The RotoViz Wide Receiver Prospect Sweet 16 Tournament matches the top incoming prospects in a head-to-head March Madness style format. Various RotoViz writers break down each match-up with the winner moving on to the next round.
(2) Corey Davis vs (7) Curtis Samuel
(4) JuJu Smith-Schuster vs (12) Chris Godwin
JuJu Smith-Schuster bested K.D. Cannon in the first round to get to this point. Smith-Schuster brings with him a strong age-adjusted profile having over 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in his age 19 season as a sophomore. Thought by many to be a leading candidate to be the first WR off the board entering 2016, Smith-Schuster’s numbers fell a bit in his junior season with a new QB and a few nagging injuries. Will an elite 2015 season help him move on the to Final Four?
Chris Godwin pulled off the upset in the round of sixteen rather easily, moving past Zay Jones. Proving more athletic than expected at the combine, Godwin has made a steady rise up draft boards. With two solid years of production, Godwin also boasts one of the better age adjusted profiles in this tournament while also being touted for his ability to make contested catches. Can Godwin continue his Cinderella run and pull off another upset?
Blair Andrews – Chris Godwin: Godwin and Smith-Schuster look like fairly similar prospects from a production standpoint. Neither managed a career market share of receiving yards over 0.29 — the most important split in Kevin Cole’s regression tree. Neither managed 1,000 yards, though Godwin’s 982 yards on only 4.5 receptions per game land him in a node that has historically hit about half the time. Smith-Schuster’s final-year production lands him in the leftmost node, with a historical success rate of only 2.6 percent. Godwin also produced above-average results in all combine drills except the cone (though his shuttle time was excellent). Even though Smith-Schuster is nearly a year younger, I’m going with the production and athleticism in this matchup.
Pat Kerrane – Chris Godwin: The rookie draft cost for these two looks to be converging. Smith-Schuster is falling into the late first round range, while Godwin is moving into the early second. That makes sense given that they’re fairly similar prospects. Both peaked as 19 year old juniors with a 39 percent market share of yards. Both are 6 – 1 and within six pounds of one another. Godwin is more athletic but Smith-Schuster is nine months younger, beating Godwin in Phenom Index score as a result. I was originally planning to pick Smith-Schuster here, but I think there’s a real chance that Godwin is selected first in the NFL draft, so I’ll go with more heavily discounted player in Godwin.
Anthony Amico – JuJu Smith-Schuster: This match up is razor thin, and the expected cost gap between both players is even thinner. I’m going to side with Smith-Schuster who is younger, and was a better TD producer in his final two seasons than Godwin. He also broke out as a 17 year old freshman while playing opposite a first round pick.
Scott Smith – Chris Godwin: Ranking these players against each other is basically a toss up. Smith-Schuster looked like he could be the top-drafted WR headed into the 2016 season. While his numbers were elite that year and his draft status could be suffering a bit due to recency bias, an over looked item is that he was catching passes from an underrated Cody Kessler. Smith-Schuster came down to earth a bit in 2016 as he suffered through some injuries and a reshuffling of the QB deck. While Godwin may not have had quite as elite a season as Smith-Schuster, his overall resume is on par. The place where Godwin likely gets an advantage is in the athletic department. Godwin posted better numbers at the combine in vertical, broad jump and forty time. Add in the fact that Godwin could be taken slightly lower and I move Godwin into the Final Four by the slimmest of margins.
Matt Wispe – JuJu Smith- Schuster: Breakout age might be an overstated stat, but the fact that Smith-Schuster played at such a high level at a young age has to be considered. If he’d had his sophomore season stats during his final season, Smith-Schuster would likely be considered the top (or second) WR in the class.
Matthew Freedman – JuJu Smith-Schuster: I’ll go with the guy who’s young and likely to be cheaper than he should be.
Shawn Siegele – JuJu Smith-Schuster: The three best individual seasons from power conference players in this class were all in 2015, and they were authored by Isaiah Ford, Smith-Schuster, and Godwin. Smith-Schuster played much of that sophomore season at 18, dominating older players to the tune of 1,454 yards, 16.3 yards per reception, and 10 TDs.
Jordan Hoover – Chris Godwin: As has already been mentioned, Smith-Schuster and Godwin are extremely similar prospects. Size, final year production, and career market share all line up. Though the older of the two, Godwin is still relatively young and was the better TD producer in 2016. He also tested extremely well at the combine. The draft cost of these two prospects appears to be tightening, but I still think the discount is with Godwin. Because of his pedigree, it feels wrong picking against Smith-Schuster, but I’ll go with Godwin because of similar production and cheaper cost of acquisition.
Tim Talmadge – Chris Godwin: Chris Godwin basically got Christian Hackenberg selected in the second round. Seems like a strong tie breaker.
By the slimmest of margins, Chris Godwin will be moving on to face fellow upset specialist Taywan Taylor. Smith-Schuster certainly has his share of supporters as many see him as the next best thing after Corey Davis. Unfortunately in this match up, Godwin’s slightly cheaper price seems to have given him the nudge needed to advance. In the end Godwin holds a slight lead on a number of production metrics while Smith-Schuster had the more elite single season. Even with Godwin advancing, both of these receivers offer solid value for those not willing to invest the draft capital needed for the top tier guys.