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2014 Composite Rookie WR Rankings

The wait is over.  After months of articles and debates, it’s finally time to reveal the RotoViz WR Rankings for the 2014 NFL Draft!

First, an editor’s note on methodology. The RotoViz writing crew ranked TEs and QBs 1-15, and then ranked RBs and WRs 1-30. The number of players ranked is roughly based on how many players are selected at each position in the draft each year. Those ranks were then used to generate a Composite Score so that we can get both raw rankings, and also tiers (which are visualized in the graph below).

The way this works is as follows: a ranking of 1 for a wide receiver gives that player a score of 30, a 2 gets the player a 29, and so on (note that for QBs and TEs the max score a player could get would be a 15). The score is essentially the inverse of the rank. Then we average the score for each of our writers to get the Composite Score. Again, the point of doing this extra step is to get to tiers for each position. Also, this overcomes an issue that can be seen in ADP data, where a player like Tim Tebow will be taken in a small number of drafts, but will infect the average position data because he’s drafted highly in that small subset. This will make more sense after you’ve viewed the graph below.

rsz_wr_plot_tiers

Tier 1: The Top Dogs

WRHtWt40VertFinal MSydsFinal TD
Mike Evans76.62314.5337.030%12
Sammy Watkins72.52114.4334.034%12

1) Mike Evans

Our top ranked receiver for the 2014 NFL Draft is Mike Evans, which probably could have been anticipated considering he won the RotoViz WR prospect championship. Although his comparables are exceedingly scattershot, Mr Douche sums it up perfectly by saying “if you have a top 2 pick in your rookie draft…I don’t think you can really afford to pass him up.” Whiskey Tango Foxtrot said about Evans “I’m taking Evans over everyone. He’s the unicorn in this draft. The film guys and the stat guys love him. He’s young, he’s the most physically impressive receiver, and for all he’s talked about, we don’t make much of how athletic he is.” The potential buzzkill on Evans, as Shawn Siegele points out, is the distinct possibility that he lands in a turbulent destination like Buffalo or Tampa Bay, but that remains to be seen. If you’re looking for a blemish on his resume, it would probably be that he only caught 30% of Texas A&M’s yards–that drops down to 26% if you remove the Alabama game. One might ask, if he’s really that exceptional, why wasn’t he more consistently dominant throughout 2013?  By contrast, you could hypothesize that really great players have the psycho Michael Jordan gene that requires them to go berserk in the biggest games (see: Alabama 2013, Auburn 2013).  Bottom line: Evans’ upside is too rare and his track record is too respectable to be anything other than the WR1 in this class.

 

2) Sammy Watkins

You’ve probably seen more anti-Watkins pieces than positive ones in recent months, which might be confusing because he’s so similar to a 2013 receiver we loved. Here’s the the thing to remember though, via Fantasy Douche, “I think we’re having a collective mild negative reaction to where Watkins is rumored to be going in the NFL draft, which is probably somewhere in the top 5.” In other words, I think Team RotoViz generally likes Watkins as a great prospect, but we’re a little skeptical that he should join Calvin Johnson as a Top 6 Overall Pick. Then again, him getting drafted too highly probably means he’ll have a great chance to succeed. WTF put it like this: “Sammy is going to be great. He outplayed DeAndre Hopkins as a freshman and will go to a team that wants to make him a big part of the game plan. Let’s not overthink it.” Shawn Siegele, who has had Watkins #1 since his early wide receiver rankings, furthers this idea by saying, “Watkins figures to see 130-plus targets as a rookie (and in perpetuity). He’s not as talented as many believe, but he’s plenty talented enough to be a WR1 on that volume.” The biggest detractors are me and Davis Mattek, who recently explained why Watkins is an arbitrary superstar.  So, why do I have him 4th? I absolutely think he’s a premium talent, but this WR class is just so deep. Jordan Matthews and Allen Robinson had significantly better age-weighted production at both age 19 and age 20 while being at least as good athletically. Then again, Watkins will probably have much greater opportunities to contribute than those two, at least in the early going.

