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ZWK's 2016 Prospect Analysis


ZWK

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Edit: 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).

 

This thread is for my analysis of the 2016 draft class. Previously: my thread on the 2015 draft class, my analysis of the 2014 draft class.

I look at college production, size, athleticism, and other indicators to try to identify the college players that are most likely to be successful in the NFL (with a focus on RBs & WRs).

Let's start with WRs.

I've just set up my WR production spreadsheet so that it should update automatically during the season. It includes data on yards per target, market share of team's passing TDs, number of 25+ yard receptions, and a bunch of other stats which I've also combined into a single production score. It's color-coded so that you can see strengths and weaknesses at a glance. (Though as you can see, there are still a few things missing from it.)

Most of the numbers come from cfbstats, and target data comes from NCAAsavant.

Here's the leaderboard, with a few select stats:

Player              Yd/g  Yd/TmAtt Yd/Tg %TmRTD 25+/g
Josh Doctson        146.2   3.76   12.78   43%   2.0
Roger Lewis         150.3   3.18   12.17   37%   1.5
JuJu Smith-Schuster 123.8   3.77   13.57   40%   1.4
Daniel Braverman    131.6   3.78    9.29   50%   1.0
Shelton Gibson       89.6   2.73   12.90   45%   1.4
Taywan Taylor       115.2   2.98   14.02   38%   1.7
Dezmon Epps         132.0   2.58    8.80   40%   1.0
Will Fuller          95.2   3.23   11.15   58%   1.5
Carlos Harris        93.8   2.54    8.38   80%   0.6
Christian Kirk      103.8   3.07   10.59   29%   1.8
Corey Coleman       135.6   4.35   13.46   50%   2.0

So far this year, Josh Doctson, Roger Lewis, and JuJu Smith-Schuster lead the way with the most impressive across-the-board production, including over 3 yards per team passing attempt, over 12 yards per target, and over 1 TD per game.

Leonte Carroo would be up there with them if he'd played enough to qualify (only the top 100 players in total receiving yards are included). Carroo was already one of the top WR prospects in college football last offseason, according to my numbers (Rashard Higgins & Corey Coleman were also up there).

Other standout players so far this year include Corey Coleman (who is averaging 4.35 yards every time that Baylor attempts a pass), Carlos Harris (who has scored half of North Texas's offensive touchdowns), and Shelton Gibson (who has gained nearly twice as many yards per target as the West Virginia offense has when throwing to someone else).

Coleman, Harris, and Wyoming's Tanner Gentry are held back in my production rankings by the extremely soft schedules that they've faced. Without the strength-of-schedule adjustment Coleman would actually be sitting at #1.

Farther down the rankings: Mississippi averages fewer yards per attempt when they are throwing to Laquon Treadwell than when they are throwing elsewhere. Treadwell shares this honor with Demarcus Robinson at Florida, Corey Davis at Western Michigan, Tyler Boyd at Pittsburgh, Kenny Lawler at Cal, and Keevan Lucas at Tulsa.

I haven't run my overall ratings formula yet (which includes size, speed, age, and previous years' stats), but right now I'm guessing that it would pick out a clear top 4 of Doctson, Lewis, Smith-Schuster, and Carroo (in some order).

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I have written about many of those WRs in my articles for Scout (Smith-Schuster, Lewis, Kirk, Taylor, Coleman, Docston, Fuller). Some good players in that bunch. Lewis is an interesting guy. Ohio State local. Had an offer from them, but off-field stuff hindered his recruitment. Signed with Bowling Green instead and has been on a rampage for the past 1.5 seasons. Appears to have pretty good size and very legit downfield speed. Maybe sort of like a Chad Johnson/Roddy White type in terms of style. Little bit of everything. Not eligible for the 2016 draft though. Neither are Smith-Schuster and Kirk. They are all 1st-2nd year college players.

I know that Coleman, Fuller, Taylor, and Docston are eligible.

