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The Stefon Diggs Metrics You Shouldn’t Ignore

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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:

WRDraftOverallF AgeWtCAR KiRt YdsCAR Yd/G
Domenik Hixon200613021.2192117187.2
Golden Tate20106021.419990984.6
Jeremy Maclin20091920.6198204982.7
Stefon Diggs201513921.1195147279.5
Antonio Brown201019521.5186261278
Robert Woods20134120.7201136477.1
Jamison Crowder201513221.518593070
Mike Thomas200910721.619593267.3
Jerrel Jernigan20118321.5185158065.2
Tandon Doss201112321.3201154963.9
Will Blackmon200611521.2198280363.6
Odell Beckham20141221.2198104458.5

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.

The Measurables

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:

wrHtWtFortyVertBroadShuttle3ConeBMISpeed Score
Domenik Hixon741924.3924.6103.4
Golden Tate701994.42351204.347.1228.6104.3
Jeremy Maclin731984.4535.51204.257.0626.1101
Stefon Diggs721954.46351154.327.0326.498.6
Antonio Brown701864.5633.51054.186.9826.786
Robert Woods732014.5133.51174.477.1526.597.2
Jamison Crowder681854.56371154.327.1728.185.6
Mike Thomas681954.340.51264.286.6529.6114.1
Jerrel Jernigan691854.4637.51174.257.0727.393.5
Tandon Doss742014.6233.51164.226.9125.888.2
Will Blackmon721984.46411334.236.6726.7100.1
Odell Beckham711984.4338.51223.946.6927.4102.8

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.
stefon diggs comps picture
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 TwitterGoogle+ or Facebook.

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