 

Tier 2: Doubt At Your Own Risk

WRHtWt40VertFinal MSydsFinal TD
Allen Robinson74.12204.6039.048%6
Jordan Matthews74.62124.4635.550%7

3) Allen Robinson

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Allen Robinson is a first round talent. In fact, I think Allen Robinson is the best receiving prospect in this draft. He has the sixth best Phenom Index score on record and is a fantastic athlete. Detractors might discount his B1G Ten pedigree, but I would contend that he is bigger and more productive than recent B1G Ten flops. James Todd says “To the extent that projecting any player is a random affair, this is the type of player to throw a lot of darts at.” Meanwhile, Shawn Siegele calls him “a good fit for teams that already have a No. 1 and want to put together a Marshall/Jeffery-type duo.” If you’re looking for a reason to nitpick, you would probably point to his lack of touchdowns, but I am fairly convinced that he does not have a red zone problem.

 

4) Jordan Matthews

Upon discovering the exceedingly optimistic Jordan Matthews comparables, Mr Douche summarized the case for Jordan Matthews like this: What are the odds that a player weighing over 210 pounds, running under a 4.5 forty, with a lengthy resume of college production while still being fairly young, isn’t going to be a very good NFL receiver? If that’s not enough for you, consider that he has dominated the most games of any receiver in recent memory and is strikingly similar to Sammy Watkins (yes, really, Sammy Watkins). Scott Smith says “I think his work ethic will shine when he gets to the pros. He may never be elite but will put together a nice career.” Shawn Siegele says: “If Matthews can be one of the greatest Dominator Rating receivers in the past decade without activating his tools, imagine what he’ll be like when he starts playing up to his athletic ability.” Based on everything I look at, Matthews has been well above an elite trajectory for three seasons and has sufficient athleticism to be a great pro.

 

Tier 3: One Step Away

WRHtWt40VertFinal MSydsFinal TD
Davante Adams72.92124.5639.534%24
Brandin Cooks69.81894.3336.036%16

5) Davante Adams

I think about both players in this tier as one step away from being elite prospects. The one step for Davante Adams is his small-conference track record. In 2013 he posted one of the greatest seasons in college football history…while playing the Mountain West Conference. Should we ding him for that? I don’t know. Does it increase the uncertainty around the situation? I think so.  Conference aside, Adams’ metrics are off the charts, highlighted by his outrageous red zone dominance. The Fantasy Douche says “I’m probably as high as anyone on Adams. If he were two inches taller (or hell, 1.75 inches taller) I would move him into my top spot.” If you enjoy the comparables approach, DeAndre Hopkins and Hakeem Nicks appear in Davante’s peer group.

 

6) Brandin Cooks

The one step for Brandin Cooks is his size; everything else about him is really impressive. In fact, I think he deserves consideration as the best small-WR prospect in the last decade. In his exploration of small receivers, Jacob Myers said “He’s probably as close to a lock as a small WR can be.” Elsewhere, Scott Smith suggested that “Cooks is basically Percy Harvin with better skills as a receiver.” To illustrate the absurd depth of this class, I think Brandin Cooks is in a different (and better) tier than Tavon Austin, who went 8th overall last year–Cooks is 6th in this class. Aside from fantasy utility, Fantasy Douche offered an interesting take on smaller receivers in the draft: “I don’t think it would be that ridiculous to advance a theory of drafting WRs which is essentially binary – Is the player big enough to be a #1? And then the players that aren’t would be banished to rounds 3-7 of the draft. Note that we don’t think it’s ridiculous to stay away from RBs in the first round of the draft. I think eventually we’ll think of small WRs in the same way. From a fantasy standpoint though I suspect Cooks will score a good amount of points over his career.”

 

Tier 4: The Unsolved Mysteries

WRHtWt40VertFinal MSydsFinal TD
Donte Moncrief74.12214.4039.525%6
Odell Beckham Jr.71.31984.4338.535%8
Marqise Lee71.81924.5238.032%4

7) Donte Moncrief

If you’re into physically gifted receivers, Moncrief is your guy. At 220lbs he ran a 4.4 forty with an 11 foot broad jump and 39.5″ vertical, earning the title of human cheat code. However, if he’s such a physical specimen, where was the production in 2013?  Shawn Siegele summed him up perfectly: “If there’s an Andre Johnson or Julio Jones in this draft, it’s probably Donte Moncrief. If there’s a Stephen Hill in this draft, it’s probably Donte Moncrief.”

