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ZWK

ZWK's 2017 Prospect Analysis

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This thread is for my analysis of the 2017 draft class (and other college players). Previously threads: 2016 draft class, 2015 draft class, 2014 draft class.

Much of the content of this thread is based on my player stats spreadsheets for WR, RB, RB elusiveness, QB, TE, and pass rushers. Also: birthdates and VBD by draft pick (for generic rookie rankings).

WR: My stats spreadsheet will update automatically throughout the year (mostly with data from cfbstats), except for the data on targets which I have to update manually (and my data source stopped updating last November, so we'll see when I get stats on targets). It will take a few weeks before the stats (or the ratings based on them) are all that meaningful. The FBS WRs who looked like the best prospects, based on their production through last season, are: JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC), Corey Davis (W Mich), Darren Carrington (Oregon), Keevan Lucas (Tulsa), Taywan Taylor (Western Ky), Chris Godwin (Penn State), Shelton Gibson (WVU), Isaiah Ford (Va Tech), Josh Reynolds (Texas A&M), Kenny Golladay (N Illinois), Rodney Adams (S Florida), Mack Hollins (N Carolina), Courtland Sutton (SMU). FCS WR Cooper Kupp (Eastern Wash) should also have his name in there. Smith-Schuster was up there with the top WRs in last year's draft class, and Corey Davis also had a very strong rating. Many top WRs take a couple years before their production matches their talent, and my WR ratings depend heavily on a player's best season, so other guys could (like Mike Williams & Calvin Ridley) wind up with strong ratings in my numbers by the end of this season.

RB: My auto-updating spreadsheet already has a pretty reasonable leaderboard, because my formulas put a fair amount of weight on things other than this year's stats (previous seasons' stats, size/athleticism, elusiveness numbers). Though players who aren't among the top 100 in rushing yards this year are missing from the spreadsheet (like Perine & Hood after week 1). I laid out my take on the college RBs based on what they'd done through last season in a post in May (and a followup). Briefly, Nick Chubb and Leonard Fournette are already on the same tier as Elliott & Gurley (Chubb is the best college RB that I've seen since I started doing this with the Richardson/Martin/Wilson draft class). Royce Freeman, Samaje Perine, Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, and Christian McCaffrey are already on the same tier as Derrick Henry was, or a bit above. Plenty of other RBs are worth watching as potentially good prospects, including Elijah Hood, Elijah McGuire, Wayne Gallman, Kareem Hunt, Shock Linwood, Johnny Jefferson, Myles Gaskin, Matt Breida, and Corey Clement.

QB: My stats spreadsheet will auto-update each week, but (as with the WRs) it will take some time before the numbers are all that meaningful. QB stats are less predictive of NFL success than some other positions, but the QBs returning to school who have the best statistical track record by my numbers are Seth Russell (Baylor), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), Gunner Kiel (Cincinnati), J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame), Deshaun Watson (Clemson), Taylor Lamb (App St), and Mason Rudolph (Okla St).

TE: My spreadsheet does not auto-update; I need to input data manually player-by-player. So I don't have a spreadsheet yet for the 2017 draft class. I'll put one together at the end of the season, or maybe sooner if there's interest.

Pass Rushers: I haven't set up my pass rushers' spreadsheet for this year yet.

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You did not mention Pitt RB James Conner. He should be on your radar. He was ACC POY 2 years ago but missed last season with an ACL injury and cancer diagnosis. He is back to full health (and cancer free) now.

Also FWIW, IMO Cook and McCaffrey are worth mention with Chubb and Fournette, not a tier lower as is implied here.

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3 hours ago, Just Win Baby said:

You did not mention Pitt RB James Conner. He should be on your radar. He was ACC POY 2 years ago but missed last season with an ACL injury and cancer diagnosis. He is back to full health (and cancer free) now.

Also FWIW, IMO Cook and McCaffrey are worth mention with Chubb and Fournette, not a tier lower as is implied here.

Correct on Conner. NFLDraftscout had him estimated at an extremely slow 4.86 40 back in 40, which put him down near the bottom of my rankings. But he's unlikely to be that slow (they now have him at 4.67) and I now see that he looked pretty good that year on tape. I'm not sure what to do about the fact that speed & size are important, but the sources that I have for estimating speed & size are sometimes unreliable.

I disagree with you on Cook & McCaffrey, who have both been excellent in space but not so impressive at getting the tough yard in traffic. Cook has struggled in short yardage situations, McCaffrey has been getting pulled for Remound Wright at the goal line.

