It's not that this year's prospects are bad. They aren't. In fact, there were more wide receivers who passed through our filters this year, than in any year in recent memory. Despite that, it was hard to say that there were many wide receivers who we would confidently argue were clearly destined for greatness. Instead, we found a lot of players whom the computer just projected to be 'okay'...maybe. With the expectations for where a lot of these players are supposedly going to be selected, this led us to feel a bit more worried about the potential value of this year's crop. In the end, someone is almost certainly going to emerge as a future star, but this just feels like a draft class where a lot of the top prospects might be more likely to become good number 2 receivers, rather than the terrifying monsters that their draft status might lead you to hope they would be. More than we would normally like to see, this group feels much more vulnerable to the unknown factor of what team they end up playing for.
So, as we have done before, we will contemplate every wide receiver prospect who managed to produce both a Stat Score and an Athletic Score, that was no worse than -0.100 standard deviations below average. The receivers will be divided into two groups, one for players that are over 200# (the 'Big' receivers), and those who are under 210# (the 'Small' receivers). For players who fit in both groups (players who are between 200 and 210 pounds), we'll test them in both groups to see where they might fit best. For 'Small' receivers, the computer puts more of an emphasis on speed and agility when forming their Athletic Score, and their Stat Scores is more demanding of multiple seasons of solid statistical production. For the 'Big' receivers, the computer places more of an emphasis on power (the dreaded Kangaroo Score), and their Stat Score is somewhat less demanding. We'll also filter out any 'Big' receivers with 40-times below 4.60 seconds, as well as filtering out 'Small' receivers with 40-times below 4.50 seconds.
|Big Receiver||Stat Score||Athletics Score|
|Small Receiver||Stat Score||Athletics Score|
Just to be clear, these filters are only intended to identify the players that the computer thinks have the best chance of becoming 'average' NFL receivers. Our definition of average is a player that can produce 35 receiving yards per game played over the course of their career (or a modest 560 receiving yards over 16 games), so our standards are fairly low. If we raised our standards to players who averaged at least 45 receiving yards per games played, it really becomes quite rare for a player not to pass both of these statistical hurdles. We wouldn't take the scores listed above too seriously, as they are really scores that are built upon many smaller scores, which frequently matter even more. This is just how we start the weeding out process, to determine which players we want to focus our attention on. In reality, we always end up having to veto some of the computer's recommendations for various reasons, which we will try to describe as we go along. Unfortunately, our own worthless and subjective opinion does come into play a bit more on these vetoes.
In last year's post, we also mentioned that we were intending to make some changes to our filters, that we hoped would improve the accuracy of our hunches. Mainly, we wanted to make agility measurements a more significant factor for Big receivers. We've also been thinking about tweaking some of the numbers for small receivers, because we tend to be a bit harsh with with those guys. Unfortunately, umm, we kind of forgot to get around to doing this. So, at least for this year, our filters have largely remained the same, though I suppose that gives us something to do in the upcoming season.
There is one other thing that we should probably mention. While it doesn't get discussed very much, there is a wide receiver in this draft class who is named Jazz King, who played at Marshall. The computer doesn't find him very appealing, but I think a good argument can be made that this is the type of name that merits a 1st round pick. I mean, if I can pick horses for the Preakness based on their names, I don't see why that wouldn't work for wide receivers. It's worth giving this some thought.
Because of the way that data slowly becomes available, I will continue to modify and adjust some of these results as new information becomes available.