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I have written about many of those WRs in my articles for Scout (Smith-Schuster, Lewis, Kirk, Taylor, Coleman, Docston, Fuller). Some good players in that bunch. Lewis is an interesting guy. Ohio State local. Had an offer from them, but off-field stuff hindered his recruitment. Signed with Bowling Green instead and has been on a rampage for the past 1.5 seasons. Appears to have pretty good size and very legit downfield speed. Maybe sort of like a Chad Johnson/Roddy White type in terms of style. Little bit of everything. Not eligible for the 2016 draft though. Neither are Smith-Schuster and Kirk. They are all 1st-2nd year college players.

I know that Coleman, Fuller, Taylor, and Docston are eligible.

Are you sure about Lewis? He's listed on CBS as a redshirt sophomore, which would make him draft eligible this year. And his BGSU profile says that he graduated high school in 2012, which would mean that he was already draft eligible last year.

Out of my top 11, Smith-Schuster and Kirk are the only two who are listed as freshmen or true sophomores, so I think the other 9 are all eligible. In my top 20, I think that Trent Sherfield and Courtland Sutton are also ineligible.

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You are right about Lewis. His background is more checkered than I realized. Turns out he committed to Ohio all the way back in 2012, but didn't matriculate to Bowling Green until 2014. http://www.hustlebelt.com/2014/1/6/5281564/4-star-wr-roger-lewis-commits-to-bowling-green

Big news today for Bowling Green football as Roger Lewis has committed to the school as his destination to play college football. Lewis announced his joining of the Falcons' 2014 class on his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon. 247sports.com is confirming the news.
Committed to play football with my fam @marc_mention4 to Bowling Green State University. Got to thank the man above #WeAreBG #BringLewisToBG Roger Lewis (@PrimeTimeLewis) January 6, 2014
The former Ohio Bobcats commit is coming off a year where he was found not guilty of rape charges in February, and then accepted three years of probation to avoid a re-trial on a second count that found the jury deadlocked. He committed to the 'Cats in late January of 2012 before being brought up on charges of rape. A former big-time recruit before his legal issues, Lewis held offers from 14 schools including Ohio State, West Virginia and Arizona at the time of his initial arrest. All told Lewis has offers from 17 schools according to Rivals.com. After Lewis' final punishment was handed down his recruiting opened back up. He took a late and surprise visit to Bowling Green back in December which garnered a lot of attention on his Twitter account. His commitment comes as Dino Babers steps in as head coach, replacing Dave Clawson who departed to Wake Forest after the MAC Championship game. With Babers' high-tempo Baylor-like offense, being able to place Lewis on the field even as a freshman should certainly provide quarterback Matt Johnson with another play-making weapon. Lewis, who is still considered a 4-star recruit by Scout andRivals, and a 3-star according to ESPN, 247sports has downgraded him to a 2-star recruit in the time since 2012. He joins a Falcons' class that currently features 15 commitments and is ranked as eighth in the MAC by 247sports.com.

Given that he is over-aged for his class standing and that he put up 1,000+ yards last season, I would not be surprised to see him bounce after this year.

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I haven't run my overall ratings formula yet (which includes size, speed, age, and previous years' stats), but right now I'm guessing that it would pick out a clear top 4 of Doctson, Lewis, Smith-Schuster, and Carroo (in some order).

I've run those numbers, and my guess was wrong. There is a clear top 2: JuJu Smith-Schuster and Leonte Carroo. Their numbers are in the same range as last year's top 5 prospects. Smith-Schuster is a true sophomore, which leaves Carroo as the clear #1 prospect in this year's draft class.

Carroo has character issues and a small sample size (only 3 games this year), which add a bunch of risk, but no one else is close to him by the numbers. No one else would crack the top 7 in last year's draft class, or the top 10 in the class of 2014.

