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2018 NFL Draft Prospect: D.J. Chark

D.J. Chark was one of the stars of the combine among the wide receiver group. He posted a great 40-yard dash time and performed well in the drills. And as you’d expect from this, his perceived draft stock is on the rise. NFL Draft Scout now ranks Chark as the fourth WR in the class behind only Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, and D.J. Moore, and projects him to be drafted in the first two rounds.

Chark enters the draft with questionable production but undeniable athleticism. And with an elevating draft stock, he’ll likely have an opportunity to succeed early.

College Production

Chark entered LSU’s system as a three-star WR prospect that ranked 59th in his high school class, nationally. But despite being a highly-regarded prospect for the Tigers, he was never utilized as a true top WR. Still, his efficiency and production suggest he’s a unique prospect.

From Anthony Amico’s SEC Preview:

D.J. Chark did not break out in three years at LSU but is gaining steam as a draft prospect. Helping that cause was his five-catch, 160-yard, one-TD performance in the Senior Bowl. Chark averaged 20.5 YPR for his career and rushed for 264 yards and four TDs. Increasing the intrigue around him, Chark is the only player since 2000 to have at least 1,000 receiving yards, 200 rushing yards, and average at least 19 YPR and nine YPC. It’s a unique statistic that validates Chark as a big play threat.

Chark didn’t see the field until his sophomore season and he only managed one touch that year, but that play was a 79-yard rushing touchdown.

 RecRec YardsRec TDsMS YardsMS TDsDOM
2014000000
2015000000
20162646630.200.250.225
20174087430.330.180.255
Career66135160.140.100.12

Chark’s market share numbers for his career fall well below the ideal range, but there’s reason to be optimistic about his production when you note that he took a major step forward during his final season.

In addition to the receiving numbers shown above, Chark handled 25 career rushing attempts for an average of 10.6 yards per carry.1 And to add optimism about his athletic profile, Chark returned 18 punts, including two for touchdowns, during his 2017 campaign.

NFL Prospect

With his combine, there’s little to no reason to believe that Chark will fall in the draft and if he’s drafted early, it should help open opportunities to play, right away. But is that, alone, enough reason to believe in the player as a fantasy asset? Kevin Cole’s production regression tree paints a fairly bleak picture.

wr_tree_prod_meas

Chark falls well short of the 29 percent career market share and his raw yardage in his final season falls short of 933. So Chark’s production is lacking, but if you compare that to his athletic profile, it paints a slightly different picture.

original_combineWRTree

For Chark, you have to make a couple of assumptions. If you assume that he would have bested the 4.1-second threshold for the short shuttle, he lands in a final node with a 40 percent historical success rate. I’m willing to make this assumption based on his speed and presumed agility based on his usage on punt returns.

But as we know, athleticism doesn’t have the same correlation for success as production. So the question still looms, will he be a valuable dynasty asset and could he produce a WR2 or better season within his first three seasons.  Prior to the combine, Amico ranked Chark No. 6 in the class based on the most recent update to his WR model. Moving up the draft board should also help his prospects.

My belief about Chark largely comes down to his average draft position. If he’s drafted in the first round of rookie drafts, I want no part of him. But with the running back depth in this class, he’s likely to be available at the top of the second round. His current DLF ADP from prior to the combine was at 32 overall. It’s fair to assume that will rise, but, at that value or anything beyond pick 15, he’s likely worth the risk.

 

  1. It falls to “just” 7.7 without his 79 yard run in 2015.  (back)

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