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia Ht: 6' 2.5" Wt: 215
40 Time: 4.35 Kangaroo Score: 0.456 Agility Score: 0.267
It seems pretty obvious that White will be gone long before Team Kangaroo would ever need to seriously contemplate selecting him. I'm not sure that this really bothers me. I think it's going to be a common theme this year, for me to say that a "player is nice, but we're not necessarily willing to pay the price". Of all the different athletic traits that a wide receiver can possess, raw speed probably interests me the least. I generally prefer explosiveness/power or exceptional agility, since I figure that will get a player open more frequently than simply trying to outrun his opponent. Now, Kevin White doesn't do badly in those areas, but he isn't exactly an unusual prospect either. He struck us as a fairly tough and dependable wide receiver, though he often seems to play more like a running back. It was his effort after the catch which seemed like his strongest attribute. I am obligated (by our Dark Lord Hard Drive) to say that he will probably become a respectable receiver, but I don't know if I really believe that his ceiling is high enough to merit the top 10 pick he is supposedly going to be.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama Ht: 6' 0.75" Wt: 209
40 Time: 4.42 Kangaroo Score: -0.200 Agility Score: 1.349
I seem to run across a lot of people who compare Amari Cooper to A.J. Green. To some extent, I get this, since neither player really has amazing lower body power, but I'm still not sure if this is a great comparison. Really, I find it hard to come up with someone who is in quite the same athletic mold as Cooper. In some ways, he actually compares better to players like Odell Beckham or Cecil Shorts, who although they are somewhat smaller, both possess a similar sort of rare agility, and just average lower body power.. While Cooper probably isn't as explosive as Beckham, his 10" mitts appear to be more dependable than those of Shorts. Among the somewhat larger receivers, I really can't find a player who possesses similar athletic traits, as well as the sort of statistical production that Cooper brings to the table. This both worries me, and fascinates me. This is why running Cooper through the computer at his pro day weight of 209 pounds matters, as it allows him to be judged against the Small receivers. Last year, we discussed how Jordan Matthews was sort of like a small receiver in a big receivers body, and Cooper seems like a much more extreme example of the same idea. While I have no doubt that Cooper's agility can help him get separation from some of the league's average corners, I do have to wonder what will happen when people try to jam him. For some reason, his college opponents almost always gave him a fairly clean release which seems insanely stupid, at least in retrospect. Regardless of all that nitpicking, yes, I like Amari Cooper, but I do have some doubts about whether he is the receiver that some people present him as.
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville Ht: 6' 2.5" Wt: 209
40 Time: 4.45 Kangaroo Score: 0.422 Agility Score: ?
Just to be clear, Parker's Stat Score would be significantly higher if we adjusted it for the games he missed due to injury. It just wasn't necessary to do this, as he met our marks despite that handicap. As far as his athletic ability is concerned, he seems like a nice all around athlete, though he didn't really excel in any particular area. He has slightly above average power, but not so much that I would view him as a real threat to abuse anyone. His speed and quickness are good. We can only speculate about what his Agility Score would be, though I tend to place much less weight on this for larger receivers. He has solid hands, and is quite good at going up for the ball, but I wouldn't say that he creates a ton of separation, or has unusual explosiveness. While we are obviously missing some data, and he only played 6 games in his final season, there do seem to be some interesting reasons to suspect that Parker might have just been starting to emerge as one of the more interesting wide receivers in this draft class. In those 6 games, there was only one game in which he was responsible for less than 31% of his team's total offense, which is astounding. Or, if you want to think about in terms of his share of the team's receiving yards, he never dipped below 36% in any single game. In total, he wound up with 33.7% of his team's total offense, and 51.1% of the team's receiving yards during this period, which are truly ridiculous results. While his results in prior seasons were significantly less exceptional, it's entirely possible that Parker was just starting to hit his stride. Without his agility results, we might project that his upside could be similar to what we see with DeAndre Hopkins, while his downside might be similar to Michael Jenkins. We probably lean more towards the former, rather than the latter of these two outcomes. Where Parker winds up playing will undoubtedly have a huge influence over his eventual production, but in the end we find it hard to imagine that he won't become a good number 2 receiver, at the very least. He strikes me as one of the more interesting and enigmatic wide receiver prospects, at least among the ones projected to be taken in the 1st round.