There's a big pack of guys hanging around on the fringe of the numbers that typically make for day 2 prospects. Once we get accurate information on height, weight, and athleticism (in addition to seeing some more games), then presumably some folks will emerge from the pack. For now, the current rank order is: Corey Coleman, Tyler Boyd, Christian Kirk, Jordan Williams, Josh Doctson, Roger Lewis, Pharoh Cooper, Shelton Gibson, Rashard Higgins, and then a dozen others (Keevan Lucas, Courtland Sutton, Corey Davis, Sterling Shepard, Taywan Taylor, Trent Sherfield, Daniel Braverman, Will Fuller, Tanner Gentry, Kenny Golladay, Dezmon Epps, Carlos Harris).

Doctson is back in the pack because he's old (I don't have his exact age but he graduated high school in 2010) and skinny (among WRs drafted in the first 2 rounds since 2009, only Paul Richardson, Justin Hunter, and Titus Young had lower BMIs than his listed 25.0). Lewis is back there because he has moderately worse-than-average size, athleticism, and age, according to his listed numbers (e.g., since 2009, the only first round WR with a slower 40 time than his projected 4.56 is Kelvin Benjamin).

Listed heights, weights, and 40 time projections sometimes wind up being pretty far off, so a lot can change between now and the NFL draft. But the listings are fairly accurate on average, so I've plugged them into my formulas (which are reasonably predictive when they use numbers measured at the combine) and this is the result.

(If anyone wants to share their estimates of players' actual sizes & speeds, I can plug them in and say what the formulas spit out.)

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Another 100-yard, 3 TD game from Leonte Carroo vaults him into #1 in my WR productivity ratings for this season. The top 8 now are Carroo, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson, Shelton Gibson, Corey Coleman, Roger Lewis, and Daniel Braverman.

Carroo has scored 9 of Rutgers' 13 passing TDs (69%) which is the largest TD market share of any receiver in the country. He has scored 32% of all of Rutgers' TDs (9 of 28), which is third most in the nation among receivers (behind North Texas's Carlos Harris and Western Michigan's Daniel Braverman). And that is without adjusting for the fact that Carroo only played 4 of Rutgers' 6 games.

Carroo also leads the nation in yards per target at 16.3 YPT (472 yards on 29 targets) and yards per target relative to the team's offense at + 9.3 YPT (16.3 YPT minus 6.9 YPA for Rutgers when not throwing to Carroo).

Carroo's numbers last year were very good (including 11.6 YPT and 45% of Rutgers' receiving TDs), but he's been on another level so far this year.

I generally don't see him mentioned among the top receivers in college football, and I'm not sure why.

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Surprised not to see Michael Thomas, OSU Buckeyes in your spreadsheet. Is this simply a stats driven spreadsheet or one that reflects your personal rankings.

Thanks for sharing... :thumbup:

He's in there, on row 63.

It's a purely stats-based spreadsheet, which includes the 100 players with the most receiving yards in college football (but ranked based on other stats). Most of Thomas's numbers are very average compared to this group (e.g., 9.3 yards per target and 29% of his team's passing yards are right on the average). He comes in a bit below average mostly because of a lack of big plays (his longest gain this year is only 38 yards).

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Carroo's numbers last year were very good (including 11.6 YPT and 45% of Rutgers' receiving TDs), but he's been on another level so far this year.

I generally don't see him mentioned among the top receivers in college football, and I'm not sure why.

Every year there are a few under-the-radar guys who end up going a lot higher than the amateur pundits anticipate in Oct-Dec. Last year we had Perriman, Dorsett, and Agholor as prominent examples. I don't know that anyone was mocking them in the first back in October of last year. Maybe, but my recollection is that they were thought to be mid rounders until later in the process. Maybe Carroo will be one of those guys this year. He definitely has bulk and speed. Looks like the type who will test well. I think conventional wisdom going into the season was that he was a bit of a one trick pony deep threat, but that doesn't have to be true.

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I've set up my RB stats spreadsheet for this season, and it should also update automatically. It's here.