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9 hours ago, ZWK said:

I disagree with you on Cook & McCaffrey, who have both been excellent in space but not so impressive at getting the tough yard in traffic. Cook has struggled in short yardage situations, McCaffrey has been getting pulled for Remound Wright at the goal line.

What really separates McCaffrey from David Johnson? He is arguably a better runner, better receiver, and better returner than Johnson, and you just posted updated RB rankings in which you rank Johnson #4 at the position. (Heck, McCaffrey is a better receiver than most college WRs.)

ETA: Good post that you linked here.

Edited by Just Win Baby

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1 hour ago, Just Win Baby said:

What really separates McCaffrey from David Johnson? He is arguably a better runner, better receiver, and better returner than Johnson, and you just posted updated RB rankings in which you rank Johnson #4 at the position. (Heck, McCaffrey is a better receiver than most college WRs.)

ETA: Good post that you linked here.

 

College stats do not = pro success. I don't see a lot of similarities in style between Johnson and McCaffrey, regardless of how high you might be on both of them. They can both catch the ball, but they don't run similarly.

Edited by EBF
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Joe Mixon is a pretty good prospect. Rounds 2-4 IMO. Five star guy out of HS. Can catch the ball. Decent size/power. I think he would be a bit higher on most lists if not for splitting time with Perine.

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2 minutes ago, EBF said:

Joe Mixon is a pretty good prospect. Rounds 2-4 IMO. Five star guy out of HS. Can catch the ball. Decent size/power. I think he would be a bit higher on most lists if not for splitting time with Perine.

Also NFL ready in terms of violence against women... :football:

Edited by oddsbodkins

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35 minutes ago, EBF said:

College stats do not = pro success.

Agree, and I have never indicated otherwise.

36 minutes ago, EBF said:

I don't see a lot of similarities in style between Johnson and McCaffrey, regardless of how high you might be on both of them. They can both catch the ball, but they don't run similarly.

I could definitely be wrong about this, but I wasn't aware that ZWK incorporates style into his rankings. He mentions size/athleticism and elusiveness, but nothing specifically stated on style.

The reason I compared him to Johnson is because both of them are known to be good receiving RBs and good returners, in addition to good runners.

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@ZWK, also interested in your take on two N.C. State players: RB Matt Dayes and TE/H-back Jaylen Samuels. I see Dayes in your RB spreadsheet, but I'm not well versed enough in your rankings to guess at whether or not you would expect him to be drafted and whether or not you would expect him to see playing time in the NFL.

PFF named Samuels its preseason 1st team All American at TE, but he is only 5'11", so I'm wondering if the NFL will view him as a legit TE candidate or will instead profile him as a FB or RB.

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5 hours ago, Just Win Baby said:

What really separates McCaffrey from David Johnson? He is arguably a better runner, better receiver, and better returner than Johnson, and you just posted updated RB rankings in which you rank Johnson #4 at the position. (Heck, McCaffrey is a better receiver than most college WRs.)

20 pounds, for starters. Plus Johnson's explosiveness at the combine was probably much better than what McCaffrey will do. And Johnson has now had success in the NFL (I don't have much info on Johnson's college production because he was FCS). I think McCaffrey is a pretty safe bet to be a good receiving RB in the NFL, like Woodhead, Sproles, Bernard, Bush, Westbrook, and Forte. But there are large differences between those guys in how effective they were as three-down runners in the NFL, and in how big a workload they earned, and it's not obvious to me where McCaffrey will fit in that spectrum. The strongest negative indicators are his size and the fact that they've been taking him off the field in short yardage and goal-line situations.

4 hours ago, EBF said:

Joe Mixon is a pretty good prospect. Rounds 2-4 IMO. Five star guy out of HS. Can catch the ball. Decent size/power. I think he would be a bit higher on most lists if not for splitting time with Perine.

 

3 hours ago, Just Win Baby said:

@ZWK, also interested in your take on two N.C. State players: RB Matt Dayes and TE/H-back Jaylen Samuels. I see Dayes in your RB spreadsheet, but I'm not well versed enough in your rankings to guess at whether or not you would expect him to be drafted and whether or not you would expect him to see playing time in the NFL.

PFF named Samuels its preseason 1st team All American at TE, but he is only 5'11", so I'm wondering if the NFL will view him as a legit TE candidate or will instead profile him as a FB or RB.