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona St. Ht: 6' 2.3" Wt: 217
40 Time: 4.44 Kangaroo Score: 1.606 Agility Score: -0.915
Jaelen Strong might end up being an interesting test case for how much agility matters for a big powerful receiver. Normally, we don't worry about this too much, and just look to see if a player's strengths outweigh their potential weaknesses. With Strong, we really have to wonder if having a cutoff for certain results might make more sense. The interesting thing about his agility results is the somewhat lopsided nature of his scores. In the short shuttle, he produced a result that was respectably average, and 0.176 standard deviations above average. In the 3-cone drill, which we normally associate with upper body flexibility, Strong's result was an abysmal -2.008 standard deviations below average. It's very peculiar. Was it an anomaly, or is it something to be concerned with? While his overall results bear some similarity to a player like Dez Bryant, Dez's career is a bit of an outlier when it comes to the upside potential of large receivers with horrific agility results. Another possible comparison, and perhaps a more likely outcome, is that of Jonathan Badlwin. Baldwin actually wasn't quite as stiff as Strong, but is still rather similar, in a general sort of way. Also, while we often hear people describing Strong's hands as being exceptionally reliable, his somewhat small 9" mitts only struck me as being a bit average. The most disturbing thing we saw with Strong, was probably the game against Oregon State, where he faced off against the 5'10" cornerback Steven Nelson. Strong seemed to have a surprisingly difficult time dealing with somebody he really should have been able to step on like a bug. The whole reason we lust after big powerful receivers, is that we expect them to fling players like this out of their way, yet Strong didn't appear terribly inclined to do so, which somewhat negates his best selling point. While we think Strong has some jump ball potential, and can sometimes be dangerous after the catch, we have a hard time imagining him becoming the terror we might be hoping for. Instead, we suspect he might just become a fairly average receiver, with some red zone potential. The main reasons we don't want to entirely write him off, is that he is still one of the younger receivers in this class, and if he could learn to direct his power towards violence, he might still turn out to be something interesting.
Nelson Agholar, WR, USC. Ht: 6' Wt: 198
40 Time: 4.42 Kangaroo Score: -0.102 Agility Score: -0.223
In many ways, the computer views Agholar as a slightly faster, but potentially less nimble, version of his former teammate Marqise Lee, for whom we also had somewhat modest expectations. The main thing Agholar has going for him is his speed, where his 2nd Gear Score of 0.17 suggests that his deep speed is significantly more impressive than his already very good 40 time might suggest. The way he accelerates from the 10 yard split, to the 20 yard split, and finally to the 40 yard mark, almost qualifies him for our Midget class of speedy receivers, where you find people like DeSean Jackson and T.Y. Hilton, but he doesn't quite fit there. Most Midget type receivers tend to be incredibly small and lightly built players (hence the politically incorrect name for them), so it's fairly odd that Agholar was even able to come close to this group when it came to how he accelerates. Personally, we thought Agholar was a fairly respectable receiver, even if he isn't quite as nimble as we would like him to be, and he probably has some real value as a deep threat and kick returner. We also might even commit ourselves to saying that we somewhat prefer him to Marqise Lee. Despite that, we don't tend to place a lot of value on small speedy receivers, so even at his generally projected cost of a 2nd round pick, I'm not sure if we would pursue him.
Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF. Ht: 6' 2" Wt: 212
40 Time: 4.27 Kangaroo Score: 0.636 Agility Score: ?
Do you like Kevin White, but think you need someone much faster and possibly less dependable? Honestly, I don't think his hands are nearly as bad as some people say, but he can be a bit erratic and unpredictable about dropping the ball. While his Kangaroo Score isn't much more impressive than many of the other top rated receivers, his score from the broad jump produced a Kangaroo Score that was 0.962 standard deviations above average, and suggests slightly more promising potential than some of these other players. In the end, I have to admit that I think he has legitimate number 1 wide receiver potential, but he also might have an equally good chance of being an enormous disappointment. When you consider how much of his production came against rather mediocre competition, how many games he seemed to disappear in, and the possibility that he might be a bit of a dim bulb, you really would need balls of steel to select him with as high of a pick as some team is probably going to use. It seems safer just to stand back, and let some other team take the gamble on this one.
