The Prospect Report Card Saga continues with Jarvis Landry. Let’s start with the Report Card.
Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. Landry is a solid prospect by every production variable. His high scores in all the production variables are even more striking because of the fact that he played with another WR, Odell Beckham Jr, who is actually ranked higher than him. That’s fairly puzzling to me. Take a look at the heat map from the College Career Graphs App:
In a vacuum, Beckham’s numbers are solid. Good yards/target, solid market share percentages, and a low, but not awful, red zone TD rate. But then compare them to Landry’s numbers. Landry’s final season is better than Beckham’s, as is his growth over time. These three charts illustrate this nicely. Landry is blue, Beckham is orange.
So if you were to look at these charts without the benefit of knowing the player names, which would you prefer? Based on production, while sharing a market with Beckham, Landry looks like the better prospect. Perhaps the best thing going for Landry is his excellent red zone productivity; you might be surprised to know his market share of red zone TDs is the best in the 2014 receiving class. In fact, in addition to besting his teammate Beckham, his collegiate TD/G rate is better than Keenan Allen’s and Rueben Randle’s. In one of this offseason’s best bits of research, Landry also bests Beckham, Jordan Matthews, and Cody Latimer on the Phenom Index. All those players are expected to be drafted before Landry, which could make him a bargain in both real and fantasy football.
So far I’ve really emphasized Landry’s positive attributes. But there are definitely some cautionary attributes as well. His weight is just barely above average, but the bigger issue is his 40 time. That time is truly awful for a WR. He did improve that time to a 4.6 at his pro day, but that’s still pretty bad.
Here’s the thing about 40 times. They really do matter. Yes, they do. But NFL teams also account for 40 times, so where Landry is drafted will probably mean as much or more than the time itself. It’s tempting to just discard the 40 time and lock on to his production. But let’s have some context for 40 times first. The Mock Draftable database goes back to 1999. Here are the very best WRs to run a 40 similar to Landry’s. This isn’t a cherry picked list; these are the only guys since 1999 who ran above a 4.7 who’ve had NFL success:
|Jarvis Landry||5′ 11½”||204||4.77|
|Anquan Boldin||6′ 1″||216||4.72|
|Jarrett Boykin||6′ 2″||217||4.72|
|Keenan Allen||6′ 2½”||206||4.71|
Right away it’s obvious that Boldin and Boykin are quite a bit bigger than Landry and so aren’t very good comps. Keenan Allen is of course interesting and Landry could of course turn out to be as good as Allen looks to be. But that’s kind of a thin thread to pin your hopes on.
I think it’s absolutely fair to penalize Landry as a prospect because of his poor physical measurables. But I also think it’s likely to be overdone. For one thing, he outplayed Beckham under identical circumstances, so I don’t see why he can’t do that in the NFL as well. For another, there are three sub 70 inch WRs projected to be drafted before him. Um, no. Landry’s size, age, and red zone dominance all make him a much better prospect than those players (Robert Herron, Dri Archer, Bruce Ellington). Jared Abbrederis is also expected to be drafted ahead of Landry. That’s kind of an interesting comparison in terms of production (hit the career graphs app to see a production comparison) and even size. But Abbrederis is a fair bit older than Landry, and no better in the red zone. And other than Nick Toon in 2011 he hasn’t had to share a field with another NFL caliber receiver. Then there some other guys I think you could make a good debate about where they rank vis-a-vis Landry, like Martavis Bryant and Paul Richardson. What am I saying? CBS Sports has Landry as the 18th WR in this class. I’d put him much higher, maybe as high as 10th.
So for my sake, I’m thinking of Landry as a player with more upside than he’s being given, which makes him an interesting player to keep an eye on. I think his production and career trajectory offset his physical measurable concerns to a large degree, which leads me to think he’ll outproduce his (real and fantasy) draft slot. I want players like that, because they obviously make my roster better, but they also make good trade bait. But that’s just me; what do you think? Hit me up on twitter or in the comments, and as always, thank you for reading.