Keep the names coming. The RBs in my original post were the ones who already rate as decent prospects based on their numbers through last season. I'm keeping a longer list of guys who I want to take a look at (often based on other people bringing them up). Mixon was on that longer list and I've now added Dayes. Also on there: Derrius Guice, Demario Richard, Sony Michel, Jovon Robinson, Joseph Yearby, and Alvin Kamara. Many of those guys are already in the stats spreadsheet, which includes every RB who is among the top 100 in rushing yards, and I have watched games of a few of them (including Mixon) and am tracking them in my elusiveness ratings.

Samuels's lack of height seems like a big concern - I don't know of any successful NFL TEs below 6'1". The shortest I could come up with is Delanie Walker at 6'1.25", and the other short-ish TEs I could find were all between 6'2" and 6'3" (e.g., Clay, Hernandez, and Keller).

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2 hours ago, ZWK said:

I think McCaffrey is a pretty safe bet to be a good receiving RB in the NFL, like Woodhead, Sproles, Bernard, Bush, Westbrook, and Forte. But there are large differences between those guys in how effective they were as three-down runners in the NFL, and in how big a workload they earned, and it's not obvious to me where McCaffrey will fit in that spectrum. The strongest negative indicators are his size and the fact that they've been taking him off the field in short yardage and goal-line situations.

Fair enough, thanks for elaborating. This entire exchange makes me more curious to watch some of these players more this season than I likely would have otherwise (as a N.C. State fan).

2 hours ago, ZWK said:

Keep the names coming. The RBs in my original post were the ones who already rate as decent prospects based on their numbers through last season. I'm keeping a longer list of guys who I want to take a look at (often based on other people bringing them up). Mixon was on that longer list and I've now added Dayes.

:thumbup: 

2 hours ago, ZWK said:

Samuels's lack of height seems like a big concern - I don't know of any successful NFL TEs below 6'1". The shortest I could come up with is Delanie Walker at 6'1.25", and the other short-ish TEs I could find were all between 6'2" and 6'3" (e.g., Clay, Hernandez, and Keller).

I agree, it seems like a concern. Last year, he played about 1/3 of his snaps as an inline TE, about 1/3 split wide or in the slot, and about 1/3 in the backfield. He seems like a super talented college football player who might not have a natural position in the NFL. For his career, he has been very effective as a rusher (76/535/12... 7.0 ypc) and as a receiver (76/759/9). He only had 21 touches as a freshman in 2014, but he had 16 TDs on 121 touches last season, and he had 3 TDs on 15 touches in State's first game this season. PFF named him one of the 5 most versatile players in college football, but what does that mean for the NFL? I suppose it probably means he will be viewed as a FB and will play sparingly.

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Agree that Chubb is the best RB prospect in recent memory...perhaps since Adrian Peterson.

That kid was born to run the football.

Edited by TripItUp

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Watching Nick Chubb against North Carolina, he looked less quick than he did in his previous videos. Hopefully he looks quicker by the end of the season. Fournette had the worst game that I've seen from him in week 1 against Wisconsin - he looked tentative around contact. Possibly related to his preseason ankle injury?

RBs with ridiculous efficiency numbers over a small sample size: Arizona State's Kalen Ballage (8 TDs on 23 carries, plus 1 as a receiver), Louisville's Brandon Radcliffe (4 20+ carries on 13 attempts), and Ohio State's Curtis Samuel (401 yards from scrimmage on 36 plays, and currently top 10 on my receiving spreadsheet). On the other end of the spectrum, Wayne Gallman's production has been pretty disastrous (only 6 first downs on 39 carries).

Some of my overall ratings numbers are a little wonky because of small sample sizes and weird things with strength of schedule. They should round into something more plausible within the next couple weeks.

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13 hours ago, ZWK said:

Watching Nick Chubb against North Carolina, he looked less quick than he did in his previous videos. Hopefully he looks quicker by the end of the season. Fournette had the worst game that I've seen from him in week 1 against Wisconsin - he looked tentative around contact. Possibly related to his preseason ankle injury?

RBs with ridiculous efficiency numbers over a small sample size: Arizona State's Kalen Ballage (8 TDs on 23 carries, plus 1 as a receiver), Louisville's Brandon Radcliffe (4 20+ carries on 13 attempts), and Ohio State's Curtis Samuel (401 yards from scrimmage on 36 plays, and currently top 10 on my receiving spreadsheet). On the other end of the spectrum, Wayne Gallman's production has been pretty disastrous (only 6 first downs on 39 carries).

Some of my overall ratings numbers are a little wonky because of small sample sizes and weird things with strength of schedule. They should round into something more plausible within the next couple weeks.

Nice to see Freeman near the top -- someone I'm really high on.