I don't have ratings calculated yet. The spreadsheet is currently sorted by a crude measure of rushing efficiency, which is basically First Downs + Touchdowns + 20-yard Runs per attempt (only I've set it up to give less weight to first downs than to the other two, and to penalize players who have a smaller number of attempts). The top 17 most efficient runners, by this metric, are:

Matt Breida JR Ga South
Dalvin Cook SO FSU
Leonard Fournette SO LSU
C.J. Prosise SR Notre Dame
Shock Linwood JR Baylor
Marcus Marshall FR Ga Tech
Nick Chubb SO Georgia
Larry Rose III SO NMSU
Elijah Hood SO N Carolina
Derrick Henry JR Alabama
Saquon Barkley FR Penn State
Darius Jackson SR E Mich
Nick Wilson SO Arizona
DeAndre Washington SR Texas Tech
Royce Freeman SO Oregon
LJ Scott FR Mich St
Ezekiel Elliott JR Ohio State

It's interesting how many of these guys are underclassmen - by my count, only 7 out of 17 are draft eligible.

how strong is this draft class across the offensive positions?

My current impression is that it's a relatively weak class for fantasy. A lot of the best players are not draft eligible (Fournette, Chubb, Smith-Schuster, ....) and a lot of the most productive wide receivers don't appear to have elite NFL size or speed.

My opinion could change as I take a closer look at the RBs, or as more of the season plays out, or as we get more accurate size/speed info in the pre-draft testing.

I also haven't really looked at TEs or QBs yet. I have watched some QB game videos, and I like what I've seen from Goff, but I haven't crunched numbers on him. In previous years, the most informative QB stats (on things like performance under pressure and accuracy at different distances) haven't been available until after the season's over. This year CFF is putting some stuff, and they're also high on Goff, but we're mostly just getting their conclusions and not numbers that I could use to make direct comparisons with Winston, Mariota, Bridgewater, etc.

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Via a link from Faust, I see that Rotoworld has shared some College Football Focus numbers on WR drop rate, WR yards after the catch, and RB yards after contact (plus some other stats).

I have added the WR stats to my spreadsheet and incorporated them in my "overall rating" formula. (In previous years I used Greg Peshek's numbers in my formula, and the averages here are fairly similar to those averages, so I'll assume for now that they're on roughly the same scale.) This is somewhat bad news for William Fuller (who has a terrible 15.8% drop rate), Tyler Boyd (who has a terrible 1.8 YAC average), and Josh Doctson (who is a bit below average at both), and good news for Corey Coleman (who is a bit better than average at both).

In a small bit of good news for Josh Doctson, the Rotoworld article lists his age as 22, which is younger than I thought he was (he graduated from high school in 2010). I still can't find his exact birthdate anywhere (you might think that it would be on his Rotoworld page, given that they apparently have that info, but ...).

At this point, Carroo (who did not make the cut to be included in the Rotoworld article) & Coleman are the only two draft-eligible WRs whose overall rating looks particularly good, but the formula is pretty heavily dependent on size & athleticism numbers which we won't really know until the combine. There are also a bunch of WRs with a borderline good overall rating.

More RB stuff coming soonish.

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I've added my RB ratings formulas to the RB production spreadsheet, and by these numbers the top RB prospects in college football are (with tier breaks):

Ezekiel Elliott
Nick Chubb *
Leonard Fournette *

Royce Freeman *
Dalvin Cook *

Elijah McGuire
Kenneth Dixon

Wendell Smallwood
Derrick Henry
Shock Linwood
Samaje Perine *
C.J. Prosise
Devontae Booker
Saquon Barkley *
Alex Collins

* not draft eligible

The order shuffles around slightly depending on whether I only use this season's stats (good for Fournette, Freeman, Cook, Linwood, and Booker) or I use their cumulative 2014-2015 stats (good for McGuire, Dixon, and Perine).

