What are the odds that a prospect as young and accomplished as Stefon Diggs doesn’t succeed in the NFL?
That is the question I asked myself today before wading through the data. As it turns out, Stefon Diggs’ NFL comparables are really promising.
To round up this group of similar players, I looked for the following qualities:
- Drafted players,
- who are within six months of Diggs’ final season age (21.1),
- who weigh within ten pounds of Diggs’ weight (195),
- who accumulated at least 500 career kick return yards,
- and averaged at least 50 receiving yards per game for their career.
Here is the surprising group that resulted:
|WR||Draft||Overall||F Age||Wt||CAR KiRt Yds||CAR Yd/G|
In Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Jeremy Maclin and Golden Tate you have four of the top-13 fantasy receivers from the 2014 season. Let that sink in for a minute.
Elsewhere, you have a promising young player in Robert Woods, who has accumulated more than 1200 receiving yards in the NFL before his 23rd birthday, and Mike Thomas who peaked as the WR32 for fantasy in 2010… And then it gets ugly.
That said, to find a small wide receiver comparison group so easily and with such elite players is pretty encouraging. That doesn’t mean Diggs will be able to replicate their 2014 seasons or mirror their careers, but he certainly fits the bill.
Although Jacob Myers suggested that Diggs “lost the Combine” with his mediocre performance, I kind of don’t care that he’s only an average athlete. Why? Because his catch-run-return production was so dynamic that I feel pretty confident he’s “football athletic” enough to get on the field in the NFL. Here’s how he compares to the cohort:
While he’s not Odell Beckham-athletic, he’s certainly in the ballpark with Maclin, Woods and Tate, which is good enough for me. And who knows, maybe there’s still some physical upside with him as a result of him being a younger prospect with a relatively lean frame.
The Final Season Production
Earlier in the article I touched on Digg’s career production, but I want to circle back to what he did in his final season. Using the Box Score Scout, I was able to put together this table with a few of my favorite pass-catching metrics and a strength-of-schedule element. Note that Will Blackmon has been omitted from the app due to his limited college usage.
If you were worried about the downside players in the comparison group, I think Diggs’ on-field production should quell any of those concerns. He was responsible for a pretty significant percentage of Maryland’s passing yards in 2014, while also accumulating respectable raw stats against an above-average slate of opponents. Also, he was a special teams maven, which matters for identifying undervalued receivers. Overall, I don’t think there’s a chance he’ll get drafted as high as Beckham (12), Maclin (19), Woods (41) or Tate (60), but that’s exactly the point; Diggs is a talented young player that can be had at a discount and potentially blossom into a star for a patient NFL team. Considering his WR16 standing in the Rotoviz composite WR rankings, I think it’s equally likely that Diggs also makes a patient dynasty GM very happy.
Enjoy a brief highlight video of Diggs. The physics of the second play shown make my head spin.
Jon Moore is a contributor at RotoViz and a cohost of Rotoviz Radio – A Fantasy Football Podcast. Continue this conversation with him on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.