Where's Perine?

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1 hour ago, Dinsy Ejotuz said:

Nice to see Freeman near the top -- someone I'm really high on.

Where's Perine?

Because of the way cfbstats sets things up, I can only automatically pull data that goes 100 players deep. So my spreadsheets for this season contain RBs who are in the top 100 in rushing yards this season, WRs who are in the top 100 in receiving yards, and QBs who are in the top 100 in passing attempts. Through 2 weeks, Perine, Fournette, Smith-Schuster, and some other top players don't make the cut. I can add more players one-at-a-time, but that takes manual work to go to their player page and add specific stats to the spreadsheet so I'm not going to do it every week. I will do it at the end of the season for any notable players who still haven't cracked the top 100; for now you can look in the spreadsheet tab with 2015 stats to get 2-weeks-out-of-date information on them.

1 hour ago, EBF said:

Mark Walton from Miami is off to a monster start this season. Add him to your list.

Noted. His 2-week rushing stats aren't as ridiculous as Ballage or Radcliffe, but they are unsustainably good. Nfldraftscout currently has him at 195 pounds with no estimated 40 time, which puts him down at 39 in my overall RB ratings. He'll probably climb the rankings once I have more accurate measurements.

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2 hours ago, ZWK said:

 

Noted. His 2-week rushing stats aren't as ridiculous as Ballage or Radcliffe, but they are unsustainably good. Nfldraftscout currently has him at 195 pounds with no estimated 40 time, which puts him down at 39 in my overall RB ratings. He'll probably climb the rankings once I have more accurate measurements.

They have him at 5'9" 205 on the Miami official site.

http://www.hurricanesports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=210099064

It's too early for me to get carried away, but he looked pretty ridiculous in that last game. Almost like a throwback to prime Frank Gore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjD2-eep8yk

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43 minutes ago, EBF said:

They have him at 5'9" 205 on the Miami official site.

http://www.hurricanesports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=210099064

It's too early for me to get carried away, but he looked pretty ridiculous in that last game. Almost like a throwback to prime Frank Gore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjD2-eep8yk

If he's 5'9" 205 on the team's website, he's really 5'6" 180.

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56 minutes ago, spider321 said:

If he's 5'9" 205 on the team's website, he's really 5'6" 180.

Your troll game needs work.

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1 hour ago, EBF said:

Your troll game needs work.

I'm not sure why you're trying to start a fight, but I thought everyone knew that college teams exaggerate their players' size and speed; especially the small players.

Sorry, if that's news to you, EBF.

Edited by spider321

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There are currently about 30 receivers who are producing at a rate that is good enough to put them at least in the "solid prospect" range, if they keep it up all season. (Many will not keep it up all season.)

Leading the way (by my numbers) are Syracuse's Amba Etta-Tawo, Georgia's Isaiah McKenzie, and Louisiana Tech's Trent Taylor. Cal's Chad Hansen is first in receiving yards and is up there in my numbers (I'm curious what @CalBear's take is on him). One RB (Ohio State's Curtis Samuel) and one TE (Mississippi's Evan Engram) make the cut for strong receiving production by WR standards.

I'd guess that the receivers who came out of nowhere are less likely to keep up the pace than the ones with a track record of success. 11 of the receivers have already had an above average (or better) season by my metrics: Courtland Sutton (SMU), Devonte Boyd (UNLV), Keeva Lucas (Tulsa), Kenny Golladay (Northern Illinois), James Washington (Oklahoma State), Corey Davis (Western Michigan), Thomas Sperbeck (Boise State), Shelton Gibson (West Virginia), Cody Thompson (Toledo), KD Cannon (Baylor), and Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky).

Among the other big names, Isaiah Ford isn't that far back on this group. But JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Williams, Calvin Ridley, and Christian Kirk are a ways back through 3 games.

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6 minutes ago, ZWK said:

There are currently about 30 receivers who are producing at a rate that is good enough to put them at least in the "solid prospect" range, if they keep it up all season. (Many will not keep it up all season.)

Leading the way (by my numbers) are Syracuse's Amba Etta-Tawo, Georgia's Isaiah McKenzie, and Louisiana Tech's Trent Taylor. Cal's Chad Hansen is first in receiving yards and is up there in my numbers (I'm curious what @CalBear's take is on him). One RB (Ohio State's Curtis Samuel) and one TE (Mississippi's Evan Engram) make the cut for strong receiving production by WR standards.

