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The Wideout Report: The 2014 Combine, Sammy Watkins, and The Discount Tavon Austin

sammywatkins

During the 2013 NFL season, I did Tuesday rundowns of all the NFL wideout situations. Given that perhaps the most important week of the NFL offseason just happened, I thought I’d put out a special 2014 Combine Edition. Look for some of these players to be discussed on the Feb. 25 @2MugsFF podcast. Also, check out RotoViz’s WR College Career Graphs; it’s where I’m pulling some of my stats from. Let’s get to it!

Sammy Watkins

You might not want to hear it, but Sammy Watkins is Torrey Smith in a year that lacks an obvious A.J. Green and Julio Jones.

Player

Class

Rec

Yds

Avg

TD

Plays

Yds

Avg

TD

Gms

MS Yds

MS TDs

Tot MS

Torrey Smith

JR

67

1055

15.7

12

76

1062

14

12

13

0.38

0.44

0.41

Sammy Watkins

JR

101

1464

14.5

12

107

1475

13.8

12

13

0.34

0.31

0.33

 

Those are the stats from each guy’s final college season. Despite my love for raw stats, I prefer Smith’s superior market share to Watkins’ sheer production. Here are their physical numbers:

 

Player

Ht

WT

40 Time

Speed Score

Short Shuttle

3 Cone

Agility Score

V Jump

Br Jump

Explosion Score

BP Rep

Rookie Age

Torrey Smith

73

204

4.43

105.93

4.13

6.72

10.85

41

126

167

19

22

Sammy Watkins

73

211

4.43

109.57

4.34

6.95

11.29

34

126

160

16

21

 

Watkins is bigger and younger as a prospect (and he did break out at as an 18-year-old true freshman), but they have the same speed, and Smith is stronger and more agile and explosive. I’m not saying that Sammy Watkins is a bad prospect: I think he’s worthy of a first-round pick in rookie drafts; he should have multiple top-30 WR seasons. But even with his three top-30 WR seasons so far, you wouldn’t use the #1 overall rookie pick on Torrey Smith, would you? Watkins may be a safe pick, but he’s probably not the right pick.

Odell Beckham Jr.

I know that some smart people really like Beckham, and he showed well at the combine. He’s sufficiently fast with a 4.43-second 40 time at 198 lbs, and his 160.5 explosion score and 10.63 agility score are respectively strong and insanely strong. Hell, even his 60-yard shuttle time of 10.93 seconds is good. But I’m not a fan of what he’s actually done on the field. I think he’s a smaller version of Da’Rick Rogers, who despite his talent did little against SEC teams, beating up on weak opponents instead.

Let’s look at the numbers: Beckham scored 9 TDs in 2013, one of which was a fluky 100-yard missed FG return late in a blowout. Anyway, here’s how Beckham got his TDs: 4 came against Alabama-Birmingham (2-10, CUSA) in a 56-17 blowout (the FG return TD came in this game); 1 came against Kent State (4-8, MAC) late in a 45-13 blowout; and 2 came against Furman (non-major FCS) in a 48-16 blowout. That means that 7 of Beckham’s 9 TDs were scored against non-SEC and vastly overmatched opponents in only 3 games. And those other 2 TDs? He scored both of them against Mississippi State (one of the weaker teams in the SEC) in a 59-26 blowout.

Of course, all of this means that in his remaining 7 games against SEC teams, he scored no TDs—and he averaged fewer than 60 receiving yards in these games. Beckham might turn into an NFL star, but let’s not pretend that he did anything particularly special in college. Honestly, I might prefer his LSU teammate.

Jarvis Landry

At just a shade under 6’0” and weighing 205 lbs, Landry has decent size—but his 4.77-second 40 time and 138.5 explosion score are brutal. Still, he outproduced Beckham at LSU with a strong 0.40 DR, he drops very few passes, and he scored 5 TDs in 4 of the 8 SEC games he played. On top of that, he averaged just under 105 receiving yards per SEC contest. That’s rare.