RB is the position where pure size & athleticism are most important, so there are likely to be a lot of changes when I get actual combine numbers. For now I am relying on nfldraftscout's estimates of size & speed (and occasionally on players' 100m times - Chubb is currently the only RB who benefits from that).

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While trying to put together a spreadsheet with some QB stats, I came across an interesting fact: Seth Russell is not among the top 100 QBs in number of 3rd down attempts. He is 1st in college football in passing TDs (with 27), and 16th in passing yards (with 1907), but he is outside the top 100 in 3rd down passing attempts (with 28). Yet another sign of how good that Baylor offense is.

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I have put together a spreadsheet with some QB stats, for this season and the previous 4 seasons.

I put less stock in these numbers than I do in the WR or RB numbers. First, because QB stats are dependent on scheme & surrounding talent in a way that I don't have a good way to adjust for. And second, because a lot of the most informative numbers (like performance when pressured and accuracy on downfield throws) aren't included here because they aren't available.

Here are the 12 QBs with the best numbers so far this year:

Seth Russell Baylor JR
Trevone Boykin TCU SR
Baker Mayfield Oklahoma JR
Cody Kessler USC SR
Paxton Lynch Memphis JR
Taylor Lamb App St SO
Brandon Doughty Western Ky SR
Kevin Hogan Stanford SR
Matt Johnson BGSU SR
DeShone Kizer Notre Dame SO
Jared Goff California JR
Zach Terrell W Mich JR

But I think these numbers do a better job at giving the thumbs down to QB prospects with bad numbers than at giving the thumbs up to prospects with good numbers. That means: avoid Christian Hackenberg & Cardale Jones.

The main stats that I have included here are:

3rd Down Conversion Rate (situation-adjusted): first downs + TDs per 3rd/4th down pass attempt, adjusted upward if a lot of those passes came on 3rd & long (and downward if they came on 3rd & short).

Red Zone TD Rate: red zone TD passes per red zone pass attempt

First Down Per Attempt (non-red-zone): first downs per attempt (excluding red zone attempts)

Strength of Schedule: overall quality of opponents, from CFBR

Adjusted Yards Per Attempt: passing yards + 1.3 (rushing yards) + 2 (completions) + 15 (passing TDs) + 15 (rushing TDs) - 25 (interceptions) / (pass att + rush att)

The column that I'm calling "rating" is just the sum of these 5 numbers, after standardizing each of them to have a mean of 0 and a stdev of 1.

Here are the top 10 QB seasons from 2011-2015:

2011 Russell Wilson Wisconsin SR
2015 Seth Russell Baylor JR
2013 Jameis Winston FSU FR
2013 Johnny Manziel Texas A&M SO
2013 Zach Mettenberger LSU SR
2014 Marcus Mariota Oregon JR
2011 Robert Griffin III Baylor JR
2015 Trevone Boykin TCU SR
2013 Marcus Mariota Oregon SO
2011 Kellen Moore Boise St SR

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The WR, RB, and QB spreadsheets have been updated to include this weeks stats.

In general, they should mostly update automatically within 24 hours of the players' games (though this depends on when cfbstats and CFBR update). But targets (and stats that depend on targets) will take longer since they require a manual update from me (and they have to wait until NCAA Savant has updated, which wasn't until Sunday night / Monday morning this week). There also might sometimes be bugs which require manual fixes from me.

More on RBs:

Taking a look at CBS's prospect rankings, they have 10 RBs ranked in the top 120 prospects for this draft class.

First, as the #16 overall prospect, they have Ezekiel Elliott. My numbers are on board. He has strong production (in both 2014 & 2015), size, speed, and elusiveness (in both my Hard to Tackle ratings and CFF's stats). The biggest negative is that he has only been averageish as a receiver.