I'd guess that the receivers who came out of nowhere are less likely to keep up the pace than the ones with a track record of success. 11 of the receivers have already had an above average (or better) season by my metrics: Courtland Sutton (SMU), Devonte Boyd (UNLV), Keeva Lucas (Tulsa), Kenny Golladay (Northern Illinois), James Washington (Oklahoma State), Corey Davis (Western Michigan), Thomas Sperbeck (Boise State), Shelton Gibson (West Virginia), Cody Thompson (Toledo), KD Cannon (Baylor), and Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky).

Among the other big names, Isaiah Ford isn't that far back on this group. But JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Williams, Calvin Ridley, and Christian Kirk are a ways back through 3 games.

We haven't seen much of Chad Hansen yet. Last year he was buried on the depth chart on a team that had a million receivers. This year he was the only guy returning who had more than 10 receptions last year. (He had 19).

One of the things about Dykes' offense is that while there may be five wide outs on the field, there may be only two or three defined reads. I would theorize that Hansen is getting lots of targets early in the season because he's more likely to be one of those reads, and that other receivers (particularly Melquise Stovall) will get more targets as we get deeper into the season.

In terms of his skills, he strikes me as an undersized possession receiver who runs good routes and adjusts to the ball well. If you watch his stuff he will remind you of guys like Walker and Amendola (and not because he's white). 

Here are pretty much all his receptions from 2015 (including probably the biggest single play of Goff's career, against ASU)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs-3GtABbuA

He can play special teams, so he may be able to stick somewhere in the NFL if he runs a good enough 40. But I wouldn't expect his current production to be indicative of talent that will translate to the next level.

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I'm a big fan of Ballage.  He's one of those guys that will test freakishly at the combine.  There was a video of him racing a teammate in the 40 yard dash from a 2-point stance and I measured him at 4.43.

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Top 10 QBs so far, by my metrics:

Jerod Evans    Va Tech
Logan Woodside    Toledo
Lamar Jackson    Louisville
Patrick Mahomes II    Texas Tech
Jake Browning    Washington
Chad Kelly    Miss
Thomas Woodson    Akron
DeShone Kizer    Notre Dame
Ryan Finley    NC State
Mitch Trubisky    N Carolina

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6 hours ago, ZWK said:

Top 10 QBs so far, by my metrics:

Jerod Evans    Va Tech
Logan Woodside    Toledo
Lamar Jackson    Louisville
Patrick Mahomes II    Texas Tech
Jake Browning    Washington
Chad Kelly    Miss
Thomas Woodson    Akron
DeShone Kizer    Notre Dame
Ryan Finley    NC State
Mitch Trubisky    N Carolina

Where does Drew Lock and Davis Webb fit in?

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2 hours ago, Xue said:

Where does Drew Lock and Davis Webb fit in?

They're both top 20.

Negatives: Webb has taken a lot of sacks (apparently, I don't have sack data at this point but his rushing statline is 17/-81/2), Lock has been below average at picking up 3rd down conversations, and they've both been fairly average at consistently picking up first downs. The sacks are the most concerning of those numbers, in my opinion.

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The top 11 RB prospects by my formulas (which put a fair amount of weight on previous seasons, size, athleticism, and elusiveness):

Dalvin Cook
Royce Freeman
Samaje Perine
Leonard Fournette
Saquon Barkley
Nick Chubb
Joe Mixon
Derrius Guice
James Conner
Kareem Hunt
Christian McCaffrey

Cook, Freeman, and Perine are having solid years by my numbers, with Cook primarily standing out as a receiver and Perine for his red zone work. But they have mainly risen to the top of the list due to the struggles of my pre-season top 2, Chubb and Fournette.

Nick Chubb has lousy rushing stats this year and has done very little as a receiver. I have also reverted his estimated 40 time to 4.54 (which is what nfldraftscout has) rather than 4.44 (based on his 10.69 100m time from early 2014), since he no longer looks like the same athlete he was in 2014. He could easily bounce back (especially in my personal subjective rankins) if he seems to be returning to form over the course of the season (especially if he puts up combine numbers to match). Fournette's numbers have been mediocre (rather than lousy) this season, but he has less of an excuse for it. He has been outshone by his teammate Derrius Guice.

Guice & Mixon join their teammates in the top 8 thanks to very good efficiency stats so far this year (especially from Guice), along with nice receiving numbers from Mixon. My formulas penalize small workloads and regress towards the mean for guys with a small sample size, which makes it impressive for them to be as high as they are and gives them plenty of opportunity to rise in the rankings.