 

8) Odell Beckham Jr.

At the risk of making a totally douchy move, I think a lot of Team RotoViz’s hesitancy about Beckham can be summarized by a single tweet:

It’s not that Beckham isn’t a good prospect, he’s just not really a WR1 type, so that kinda limits our thought on how valuable he’ll be. On the optimistic side, Shawn Siegele thinks Randall Cobb is a comparable of Beckham’s. An interesting story line related to Beckham is the fact that his teammate Jarvis Landry had much better on-field metrics than Beckham. James Todd says “I really think he’s overrated. I find it difficult to put him higher, when he was out-produced by the athletically inferior Jarvis Landry. Landry’s career arc is also better than Beckham’s, in my opinion. It’s been suggested that the production differences between the two are accounted for by scheme and player role within the offense. That just begs the question: why was Beckham’s role to be the Robin to Landry’s Batman?” Interesting thought…

And then there’s Mr RotoViz Staff, who just said “God I hope the real OBJ doesn’t have a Google alert set to his name because if he does, he probably hates RotoViz. “

 

9) Marqise Lee

If you can keep an open mind for a minute, this piece comparing Marqise Lee to Sammy Watkins is pretty thought provoking. It’s easy to forget now, but had Lee entered the 2013 NFL Draft, it’s conceivable that he could have been a top 10 pick. Shawn Siegele said, “I’m tempted to say 2013 Antonio Brown is Marqise Lee’s healthy floor. But that would be ridiculous.”

 

Tier 5: Swing for the Fences

WRHtWt40VertFinal MSydsFinal TD
Cody Latimer742154.4439.030%9
Kelvin Benjamin772404.6132.523%15

10) Cody Latimer

Since he didn’t workout at the NFL Combine, there wasn’t a lot of buzz about Cody Latimer until later in the process. We knew his Phenom Index score was excellent and that he had surprisingly good comparables, but things really reached a fevered pitch when Latimer ran in the low 4.4s at his pro day with a 39″ vertical. In fact, if you compare apples to apples, Cody Latimer looks a lot like Allen Robinson. Scott Smith says “Has the attributes to compete with the players ranked higher on this list…but will likley take a year or two longer to develop.” Latimer is a pretty big unknown, but I think it’s possible that he could go higher in the real draft than he did in the latest rookie mock draft. Would that be surprising? Yes. Is it impossible? I really don’t think so.

 

11) Kelvin Benjamin

Here’s an interesting thought from Matt Freedman: “If Calvin Johnson were slower and dropped a few more passes, would he still be a good player?” A lot of our analysis on Kelvin Benjamin has centered around the idea that he’s older (but still raw), a freak (who was hardly the focal point of the Heisman-winning QB) and not terrifically athletic. I think the general consensus is that he’s not really WR1 material, even though that’s the portrait everybody paints. Then there’s also the story that he blew off an NFL coach. But what if we’re asking the wrong question? Is it possible that a TD Machine like Benjamin is a TE1? Personally, I have a much easier time digesting him in that role and Scott Smith agrees with me saying “I don’t know if an NFL GM will draft him as such, but Kelvin Benjamin’s best chance at success in the NFL may be at TE”. If that’s the case, I wonder where Benjamin would have ranked in the composite rookie TE rankings.

 

Tier 6: The Intriguingly Flawed

WRHtWt40VertFinal MSydsFinal TD
Paul Richardson72.31754.4038.046%10
Jarvis Landry71.52054.7728.537%10
Jeff Janis74.92194.4237.545.3%14

12) Paul Richardson

When Shawn Siegele proposes that someone could be the Keenan Allen of 2014, it’s probably worth noting. Richardson has quietly had an excellent career and boasts some excellent market share metrics. The problem is that he only weighs 175lbs.

