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ZWK's 2024 Prospect Analysis (1 Viewer)

ZWK

Footballguy
This thread is for my analysis of the 2024 draft class and other college players. Previously threads: 2023 draft class, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 WR & RB.

I don't have my spreadsheets up yet, but I have been taking a look at some receiving stats.

Here is the leaderboard in career adjusted yards per route run, which is YPRR plus a 5 yard bonus for each first down and a 15 yard bonus for each touchdown (along with YPRR in parentheses). I have included (I think) every active FBS player with 3+ AYPRR on 300+ total routes (with an * for guys with less than 500 routes). 3.3 AYPRR (and 2.5 YPRR) is roughly the median for WRs drafted in rd1-3. I've bolded the 10 WRs (and 1 TE) who seem to be the most highly regarded: 4 of the WRs (and 1 TE) are near the top (that's good), 2 WRs are slightly below average (not great but not so bad), and 4 of the WRs don't make the leaderboard and are down in the "other notable players" list (that's bad).

Career AYPRR (and YPRR) Leaderboard
4.21 Marvin Harrison Jr. (3.00)
4.21 Eric McAlister (3.18) *
3.73 Jacoby Jones (2.86) *
3.71 Devontez Walker (2.73)
3.71 TE Brock Bowers (2.69)
3.70 Malik Nabers (2.80)

3.66 Tez Johnson (2.80)
3.66 Emeka Egbuka (2.71)
3.58 Troy Franklin (2.61)

3.57 Jamari Thrash (2.70)
3.55 Ladd McConkey (2.59)
3.53 Tre Harris (2.62)
3.52 Reggie Brown (2.63) *
3.49 Squirrel White (2.81) *
3.49 Joey Hobert (2.55) *
3.42 Micah Davis (2.51) *
3.40 Jacolby George (2.55) *
3.39 Johnny Wilson (2.63)
3.36 Trevor Wilson (2.66) *
3.35 Jacob Cowing (2.52)
3.33 Roman Wilson (2.39)
[3.30 typical rd1-3 WR (2.50)]
3.27 Elic Ayomanor (2.58) *
3.26 Rome Odunze (2.44)
3.22 Dante Cephas (2.45)
3.21 Jared Brown (2.50)
3.20 Monaray Baldwin (2.47) *
3.17 CJ Daniels (2.33)
3.17 TE Bryson Nesbit (2.32)
3.14 Javon Baker (2.38)
3.11 Tyrin Smith (2.40)
3.10 Ricky White (2.43)
3.09 Tory Horton (2.31)
3.09 Xavier Worthy (2.27)
3.08 Jabre Barber (2.31)
3.08 Trayvon Rudolph (2.38)
3.07 Zakhari Franklin (2.18)
3.07 De'Corian Clark (2.22)
3.06 Moochie Dixon (2.30) *
3.05 Jeremiah Hunter (2.35)
3.05 Luther Burden III (2.25)
3.05 Ali Jennings (2.31)
3.04 Antwane Wells Jr. (2.33) *
3.03 TE Jaheim Bell (2.30)
3.02 Tyrese Chambers (2.28)

Some other notable players
2.96 Malachi Corley (2.14)
2.89 Jermaine Burton (2.13)
2.86 TE Harold Fannin Jr. (2.14) *
2.84 Jalen McMillan (2.10)
2.79 Keon Coleman (1.97)
2.79 Brenden Rice (2.00)
2.77 HB Donovan Edwards (2.20) *
2.76 Ja'Lynn Polk (2.07)
2.63 Brian Thomas Jr. (1.89)
2.63 Adonai Mitchell (1.79)

2.51 Evan Stewart (1.94)
2.48 Theo Wease (1.82)
2.39 TE Ja'Tavion Sanders (1.81)
2.18 J.Michael Sturdivant (1.62)
2.18 Xavier Legette (1.70)

More to come over the coming weeks.
 
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Love your work as always. If it’s not too much to ask, next time you post a list can you include the players positions as well? (I see you do it for TEs).
I barely follow college football at all, so seeing names combined with positions in these lists is super helpful for me to start getting used to these guys. Thanks!
 
Strange seeing Odunze so "low"... I like him (don't love him)... Will need to see RoS and especially the landing spots for these guys.

I fear for Harrison landing in a terrible spot, because he is going to go VERY early this draft. And I mean VERY.
 
