The NFL draft creates an offseason hype machine like no other, and the reality often fails to live up to the buzz. The 2019 wide receiver class may be an exception. Shawn Siegele uses the RotoViz Box Score Scout to provide advanced metrics and player comps for the five best WRs in a year loaded with potential stars.
Although each of the last three years featured receiver bargains and yielded players who would turn into dynasty stars,1 this is the WR class we’ve been waiting for. Today, we’ll use the Box Score Scout to examine the top prospects from the post-combine version of the RotoViz Scouting Index.
The Box Score Scout
The new BSS allows you to look at raw and market share stats by position or select individual players for closer inspection. The Player Summary tab gives you combine results and career stats broken down by season. The Game Log tab provides the stats for every game played by the prospect, including a wealth of market share information. And finally, the Sims tab gives you closest comps for each prospect.
At receiver, the Sim Scores emphasize college production – career and final season market share numbers for receiving yards and touchdowns2 – along with weight, speed, and draft position. Our research indicates you should place an emphasis on yardage numbers over touchdowns in your projections, and we’ve done the same here. We also know that players who declare early outperform seniors, both on a raw basis and adjusted for draft position. The Sim emphasizes players who accumulated their stats in the same number of seasons, giving the edge to those who didn’t need the fourth season to improve their stats.
The BSS also lets you customize the draft position for prospects. We don’t yet know where these players will be drafted, and this feature helps you explore different scenarios. In providing comps today, I’ll use my current guess at where they may land.
Comps for the Top 5 WRs in the RSI
I’m going to omit Marquise Brown for now, and focus on receivers who have been able to participate more in the draft process.
No. 1 D.K. Metcalf: Avg Rank 1, RSI Score 100
|100||D.K. Metcalf||Ole Miss||15||0.18||0.26||0.23||0.71||4.33||228|
|90||Laquon Treadwell||Ole Miss||23||0.23||0.27||0.26||0.85||4.52||221|
|88||Donte Moncrief||Ole Miss||90||0.28||0.36||0.25||0.46||4.4||221|
|86||Chris Godwin||Penn State||84||0.26||0.30||0.28||0.85||4.42||209|
Despite his ridiculous Freak Score and lofty RSI ranking, Metcalf’s comps aren’t particularly good. In fact, the BSS doesn’t place him with many early first-round picks, even when we estimate his draft position at No. 15 overall. Metcalf’s poor career market share numbers put him in dangerous company with players like Breshad Perriman, Laquon Treadwell, and Cody Latimer.
Donte Moncrief was Metcalf’s top comp when we looked purely at athletic results using the Combine Explorer. If you’re optimistic that Metcalf’s 2018 season showed him turning a corner, be sure to check out his 20 closest athletic comps to see where he fits with players like Julio Jones.
No. 2 N’Keal Harry: Avg Rank 4, RSI Score 96
|100||NKeal Harry||Arizona State||25||0.31||0.39||0.38||0.75||4.53||228|
|94||Alshon Jeffery||South Carolina||45||0.38||0.40||0.32||0.62||4.48||216|
|92||Allen Robinson||Penn State||61||0.36||0.38||0.46||0.5||4.6||220|
|88||Michael Thomas||Ohio State||47||0.24||0.29||0.32||0.69||4.57||212|
|86||Mike Evans||Texas A&M||7||0.29||0.25||0.30||0.92||4.53||231|
|82||Kenny Golladay||Northern Illinois||96||0.39||0.39||0.43||0.67||4.5||218|
No player is a sure thing, but Harry is as close as it gets. Receivers with his size/athleticism profile who put up a 0.38 final season market share and compile this type of career production in only three seasons are virtual locks for NFL production. This group could easily be labeled a Who’s Who of the best values in recent drafts,3 especially players like Alshon Jeffery, Allen Robinson, Michael Thomas, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. There’s a strong argument that Harry should be considered in the early first like Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins.