 

13) Jarvis Landry

Pretty much everything you need to see about Jarvis Landry can be found here.

 

14) Jeff Janis

Davis Mattek wrote a love story about Jeff Janis (and Janis retweeted it), and Fantasy Douche named him one of nine sleepers to win your rookie draft. The big caveat here is that he played at Saginaw Valley State, which reminds me of Grand Valley State and my 2013 receiver crush Charles Johnson.

 

Tier 7: The Lottery Tickets

WRHtWt40VertFinal MSydsFinal TD
Quincy Enunwa742254.45N/A29%12
Albert WIlson692024.4337.539%8
Martavis Bryant75.82114.4239.019%7

15) Quincy Enunwa

Quincy Enunwa has a speed score over 110 and caught double digit touchdowns in 2013. Very few people in recent college football history can say that, which is why Quincy Enunwa is the Ultimate Lottery Ticket. Matt Freedman isn’t too excited though: “He’s going to be a great TD-catcher . . . in the arena league.” Meanwhile, Scott Smith proclaims “Enunwa has great measurables…I dub thee Greg Little v. 2.0”

 

16) Albert Wilson

This is probably the first name you’ve seen on this list and asked “who the f^ck is that guy?” If that’s the case, Jacob Myers has detailed why Albert Wilson is 2014’s most underrated. Fantasy Douche also had an interesting idea: “another guy that I think would work in the reverse McCluster role. Instead of drafting RBs and making them slot receivers, draft receivers and make them combo players.”

 

17) Martavis Bryant

If you like freak athletes who compare to Cordarrelle Patterson and/or Limas Sweed then Bryant is your man. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says “Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane.”

 

Tier 8: Everyone Else

For the complete list of our composite rankings, see the table below. Rankers are: FD=FantasyDouche, SS=Shawn Siegele, MF=Matthew Freedman, JM=Jon Moore, SS2=Scott Smith, JT=James Todd, DM=Davis Mattek, ZD=Zach Dietz, JM2=Jacob Myers, WTF=Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, RE=Ross Eagles.

If you want additional commentary about anyone we haven’t covered yet, leave a comment and we’ll get back to you. Enjoy!

2014 Rookie WR Composite Rankings

PLAYERFDSSMFJMSS2JTDMZDJM2WTFRECOMP
Mike Evans121323221111
Sammy Watkins212431432232
Allen Robinson548112354623
Jordan Matthews463264116454
Davante Adams355557543345
Brandin Cooks674645865566
Donte Moncrief899778677787
Odell Beckham Jr.787981113891078
Marqise Lee1131489612910999
Cody Latimer101014101010161011111010
Kelvin Benjamin1214612121210121681211
Jarvis Landry1511101711917118121112
Paul Richardson91211131315111418151513
Jeff Janis17151211141672014131314
Quincy Enunwa131921141713191612141415
Martavis Bryant181320222117151315181616
Albert Wilson142017151614991513201717
Dri Archer301613991899141799222018
Josh Huff212315182399231829251819
Michael Campanaro19301916991899930272920
Jared Abbrederis202625282499222522172721
Brandon Coleman259999992099202120191922
Bruce Ellington221728291999262799162423
Robert Herron991826992299212619232224
Chandler Jones242518202599992299992125
Mike Davis992799219999991924992326
Alex Neutz269999262899292417992627
TJ Jones992227239999992923282528
John Brown252116999999249999993029
Devin Street992899992799183027242830
Cody Hoffman992999992699272399219931
Willie Snead992430999999289921309932
Jeremy Gallon999999193099259999999933
Eric Thomas999922252999999999999934
Jeremy Butler999923992499999999999935
Jalen Saunders999999279999999926999936
Shaquelle Evans999999309999999925299937
Tevin Reese279999999999999999269938
Gerald Ford299924999999999999999939
Ryan Grant999999249999309999999940
L'Damian Washington239999999999999999999941
Bennie Fowler999999999999992828999942
Javontee Herndon289999999999999999999943
Matt Hazel999929999999999999999944


Jon Moore is a contributor at RotoViz and a coach at RotoAcademy.  Continue this conversation with him on Twitter or Google+.

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