Among the 10 WRs who seem to generally be most highly regarded (bolded in my original post), 6 get a clear thumbs up from my classic formula:
Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State)
Malik Nabers (LSU)
Rome Odunze (Washington)
Brian Thomas, Jr. (LSU)
Xavier Legette (S Carolina)
Troy Franklin (Oregon)

Troy Franklin lags a bit behind the others in the overall rating because he's so small, but by production he is up there with the others. This formula puts a lot of weight on a player's best season and his last season, which is probably overly friendly to Xavier Legette, who is having a huge season as a 5th year senior after doing very little before this year. To a lesser extent, it probably overrates Rome Odunze who is having his clear best season in his 4th year (though he was pretty good last year too). Legette & Brian Thomas were both in the last tier by career AYPRR, but by the new career rating that I introduced last year (which is based on various career stats including AYPRR) Thomas actually does pretty well, while Legette does not. Thomas's career AYPT is great (the highest among all 10 of these WRs) and the formula rewards him for being a 3rd year receiver in the SEC.

The other 4 WRs basically don't meet the bar according to my classic formula, though 2-3 are kinda close:
Xavier Worthy (Texas)
Emeka Egbuka (Ohio State)
Keon Coleman (Florida State)
Adonai Mitchell (Texas)

Worthy & Egbuka are both early declares who did have one good season - Worthy in 2021, Egbuka in 2022, but have had down years this season which my classic formula punishes them for. Egbuka looks good by my new formula based on career AYPRR and other stats; Worthy kinda meh (including a 8.2 career YPT). Coleman & Mitchell have never had a good season according to my classic formula, and statistically don't look so good by either formula. Coleman has good size which is one plus. Adonai Mitchell has caught a lot of first downs, but he's averaged just 2.8 yards after the catch per reception, which is the awful. Here's the rest of the "below 4 college career YAC" club among rd1-3 WRs in the PFF era:

2.6 Josh Palmer
3.5 George Pickens
3.7 Chris Olave
3.8 Miles Boykin
3.8 JJ Arcega-Whiteside
3.9 Alec Pierce
3.9 Dante Pettis
3.9 Tyquan Thornton

Fun fact: Adonai Mitchell's contested catch success rate is second lowest out of this group, ahead of only Thornton (though he could also move ahead of Boykin with a single contested catch).

My current take on these 10 WRs is: Marvin Harrison Jr. & Malik Nabers look great. Next best profiles among these 10 are probably (in some order) Rome Odunze, Troy Franklin, Emeka Egbuka, and Brian Thomas - they each look good from some angles, and at least pretty good overall. Then Xavier Worthy & Xavier Legette, who have some pluses but more warts. At the bottom of the 10, Keon Coleman & Adonai Mitchell don't have much going for them by the numbers I've looked at.
 
Which WRs have the best numbers in this class, outside of the consensus top 10?

Here are the top remaining guys by my new formula, which uses career totals:
Ladd McConkey
Antwane Wells Jr. *
Jacolby George *
(Jaheim Bell TE)
Jermaine Burton
Tez Johnson

* less than 500 routes

McConkey, Wells, and George all rate above average relative to rd1-3 WRs, while TE Bell, Burton, and Johnson are all close to average (slightly below now, but could improve a bit with some games remaining). Small sample size makes Wells & George a little iffy; for Wells this also only includes his 3rd & 4th seasons of college and not his 2 seasons at FCS school James Madison. All of these guys are over 3.0 AYPRR for their career, led by strong numbers from Tez & Ladd (Burton just crossed that threshhold with a big game against Auburn), most of these WRs (all but Tez Johnson) have good YPT numbers (Burton's are great), and most have been good after the catch with plenty of YAC & MT (Burton is the only one who struggles there).

Here are the top remaining guys by my classic formula:
Jermaine Burton
Javon Baker
Johnny Wilson
Jalen Royals
Malik Washington
Devontez Walker
Ricky White
Jamari Thrash
Tory Horton
Caullin Lacy
Tre Harris
Tahj Washington
CJ Daniels
Jacob Cowing

Unfortunately, there is little overlap between the lists - just one guy, Jermaine Burton. Both formulas love his high YPT. The other guys who make my first list haven't had a huge season (McConkey, for example, has only averaged about 60 YFS/g the past couple years, despite his high YPRR, because he sits out a lot of passing snaps). And none of these guys are great by this formula - all are ranked after Troy Franklin and the rest of the top 6 mentioned in my last post. Still, this makes for a pretty long list of guys who seem worth a look / have some potential. Every guy on this list has at least pretty good / borderline production, except for Johnny Wilson who makes up for his more middling production by being frickin huge.