No. 4 Kelvin Harmon: Avg Rank 5, RSI Score 93
|100||Kelvin Harmon||NC State||27||0.26||0.27||0.30||0.58||4.6||221|
|98||Michael Thomas||Ohio State||47||0.24||0.29||0.32||0.69||4.57||212|
|90||Laquon Treadwell||Ole Miss||23||0.23||0.27||0.26||0.85||4.52||221|
|82||Chris Harper||Kansas State||123||0.26||0.28||0.32||0.23||4.55||229|
Harmon struggled at the combine, running a 4.6, but his size and production give him an assortment of positive and negative comps. He wasn’t prolific enough to avoid the Latimer and Treadwell comparisons, and his athletic profile brings Mohamed Sanu and Devin Funchess into the conversation.
No. 5 A.J. Brown: Avg Rank 5, RSI 93
|100||A.J. Brown||Ole Miss||35||0.26||0.26||0.32||0.5||4.49||226|
|94||Laquon Treadwell||Ole Miss||23||0.23||0.27||0.26||0.85||4.52||221|
|92||Donte Moncrief||Ole Miss||90||0.28||0.36||0.25||0.46||4.4||221|
|90||Michael Thomas||Ohio State||47||0.24||0.29||0.32||0.69||4.57||212|
|86||Chris Harper||Kansas State||123||0.26||0.28||0.32||0.23||4.55||229|
Harry, Brown, Harmon, and Hakeem Butler are all among the closest comps for each other, so it’s no surprise we’re seeing many of the same names.4 Scouts are not as enamored with Brown as his numbers suggest – perhaps encouraging the more negative selections – but you don’t find players with this size/athleticism/production profile very often. I’d check out his Player Summary before moving him down your board.
No. 6 Deebo Samuel: Avg Rank 6, RSI 89
|100||Deebo Samuel||South Carolina||50||0.29||0.29||0.26||0.92||4.48||214|
|98||James Washington||Oklahoma State||60||0.26||0.33||0.31||1||4.54||213|
|90||Devin Smith||Ohio State||37||0.26||0.28||0.27||0.86||4.42||196|
|82||Chris Godwin||Penn State||84||0.26||0.30||0.28||0.85||4.42||209|
|78||Christian Kirk||Texas A&M||47||0.29||0.36||0.28||0.77||4.47||201|
Samuel’s production is difficult to analyze due to South Carolina’s offense and his limited appearances in both 2015 and 2017. This list also provides a perfect illustration of the way in which playing a fourth season against younger and less experienced college players can skew both a player’s numbers and the perception around his talents. Samuel’s five closest comps are four-year players with results that could be charitably described as mixed. Further down the list we find intriguing early declares. Chris Godwin and Christian Kirk still have plenty to prove, but Robert Woods has become a borderline star with his second team. Samuel might have been poised to leave early before the broken leg that derailed his 2017 campaign, but this excuse would be more compelling if he hadn’t already redshirted as a freshman in 2014.
Check out Jordan Hoover’s Draft Prospect Age Database to find out what that means for Samuel’s age as it compares to other trendy selections.
While we’ve certainly found a few red flags,5 the overall picture is bright. Plus, the 2019 class is deep at the receiver position. We didn’t discuss Marquise Brown, and we haven’t yet touched on the WR who went at 1.03 overall in our post-combine mock. We’ll look at these players and more in Part 2.
- Michael Thomas in 2016 and JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2017 stand out. The 2018 class includes several potential stars in D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, and Christian Kirk among others. (back)
- For final season numbers, we use TD/G. (back)
- Both the reality and fantasy versions. (back)
- Amara Darboh also pops up for Brown, but Darboh’s 2012 season isn’t pulled in due to the lack of stats. Darboh then redshirted in 2013, putting him on a very different developmental trajectory. (back)
- And a complete absence of red flags would have been cause for suspicion about how the BSS creates the comps. (back)