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3 Reasons You Should Like Tim Wright in New England

timwright

1. What New England spent. The Patriots sent away one of their starting offensive linemen, Logan Mankins. At a glance, that’s a pretty significant price. Looking a bit deeper, Here are the top 10 offensive linemen since 2000, as judged by Approximate Value.

Player From To Tm G GS Yrs PB AP1 AV
Jeff Saturday 2000 2012 TOT 200 200 13 6 2 156
Alan Faneca 2000 2010 TOT 175 175 11 9 6 134
Steve Hutchinson 2001 2012 TOT 169 169 12 7 5 118
Brad Meester 2000 2013 JAX 209 209 14 0 0 113
Matt Birk 2000 2012 TOT 188 187 12 6 0 110
Matt Light 2001 2011 NWE 155 153 11 3 1 109
Logan Mankins 2005 2013 NWE 130 130 9 6 1 108
Brian Waters 2000 2013 TOT 186 170 13 6 2 106
Jahri Evans 2006 2013 NOR 126 126 8 5 4 103
Walter Jones* 2000 2008 SEA 136 136 9 8 4 101

My point here isn’t to get into an in-depth analysis of offensive linemen, just to note that Mankins has a really good career going. It’s not like he’s “just a guy.” He’s been one of the most successful linemen of the century, and in fewer games than all but one of the other top 10. New England is in win now mode, given Tom Brady’s age, and the Pats surrendered a significant piece of their offensive line to get Tim Wright. It’s true that New England values draft picks, and that a fourth-round pick is desirable. It’s also true, as Matthew Freedman pointed out to me, that New England gets some salary cap relief. But again, I think New England is probably trying to win now, in which case the player, not the pick, was the real prize.

2. The New England Offense. Assuming that Wright is slated for “the Aaron Hernandez role,” that’s a valuable thing in and of itself. Hernandez garnered 260 targets in his three NFL seasons. In PPR points per game, he finished sixth (2012), third (2011), and 12th (2010). Apart from the schematic value for a New England tight end, there’s also probably a general opportunity value for a pass catcher. Aaron Dobson hasn’t fully returned from injury, nor has Rob Gronkowski. Danny Amendola is a likely injury report all star as well. Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, and Brandon LaFell are interesting to one degree or another, but neither so good nor so proven as to block Wright. So the potential for usage is decent.

3. Tim Wright the player. Coming out of college, Wright was not the world’s greatest TE prospect. He’s an undrafted, converted wide receiver. He’s undersized and not very agile. But he also wasn’t a bad prospect. He has excellent explosion and raw speed, and a very good market share of college pass targets1 for example. The TE Sim App offers an interesting set of comparables.

wright

Note the first name on the list? Aaron Hernandez. There are actually plenty of other interesting comps in this plot. Again, Wright’s profile is fairly unusual, so none of the comps is perfect in and of itself, but the collection of players to which Wright’s 2013 season compares is impressive. Here’s how Wright’s 2013 season compares to the average of his comps from the TE Sim App.

NAME SEAS AGE WEIGHT GMS TRGS RECS YDS YPR YPT TDS
Average Average 24.8 254.9 14.9 5.5 3.6 41.2 11.5 7.5 0.34
Tim Wright 2013 23 220 14 5.4 3.9 40.8 10.6 7.5 0.36

Consider Wright’s rookie season just compared to Hernandez’s. The fantasy community was pretty bullish on Hernandez heading into 2011. Wright’s rookie season was just as impressive.

wright3

 

One more illustration to support the notion that Wright is a viable TE prospect.

Player Year Age G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G AV
Jeremy Shockey 2002 22 15 14 74 894 12.08 2 59.6 8
John Carlson 2008 24 16 9 55 627 11.4 5 39.2 5
Tim Wright 2013 23 16 8 54 571 10.57 5 35.7 5
Aaron Hernandez 2010 21 14 7 45 563 12.51 6 40.2 8
Tony Moeaki 2010 23 15 15 47 556 11.83 3 37.1 6
Rob Gronkowski 2010 21 16 11 42 546 13 10 34.1 7
Dustin Keller 2008 24 16 6 48 535 11.15 3 33.4 6
Dwayne Allen 2012 22 16 16 45 521 11.58 3 32.6 4

That’s it. That’s every TE since 2000 with 500 or more receiving yards as a rookie. I’d say that’s really good company. Here’s how I look at it:

  • Wright is athletic enough to be successful;
  • His rookie season production was very impressive;
  • We’d be ecstatic if the Patriots acquired any of his comps2 in their second seasons; and
  • Therefore, we should be enthusiastic about Wright.

Are there concerns? Of course. It’s late in the preseason, and New England has a notoriously difficult playbook. It may be a challenge for Wright to be integrated into the offense quickly. Everybody else could stay healthy. But the upside is definitely worth pursuing.

———-

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  1. 17.4 percent. One of the most important elements in my TE model. Wright comes close to matching the profile for a late-round TE “Hit.”  (back)
  2. From either the TE App or the PFR table.  (back)

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