Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ryan Spadola: The Lottery Ticket

I just wanted to throw up a quick post about Ryan Spadola, since the computer likes him so much.  Spadola is an undrafted WR from Lehigh Univ. who was picked up by the Jets, and though I've never seen him play his numbers are interesting enough that I will keep an eye on him.  Here's what his college stats looked like, leaving out his freshman year where he only caught one pass.

Year        Games Played       Rec.     Yards      TDs        YPC         % of offense
2012                 9                  57         851         4           14.9                18.83
2011                 12                96         1614       11          16.8                26.43
2010                 13                78         1130        9           14.5                25.16

While his raw stats are fairly impressive, the deeper numbers are more interesting.  The average draft prospect, at the receiver position, is only responsible for about 17.78% of his teams offense in his last college year, and 15.32% in his next to last year.  Spadola significantly exceeds those numbers, even in his 2012 season where he missed a couple games with mononucleosis.  If he hadn't missed those games, he was on pace for 67 catches, 1005 yards, and 22.25% of his team's total offense in his senior year.  Either way, he significantly surpassed the average players' results for three years in a row.  When a player is responsible for that much of a team's offense, you have to assume that the opposition is going to direct a fair amount of attention towards stopping them.  Spadola seems to have continued to produce, despite being the clear focus of his team's offense. 

Players who repeatedly represent this much of their team's offense are somewhat unusual.  In Spadola's case, the fact that he played at a rather low level of competition is going to be a concern.  So, you have to wonder if he is physically gifted enough to move to the next level.  Here are his combine results:

Ht     Wt    40 time   10 yard    Bench    Vert.   B-J     Short Shut.     3-Cone
6'1"    204      4.4          1.58        15         37      9'11"         4.07              6.72

His weight of 204 pounds means that I could score him as either a 'Big' receiver or a 'Small' receiver, but I think his numbers fit better among the smaller more elusive guys.  This is how he scored in some of the some of the odd measurements that I use.

2nd Gear     Stat Score      Kangaroo Score      Agility Score     Athletic Score
0.18                0.841                  0.019                     0.774                0.384

His 2nd Gear of 0.18 suggests that he might have significantly better deep speed than his 40 time of 4.40 would lead us to believe.  His extremely average Kangaroo Score relative to his very good Agility Score would imply that he is more likely to rely on elusiveness rather than raw explosive power, which is typical of receivers in the smaller group.  Athletically he appears to be similar to someone like Andre Caldwell or Greg Jennings, which inspires confidence that he can compete at a higher level.  His Stat Score just repeats what I said above about his college production being quite a bit better than his average peer, in this case 0.841 standard deviations above average.

While I don't think a player's Total score gives as good a picture of a player as the smaller individual scores, it can be interesting sometimes to see what group the computer lumps a prospect in with.  Here are all of the small receivers (less than 210#) who had Total Scores over 0.500, and 40 times of at least 4.50 seconds.

Player                        Stat Score      Kangaroo         Agility      Athletic          Total    Yrd/GP
Kevin Curtis 2.245 -0.837 1.213 -0.208 1.018 40.7
Lee Evans 1.516 -0.604 1.153 0.194 0.855 50.9
Roddy White 1.093 1.044 0.260 0.536 0.815 68.2
Greg Jennings 1.414 -0.414 0.697 0.086 0.750 68.0
Torrey Smith 0.648 0.891 0.805 0.637 0.643 53.0
Andre Roberts 1.226 -0.480 0.610 0.053 0.640 35.9
Ryan Spadola 0.841 0.053 1.022 0.384 0.613          N/A
Victor Cruz 0.622 1.034 0.073 0.557 0.590 75.1
Emmanuel Sanders 1.144 -0.234 1.109 0.032 0.588 32.3
Justin Blackmon 1.239 0.029 -1.101 -0.071 0.584 54.1
Karsten Bailey 0.405 0.620 0.650 0.760 0.582 4.6
Deion Branch 0.996 -0.762 2.167 0.152 0.574 47.5
Mike Thomas 0.312 0.358 0.433 0.694 0.503 33.3
Golden Tate 1.166 -0.440 -0.932 -0.163 0.501 30.9

So, out of 13 prospects (not counting Spadola), nine players (69.23%) became at least average receivers, by my standard of having reached 35 yards per NFL game played.   A few more like Golden Tate and Emmanuel Sanders could also crack this list at some point , improving the odds further (though I wouldn't count on it being Tate).  Obviously this comes from a rather small sample size, and as I said, I don't like boiling things down to just one score, but it is interesting.  Those are some fairly impressive receivers for him to be lumped in with.

There really isn't much else that I can say about him since I have never had a chance to see him play.  Being blind that way, and considering his level of competition, I wouldn't have considered him as a draft pick.  As an undrafted prospect, however, he is very interesting.  Being picked up by the Jets also puts him in a decent position.  They don't have much talent at the receiver position, and are probably moving away from Santonio Holmes in the near future, so he will probably get a shot.  Again, it is very frustrating to not be able to see any of his college games, but as a lottery ticket type of prospect, I can really see the appeal.  He won't cost the Jets anything, but he does appear to have significant potential.

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