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Kelvin Benjamin, Rashad Greene, Tre Mason, and The Vizio BCS National Championship: “Say Goodbye to the BCS”

kelvin_benjamin

With the NFL playoffs starting and the college football bowl season ending, we at RotoViz are transitioning our focus to the 2014 Draft. Here are the previous Bowl Game Previews (they still make for good reads):

Thanks for reading the Bowl Game Series. 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 Vizio BCS National Championship

#2 Auburn (12-1, SEC)
Say goodbye to the BCS—and to Auburn’s chances of winning this game. Maybe HC Gus Malzahn can summon some of that magic he used as OC in the 2010 championship season, but Cam Newton is not walking through that door, fans. I admit that QB Nick Marshall has done a passable Newton imitation as a runner, but not totally as a passer. In all reality, the 6’1” and 210-lb 21-year-old JC-transfer junior will stay at Auburn for another year. If he doesn’t, he’s making a mistake.

And WR Sammie Coates has been good, but the 6’2” and 201-lb redshirt sophomore doesn’t look like an ubur-stud, and I prefer for redshirt sophomores to declare outrageously early only when they look like ubur-stud. Then again, some of the RotoViz studisticians might look at his market shares metrics and think he could be a great NFL player. Here are his 2013 stats:

Rec

Yds

Avg

TD

DR Rec

DR Yds

DR TDs

Total DR

Games

38

841

22.1

7

0.27

0.42

0.5

0.46

12

Coates’ raw stats aren’t big, but his DR is out of control for an SEC receiver. I hope Coates returns to Auburn for 2014, works on his connection with Marshall, becomes a more nuanced route runner, tears up the SEC, and then declares for the 2015 Draft as a likely top-50 pick. I’m intrigued by Coates, but I think it’s one year too soon for him to enter the NFL, as he has almost no draft hype now. In 2014, he’d be lucky to be a fourth-round pick. With another solid season, he might be a low-end first-round pick in 2015.

The one player to watch on Auburn is lead RB Tre Mason. For the past two years, the 5’10” and 205-lb 20-year-old true junior has led the Tigers in rushing, and with his production he seems likely to declare for the 2014 Draft after the Championship Game. Here are his stats from the last two years:

Year

Att

RuYds

RuAvg

RuTD

Rec

ReYds

ReAvg

ReTD

Ret TD

Games

2012

171

1002

5.9

8

7

86

12.3

0

0

12

2013

283

1621

5.7

22

11

121

11

0

1

13

Great raw stats, and although I don’t normally like smallish RBs a guy who weighs more than 200 lbs and has two straight seasons of strong production definitely piques my interest (think Giovani Bernard), especially if that guy does well in pre-draft workouts.

By nQBDR metrics, Mason doesn’t seem like a future NFL workhorse, but I think his 2013 workload and his strong raw production over the past two years suggest that he has underappreciated potential. (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. Also, note that “Adj nQBDR” is a total nQBDR that removes games against non-FBS opponents and contests that an RB exited early due to injury.) Here are Mason’s nQBDR numbers for the 2012 and 2013 seasons:

Year

nQBDR Carries

nQBDR Yds

nQBDR TDs

Tot nQBDR

Adj nQBDR

Games

2012

0.53

0.56

0.5

0.53

0.56

12

2013

0.59

0.5

0.63

0.56

0.61

13

Again, not great nQBDR numbers, but with a guy who has two straight 1000-yard seasons (one of which is a 1700-yard season) I tend not to put too much emphasis on nQBDR. This guy is still a stud.

For me, a lot will depend on Mason’s pre-draft workouts. If he’s under 200 lbs, that won’t be a big deal—as long as he has a good 40 time and Agility Score. In that case, he could be a Jamaal Charles or C.J. Spiller type of player. If he’s over 200 lbs, I won’t care so much about his 40 time, but his Agility Score will still be important. As a 21-year-old rookie, Mason could have lots of value in dynasty leagues, with the upside of someone like Ray Rice, Ahmad Bradshaw, or a non-injured David Wilson. If, however, Mason is smaller and slower than anticipated, then he could be merely a taller Jacquizz Rodgers or Dion Lewis. That’s not horrible, but that’s not really valuable. Again, for me, a lot will depend on Mason’s true measurements and timed athleticism.

