Zach Ertz, the first TE taken in the second round of the 2013 Draft:

Player

Year

Class

Rec

Yds

Avg

TD

Total DR

Games

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

*2012

SO

69

852

12.3

7

0.34

13

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

2013

JR

33

413

12.5

7

0.23

11

Zach Ertz

*2012

rJR

69

898

13

6

0.32

14

You’ll notice that ASJ, by raw stats and DR, regressed in his junior year. Is that cause for concern? Possibly. Here are the DR numbers:

Player

Year

DR Recs

DR Yds

DR TDs

Total DR

Games

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

*2012

0.26

0.31

0.37

0.34

13

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

2013

0.14

0.14

0.32

0.23

11

Zach Ertz

*2012

0.29

0.32

0.32

0.32

14

In 2012, ASJ was better than Ertz, scoring a higher percentage of his team’s TDs on lower percentage of its passes. But in 2013, for whatever reason, ASJ has been scarcely targeted, and so his numbers are down. What is notable, though, is that while his target and yardage DRs are down ASJ’s TD DR is still high. So maybe ASJ has regressed as a junior—but maybe (as his DR numbers suggest) he’s still a beast at scoring TDs and his QB didn’t target him nearly as much as he could’ve.

And let’s talk about his QB, Keith Price. The 6’1” and 202-lb 22-year-old redshirt senior has been the starter since Jake Locker was selected in the first round of the 2011 Draft. Since both guys played in Steve Sarkisian’s offense for the last five years, a comparison between them may be useful. Here are some efficiency stats from Locker’s redshirt junior and senior years and Price’s redshirt sophomore through senior years (along with the averages of their peer groups):

Player

Year

Pct

Peer Pct

Y/A

Peer Y/A

AY/A

Peer AY/A

TD:INT Ratio

Peer TD:INT Ratio

Jake Locker

2009

58.4

59.6

7.1

7.1

6.9

6.8

1.9

2.0

Jake Locker

*2010

55.4

59.9

6.8

7.2

6.6

6.9

1.9

2.1

Keith Price

*2011

66.9

60.2

8.5

7.3

8.9

7.0

3

2.1

Keith Price

*2012

60.9

60.6

6.3

7.3

5.8

7.1

1.5

2.2

Keith Price

2013

65.5

60.6

8.6

7.3

9.1

7.1

4

2.4

Not only has Price far outperformed Locker, but he’s been more dominant in comparison to his peers than Locker was to his. I grant that Price is on the smaller side and he may not possess Locker’s arm strength—but Price also seems to possess accuracy and efficiency that Locker never exhibited in college. I’m not saying that Price should be a first-round pick—but I’m saying that he’s been better as a collegiate passer than his touted predecessor ever was, and as recently as a year ago some people thought that he too could be a high-round selection. Although his hype died after his average junior year, his senior year has been solid, and with a strong combine a second-round pick is a possibility.

How good has Price’s 2013 season been? How does he compare to his peers? To analyze QBs, I’ve started looking at large collegiate peer groups (all the QBs in a three-year span) and calculating Z-Scores for efficiency metrics, such as completion percentage, yards/attempt, adjusted yards/attempt, and TD:INT ratio. Then, I average these separate Z-Scores into a couple of different composite Z-Scores. (For more details, see my Las Vegas Bowl Preview.)

Here’s a table (organized by the last column) that compares Price with some of the other current draft-eligible QB prospects in college:

Year

Player

Z-Score Pct

Z-Score Y/A

Z-Score AY/A

Z-Score TD:INT

Avg Z-Score Pct-AY/A

Avg Z-Score Pct-Y/A-TD:INT

2013

Teddy Bridgewater

1.71

1.77

1.99

2.41

1.85

1.96

2013

Derek Carr

1.69

0.74

1.23

2.3

1.46

1.58

2013

A.J. McCarron

1.24

1.3

1.66

1.47

1.45

1.34

2013

Johnny Manziel

1.51

2.44

1.92

0.04

1.72

1.33

2013

Zach Mettenberger

0.76

2.91

2.31

0.2

1.54

1.29

2013

Blake Bortles

1.33

1.87

1.67

0.4

1.50

1.20

2013

Tajh Boyd

1.24

1.87

1.73

0.45

1.49

1.19

2013

Keith Price

0.89

1.21

1.28

0.85

1.09

0.98

2013

Aaron Murray

0.74

1.5

1.34

0.27

1.04

0.84

2013

Brett Hundley

1.28

0.93

0.83

0.04

1.06

0.75

2013

David Fales

0.62

1.21

1.08

0.09

0.85

0.64

2013

Sean Mannion

0.96

0.36

0.5

0.11

0.73

0.48

2013

Jordan Lynch

0.44

-0.02

0.31

0.48

0.38

0.30

2013

Tom Savage

0.1

0.17

0.31

-0.02

0.21

0.08

As you can see, by these metrics Price is just below the second tier of QBs who are all vying for first- and second-round selections. In reality, his season has been statistically better than almost anyone recognizes.

And how does Price compare to some of the other QBs to be recently drafted? From the 2011-13 Drafts, here are the QBs selected in the first three rounds with scores close to his:

Year

Player

Z-Score Pct

Z-Score Y/A

Z-Score AY/A

Z-Score TD:INT

Avg Z-Score Pct-AY/A

Avg Z-Score Pct-Y/A-TD:INT

2011

Brandon Weeden

2.33

1.13

1.18

0.56

1.76

1.34

2010

Ryan Mallett

0.96

2.18

1.9

0.39

1.43

1.18

2012

EJ Manuel

1.36

1.49

1.18

0.08

1.27

0.98

2010

Colin Kaepernick

1

1.17

1.15

0.37

1.08

0.85

2011

Nick Foles

1.71

0.43

0.42

-0.06

1.07

0.69

This group actually seems to contain a lot of the paths forward for Price. He’s more similar to E.J. Manuel than people think, and like Mallett, Kaepernick, and Foles, he’ll probably have to sit for a while in the NFL before getting a chance to start, but Price has serious potential. If he becomes the next Kaepernick or Foles in 2015 or 2016, I won’t be surprised. And, at any rate, I feel safe in saying that he won’t be the next Jake Locker. (That’s a good thing.)

Brigham Young (8-4, Ind)
I should care about some of the players on this team more than I actually do—but I don’t. The two players to watch are RB Jamaal Williams and WR Cody Hoffman. Williams is a 6’0” and 200-lb true sophomore, and so he’s not eligible for the 2014 Draft. Still, he’s talented with over 1000 and 1300 scrimmage yards last year and this year. If he does well again in 2014, then I’ll take serious notice. Right now, his draft-ineligibility tempers my enthusiasm.

As for Hoffman, the 6’4” and 210-lb redshirt senior probably should’ve declared for the 2013 Draft, following his 1200-11 season. Currently, he has a 45-727-5 seasonal line through 10 games. Last year, he had a 0.42 DR. This year? 0.30 DR. That regression’s not good. With a solid combine Hoffman could potentially sneak into the fourth round, but even if that happens I probably won’t be too intrigued. He feels like the Austin Pettis of the 2014 class.

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