One of the difficult things to do when evaluating prospects is to mentally correct for varying levels of competition. A legitimate question to ask is whether an adjustment is even needed. For instance, a receiver that faces subpar opponents is also probably catching passes from a QB that wasn’t a top recruit in high school either. That issue makes its way into RB evaluation as well. A running back facing below average competition is also probably running behind a below average line.
In the case of Davante Adams I honestly have no idea whether or how to correct for the level of competition he faced. Also, unlike lots of prospects coming out of weaker conferences, Adams actually probably had an upper tier QB getting him the ball (Derek Carr is expected to be drafted fairly highly). I’ve run all kinds of tests to try to tease out some predictive relationships in the strength of schedule data and I have to admit I have jack shit to show for it.
So while I can say that Sammy Watkins (for example) faced more top flight defenses than Adams did, I don’t really know what that means. Also, it’s tough to say what the actual impact of facing soft defenses might be. In some cases it just leads to starters playing half a game.
If an example helps you think about strength of schedule, consider that Roddy White played a very soft schedule at UAB and he’s done just fine in the NFL. That’s an anecdote to illustrate what I’ve found when running the numbers. It seems like SOS should matter, I just have no idea how it does matter.
So while I would be inclined to hang all sorts of caveats on Davante Adams’ report card, doing so might not actually be justified. Here’s his report card, in the same format I’ve been using.
*Market share numbers are averages of per game market shares, rather than a seasonal aggregate number. GMSDOM = number of times in a college career the player had a Dominator Rating of .35
The measures where Adams really blows the doors off are the raw production measures and Market Share of TDs. He’s essentially average on the physical component. He’s average on Market Share of yards. And he’s decently young for a player with his accomplishments.
One of the commenters for a recent piece stated it best when he said that it’s going to be tough figuring out how to break the logjam in the late first round of rookie drafts between Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews. I think that’s exactly right and it’s an issue that most likely will come down to post-draft situation.