At prospect #38 they have Derrick Henry. By my metrics, Henry has not been very impressive. He grades out below average as a runner (including in short yardage, where he has converted only 14 of 24 carries over the past 2 seasons), and hasn't done much as a receiver. In his favor, Henry is huge. That helps him in my system, and it also makes me inclined to put more weight on what the experts think and less weight on my system since my formulas have tended to miss successful big backs (Le'Veon Bell, Alfred Morris, Stevan Ridley, Arian Foster). He is part of a big "can't rule him out" tier of prospects that I am not particularly excited about.

At #62 they have Corey Clement, who is hard for me to evaluate because he has barely played this year due to injury. Last year, his numbers didn't stand out as especially promising but they were at least above average and put him in the "can't rule out / keep an eye on him" tier.

Devontae Booker is at #77. He has the worst rushing metrics of the 10 RBs, but the best receiving numbers. Particularly troubling is his lack of big plays in the running game - he broke off a 20+ yarder on under 4% of his carries (both this year and last year), which is about half as often as average. He's also on that "can't rule him out" tier behind Henry

Aaron Green at #89 is the worst of the bunch by my numbers. He has below average rushing production, hasn't done much as a receiver, has bad elusiveness numbers (in the one game of his that I've charted), and is also undersized at a listed weight of 202. In his favor, his rushing numbers were better in 2014 (and that one game sample size is pretty tiny). But unless something changes going forward, he is below that "can't rule him out" tier.

Going out of order now, Kenneth Dixon at #110 is the second best prospect of the bunch according to my numbers, though he comes in much closer to the pack behind him than to Elliott at #1. His rushing production is averageish, his receiving production is good, and he has pretty strong elusiveness numbers (again, CFF's numbers confirm mine).

There are 4 other RBs in the 90-120 range who join Clement in having too small of a workload this year to make my spreadsheet: #97 Kareem Hunt, #99 Tre Madden, #117 Kenyan Drake, and #119 Josh Ferguson. Only Hunt played enough last year to make my 2014 spreadsheet; his numbers were a bit better than Clement's. College workload is actually a pretty strong predictor of NFL success (stronger than some crude metrics of efficiency like yards per carry), which is not a good sign for the other 3.

So I'd rank these guys: Elliott / / Dixon / Henry / Booker, Hunt, Clement / Madden, Drake, Ferguson, Green. With the most uncertainty on the 5 low-workload guys.

Elijah McGuire is the best RB missing from their top 10, according to my numbers. He rivals Booker as a receiver, holds his own as a runner, and has a faster estimated 40 time than most of the guys here. I have him on the Dixon tier.

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Another week is in the books; WR, RB, and QB spreadsheets were updated.

I was thinking of saying more about QBs, but not a lot has changed since 2 weeks ago. Seth Russell's injury means that he will stay as the 2nd most productive QB season since 2008, behind only Russell Wilson. The 3 QBs who CBS has as first rounders - Paxton Lynch, Jared Goff, and Connor Cook - all have pretty good numbers but not spectacular ones. They all rank in the 46th-63rd range for "most productive QB seasons since 2008". Hackenberg's numbers are still pretty bad (e.g., below average at converting 3rd downs, below average at scoring in the red zone), but he and Cardale Jones are the other 2 QBs who CBS has rated in the first 2 rounds. Jones doesn't have enough attempts to make my spreadsheet because he lost his starting job, but his numbers are averageish. He also, you know, lost his starting job.

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Another week is in the books; WR, RB, and QB spreadsheets were updated.

I was thinking of saying more about QBs, but not a lot has changed since 2 weeks ago. Seth Russell's injury means that he will stay as the 2nd most productive QB season since 2008, behind only Russell Wilson. The 3 QBs who CBS has as first rounders - Paxton Lynch, Jared Goff, and Connor Cook - all have pretty good numbers but not spectacular ones. They all rank in the 46th-63rd range for "most productive QB seasons since 2008". Hackenberg's numbers are still pretty bad (e.g., below average at converting 3rd downs, below average at scoring in the red zone), but he and Cardale Jones are the other 2 QBs who CBS has rated in the first 2 rounds. Jones doesn't have enough attempts to make my spreadsheet because he lost his starting job, but his numbers are averageish. He also, you know, lost his starting job.

