How do you properly evaluate a rookie when there’s not much to assess?
Enter Parris Campbell.
Everything was set for a promising rookie season:
- Andrew Luck at quarterback
- Solid combine performance
- Second-round draft capital
We all know how the quarterback situation changed. Couple that with a string of injuries that included a sports hernia, a hamstring injury, a broken hand, and a broken foot, and the body of work we can use to assess Campbell is limited at best.
The question then remains, is Campbell ready to take the next step in his second season?
Campbell hails from a top-end collegiate program at The Ohio State University. Campbell declared early after a strong 2018 season.
While some might be concerned with his lone solid year, Ohio State has a bit of a history with its wideouts having perceived sub-par collegiate production while excelling at the next level. Michael Thomas, who never posted a college season with more than 800 receiving yards, is a great example.
Hasan Rahim inspected Campbell’s prospect profile prior to last year’s draft. Hasan takes a closer look at his college production and explores some of the mitigating circumstances.
To the surprise of no one, Campbell went on to to light up the combine. His track speed was on full display after he ran a blistering 4.31, which led all wide receivers. To top it off, the rest of his measurables were solid.
As stated, the early draft capital and seemingly perfect landing spot had many convinced that Campbell would have not only a fantastic rookie year but an exciting career paired with Luck as his quarterback.
Unfortunately, good things don’t always last.
Rookie Year Disappointment
Campbell’s rookie year was disappointing. The aforementioned loss of Luck was a big reason for that. However, his inability to form a connection with Jacoby Brissett along with a sudden, seemingly rampant string of injuries allowed Campbell owners to feel justified in writing off his rookie campaign.
24 targets, 18 receptions, 127 yards, one touchdown.
That’s it; that’s his whole season.
Campbell provides a unique edge with his involvement in the rushing game and kick/punt return game, but it’s realistic to have expected more from a second-round pick regardless of who his quarterback was.
Even during the games in which he was healthy and active, he was unable to see the field on a consistent enough basis to establish fantasy relevance.
When he was on the field, he failed to take advantage of his opportunities — take a look at Brissett’s adjusted yards per attempt to pass-catchers with at least 20 targets.
Not only does Campbell barely meet the target threshold, but he was out-targeted and outperformed by fellow wideouts Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson.
Before getting into his future outlook, I took a quick peek at Campbell’s past comps using the RotoViz Screener. Let’s say they were not impressive.
Keep in mind the injury-plagued season he had. But those are not names you want to be associated with as a player with significant draft capital. The fantasy community can only hope for a better second season from Campbell, and while it’s possible, a few questions need addressing first.
Sophomore Year Projection
The Indianapolis Colts have some big decisions to make this offseason. The quarterback situation should be foremost. They have cap space, competent coaching/front office, and an offensive line built to compete.
It remains to be seen if they will look to address their quarterback needs via the draft, free agency, or a combination of the two. I do not think they enter the 2020 season with Brissett going unchallenged during training camp.
The question then remains — is Parris Campbell ready to take the next step?
Whoever is under center next season will play a huge role in answering that question. Some may not want an aging Philip Rivers or Tom Brady coming to town, but a veteran behind that line would bode well for Campbell moving forward. If they bring in a rookie to compete with Brissett, I would be more cautious.
Campbell has shown flashes of elite athleticism in the past (admittedly only at the college level and combine). He’s a player I have no issues trading to acquire for a late second-round rookie pick. The upside is there, but so are the questions. The quarterback situation remains unanswered, and fellow wideouts Pascal, Johnson, and even an aging T.Y. Hilton need to be accounted for.
Campbell’s current ADP of WR70 suggests the fantasy community is not ready to even remotely trust him. At that price, I have no issue taking a late-round stab and hoping his athleticism shows itself and provides some value.
Day 2 wide receivers provide upside regardless of the year. We never got a fair chance to see Campbell produce due to injuries. While I do not think he will have weekly starting value next season, I do believe he is ready for a markedly improved second-year and will have significantly more fantasy relevance.