These lists half-overlap with best-of-the-rest lists that I'm seeing elsewhere. Guys here who I'm seeing as potential rd3-4 types elsewhere:
Johnny Wilson, Ladd McConkey, Devontez Walker, Tory Horton, Antwane Wells Jr., Jermaine Burton. Stretch it a little further and maybe you get Jamari Thrash & Jacob Cowing. Guys who seem to be consensus top 20 WRs who don't make either of my lists: Ja’Lynn Polk, Malachi Corley, Roman Wilson, Brenden Rice, and Jalen McMillan (and maybe J. Michael Sturdivant). Malachi Corley & Roman Wilson do at least have over 3.0 AYPRR.
 
Jayden Daniels takes home a well-deserved Heisman trophy. He was the most productive QB this season by far - in fact, my era-adjusted numbers have it as the second most productive season in my database (2008-2023) behind only Kyler Murray 2018 (for now; still waiting on his bowl game). It was one of the best passing efficiency seasons that we've seen (e.g., second best by yards per attempt), and he ran for a hundred yards a game on top of that (slightly less if you count sacks as rushes, slightly more if you don't). Daniels is a fifth year senior who had never previously produced anywhere close to this, especially as a passer, and he had a great supporting cast, which are reasons to be less excited about him. But I'm still pretty excited about him as an NFL prospect, and even moreso for fantasy. This Athletic article on his use of VR in training is one possibility for how he managed to improve so much this year. My initial thought is that's probably good news for his prospects, if that technology played a big role for him, especially if he can keep using it going forward.

Another LSU note: According to PFF, 74 passes have been thrown to Brian Thomas Jr. this season, 15 of them have gone for touchdowns, and 14 have fallen incomplete. If the season ended today, that would make Thomas the first WR in the PFF era with 35+ targets and at least as many touchdowns as incompletions, and it would give him the most targets of any player with TDs >= incompletions (the current high is RB Jeremy McNichols 2015 with 56 targets for 6 TDs & 5 incompletions). We'll see if he keeps it up through one more game. 2020 Chris Olave was on pace to have matching touchdowns & incompletions right up until the national championship game - he ended up with 59 targets for 7 TDs & 9 incompletions. Boise St. WR Shane Williams-Rhodes 2014 and Georgia TE Brock Bowers 2021 are the only players to come within 2 of a TD-incompletion tie on 70+ targets.

This is a Jayden Daniels stat as well as a Brian Thomas Jr. stat.
 
Caleb Williams: highly regarded QB with 3 very good seasons, though no absolutely huge seasons. That description also fits Trevor Lawrence, 3 years ago. Every single one of Williams's (and Lawrence's) seasons were good enough to meet the bar I've set for "did this guy ever have a good season"; on the other hand, the majority of QBs who've been drafted #1 overall have a more productive best season than Williams (or Lawrence) did. That's enough for me to be on board the "yeah, this guy's a good prospect". But on the question of whether he's a better QB prospect than we see most years (e.g. meaningfully better than Young & Stroud last year), I'm going to need to do more in-depth analysis than I've done so far, or else just follow the herd.

Drake Maye: Maye has had zero very good seasons, by my production formula. It is especially down on his red zone performance, where he has thrown a TD on just 22.4% of his career attempts (36/161), which is below average (25.3% of all red zone passes by FBS teams have gone for touchdowns over the past 2 seasons). Similarly, UNC has just been averageish (54th percentile) at converting red zone possessions into touchdowns over the past 2 years, with a 62.7% RZ TD rate (79/126) vs. 61.6% for the median FBS team. Red zone performance seems important because that's a place where the windows are tighter so it puts more pressure on the quarterback to execute, or to get creative & make something happen. Other bottom-line production stats are a bit higher on Maye than mine, but still mostly don't love him (e.g., he's been 14th & 10th in QBR; Caleb Williams has been 11th, 5th, and 4th). The one stat where Maye really shines is PFF's Big Time Throw rate - 8.4% of his passes have been Big Time Throws, which is most in this draft class and 97th percentile relative to the past 8 QB draft classes (only Malik Willis, Josh Allen, and Justin Fields were higher). PFF grades are also pretty high on Maye. Justin Herbert is another toolsy guy who had a lot of Big Time Throws (3rd behind Willis & Allen for his best season in BTT rate, even though his career avg wasn't as high); he's a plausible comp for Maye.

So Maye has more question marks than Williams, but some good signs. I'd currently take Williams over Maye. And it seems possible that, by draft time, Daniels will be in the conversation with those two rather than competing to be best of the rest behind them.
 