Fascinated to see where Hackenberg goes and how he does in the NFL. As a PSU alum, I'm biased. But having watched all his games, most multiple times, I'm struck by something you said in an earlier post: QBs are really, really dependent on their surroundings. I think there are superstar QBs that can look pretty good even in bad schemes surrounded by poor talent. But they are very few and far between. Then there are really good/great QBs behind decent lines with decent weapons and play calling. Then there are guys that only look good in great schemes, surrounded by great talent. I think Hackenberg is in that middle group. If he goes to a team with a poor OL, below average talent that doesn't scheme to his strengths, he is going to do poorly. But if he goes to a decent team, I'm not saying a Super Bowl team, with good talent that plays to his strength, I think he can be a star.

But this idea of QBs being so team dependent is driven home both by watching Hackenberg and also watching Luck this season. Luck is clearly still an outstanding QB, but he is struggling with a poor line and poor play calling. Those things are hard to overcome for even the best QBs.

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Another week is in the books; WR, RB, and QB spreadsheets were updated.

I was thinking of saying more about QBs, but not a lot has changed since 2 weeks ago. Seth Russell's injury means that he will stay as the 2nd most productive QB season since 2008, behind only Russell Wilson. The 3 QBs who CBS has as first rounders - Paxton Lynch, Jared Goff, and Connor Cook - all have pretty good numbers but not spectacular ones. They all rank in the 46th-63rd range for "most productive QB seasons since 2008". Hackenberg's numbers are still pretty bad (e.g., below average at converting 3rd downs, below average at scoring in the red zone), but he and Cardale Jones are the other 2 QBs who CBS has rated in the first 2 rounds. Jones doesn't have enough attempts to make my spreadsheet because he lost his starting job, but his numbers are averageish. He also, you know, lost his starting job.

Fascinated to see where Hackenberg goes and how he does in the NFL. As a PSU alum, I'm biased. But having watched all his games, most multiple times, I'm struck by something you said in an earlier post: QBs are really, really dependent on their surroundings. I think there are superstar QBs that can look pretty good even in bad schemes surrounded by poor talent. But they are very few and far between. Then there are really good/great QBs behind decent lines with decent weapons and play calling. Then there are guys that only look good in great schemes, surrounded by great talent. I think Hackenberg is in that middle group. If he goes to a team with a poor OL, below average talent that doesn't scheme to his strengths, he is going to do poorly. But if he goes to a decent team, I'm not saying a Super Bowl team, with good talent that plays to his strength, I think he can be a star.

But this idea of QBs being so team dependent is driven home both by watching Hackenberg and also watching Luck this season. Luck is clearly still an outstanding QB, but he is struggling with a poor line and poor play calling. Those things are hard to overcome for even the best QBs.

You're more optimistic than I am about Hackenberg.

Situational factors can make a spectacular QB talent put up merely good numbers, and they can let a merely good QB talent put up spectacular numbers, but it is very rare for a spectacular QB talent to put up below average passing numbers in college. And that's what Hackenberg has been doing.

Projecting QBs is tricky in part because there are so few players who wind up being good NFL QBs. Among the large numbers of college QBs with good but not spectacular numbers, it can be tricky to pick out the ones who will turn into good NFL QBs.

But Hackenberg isn't even in that set of QBs with good but not spectacular numbers. His numbers are below average, and slightly worse (on the whole) than those of his predecessor, Matt McGloin. It is very rare for QBs with numbers that bad to turn into successful pros, and Penn State doesn't look like the sort of uniquely dysfunctional team that could hide a QB that talented (e.g., is the surrounding talent really that much worse than Cal, where Goff has managed to put up very good but not spectacular numbers?).

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Another week is in the books; WR, RB, and QB spreadsheets were updated.

