On December 21, Antonio Gandy-Golden and Liberty defeated Georgia Southern 23 to 16 in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl. Liberty joined the FBS in 2018 and Gandy-Golden proved in those two seasons that he would remain productive even with the step up in competition.
Gandy-Golden was an unheralded prospect. He wasn’t ranked by 247Sports and he was only ranked as a two-star prospect by Rivals. His offer list only featured FCS programs.
While he wasn’t a superstar prospect, Gandy-Golden made an immediate impact for the FCS program.
|Receptions||Rec. Yards||Rec. TDs|
|FCS Career Totals||90||1381||13|
|FBS Career Totals||150||2433||20|
As a freshman, Gandy-Golden caught 21 passes for 315 yards. He then followed it up by dominating the passing offense with a double digit TD season and over 1,000 receiving yards.
As a relative unknown, Liberty made the jump from FCS to FBS before the 2018 season. This didn’t appear to have much of an impact on Gandy-Golden, however, as he nearly duplicated his stat line from 2017.
|MS Receptions||MS Rec. Yards||MS Rec. TDs||Dominator||Age|
For his career, he hit the key market share threshold of 0.29 for his career and had a relatively young breakout age. Using the 0.30 dominator threshold, Gandy-Golden qualified for a breakout season at the age of 19.7. While typically I would devalue the production at the lower level, I’m using this breakout age because he managed to duplicate his production even when his team took a step up in competition. If there are any concerns about Gandy-Golden’s production stats, it’s that he took a slight step back during his final season, but that goes along with an overall improvement of the offense. His raw stats improved in every category except for TDs which led to a decline in his dominator rating.
Even with the move from FCS to FBS, there’s plenty of reason to question the level of competition for Gandy-Golden. Liberty still faced one of the easiest schedules in the FBS. Because of this potential red flag, Gandy-Golden’s performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Draft Combine hold a higher weight than for similar producing prospects.
Using Anthony Amico’s Breakout Age Regression tree, Gandy-Golden finishes in the second best final node with a 33% success rate. He just missed out on an X85BA under 20.1 If he had hit this mark, he would have finished in node 7 with a 66% historical success rate.
While his age of 21.7 isn’t considered to be advanced for a senior prospect, the fact remains that he stayed in school for his senior year. This could be perceived as a potential red flag in his profile. However, his decision to stay an additional year likely helps his draft stock coming out of a smaller school. Cooper Kupp’s success in the NFL suggests that an additional year in school might be beneficial for small-school prospects.
A prospect with this production at a Power Five program would likely be considered a lock to be drafted in the first two rounds. Because of his school’s status, his draft stock is highly variable and he’ll need to be a standout in Senior Bowl practices and at the combine. This is demonstrated by the sims on the Box Score Scout. Using a rough estimate draft position of 100, the top three similar scores provide optimism.
By dropping just 50 additional spots, the outlook is significantly more bleak.
As a conservative estimate for early rookie drafts and rookie ranks, I’d assume that he’s most likely going to be drafted early in Day 3. His production may warrant a higher selection, but he’s likely to be outside of my top 10 WRs until there’s some indication that a Day 2 selection might be likely. If he starts to get second- or third-round draft buzz, he could be a steal in the second rounds of rookie drafts.
Image Credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Antonio Gandy-Golden.
- X85BA refers to adjusted breakout age, which combines breakout age and final age into a single weighted metric. Gandy-Golden’s was 20.03. (back)