Brian Thomas Jr. is very impressive. He gets overshadowed by Nabers, but he is rising up my board.
Yeah, I'm high on him too. The whole LSU trio, really. I currently have Nabers as WR2 and in the same tier as Harrison, Thomas WR6 and in the same tier as the guys ahead of him, and Daniels QB3 and (at least for fantasy) closer to the guys ahead of him than the guys behind him.
 
Here is career Big Time Throw Rate (a PFF stat) for a bunch of draft eligible quarterbacks, along with a bunch of quarterbacks who have been successful in the NFL (or seem to be heading that way). This stat has been more predictive of NFL success than most other stats I've looked at, which doesn't mean that it's really predictive on its own but is a sign that it's relevant. In parentheses I've put each QB's max season in BTT rate, min 200 attempts, which has been about as predictive of NFL success as the career average. (In some cases the max season is lower than the player's career average, if they had low-attempt seasons with a great BTT rate.)

9.2% Josh Allen (10.6% max)
8.4% Drake Maye (8.4% max)
8.1% Jalen Milroe (9.2% max)

7.4% Tua Tagovailoa (8.7% max)
7.2% Trevor Lawrence (7.1% max)
7.0% Joe Burrow (7.5% max)
6.7% C.J. Stroud (7.0% max)
6.7% Caleb Williams (6.6% max)
6.5% Kyler Murray (7.3% max)
6.5% Justin Herbert (9.2% max)
6.4% J.J. McCarthy (6.1% max)
6.4% Michael Penix Jr. (10.3% max)

6.4% Jared Goff (6.4% max)
6.3% Jordan Travis (7.1% max)
6.1% Deshaun Watson (6.7% max)
6.0% Patrick Mahomes (6.6% max)
5.9% Sam Hartman (7.8% max)
[5.7% avg drafted QB (6.4% max)]
5.7% Joe Milton III (3.3% max)
5.4% Jordan Love (6.4% max)
5.4% KJ Jefferson (5.7% max)
5.3% Shedeur Sanders (5.0% max)
5.1% Spencer Rattler (9.4% max)

5.0% Jalen Hurts (5.1% max)
4.9% Quinn Ewers (6.3% max)
4.9% Michael Pratt (6.5% max)

4.8% Dak Prescott (5.1% max)
4.8% Jayden Daniels (8.4% max)
4.6% Carson Beck (4.0% max)
4.6% Bo Nix (5.0% max)

4.4% Brock Purdy (8.3% max)
4.2% Lamar Jackson (4.7% max)

Looking at the low end: Lamar Jackson, Prescott, and Hurts are the only 3 good NFL QBs who were below average in both career BTT rate and max season BTT rate; it may be relevant that two of the three are amazing runners. Bad sign for Bo Nix to also be down there, especially since he's not close to their level as a runner. Jayden Daniels also down there in career BTT rate, but his best season (2023) is great and he is a great runner, so as big a concern.

Looking at the high end: Drake Maye really shines here, as I mentioned earlier, as does Jalen Milroe, but word is that Milroe is staying at Alabama next year. Michael Penix Jr.'s peak season is great, but that was on just 220 attempts at Indiana in 2020 (barely over the cutoff I picked) so not as impressive as it looks at first glance.
 
hey @ZWK - completing my own list and looks similar to yours.... but for top 3 arguments, I currently have it harrison/nabers/bowers...

and slowly nabers creeping and potentially overatking harrison.

but point is... would you see it that way as top 3 right now too? (im admittedly "low" on the RBs this yr)
 
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hey @ZWK - completing my own list and looks similar to yours.... but for top 3 arguments, I currently have it harrison/nabers/bowers...

and slowly nabers creeping and potentially overatking harrison.

but point is... would you see it that way as top 3 right now too? (im admittedly "low" on the RBs this yr)
The RB class is rough this year.
 
hey @ZWK - completing my own list and looks similar to yours.... but for top 3 arguments, I currently have it harrison/nabers/bowers...

and slowly nabers creeping and potentially overatking harrison.

but point is... would you see it that way as top 3 right now too? (im admittedly "low" on the RBs this yr)
The RB class is rough this year.

someone will emerge and be good. maybe more than 1 guy. but I could not for the life of me tell you who it'll be.
for that, i'm "avoiding" til rnd 2/3 of rookie drafts
 
hey @ZWK - completing my own list and looks similar to yours.... but for top 3 arguments, I currently have it harrison/nabers/bowers...

and slowly nabers creeping and potentially overatking harrison.

but point is... would you see it that way as top 3 right now too? (im admittedly "low" on the RBs this yr)
The RB class is rough this year.

someone will emerge and be good. maybe more than 1 guy. but I could not for the life of me tell you who it'll be.
for that, i'm "avoiding" til rnd 2/3 of rookie drafts
For sure but it’s a weak weak class. Just makes the young RBs in the NFL right now even more valuable.
 