Tre McBride, WR, William & Mary Ht: 6' 0.25" Wt: 210
40 Time: 4.41 Kangaroo Score: 0.595 Agility Score: 0.398
This is where we come to what the computer thinks might be the sweet spot in the draft. Do we have some concerns with the idea of drafting an FCS wide receiver who has never surpassed the 900 receiving yards mark even once in the past three years? Sure we do. At the same time, if McBride continues to be viewed as just a 3rd round prospect, his potential value aligns with the cost of acquiring him much better than it does with some of the more highly touted prospects. While his Agility Score isn't remarkable, it is somewhat weighed down by his very average 3-cone drill, but his short shuttle result was 0.956 standard deviations above average. As far as statistical production, things become a bit murkier. On the surface, his stat sheet isn't as flashy as many of these other players. Still, within the context of his team's offense, he carried a respectable share of his team's load, and did so consistently for three years. When his team faced more challenging competition, like Virginia Tech, West Virginia, or Maryland, it didn't appear to slow McBride down in the least, as he continued to successfully produce positive results. Based on what we have seen of him, McBride appears to be a very competent player, with above average hands, and from a purely subjective standpoint we rather enjoyed watching him play. If you watch McBride play, and then compare him to some of the more highly rated prospect, it's hard to say that he isn't as impressive as at least half of them. Maybe he will become a star, maybe he won't. Maybe he'll just become a good player. Either way, I would say that McBride could very easily end up being at least 80% of the player that some of the 1st rounders are, for about half the price. We would start to consider McBride in the area of the 3rd round.
DeAndre Carter, WR, Sacremento St. Ht: 5' 8.5" Wt: 192
40 Time: 4.44 Kangaroo Score: -0.075 Agility Score: 2.194
Small speedy receivers with some degree of shiftiness aren't exactly in short supply. There are tons of them in this draft, just like every year, and each one has his fair share of supporters. You have Tyler Lockett, Kenny Bell, Devin Smith, Rashad Greene, Nelson Agholar, Stefon Diggs, Phillip Dorsett, etc.. Each of these players has his own list of pros and cons. Some were highly productive players in college. Some are highly gifted athletes. Still, there are very few who checked off both of these boxes. While we have our own subjective opinions and preferences regarding these players, and wouldn't be surprised if one or two of them end up performing quite well in the NFL, we suspect that the majority of them will end up becoming disappointments. Even among the ones who do succeed, you also have to consider the potentially limited payoff that these sorts of receivers tend to offer. So, yes, while somebody will end up being correct in their fanatical support for one of these players, the odds still aren't terribly favorable. With DeAndre Carter, on the other hand, the computer feels a bit more optimistic. Athletically, he passes through our filters quite comfortably. Despite his smaller size, he surprisingly appears to have at least average lower body power. He also possesses good, but not necessarily terrifying speed. His 10 yard split of 1.45 seconds, and 2nd Gear Score of 0.01, suggest he is probably quicker than he is fast, though in now way are we saying that he is slow. Max Mulitz and I have sort of discussed the possibility that Carter might be more of an Edelman/Welker type of receiver, rather than a T.Y. Hilton. Perhaps more importantly, Carter also possesses excellent agility, which should not only assist him in getting open, but also help him to avoid get beaten to a pulp. When it comes to his statistical production, the computer also gives him high marks, even if he competed at a lower level of competition, because he did appear to dominate his opponents quite convincingly. Considering that the cost of acquiring him will probably be no more than a 6th round pick, and he may not get drafted at all, there is really very little risk involved here.
Jordan Taylor, WR, Rice Ht: 6' 4.5" Wt: 209
40 Time: 4.52 Kangaroo Score: 0.317 Agility Score: -0.302
Like a couple of other players on this list, Taylor just sneaks past our filters, without really excelling in any one area. While there's nothing shocking about Taylor when examining his athletic traits, there is something we find a bit worrisome. His BMI results are -1.342 standard deviations below average, which puts him in a class of players where we really start to worry about their risk of injury. Somebody might want to start feeding this guy some cheeseburgers. Still, we're not his parents, and his physical welfare isn't going to keep us up at night. While we wouldn't say that Taylor is an exceptional prospect, or somebody that we would seriously pursue, we do think he could be an interesting red zone threat because of his height, and he does appear to have some rather exceptional and reliable hands that could serve him well in this role.