In general, if a WR has good size and college production and is selected in the top half of the draft, I can bring myself to overlook potential speed deficiencies, especially if he’s not old. I think Landry, who will turn 22 near the end of his rookie year, will still go in the first four rounds. Right now, I think he’s more Keenan Allen than Vincent Brown. Dynasty players who draft him late could end up with a future startable player.

Marqise Lee

So, just to clarify, he’s not big, not fast, not actually that young, and not coming off a strong final college season. Still, he broke out in college as a freshman (at the age of 20) and his 165 explosion score and 4.01-second short shuttle are strong. I won’t be drafting him, but if you want to draft this year’s Robert Woods, feel free.

Willie Snead

This is where I assert that Snead is the MAC Kendall Wright (I’ve made this assertion before). Similar height, weight, 40 time, and college production. I think Snead might be better—but that’s not saying much. His best-case scenario is Antonio Brown or Lance Moore. I don’t really believe in best-case scenarios.

Michael Campanaro

Just quietly letting you know that a guy named Michael Campanaro exists. He’s small (5’9” and 192 lbs), but he’s decently fast (4.46-second 40 time), and he’s agile, explosive, and strong. Most importantly, the 23-year-old rookie has had DRs of 0.46 and 0.48 over the last two seasons on more than 100 targets per year. Remember, I told you this in a typed whisper. Don’t tell anyone.

Jared Abbrederis

He’s got good agility, but he’s old, not fast for his weight, and not in possession of a truly spectacular DR. In other words, he’s not Michael Campanaro.

Paul Richardson

This is what DeSean Jackson looks like with a little less speed and much more collegiate production. The problem is that I wish he had D-Jax’s speed.

Tevin Reese

This is what a man who’s been told he looks like DeSean Jackson looks like. Stop looking.

Albert Wilson

Just so you know, Albert Wilson is the 2014 T.Y. Hilton with meat on his bones:

 

Player

Class

Rec

Yds

Avg

TD

Plays

Yds

Avg

TD

Gms

MS Yds

MS TDs

Tot MS

T.Y. Hilton

SR

72

1038

14.4

7

91

1162

12.8

8

13

0.37

0.47

0.42

Albert Wilson

SR

71

1177

16.6

8

95

1428

15

9

12

0.39

0.44

0.42

 

Both are Sun Belt “slot receiver / return men” who dominated their competition. On a raw-stat basis, Wilson was a little better than Hilton. Here’s how they compare physically:

 

Player

Ht

WT

40 Time

Speed Score

Short Shuttle

3 Cone

Agility Score

V Jump

Br Jump

Explosion Score

BP Rep

Rookie Age

T.Y. Hilton

70

179

4.37

98.17

4.36

7.03

11.39

35.5

119

154.5

7

23

Albert Wilson

69

202

4.43

104.90

4.21

7

11.21

37.5

123

160.5

10

22

 

So Wilson is slower, but he is stronger and has superior speed, agility, and explosion scores. By the way, I made my RotoViz bones pimping T.Y. Hilton (I pimped so hard), so if I’m comparing someone to T.Y. that means something to me. Wilson has legit talent, and right now no one is talking about him. (Buy low, buy now.)

Davante Adams

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “I frakking lurve Fresno State’s redshirt sophomore Davante Adams.” He fits the RotoViz Portfolio, and as Ryan Rouillard has shown Adams was totally dominant in the red zone: He’s basically Michael Crabtree at what’s likely to be a substantial discount. Jerricho Cotchery floor; Hakeem Nicks upside; a better version of good Stevie Johnson. One of the most outrageously underrated WRs of the 2014 class.

Brandon Coleman

Every year, some player is required to be over-drafted for reasons few can ascertain. last year it was Aaron Dobson. This year it will be Brandon Coleman. And, once again, it’ll be the Patriots. BB loves him some Rutgers.