PFF has released a new Game Athleticism Rating (GAR), which aggregates "various metrics PFF computes for every player on every play, such as speeds, accelerations and changes of direction" into a single overall metric, which gets adjusted for the player's height & weight and compared to other players at the same position.

They share the percentile rating of several WR prospects in this class (this is each player's highest-GAR season):
Malik Nabers, LSU — 99th percentile
Adonai Mitchell, Texas — 99th
Xavier Worthy, Texas —99th
Xavier Legette, South Carolina — 99th
Rome Odunze, Washington — 98th
Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State — 96th
Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State — 93rd
Keon Coleman, Florida State — 93rd
Troy Franklin, Oregon — 92nd
Johnny Wilson, Florida State — 91st
Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky — 81st
The way that these are scaled, 80th percentile is not good for a prospect. They say (in a section which I believe is describing which players from the 2020-2022 draft classes have become NFL starters) that 28 of 33 WR starters at 80th percentile GAR or better, with 20 of 33 at 90th percentile or better.

My guess is that this list is not a leaderboard, and WRs who aren't on the list (like Brian Thomas Jr., Ladd McConkey, and Devontez Walker) have an unknown GAR which might be higher than some of the guys who are on the list.

They also highlight rookies Sam LaPorta and Puka Nacua as both having 99th percentile GAR (I believe that was their best college season, rather than their GAR for their NFL rookie season).
 
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Another LSU note: According to PFF, 74 passes have been thrown to Brian Thomas Jr. this season, 15 of them have gone for touchdowns, and 14 have fallen incomplete. If the season ended today, that would make Thomas the first WR in the PFF era with 35+ targets and at least as many touchdowns as incompletions, and it would give him the most targets of any player with TDs >= incompletions (the current high is RB Jeremy McNichols 2015 with 56 targets for 6 TDs & 5 incompletions). We'll see if he keeps it up through one more game. 2020 Chris Olave was on pace to have matching touchdowns & incompletions right up until the national championship game - he ended up with 59 targets for 7 TDs & 9 incompletions. Boise St. WR Shane Williams-Rhodes 2014 and Georgia TE Brock Bowers 2021 are the only players to come within 2 of a TD-incompletion tie on 70+ targets.
Brian Thomas Jr. caught 2 touchdowns in the bowl game against Wisconsin, but he was also targeted on 5 incompletions. As with Olave in 2020, the postseason pushes him out of "TDs >= incompletions" territory. He ends the season with a -2 "TDs minus incompletions" score (17 TD & 19 inc on 87 targets), joining 2014 Shane Williams-Rhodesand (7 TD & 8 inc on 76 tgt) and 2021 Brock Bowers (13 TD & 15 inc on 71 tgt). Thomas does have the highest ADOT of those three (13.9 vs. 8.8 for Bowers and 3.0 for Williams-Rrhodesand).
 
Malik Nabers has such a clean profile. Great best season, great career stats, great efficiency. Tons of big plays. Jumped off the screen when I watched him, and more tape-based evaluators love him too. Three-year player who contributed as a true freshman (40 yfs per game). Produced against great competition in the SEC. Has the size and athleticism to straightforwardly translate to the NFL. Won in lots of different ways, with good stats at every depth. Good after the catch (great missed tackle rate, though his yards after the catch per reception were only a bit above average), good on contested catches (his QB clearly trusted him to make a play on the ball in one-on-one situations on the outside), and I suspect that Reception Perception data will show he got open at a good rate on a variety of routes (though still waiting on those numbers to get released). Among the various stats I look at to evaluate receivers, there are none where he is below average (relative to the college stats of other rd1-3 WRs). And plenty where he's great, including the most important ones. It's rare for there to be a WR prospect like thatto find a WR like that.

With every other receiver in this class I can at least find something to nitpick. Marvin Harrison Jr. also a great profile over all, another 3-year WR in a top conference with big numbers and great efficiency (slightly different career arc - Harrison's 2nd & 3rd years were both great, but neither was as big as Nabers's 2023). But Harrison hasn't done much after the catch (22nd percentile YAC/rec & 16th percentile MT/rec), a lot of his catchable targets have been contested (31%) which is generally a negative sign about how reliably a player gets open (see last year's list led by Quentin Johnston 34%), and thin WRs have generally had a worse track record (though there have been some great ones, and BMI has seemed less important in recent years than it was a decade ago). Still a great profile, but there are *some* negatives on it. Rome Odunze is a 4th year player whose career arc was basically one year behind Nabers's (Odunze barely played his true freshman year), his career stats like YPRR and YPT aren't as good (mainly due to poor numbers in his second season, including awful YPT), and like Harrison he has been below average after the catch (22nd percentile career YAC/rec and 39th percentile MT/rec as of the end of the regular season). And there are other things (and some of the same things) with the other WRs.