Geremy Davis, WR, Connecticut Ht: 6' 2.3" Wt: 216
40 Time: 4.48* Kangaroo Score: 0.720 Agility Score: 0.272
What should you do if you like Tre McBride, but feel like being a cheapskate? Well, you could set your sights on Geremy Davis. The two receivers really have a lot in common. They're both somewhat underrated and comparable athletes. They both played in rather terrible offenses, with horrible quarterbacks, which probably reduced their statistical production. They also both seem to have rather reliable and consistent hands. Unfortunately, Davis doesn't seem to be as fast or explosive as McBride, and he is also a full year older. We probably wouldn't expect Davis to become a terrifying number one receiver, but we wouldn't be surprised in the least if he becomes a solid and respectable secondary target. We currently seem to see people projecting that Davis will only be a 7th round to UDFA type of prospect, but we think Davis could be an interesting target, maybe starting somewhere around the 5th or 6th round.
Now, this is the point where the computer starts spitting out names of players for whom we have significantly less confidence. So, bear that in mind, as you continue reading.
Devante Davis, WR, UNLV Ht: 6' 2.75" Wt: 220
40 Time: 4.57 Kangaroo Score: 0.577* Agility Score: -0.471
While his Stat Score appears to be very unimpressive, it starts to look much better when we adjust things to account for the games he missed due to injury. Still, he manages to get past our minimal requirements even without this adjustment, so we'll ignore this. While his Kangaroo Score suggests that he has somewhat above average lower body power, his result is a bit less impressive than you would expect for a player of his size. His agility results are a bit below average, but not unusual for a bigger bodied receiver. When it comes to speed, his 2nd Gear Score of 0.02 suggests that his fairly pedestrian 40 time is an accurate gauge of his deep speed, and that he probably isn't a significant deep threat. Overall, he seems like a fairly commonplace possession receiver. His hands generally appear to be reliable, and we certainly don't think he is a bad player, but in the end we probably wouldn't feel terribly interested in spending a draft pick on him.
Deontay Greenberry, WR, Houston Ht: 6' 1" Wt: 211
40 Time: 4.52 Kangaroo Score: 0.044 Agility Score: -1.046
We felt very tempted to cut this player from our list. Once again, you can see how the computer largely disregards agility for Big receivers. Unfortunately, Greenberry also lacks the sort of lower body power and explosiveness that we are normally looking for in these types of prospects. It's really a bit of a mystery to us how he was so productive in college, though playing in a spread offense against fairly mediocre opponents probably helped quite a bit. He struck us as wildly inconsistent, making a spectacular catch one moment, and then disappearing for long stretches, or simply dropping a pass he should have caught. If it wasn't for his productive 2013 season, we probably wouldn't be paying attention to him at all, and even in that year his production was just good, and not really amazing.
Da'Ron Brown, WR, Northern Illinois Ht: 6' Wt: 205
40 Time: 4.54 Kangaroo Score: 0.134 Agility Score: 0.078
Because of where he falls when it comes to weight, Brown could have been treated as either a Big or a Small receiver. Unfortunately, his statistical production didn't pass the more difficult filters of the Small receiver group. As a Big receiver, he faces a different sort of problem, which is that he appears to lack anything more than just average athletic traits, especially when it comes to his lower body power. He kind of squeaks by, despite falling somewhere in between our mold for either a Big receiver or a Small one. Still, in the little we have seen of him, he actually appears to be a surprisingly respectable and reliable target. Considering his lower level of competition, and shortage of exceptional traits that we crave, we probably wouldn't pursue Brown in the draft, but that's probably not a huge problem, since most people seem to expect him to go undrafted. That he will be 24 years old in September, also sort of weighs his stock down a fair bit. Despite that, as an UDFA we could definitely have some interest in DaRon Brown.