My formulas were not as high as many people on Christian McCaffrey last year, based on his run-of-the-mill rushing efficiency stats (including a lack of red zone & short yardage production), and his numbers are down this year both as a runner and as a receiver.

Farther down the rankings, Wayne Gallman, Myles Gaskin, Corey Clement, and Demario Richard are all putting up lousy numbers this year.  Elijah Hood, Elijah McGuire, Shock Linwood, Jalen Hurd, and Matt Dayes have below-average numbers. Some of those guys did enough in previous seasons to still be among the top 25 prospects.

Some other guys who are off to a pretty good start this year (and in the top 25 for my RB prospect rankings): James Butler, Jeremy McNichols, Jamaal Williams, Kalen Ballage, Curtis Samuel, Kerryon Johnson, Trayveon Williams, Brandon Radcliff, Stanley Boom Williams, Joseph Yearby.

Outside the rankings currently in my spreadsheet, Matt Breida, Sony Michel, and Alvin Kamara are not in the top 100 in rushing yards, and I haven't taken the time to manually add their stats to my spreadsheet (I did manually add Perine & Ballage). Jovon Robinson and Johnny Jefferson aren't playing FBS football this year; Jefferson is out for the year due to some mix of injury and personal reasons, and Robinson transferred to Valdosta State after getting kicked out of Auburn but apparently hasn't been playing.

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Great stuff as usual!

Will be excited to see how the year plays out when the Conference competition heats up and Bowl games.

I'm partial and invested in Hood, and I think he will be is a Day 2 pick and has shown blocking and some receiving ability. Not being utilized as much this year (67 carries and 12 receptions in five games) because of game flow.  

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Not ZWK, but we are a long way from the draft and the hype goes through cycles.

This time of year, offenses are just starting to jell and there are some growing pains. I was worried about Cook just a couple weeks ago. McCaffrey on the road vs a tough Washington school has dropped him in some eyes.. but there will be a clunker or a better team. RBs that are dinged lose their shine, too.

Second half of the season should solidify some prospect's tape, while the combine and personal work out others. Too soon to panic if you own Fournette or Chubb or McCaffrey (own the latter in a few places). When it is all said and done, I can still see 3 RBs taken in the first round from the four named plus Freeman. We just have no idea how the process will shake out now and what teams value which traits.

I'm excited for the draft and am trying to acquire picks now, especially 2nds, since I think the draft will be DEEP

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1 hour ago, Biabreakable said:

ZWK with some of the downgrades to notable RB prospects such as Fournette, Chubb and McCaffrey how do you see that affecting the overall quality of the 2017 draft class?

It definitely seems weaker at the top than it did a couple months ago, when Fournette, Chubb, and Smith-Schuster looked like the cream of the crop. The depth still seems relatively strong, although that will depend on things like who declares and which of the emerging WRs like Etta-Tawo continue to look like legit prospects. On the whole, the strategy of trading for 2017 1sts is not looking as good as it did.

 

2 hours ago, DexterDew said:

Great stuff as usual!

Will be excited to see how the year plays out when the Conference competition heats up and Bowl games.

I'm partial and invested in Hood, and I think he will be is a Day 2 pick and has shown blocking and some receiving ability. Not being utilized as much this year (67 carries and 12 receptions in five games) because of game flow.  

Hood's efficiency numbers are also down this year. Only 45 receiving yards on those 12 receptions (which is below 4 YPR), and he only has 0.31 first downs + touchdowns + 20 yard carries per attempt (which is the same as Fournette & Chubb, where last year all three of them were above 0.40).

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Here are a few receiving top 12 leaderboards. I've limited it to players who either are currently in the top 26 (in my overall receiving metric) or who I mentioned by name in my original post based on their production or reputation going into this season. (e.g., Air Force WR Jalen Robinette is actually leading the nation in yards per team passing attempt.)

Yards Per Team Passing Attempt
4.18    Cody Thompson    Toledo
4.09    Corey Davis    W Mich
3.86    Thomas Sperbeck    Boise St
3.38    Trent Taylor    La Tech
3.36    Dede Westbrook    Oklahoma
3.29    Amba Etta-Tawo    Syracuse
3.12    Taywan Taylor    Western Ky
3.03    Shelton Gibson    WVU
3.01    James Washington    Okla St
3.00    Kenny Golladay    N Illinois
2.97    Equanimeous St. Brown    Notre Dame
2.92    Keevan Lucas    Tulsa