So Nabers vs. Harrison as WR1 seems like a close call, and narrower than the gap between WR2 and WR3. Both look great by my two WR rating formulas; one has Harrison at #1, the other Nabers. Other talent evaluators (including tape-watchers and draft forecasters) seem to favor Harrison, and of course Harrison also has the better father (2nd best WR dad in the class), so if I had to draft one today I think I'd follow the crowd and take Harrison. But if I was in a bubble doing my own evaluation, based on numbers and my own video-watching, I think I would have Nabers first. And taking everything into account I'm still super high on Nabers; as a Bears fan I was dreaming of a Caleb Williams - Malike Nabers draft before they won their last couple games and their own pick fell down the draft order. We'll see if I change my mind over the course of the draft season; some evaluators like Matt Waldman have Nabers over Harrison and it may be that Harrison's apparent consensus lead will slip away if opinions become based more on close scrutiny of the 2023 season rather than older news like parentage and 2022 production.
 
hey @ZWK - completing my own list and looks similar to yours.... but for top 3 arguments, I currently have it harrison/nabers/bowers...

and slowly nabers creeping and potentially overatking harrison.

but point is... would you see it that way as top 3 right now too? (im admittedly "low" on the RBs this yr)
I think I agree.

In leagues that are superflex and TE premium, IMO there's a really clear top 6 right now, where it's tricky to rank within the top 6 and there's a meaningful gap after them. That would be 3 QBs (Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels), 2 WRs (Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers), and 1 TE (Brock Bowers).

If it's a 1 QB league, then obviously the QBs drop out of that tier.

If it's not TE premium, does Bowers drop out of that tier? I'm not sure; I think he's still third but he might be closer to the guy after him (probably Odunze) than the guy in front of him.
 
Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix, and JJ McCarthy are generally considered the QB4-6 in this class (in some order), potential first rounders or else likely day 2 picks.

All 3 meet the "has he ever had a good season" bar. By the QB efficiency stat I've been using, this year Nix was 2nd, McCarthy was 3rd, and Penix was 9th. By PFF grade, Nix was 2nd, Penix was 7th, and McCarthy was 9th. By QBR, Nix was 2nd, McCarthy was 3rd, and Penix was 6th. (Jayden Daniels was 1st in all three stats.)

The big negative in the production profile for Penix & Nix is their age and career arc. Penix is a 6th year senior, Nix a 5th year senior. Neither was productive early in their career at another school (Indiana & Auburn), both changed schools to a much more favorable situation (with Washington's elite receiving corps and Oregon's QB-friendly system) and then started putting up much better numbers. Both players' career efficiency numbers are pretty mediocre, even their 2022 & 2023 numbers are good. Generally it's a bad sign to only produce big at an age where some of your peers have already left for the NFL. Though that seems less true at QB than at other positions (see Joe Burrow; other 5+ year college QBs include Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, and Eli Manning). Maybe part of the story is that many QBs never develop high levels of poise/polish/football intelligence, so if a college QB has that it's a good sign even if it takes until his 5th or 6th year. If so, that's good news for Penix who is generally praised for his polish; not so much for Nix whose scouting report looks different (though Prescott & Tannehill's scouting reports looked more like Nix's).

One clear positive for both Penix and Nix is their sack avoidance. Both have low sack rates, and low pressure-to-sack rates (meaning they usually avoid sacks even when pressured). Penix's career pressure-to-sack rate of 6.5% is the lowest among all drafted QBs in the PFF era; the chance that Penix was sacked on a play where he was pressured was lower than the chance that (say) Joe Burrow was sacked on a dropback, period (6.8%). Bo Nix's numbers aren't quite as extreme, but they're still very good, and scrambling QBs tend to get sacked more so the fact that Nix avoided sacks so well while still being a productive scrambler is a good sign.

Besides age, the clearest negative for Penix is his lack of rushing and for Nix it's his low Big Time Throw rate.

