Freak Score is our scaled metric that uses height, weight, and speed to give an approximation of the TD-scoring potential for NFL prospects. The incomparable Calvin Johnson set the bar at 100. Julio Jones comes in at 84. You can use the Freak Score Calculator to explore results for your favorite prospect and find the historically similar players.
2017 WR Prospects
- Georgia State’s Robert Davis suddenly becomes a very compelling sleeper, especially after also lighting up the combine with a 41-inch vertical and a 6.82 three-cone. Davis is second in Sun Belt history in receiving yardage behind T.Y. Hilton.
- Former top prospect and 2016 breakout Josh Malone should move up draft boards after running a 4.4. His other measurables were not as impressive.
- Super sleeper Kenny Golladay showed off plus athleticism at 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds. He matched Corey Davis in market share production among MAC superstars in 2015 and 2016.
- A 68 is an absurd Freak Score for someone of John Ross’ size. With Corey Davis possibly sidelined through the draft and Mike Williams reticent to run, Ross could threaten to be the first WR off the board in both reality and fantasy.
- Chris Godwin ran a 4.42 at 6-foot-1, 209 pounds. Ben Gretch recently noted that “Godwin has early college dominance, declaring early, TD production, yards per reception, and size covered.” You can now add athleticism.
- Zay Jones silenced the doubters and added fuel to the fire for his true believers. His athletic numbers are further buoyed by a 133-inch broad jump and a 4.01 short shuttle.
- Amba Etta-Tawo has been a forgotten man during draft season. He ranked No. 27 in the last RotoViz Scouting Index. That’s well behind WRs with lesser production and also behind plenty of receivers with inferior athleticism. His 58 Freak Score should finally allow him to move ahead of prospects who were both unproductive and unathletic.
- Travin Dural was rumored to have 4.3 speed, but his 4.57 doesn’t look like a fluke in the context of a 30.5-inch vertical. When taken in concert with a production collapse, he’s no longer draftable.
- Cooper Kupp’s insane production doesn’t just disappear after he disappointed with a 4.62 forty and 31-inch vertical, but he’s more likely to go on day three of the draft.
- I argued that Shelton Gibson’s explosiveness might even be a counterintuitive red flag, but discovering that he’s not explosive is probably the nail in his draft coffin. He performed well in the agility tests but qualifies as perhaps my biggest disappointment.
- Isaiah Ford is this year’s combine loser who could still make future fantasy owners happy. He sports the best peak season and best career market share numbers for an underrated group of true juniors.
- Artavis Scott and Travis Rudolph now look like players who are only on draft radars due to their presence in big-name programs. Small, slow and lacking in explosion, Scott and Rudolph should tumble down boards.
- I still like Trent Taylor better than Ryan Switzer. Both are possession receivers with rock bottom Freak Scores but impressive agility.
Why Do We Care About Freak Score?
For more information on the relationship between height, weight, and NFL results, I recommend Jim Kloet’s excellent 2015 study showing the relationship of height and weight to NFL performance.
Heavier WRs were more productive than lighter WRs, even after controlling for a number of other important factors. This is in line with the bigger is better hypothesis, and supports the work done here by Fantasy Douche and others showing that WR weight predicts performance even after controlling for draft position…
Second, height was a significant predictor of receptions, catch rate, and touchdown rate, and a marginally significant predictor of yards per reception…1 For yards per reception and touchdown rate, taller is better. As the average height of WRs in our sample increased, so did the yards per catch, and the rate at which receptions were converted into touchdowns.
Kevin Cole’s 2015 regression tree study shows that weight is the most important combine metric for WRs, with a threshold around 208 pounds and another at 218. In this analysis, speed also features as a positive for both big and small receivers. Fantasy Douche has also demonstrated that height is the most important element in projecting red zone TD rate. Finally, it’s worth remembering that the population of NFL receivers is much heavier than that of college WRs.
Simply performing well at the combine doesn’t redeem a player who failed to perform in college, and that helps explain why production trumps athleticism at the WR position. But all else being equal, you want your devy WRs2 to post strong Freak Scores.
You can do more research into the top-40 WR prospects by delving into their career trajectories as expressed in raw and market share numbers.
True Juniors: The Least Buzz but the Best Prospects
Redshirt Junior Wide Receivers: Under-the-Radar Prospects Threaten the 2 Stars
Senior Wide Receivers: The Best Big WR and the Best Small WR in the Class?
Redshirt Senior Wide Receivers: Overrated Big Names Clash with the Super Sleepers