Percent of Team's Passing TDs
86%    Tim Patrick    Utah
75%    Austin Carr    N'western
57%    Isaiah McKenzie    Georgia
55%    Amba Etta-Tawo    Syracuse
53%    Corey Davis    W Mich
50%    Kenny Golladay    N Illinois
50%    Keevan Lucas    Tulsa
50%    Courtland Sutton    SMU
50%    JuJu Smith-Schuster    USC
44%    Trent Taylor    La Tech
44%    Josh Reynolds    Texas A&M
43%    James Washington    Okla St
43%    Equanimeous St. Brown    Notre Dame

25+ Yard Receptions Per Game
2.25    Shelton Gibson    WVU
2.17    Amba Etta-Tawo    Syracuse
2.00    Cody Thompson    Toledo
2.00    Thomas Sperbeck    Boise St
2.00    James Washington    Okla St
1.50    Kenny Golladay    N Illinois
1.50    Chad Hansen    California
1.40    Jonathan Giles    Texas Tech
1.40    Evan Engram    Miss
1.40    Jared Cornelius    Arkansas
1.33    Corey Davis    W Mich
1.33    Equanimeous St. Brown    Notre Dame

Amba Etta-Tawo, Corey Davis, James Washington, Kenny Golladay, and Equanimeous St. Brown make all three of these lists (though St. Brown isn't in the top 10 for any of them), and TE Evan Engram makes one of them (and slots in at #9 in overall receiving production this year).

My source of data on targets hasn't been updated in a couple weeks, so I won't post the out-of-date leaderboard for yards per target, but from the info I have Amba Etta-Tawo, Corey Davis, and Evan Engram would be top 12 there as well.

See this post for the numbers of previous draft classes, though keep in mind that we should expect to see more extreme rate stats for a half-season than for a full season.

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Target data have now been updated, so here is everyone over 10 YPT:

Yards Per Target
18.78    Cody Thompson    Toledo
16.69    Shelton Gibson    WVU
13.95    Jonathan Giles    Texas Tech
13.21    Jared Cornelius    Arkansas
13.03    James Quick    Louisville
12.85    Nick Westbrook    Indiana
12.61    Evan Engram    Miss
12.58    Thomas Sperbeck    Boise St
12.00    Shay Fields    Colorado
11.90    Curtis Samuel    Ohio State
11.82    Ricky Jones    Indiana
11.63    Carlos Henderson    La Tech
11.59    Antonio Callaway    Florida
11.56    Jalen Robinette    Air Force
11.53    Shun Brown    Arizona
11.51    Corey Willis    C Mich
11.32    Dede Westbrook    Oklahoma
11.29    Jester Weah    Pittsburgh
11.18    Tony Stevens    Auburn
11.13    Amba Etta-Tawo    Syracuse
10.95    Blake Mack    Ark St
10.90    Tim Patrick    Utah
10.57    Equanimeous St. Brown    Notre Dame
10.55    Josh Reynolds    Texas A&M
10.55    Jamari Staples    Louisville
10.50    Mikah Holder    SDSU
10.48    Nicholas Norris    Western Ky
10.44    James Washington    Okla St
10.34    Rodney Adams    S Florida
10.30    Corey Davis    W Mich
10.08    Gerald Everett    South Ala

(With the note that NCAAsavant's target & reception stats don't always match up with official stats, mainly because they're missing some games. In those cases, I take the player's catch rate from NCAAsavant for the targets that they have, and the player's yards per reception for all their games from official stats, and multiply them to estimate yards per target.)

Amba Etta-Tawo, Corey Davis, James Washington, and Equanimeous St. Brown make all 4 leaderboards.

Cody Thompson, Shelton Gibson, Thomas Sperbeck, and Kenny Golladay all make 3 of the 4 leaderboards; SDSU's Mikah Holder would too but he missed the cutoff for overall production score. TE Evan Engram makes 2 of the 4.

Here are my formula's current "if the draft were today" WR prospect rankings, taking into account players' estimated size & athleticism and previous seasons and age, in addition to this year's production (missing data is treated as if the player is average; I am missing estimated 40 times for several players and ages for many players):