The big negative in JJ McCarthy's production profile is the lack of volume. I have mostly been looking efficiency stats, but Michigan ran the ball a lot and didn't rely on McCarthy much. This is bad in two ways. First, if he's so good then why didn't the team rely on him more? If Harbaugh didn't trust him to throw the ball more, why should we trust him as a prospect? Second, maybe he got to throw in favorable situations, taking advantage of defenses that were focused on stopping the run. Two stats that speak in favor of McCarthy on this second question: he was one of the most effective quarterbacks in the country at converting 3rd & long (Michigan was 1st in the country at the percentage of 3rd & 7+ passes that went for first downs), and he ran play action less often than other top quarterbacks. And on the first question, game scripts seem like at least a partial explanation: Michigan rarely trailed all season. If he was staying in college and entering the transfer portal, I imagine that plenty of high-volume passing schools would be happy to bring McCarthy in as his starter and have him sling it a ton. How well would he do?

On the whole I don't have really strong bottom line views on these 3 guys. More of a "yeah, maybe, I could see it." For NFL value, at this point I'd probably rank them Penix-McCarthy-Nix, partly based on stuff I've covered here, partly just based on impressions from watching them. Though for fantasy, Penix's lack of running is a negative, so maybe I put him behind McCarthy.
 
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Here are the WRs with the highest contested rate in this class, along with WRs from the 2018-23 classes for comparison.

The number here is contested rate, which is contested targets divided by catchable targets.

The sort is by contested rate over expected, which adjusts for the fact that (e.g.) deep sideline throws are contested more often, and screens are rarely contested.

The players included are all rd1-3 WRs from 2018-23, plus other guys from 2023. The data covers the 2017-23 seasons, so they don't cover the complete careers of some of the guys from the earlier draft classes.

Last year's posts on this were here and here.

Contested Rate
51% JJ Arcega-Whiteside
42% Nico Collins
42% Josh Palmer
33% N'Keal Harry
36% Johnny Wilson
33% Keon Coleman

38% Alec Pierce
36% Denzel Mims
34% Quentin Johnston
30% Michael Wilson
30% Jake Bobo
37% Dontayvion Wicks
27% Deebo Samuel
31% Theo Wease
31% David Bell
32% Courtland Sutton
30% Jalen Reagor
28% Michael Gallup
31% Marvin Harrison Jr.
31% Terrace Marshall Jr.
30% De'Corian Clark
33% Miles Boykin
31% Tee Higgins
30% Cedric Tillman
29% Charlie Jones
28% Jayden Reed
26% Bryan Edwards

A lot of the guys on this list have had trouble getting open in the NFL, especially the guys near the top. Quentin Johnston's rookie struggles are a sign of that, though Nico Collins's breakout year offers hope.

Some concern for all 5 guys who make this list, especially the Florida State boys Johnny Wilson & Keon Coleman.

Next highest guys this year are Ja'Lynn Polk, Brenden Rice, and Malik Washington, though I don't have much concern about the stat once you get down into that range.
 
5 WRs in this class had a high drop rate:

14% J.Michael Sturdivant
12% Kaden Prather
13% Johnny Wilson
11% Javon Baker
9% Jacob Cowing

These are sorted by drop rate over expected (since, e.g., screens are dropped much less often than deep passes).

Another negative for Johnny Wilson. Cowing is just a bit worse than average, so not too terrible.

Here were drop rates for last year's class.
 
Malik Nabers has such a clean profile. Great best season, great career stats, great efficiency. Tons of big plays. Jumped off the screen when I watched him, and more tape-based evaluators love him too. Three-year player who contributed as a true freshman (40 yfs per game). Produced against great competition in the SEC. Has the size and athleticism to straightforwardly translate to the NFL. Won in lots of different ways, with good stats at every depth. Good after the catch (great missed tackle rate, though his yards after the catch per reception were only a bit above average), good on contested catches (his QB clearly trusted him to make a play on the ball in one-on-one situations on the outside), and I suspect that Reception Perception data will show he got open at a good rate on a variety of routes (though still waiting on those numbers to get released).
Matt Harmon has shared some of his initial WR charting for the 2024 class on his discord (just sharing 3 games worth of data vs coverages, not by route). Nabers has pretty good numbers, but so far Harrison's are better and Odunze's are even better than that.
 
Malik Nabers has such a clean profile. Great best season, great career stats, great efficiency. Tons of big plays. Jumped off the screen when I watched him, and more tape-based evaluators love him too. Three-year player who contributed as a true freshman (40 yfs per game). Produced against great competition in the SEC. Has the size and athleticism to straightforwardly translate to the NFL. Won in lots of different ways, with good stats at every depth. Good after the catch (great missed tackle rate, though his yards after the catch per reception were only a bit above average), good on contested catches (his QB clearly trusted him to make a play on the ball in one-on-one situations on the outside), and I suspect that Reception Perception data will show he got open at a good rate on a variety of routes (though still waiting on those numbers to get released).
Matt Harmon has shared some of his initial WR charting for the 2024 class on his discord (just sharing 3 games worth of data vs coverages, not by route). Nabers has pretty good numbers, but so far Harrison's are better and Odunze's are even better than that.