Josh Huff

I’ve mentioned Huff before. I’m not under the impression that the 23-year-old rookie will be an All-Pro. I do, however, believe that he’ll be one of the better WRs selected on the third day of the draft. He’s got decent size (5’11” and 206 lbs), speed (4.51-second 40 time), production (1100-12, 0.34 senior-year DR), red zone TD rate (50%), and yardage per target (12.67). For a guy who’ll be easily acquirable, all of that’s pretty good.

Kelvin Benjamin

I can’t decide whether he should be called “K-Benzy” (because he’s so smooth) or “K-Benjy” (because he’s a man-child who will cause the sound and the fury of debate to spread throughout the aged house of RotoViz). I like him because I value size, draft position, and college production. Others won’t like him because he is old for a rookie and not all that fast, and he didn’t manage even a 0.30 DR in any season. Here’s one thing in his favor: On only 19% of his team’s receptions, he achieved 29.30% of its receiving production. That’s pretty good.

Christopher Boyd

Sorry, Jon.

Jordan Matthews

Matthews has been so productive for so long in the SEC that it’s easy to take him for granted. He’s got everything. He broke out at a young age. He won’t be an old rookie. He’s had strong DRs for years. He’s got good size. And now, with his 4.46-second 40 time at 212 lbs, he has verified speed. I wish he scored more TDs, but I also wish the same thing about Andre Johnson, and he’s still awesome. That’s what Matthews is: He’s a small ‘Dre. Maybe that’s exceedingly optimistic, but he’s dominant almost every game he plays.

Donte Moncrief

If you combined Julio Jones athleticism with Alshon Jeffery’s college career, that player would be just a notch above Donte Moncrief. A 4.40-second 40 time at 221 lbs is big, as is an SEC breakout by an 18-year-old true freshman. Moncrief will turn 21 right as the season starts. I don’t like drafting players who don’t do well right before heading to the NFL, but I might make an exception for Donte. He truly has the highest upside of any WR in this class.

Allen Robinson

He’s got it all except for blazing speed. Still, he’s comparable to a lot of good players—and also some big WRs who’ve done little in the NFL. I’ll say what I said about Matthews: I wish he scored more TDs.

Quincy Enunwa

Here’s a guy who has no problem scoring TDs. I just wish he accumulated more yards. He’s big, fast, and young—and he’s strong in the red zone—but he managed only 7.84 yards per target in 2013, and it was his breakout season. I know that Jon Moore has recently considered him a winner in his post-combine metrics odyssey, but  I just can’t help but think that, no matter where I am in a draft, I’ll always be able to find a player I prefer to Enunwa, such as . . .

Jeff Janis

Janis wasn’t quite as productive in college as Miles Austin, but he’s bigger (6’3” and 219 lbs) and faster (4.42-second 40 time)—and with a 0.45 DR and three straight years of strong production at Saginaw Valley State he’s probably the best small-school WR prospect since . . . Miles Austin. Maybe Vincent Jackson. I’m hoping he doesn’t go before Round 4.

Brandin Cooks

He’s fast and young—everything you’re looking for in a . . . wait, what website is this . . .

Mike Evans

He’s the K-Benzy K-Benjy that we don’t really need to argue about. If he’s available, draft him. I don’t care if you have the #1 pick in a rookie draft. He’s the guy. Draft him.

John Brown

I’ve talked about Brown before, but now that we know he makes up for his size (5’10” and 179 lbs) with a 4.34-second 40 time and 11.03 agility score—not to mention three straight seasons of DRs above 0.42, a breakout season at the age of 18, and true versatility (6 rushing TDs and 6 return TDs in his career)—I think I can say that he’s the discount Tavon Austin. He’s got Tavon’s speed and versatility, except he’s bigger and was much more productive as a collegiate receiver. He may be a 24-year-old rookie from a small school, but he was invited to the combine and he outran every receiver there in the 40-yard-dash except for one, and that other guy just won the Biletnikoff Award.

Brown probably won’t be drafted before Round 4 (although I could see a Hilton-esque creep into the Round 3), so you should be able to get him if you want. All appearances to the contrary, I normally don’t like small receivers—but this guy has won me over. John Brown is my favorite sleeper of the 2014 class.

 

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