#1 Florida State (13-0, ACC)
Let’s just get this out of the way: If Shameis Winston were a draft-eligible QB, he’d be this draft’s Cam Newton, both in upside and in “character concerns.” At this point, his 2013 season is as good as (if not better than) Teddy Bridgewater’s 2013, and if he were in the 2014 Draft he’d probably be the #1 pick: Outstanding talent, questionable morals and judgment, one more year of college football, no more need to mention him.

Unlike Auburn, which relies primarily on Mason for its rushing production, FSU employs a platoon of three true junior RBs: lead back Devonta Freeman, steady pounder James Wilder Jr., and safety-to-tailback Karlos Williams. Here’s how the three RBs have done in the years they’ve been more than role players in FSU’s offense:

Player

Year

Att

RuYds

RuAvg

RuTD

Rec

ReYds

ReAvg

ReTD

Games

*2012

Devonta Freeman

111

660

5.9

8

10

86

8.6

0

14

2013

Devonta Freeman

162

943

5.8

13

19

257

13.5

1

13

*2012

James Wilder Jr.

110

640

5.8

11

19

141

7.4

2

14

2013

James Wilder Jr.

78

542

6.9

8

3

27

9

0

12

2013

Karlos Williams

86

705

8.2

11

7

63

9

0

12

Given that FSU has historically relied on more than one RB in any given year, nQBDR numbers probably don’t have much significance, but let’s look at them anyway, as well as the sizes and ages of the RBs:

Player

Year

nQBDR Carries

nQBDR Yds

nQBDR TDs

Tot nQBDR

Adj nQBDR

Games

Ht

Wt

Season Age

*2012

Devonta Freeman

0.28

0.26

0.22

0.24

0.26

14

69

203

20

2013

Devonta Freeman

0.43

0.37

0.36

0.37

0.37

13

69

203

21

*2012

James Wilder Jr.

0.28

0.25

0.31

0.28

0.26

14

74

229

20

2013

James Wilder Jr.

0.23

0.23

0.25

0.24

0.24

12

74

229

21

2013

Karlos Williams

0.24

0.3

0.31

0.31

0.31

12

73

223

20

While Freeman has been the most productive of the three RBs (based on raw stats), he is small and somewhat inefficient with the carries he does get. Freeman is basically like Auburn’s Mason (except with less production): He’ll need to do well in his pre-draft workouts, and his true size and timed athleticism will be important. He could be a Giovani Bernard type of player, but he also could just be another small RB from FSU.

Wilder Jr. is intriguing, primarily because of his size and a little because of his youth, but he also hasn’t been efficient with his carries, and he hasn’t shown anything as a receiver in 2013. I like big RBs a lot—but not many big RBs have success in the NFL when they haven’t had at least one 1000-yard season in college—and even fewer of those have unspeakably low nQBDRs. If Wilder Jr becomes a stud in the NFL, it will probably mean that 1) he was horribly underused at FSU and 2) he has fantastic athleticism. Not sure if either of those is the case.

Honestly, Williams is the most intriguing of the three, but he’s also the least likely to declare for the 2014 Draft because he’s still learning the RB position, having just switched to it from defensive back at the very beginning of the season. Like Wilder, Williams is big—but he’s one year younger and actually efficient with his carries. He probably won’t be a rookie next year, but he’s young enough to be able to return FSU without it hurting his draft stock—in fact, his stock would probably improve, as Freeman and Wilder Jr would be gone and he’d get to take on a bigger role in what’s likely to be Jameis Winston’s final college season. He may not touch the ball all that much in the Championship Game, but look out for Karlos Williams in 2014.

