revolutionary tools.  groundbreaking articles.  proven results.

David Cobb, Jerome Smith, Tommy Shuler, and The Military and Texas Bowls: “Some Mute Inglorious Milton”

DavidCobb

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 Military Bowl

Marshall (9-4, C-USA)
One somewhat intriguing player for Marshall is true junior QB Rakeem Cato—but he is only 6’0” and 188 lbs and unlikely to declare for the 2014 Draft anyway. Here are his stats from the last two years:

Year

Class

Pct

Peer Pct

Y/A

Peer Y/A

AY/A

Peer AY/A

2012

SO

69.5

60.64

7.2

7.28

7.6

7.05

2013

JR

59.3

60.618

7.9

7.32

8.6

7.12

As a sophomore, Cato was fantastically accurate but not overly explosive. This year, he’s had average accuracy, but he’s thrown for good yardage and lots of scores when he’s connected. Maybe as a senior he can put it all together, add some weight, and become the next Drew Brees. (Who knows.)

One other player to watch is Tommy Shuler. The 5’7” and 190-lb true junior WR, despite his short frame, has led the Thundering Herd in receiving for two straight seasons. Here are his stats as a starting WR:

Year

Rec

Yds

Avg

TD

DR Rec

DR Yds

DR TDs

Total DR

Games

2012

110

1138

10.3

6

0.26

0.26

0.16

0.21

12

2013

97

1097

11.3

9

0.34

0.29

0.23

0.26

13

Unlikely to declare for the 2014 Draft, Shuler doesn’t have great market share of his team’s receiving production, but he intrigues me, and it’s certainly possible that in his final college season he’ll have a 1000-10 year. I wish he were taller, but at least he’s stout.

If he has a good 40 time in his pre-draft workouts, he could be thought of as a version of Darren Sproles that plays as a full-time WR. That’s his potential upside. If Shuler’s 40 time is bad, he could maybe be a thicker Damaris Johnson. Downside? Chad Hall???

Finally, I should mention Essray Taliaferro. In his first season as the lead RB, the 5’9” and 183-lb redshirt senior has had some good production. Here are his 2013 stats (along with those belonging to Utah State’s Joey DeMartino, for the sake of comparison):

Player

Att

RuYds

RuAvg

RuTD

Rec

ReYds

ReAvg

ReTD

Total nQBDR

Joey Demartino

198

1078

5.4

12

12

117

9.8

1

0.63

Essray Taliaferro

202

1059

5.2

9

11

118

10.7

1

0.4

Why am I comparing these two RBs, besides their clear statistical resemblance? I just profiled DeMartino in the Poinsettia Bowl Preview, and I noticed some key illuminating similarities and differences between the two runner. Both are redshirt seniors with only one year of notable collegiate production—and both are on the smallish side, especially Taliaferro.

Here’s an edited except of what I ultimately had to say about DeMartino:

In the case of an RB who has only one year of strong production in his college career, I prefer an RB with either great size or truly great production in that year—and preferably both. DeMartino’s not bad, but he doesn’t fit the bill.

If DeMartino doesn’t fit the bill, then Taliaferro really doesn’t, because DeMartino is 200 lbs, and Taliaferro is only 183 lbs, and DeMartino has a 0.63 nQBDR, whereas Taliaferro’s is a paulty 0.40. (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.)

Perhaps—maybe—Taliaferro is a guy with Warrick Dunn potential who merely couldn’t get off the bench for three years. It’s much likelier, though, that his upside is Stefan Logan, and his downside is “some mute inglorious Milton.”

Maryland (7-5, ACC)
And speaking of which—I think we should pass by this grave with quiet yet quick-paced dignity. It’s not an ugly tombstone; it just lacks ornament. Maryland’s leading rusher (by carries and yards) has only 4 TDs; The Terrapins QB actually leads the team in rushing scores—and C.J. Brown’s not bad but he’s not Johnny Manziel. The team lead in receptions is 40, the lead in ReYds is 587, and the lead in ReTDs is 4. Of course, a different WR leads in each category. Let’s move on. “Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.”

The Texas Bowl

Syracuse (6-6, ACC)
Well, that’s awkward. This tombstone is also rather unadorned. The one player to note is team captain Jerome Smith. The 6’0” and 226-lb 22-year-old redshirt junior has been Syracuse’s lead RB for two years, but his production has been inconsistent:

Year

Att

RuYds

RuAvg

RuTD

Rec

ReYds

ReAvg

ReTD

Games

*2012

227

1171

5.2

3

8

83

10.4

0

13

2013

184

840

4.6

11

7

56

8

1

12

As a redshirt sophomore, he accumulated almost 100 scrimmage yards/game, but his TD production was atrocious. This year, he’s now scoring a TD/g, but his rushing average has declined.

