Just when it looked like Matt Prater might lead Detroit to a five-field-goal victory over Green Bay on Monday night, an unexpected hero emerged for the Packers. With Davante Adams out and his high-profile proteges hurt or struggling, Allen Lazard hauled in a 35-yard touchdown to narrow the gap. He then pulled in three more passes for 30 yards on the final drive, a drive that ended in a game-winning field goal.
Lazard came out of nowhere on Monday night, but a lot of former devy owners will tell you his career shouldn’t have gone this way.
The Recruit Who Changed Iowa State Football
Lazard came to Iowa State as a legit top-10 WR recruit and made his presence felt immediately. After an impressive freshman season where he gained 593 yards, good for a 20% receiving share, he broke out with a 36% Dominator Rating in 2015.
While Lazard likely hurt his draft profile by returning for his senior season and taking a small step back, he didn’t need that final season to inflate his career market share numbers. His 28% career yardage share is right in line with prospects who go on to strong NFL performances.
A Big Wide Receiver With Plus Athleticism
On the Overtime pod this week, I mentioned that Lazard tied D.J. Chark for the second-best Freak Score in the 2018 class. The Freak Score is a height/weight/speed metric that helps predict a prospect’s ability to score NFL touchdowns, exactly what Lazard did on Monday night. The Packers may have a type, as they now roster three of the top four scores from last year’s draft.
|Equanimeous St. Brown||77||214||4.48||71|
And Lazard isn’t just big. His 38-inch vertical is an 80th percentile result for all receivers, but imagine what it means for a receiver with a 6-foot-5, 227-pound frame. Jump balls become even more unstoppable.
The Combine Explorer also lets us look at his closest physical comps.
Not many NFL prospects are going to live up to a Marques Colston comparison, but it reminds us of the value this type of body type can have in an elite offense.
The Overall Prospect
We know that Lazard is big and athletic, and came into the NFL as a productive college player, but what if he’d been met with less skepticism on draft day?
The Box Score Scout provides all of the advanced stats that I referenced earlier, and it also lets us take on this hypothetical. What if we assume Lazard had been drafted at the end of the second round instead of falling out of the draft entirely?
Enter a 60 into the BSS for Lazard’s draft position, and he’s strikingly similar to highly coveted players like Courtland Sutton, A.J. Brown, and N’Keal Harry.1
It’s too early to know if Monday night’s performance will be more than a one-week blip in a career that otherwise features a battle to remain on the back end of NFL rosters, but Lazard has already accomplished an important feat by fighting through a year of practice squad duty to earn key snaps in such a big spot.
Opinions differ as to whether draft slot is merely giving us early-career opportunity or if it also tells us something about talent, but there’s no denying the former. Blair Andrews has demonstrated this dynamic in The Wrong Read: WR Breakout Rates.
Even if Lazard turns back into a pumpkin once Davante Adams gets healthy,2 he’s someone to monitor in deep leagues for years to come.