7.45    Corey Davis    W Mich    
7.42    JuJu Smith-Schuster    USC    
6.63    Nick Westbrook    Indiana    *
6.53    Amba Etta-Tawo    Syracuse    
6.05    Cody Thompson    Toledo    *
5.65    Shelton Gibson    WVU    
5.39    Evan Engram    Miss    
4.84    Kenny Golladay    N Illinois    
4.60    James Washington    Okla St    
3.87    Courtland Sutton    SMU    
3.77    Jared Cornelius    Arkansas    
3.64    Dede Westbrook    Oklahoma    
3.54    Keevan Lucas    Tulsa    
3.34    Tim Patrick    Utah    
3.28    Equanimeous St. Brown    Notre Dame    *
3.08    Darren Carrington II    Oregon    
2.42    Jonathan Giles    Texas Tech    *
2.39    Taywan Taylor    Western Ky    
2.31    Thomas Sperbeck    Boise St    
2.29    Antonio Callaway    Florida    *
2.07    Shay Fields    Colorado    
2.03    Josh Reynolds    Texas A&M    
1.73    Amara Darboh    Michigan    
1.44    Carlos Henderson    La Tech    
0.33    Jalen Robinette    Air Force    
0.15    Chad Hansen    California    
0.05    Allenzae Staggers    USM    
-0.25    Isaiah McKenzie    Georgia   

* not draft eligible

For comparison, here is last year's draft class on the same scale (though that came after the combine and other data, which tends to create more separation between players).

Corey Davis & JuJu Smith-Schuster sit at the top in large part because of last year's production, plus prototypical size. Evan Engram comes in at #7 by my WR rating system, which is ridiculously good for a TE (Vernon Davis is the only TE who has rated higher in my data set, which goes back to 2005). Darren Carrington and Keevan Lucas may be overrated here since I'm pro-rating their 2015 stats (Carrington played only 7 games in 2015 but is treated as if he had the same per-game stats for a whole season, and Lucas only played 4 games). Mike Williams, Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, and Isaiah Ford don't make the cut based on their production so far.

Edited by ZWK
updated rankings after looking up more player ages

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Looking at some of the name WRs who didn't make my leaderboards:

Mike Williams's stats are a bit below average pretty much across the board. 72 receiving yards per game is a bit below average (77 ypg, last year among the top 100 players in receiving yards), 3 TDs in 6 games is a bit below average (0.6 TDs per game), 4 25+ yard receptions in 6 games is a bit below average (about 5 per 6 games). His 9.3 yards per target is basically average (8.9 last year, 9.3 in 2014). And he's doing this on one of the better passing offenses in college football, with a potential first rounder at QB. His market share stats are even worse.

Calvin Ridley's stats are fairly similar to Williams's (69 YPG, 4 TDs, 5 25+ receptions), slightly better on the whole among the counting stats, but his efficiency has been a horrendous 6.9 YPT. Alabama actually averages fewer yards per attempt less when they throw to Ridley than when they throw elsewhere (by 2.3 yards per attempt), which is a rare feat for a team's WR1.

Christian Kirk's counting stats are lower than Williams's (59 YPG, 4 TDs, 2 25+ receptions), and his yards per target is an even worse 5.9 YPT.  He is one of only 3 receivers below 6 YPT in my spreadsheet of 100. His teammate Josh Reynolds has 10.6 YPT and 83 YPG.

These guys might put up good measurements at the combine, with Williams's size and Kirk's speed, but so far they don't have the production that you want to see from an early round draft pick.

(It is worth noting that Kirk's 2015, Ridley's 2015, and especially Williams's 2014 seasons all had better numbers than their current season, but none of them were good enough to put them in the range of top prospects.)

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Curious how folks react to some of the prospects who start slow... especially in trade-active devy leagues.  My hunch is that selling off devy prospects (especially those who may be losing some shine) for players who can help you win now is a viable strategy that probably hits more than it misses... even the best prospects seem to see 40-50% bust rates.  I don't think anyone has the perfect formula for ID'ing which guys become Zeke or Le'Veon and which are Montee Ball and Trent Richardson.

Don't want to sidetrack ZWK's excellent thread too much, but my question is two-fold really.  1) do you hold your devy guys or look to sell for current talent, and why?  And 2) in the case of a guy like Chubb this year, for example, or Juju, or Mike Williams, or some of the other buzz guys from last year that now may be slightly disappointing... do you sell them for the buzzy guys now like Royce Freeman or Corey Davis (assuming you can - guys in your league want to make the swap)?

How much do you weigh the past performance and assumed athletic profile for a guy like Chubb and how do you compare that to a guy like Freeman (just to give one example)?

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I'd be more worried about the disappointing guys who have never had a big year than I am about the guys who had a big year and now are having a down year.

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I watched Lamar Jackson's games against Florida State and Clemson, and he looks pretty bad as a passer. Lots of inaccurate throws, and he waits for guys to come open rather than throwing with timing or anticipation. Great runner, but it looks like it's going to be tough for him to transition to the NFL.

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