Is there more to the story? Maybe his team simply didn’t rush for all that many TDs in 2012? Here are Smith’s nQBDR numbers for the last two years. They provide a fuller picture:

nQBDR Carries

nQBDR Yds

nQBDR TDs

Tot nQBDR

Games

0.5

0.51

0.16

0.34

13

0.47

0.44

0.65

0.55

12

From year to year, he’s received a similar (but slightly lower) percentage of his team’s carries, so his role as the primary runner hasn’t really changed—but his role as the TD-scorer has. Last year, seemingly everyone besides him scored RuTDs. This year, he’s been the team’s go-to back in the red zone. And what about that decline in his rushing average? I wish he had captured a higher percentage of the team’s rushing yards, but it’s not drastically lower than the percentage of the team’s carries he receives, so I’m not overly concerned by it—especially considering that now he gets the ball near the goal line, a low-yardage situation.

In general, Jerome Smith is an intriguing prospect, and he’s planning to enter the 2014 Draft, which is great, since I like productive runners who are at least 215 lbs (regardless of their 40 times), and—given his size and what could be two straight seasons of at least 1000 scrimmage yards—Smith could certainly be characterized as a large and productive runner.

For me, his pre-draft workouts will be telling but not overly important, since I care more about size than speed in RB prospects. Depending on his agility, he could have Stevan Ridley upside as a grinder, but it’s likelier that he’ll be a fourth-round selection at best, and so maybe someone like Tim Hightower represents his realistic best-case scenario. As a prospect, he feels pretty similar to Mike James, and I could see Smith being a handcuff who at some point gets the chance to start. And what’s his downside? Jalen Parmele had two productive college seasons at 6’0” and 222 lbs. Still waiting on the breakout.

Minnesota (8-4, Big Ten)
Again, no passer or receiver to speak of, but lead RB David Cobb is notable. In the 5’11” and 225-lb 20-year-old true junior’s first season as the starter, he’s done well.

Att

RuYds

RuAvg

RuTD

Rec

ReYds

ReAvg

ReTD

Total nQBDR

Games

219

1111

5.1

7

16

162

10.1

0

0.69

12

His TD total is a little low, but based on his nQBDR you can tell that he still dominates the non-QB rushing production on his team. It’s not as if Cobb’s being replaced at the goal line by another RB (as was the case with Jerome Smith in 2012); it’s just that Minnesota doesn’t often give the ball to any of its RBs near the goal line—and based on Cobb’s size I think he’ll be able to score TDs as a short-yardage back in the NFL, if given the opportunity.

Like Smith, Cobb also could have Stevan Ridley upside if he were to declare for the 2014 Draft, maybe even higher if he were to have a big bowl game against Syracuse. One big point in his favor is that he’s so young—he has the potential to be a long-lived NFL asset as an early entrant. Perhaps you haven’t heard of Cobb and think that he’d be crazy to leave college early. I remember some people saying the same thing about Ridley, “Who is this guy?—Big mistake to leave now,” but it’s worked out alright for him.

But we’ll just have to see. Some of Cobb’s projection will depend on what he does in pre-draft workouts, but I could see him having a rookie impact similar to that made by Vick Ballard (0.72 nQBDR). Downside? Another mute inglorious Parmele (0.67 nQBDR). And if he has a slow 40 time, then perhaps his downside could be as bad as George Winn (0.71 nQBDR). Not good.

But right now, without any pre-draft numbers and without having seen much of him, I’m getting the same feeling that I had this time last year about Zac Stacy (0.71 nQBDR). (And I liked Stacy.) Solid runner, very under the radar, probably won’t be drafted before the fourth round, but big and talented enough to become an NFL workhorse if given the chance. To me, David Cobb looks like a bigger Zac Stacy. Watch the game and see what you think.

recent and related...

in case you missed it...

16 Stats to Know for DFS in Week 17

Utilizing RotoViz’s suite of creative tools, metrics, and filterable stats (all of which just keep getting better!), I unearthed 16 key stats to help you crush your Week 17 NFL DFS lineups. Vegas lines for Week 17 Reported lines are current as of December 26, 2019.1 CLE @ CIN: The

Read More

Week 17 DraftKings Targets: The News Cycle Is Key

As is the case with Week 17 historically, teams locked into the playoffs with little or nothing to gain from a Week 17 win will often be cautious with their key players. This is already reported to be the case with the Bills this week. We could also see the

Read More

FanDuel NFL Cash Plays – Week 17

The Fantasy Football Ghost helps us close out the regular season with his picks for FanDuel cash lineups in Week 17 Week 17 is traditionally one of the most difficult weeks to forecast as playoff bound teams sit their starting players and non-playoff teams up their game in an attempt

Read More

DK Buffet Week 17: 15 Key Stats for the Main Slate on DraftKings

When I’m looking into the DFS slate each week, I like to go game by game and identify players or situations that intrigue me. In every game, on every team, there’s a situation that’s relevant for DFS purposes, for either a positive or negative reason. These situations inform us of

Read More
Connect
Support

rotovizmain@gmail.com

Sign-up today for our free Premium Email subscription!

© 2019 RotoViz. All rights Reserved.