Just as FSU feeds the ball to three different RBs, it also distributes its receiving production primarily to three WRs. In fact, FSU could have three different 1000-yard WRs by the end of the Championship Game: Kelvin Benjamin, Rashad Greene, and Kenny Shaw. Here are their stats for the last three years (note that Benjamin has been playing for only two years):

Player

Year

Class

Rec

Yds

Avg

TD

RuYds

RuTD

Ret TD

Games

Kelvin Benjamin

*2012

rFR

30

495

16.5

4

33

0

0

14

Kelvin Benjamin

2013

rSO

50

957

19.1

14

0

0

0

13

Rashad Greene

*2011

FR

38

596

15.7

7

44

0

0

9

Rashad Greene

*2012

SO

57

741

13

6

30

1

2

14

Rashad Greene

2013

JR

67

981

14.6

9

9

0

0

13

Kenny Shaw

*2011

SO

34

418

12.3

4

0

0

0

13

Kenny Shaw

*2012

JR

33

532

16.1

3

0

0

0

14

Kenny Shaw

2013

SR

52

929

17.9

6

0

0

0

13

Benjamin is only 43 yards away from having a 1000-10 season, and he ended 2013 on a complete tear. Also, at this point, Greene is leading the team in receptions and receiving yards—a feat he’s accomplished each of the last three seasons. And although he doesn’t have the hype of the other two Kenny Shaw has more receptions than Benjamin in 2013 and a higher receiving average than Greene. He’s been a steady contributor as a slot receiver. Here are the DRs and listed measurements of the three WRs:

Player

Year

Class

DR Rec

DR Yds

DR TDs

Total DR

Games

Ht

Wt

Kelvin Benjamin

*2012

rFR

0.1

0.13

0.17

0.15

14

77

234

Kelvin Benjamin

2013

rSO

0.19

0.23

0.35

0.29

13

77

234

Rashad Greene

*2011

FR

0.22

0.26

0.39

0.33

9

72

180

Rashad Greene

*2012

SO

0.2

0.2

0.25

0.23

14

72

180

Rashad Greene

2013

JR

0.25

0.23

0.23

0.23

13

72

180

Kenny Shaw

*2011

SO

0.14

0.13

0.16

0.15

13

72

170

Kenny Shaw

*2012

JR

0.12

0.14

0.13

0.14

14

72

170

Kenny Shaw

2013

SR

0.19

0.22

0.15

0.19

13

72

170

By this table, Benjamin clearly looks like the most intriguing player of the bunch, and the soon-to-be 23-year-old redshirt sophomore is likely to declare for the 2014 Draft. With his size, production, and expected draft status, Benjamin will be a guy to target in dynasty drafts almost regardless of what he does in his pre-draft workouts. With a slow 40 time, he could be a slightly shorter and thicker Plaxico Burress. Downside? USC Mike Williams or Reggie Williams. With a decent 40 time he could have some Larry Fitzgerald upside. With a fast 40 time, he could be a taller Andre Johnson. I won’t blaspheme by saying he could have Calvin Johnson upside—he doesn’t have that kind of speed—but the thing about Megatron is that he’d be good even if he were slower. Benjamin has Megatron size. If he were a poor man’s Megatron, that’d still be pretty frakking awesome.

Rashad Greene is 10 yards and a TD away from his first 1000-10 season, but he’s seemingly regressed since his true freshman year, when he managed a 0.33 DR. Since then, he’s had a 0.23 DR for two straight years. Although he shares some similarities with DeSean Jackson (as a sophomore he scored as a receiver, rusher, and returner), Greene may have D-Jax’s frame without his pure speed. At 180 lbs, Greene will need to run a 4.40 in order for my WR model to label him a desirable prospect. He could run that fast—but I have no way of knowing if he will. With 20 additional lbs, Greene could run an average 40 time and I wouldn’t really care as long as he were drafted in the first four rounds. At his weight, however, his 40 time is crucial.

And as for Kenny Shaw: Meh. He really hasn’t gotten much better each year when one looks at DR, but he’s likely to be a contributing senior on a National Championship team, and I could see how he gets a look as a slot WR in the NFL. But he weighs 170 lbs, and he’s scored only 6 TDs this year. Unless Shaw accumulates 100 scrimmage yards and 4 non-passing TDs in the National Championship Game and then runs around a 4.35-second 40 time at the Combine, he probably won’t be on any of my dynasty teams next year. I hope to be too busy drafting Kelvin Benjamin.

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