I've grown to really, REALLY like Odunze... I'm genuinely starting to get confused about how to rank the top 3 guys. So much so that's it's a 3-sided coinflip almost (I try my best to avoid name/pedigree, otherwise I know Harrison by far has the most value... But I don't care about that)
 
I've grown to really, REALLY like Odunze... I'm genuinely starting to get confused about how to rank the top 3 guys. So much so that's it's a 3-sided coinflip almost (I try my best to avoid name/pedigree, otherwise I know Harrison by far has the most value... But I don't care about that)
Not gone into it at the depth ZWK (who is excellent by the way, love this thread) and likely you have, but I don't think I have BTJ all that much lower than these three guys either.

Might be a bit of bias on my part looking for a legit option with my 4th overall pick (along with the 1 and 3) but he seems to have everything you'd want an alpha to possess.
 
I've grown to really, REALLY like Odunze... I'm genuinely starting to get confused about how to rank the top 3 guys. So much so that's it's a 3-sided coinflip almost (I try my best to avoid name/pedigree, otherwise I know Harrison by far has the most value... But I don't care about that)
Not gone into it at the depth ZWK (who is excellent by the way, love this thread) and likely you have, but I don't think I have BTJ all that much lower than these three guys either.

Might be a bit of bias on my part looking for a legit option with my 4th overall pick (along with the 1 and 3) but he seems to have everything you'd want an alpha to possess.

I definitely like him, and has him as my #5 in my list, behind the big 3 WRs and bowers.
The only thing I don't LOVE about him, is most of his plays are just burning defenders deep. his route tree is/was limited. not that he can't do that in the NFL, but it'll be harder... and who will his QB be? Josh allen? BEAUTY. someone else, maybe not so much

but his size and speed are delicious.
 
Career contested catch rate for this WR class.

The sample size for these is often pretty small, so if a couple plays had gone differently then some of these numbers could be pretty different. In parentheses, I've given a range that covers what their contested catch rate would've been if they had caught two fewer or two more of their contested catch opportunities. If 47% (the average rate) is somewhere within that range, that's a sign that the player easily could've come in on the other side of average.

59% Brock Bowers (54% - 64%)
57% Malik Washington (53% - 60%)
56% Javon Baker (51% - 62%)
56% Moose Muhammad III (44% - 69%)
53% Roman Wilson (41% - 65%)
53% Ladd McConkey (42% - 63%)
53% Jermaine Burton (47% - 58%)
52% Marvin Harrison Jr. (49% - 56%)
52% Rome Odunze (48% - 56%)
51% Ja'Lynn Polk (47% - 55%)
50% Malik Nabers (46% - 54%)
49% De'Corian Clark (44% - 53%)
49% Brenden Rice (43% - 54%)
48% Kaden Prather (42% - 55%)
47% Brian Thomas Jr. (42% - 53%)
[47% Average rd1-3 WR]
47% Theo Wease (42% - 51%)
46% J.Michael Sturdivant (39% - 54%)
46% Keon Coleman (42% - 50%)
45% Devontez Walker (39% - 52%)
45% Ricky Pearsall (39% - 52%)
43% Adonai Mitchell (37% - 50%)
43% Xavier Legette (37% - 49%)
43% Ainias Smith (38% - 48%)
42% Johnny Wilson (38% - 45%)
38% Troy Franklin (32% - 43%)
36% Jacob Cowing (34% - 39%)
36% Tez Johnson (28% - 44%)
34% Xavier Worthy (30% - 39%)
33% Jamari Thrash (28% - 37%)
29% Dominic Lovett (14% - 43%)
27% Malachi Corley (22% - 31%)
20% Jalen McMillan (12% - 28%)

Johnny Wilson's low rate stands out to me here, especially since he had the highest contested rate. Also not great for Keon Coleman & Theo Wease to just be averageish here, given their high contested rates.
 

Not to be a total dink, but Keon has absolutely no business in the convo with those other 3. He may end up a fine player (I don't see it, personally)... But even if he does, he isn't in their league.

I'm not even sure why they added him to that list? There's 3,4,5 WRs easily ahead of him that would've made more sense in that comp. Confusing, but all but confirms he's not a top prospect.
 
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