R.J. Harris, WR, New Hampshire Ht: 6' Wt: 200
40 Time: 4.51 Kangaroo Score: 0.206 Agility Score: -0.706
Harris kind of sneaks through the cracks, on some odd technicalities. Because of his average size, you would think he would be compared to smaller receivers, but he doesn't pass the computer's filter here because of his low agility (though there were some wild inconsistencies with his results here) and mediocre speed. Oddly, the computer finds him to be a more interesting, but not thrilling prospect, as a Big receiver. His speed is adequate for that group, and he does have some explosiveness and average power. If he weighed just one pound less, we wouldn't even be discussing him. Harris has squeezed through a weird loophole. While his level of competition is an obvious concern, he did perform at a fairly dominant level, and appeared to have rather good hands. Still, I don't really see the sort of exceptional athletic traits that are likely to let him get much separation in the NFL, so I would probably ignore him.
Tyrell Williams, WR, Western Oregon Ht: 6'3.5" Wt: 204
40 Time: 4.43 Kangaroo Score: 0.701 Agility Score: 0.602
First of all, don't confuse him with Tyler Williams, the wide receiver from Akron. Williams is just somebody we view as a bit of a lottery ticket type of player. Athletically, he is a pretty interesting specimen, with fairly impressive speed, power and agility. His main physical drawback is his low BMI result (-1.366 standard deviations below average), which puts him into a group of players where injury becomes a much greater concern. This is another candidate for the all cheeseburger diet plan. As for his production, well, he technically hits our marks, but it's a bit more complicated in his case. First of all, he was playing against a much lower level of competition, so we really would have preferred to see him dominate his opponents a bit more than he did. He was also operating out of a spread offense, that typically allowed him some ridiculous opportunities to just blow past people. These are factors for which the computer doesn't make adjustments. We would also say that his hands would probably be described as 'adequate' at best, which might explain why he wasn't a more dominant college player. We just find him to be mildly interesting as a potential UDFA.
One of the frustrating issues that we run into, is that there are occasionally players who we really like, that the computer simply won't allow us to pick. This is highly annoying, but in the end we think sticking to a rigid system should work out over the long run.
One example of this sort of restriction is with the Tyler Lockett, from Kansas State. Here we have a highly entertaining and productive player, that we actually want to draft, but the computer says that we aren't allowed to. Lockett has respectable speed, good agility, and was highly productive, all of which is very promising. The problem comes with his lack of mass, since he is only 182 pounds. When a player is that light, the computer starts to become very demanding of a prospect to demonstrate truly remarkable speed and agility, to compensate for their potential lack of power. While Lockett's overall results were good, they were just a tad short of where they needed to be in order for us to be allowed to select him. The computer was also a bit disturbed by Lockett's rather small 8.375" hands. I really wouldn't be surprised if he ends up being one of the players who exceeds the computer's expectations.
Max Mulitz would probably kill me if I also didn't make some mention of his adopted son Bud Sasser, from Missouri. Athletically, Sasser passes all of our filters to qualify as a rather interesting Big receiver. The problem is that Sasser just didn't produce enough prior to 2014 to qualify when it came to his Stat Score, though he didn't miss the mark by much. It's entirely possible that is the result of a failing on the part of his coaches, and they just didn't recognize his talent. It's also possible that an older and more physically mature Sasser was just beating up on younger less fully developed opponents in his final year in college. It's hard to say. The interesting thing about Sasser is that the computer does think there is a potentially good argument that he might be a better prospect than his former teammate the troubled Dorial Green-Beckham, who is likely to be selected in the 2nd round. Considering the possibility that Sasser will probably only be a late round pick, he could be an interesting player to pick up.
Last, but not least, we have Cameron Meredith, from Illinois State. Athletically, he might be one of the more interesting prospects on this list, and almost everything we would want to see in a 6'3" and 207 pound receiver. He has perfectly good speed, with a 40 time of 4.49 seconds. He has some fairly good power, with a 0.775 Kangaroo Score. He also has pretty good agility, with a result of 0.853. The problem is that his statistical production just doesn't meet our standards, though this might have something to do with the fact that he is a quarterback who was converted to the wide receiver position just 2 seasons ago. Regardless, in the little we were able to see of him, we actually thought he looked surprisingly good, and made some rather impressive plays. It seems unlikely that anyone is going to draft him, but he really might be one of our favorite UDFA prospects