I was thinking of saying more about QBs, but not a lot has changed since 2 weeks ago. Seth Russell's injury means that he will stay as the 2nd most productive QB season since 2008, behind only Russell Wilson. The 3 QBs who CBS has as first rounders - Paxton Lynch, Jared Goff, and Connor Cook - all have pretty good numbers but not spectacular ones. They all rank in the 46th-63rd range for "most productive QB seasons since 2008". Hackenberg's numbers are still pretty bad (e.g., below average at converting 3rd downs, below average at scoring in the red zone), but he and Cardale Jones are the other 2 QBs who CBS has rated in the first 2 rounds. Jones doesn't have enough attempts to make my spreadsheet because he lost his starting job, but his numbers are averageish. He also, you know, lost his starting job.

Fascinated to see where Hackenberg goes and how he does in the NFL. As a PSU alum, I'm biased. But having watched all his games, most multiple times, I'm struck by something you said in an earlier post: QBs are really, really dependent on their surroundings. I think there are superstar QBs that can look pretty good even in bad schemes surrounded by poor talent. But they are very few and far between. Then there are really good/great QBs behind decent lines with decent weapons and play calling. Then there are guys that only look good in great schemes, surrounded by great talent. I think Hackenberg is in that middle group. If he goes to a team with a poor OL, below average talent that doesn't scheme to his strengths, he is going to do poorly. But if he goes to a decent team, I'm not saying a Super Bowl team, with good talent that plays to his strength, I think he can be a star.

But this idea of QBs being so team dependent is driven home both by watching Hackenberg and also watching Luck this season. Luck is clearly still an outstanding QB, but he is struggling with a poor line and poor play calling. Those things are hard to overcome for even the best QBs.

You're more optimistic than I am about Hackenberg.

Situational factors can make a spectacular QB talent put up merely good numbers, and they can let a merely good QB talent put up spectacular numbers, but it is very rare for a spectacular QB talent to put up below average passing numbers in college. And that's what Hackenberg has been doing.

Projecting QBs is tricky in part because there are so few players who wind up being good NFL QBs. Among the large numbers of college QBs with good but not spectacular numbers, it can be tricky to pick out the ones who will turn into good NFL QBs.

But Hackenberg isn't even in that set of QBs with good but not spectacular numbers. His numbers are below average, and slightly worse (on the whole) than those of his predecessor, Matt McGloin. It is very rare for QBs with numbers that bad to turn into successful pros, and Penn State doesn't look like the sort of uniquely dysfunctional team that could hide a QB that talented (e.g., is the surrounding talent really that much worse than Cal, where Goff has managed to put up very good but not spectacular numbers?).

Yeah, sounds like I'm more optimistic than you.

I don't want to turn this into a long back and forth that derails the thread, but one thing you said struck me as incorrect and as helping to make my original point.

You said that Penn State doesn't seem to be some uniquely dysfunctional team. I think Penn State is the very definition of a uniquely dysfunctional team. They had the worst punishment in NCAA football history, save for the SMU death penalty, which makes them very unique. The original scandal drove away a lot of talent and the resulting sanctions have left them devoid of depth, much less quality depth, for most of Hackenberg's career. Of course Matt McGloin had better statistics in the first year of the sanctions. Minus some defections of good players (Silas Redd, Justin Brown, etc), he was working with almost a normal high level team with a coach that schemed the offense around his strengths. But as those older, more talented players graduated, there weren't enough scholarships to fill in with the depth and talent needed to maintain a reasonably high level D1 team.

In Hackenberg's first year, with some solid talent still around (esp. Robinson) and a coach scheming to his strengths, he looked fantastic, esp for a 18 year old true Freshman. But then last year they lost even more experience, still weren't back filling depth and talent because of the lack of scholarships, AND brought in a new coach and OC whose scheme was almost the opposite of Hackenberg's strengths. There is a real nice post describing the differences in the O'Brien and Franklin/Donovan offenses right here, if you're interested.

But this caused a lot of dysfunction for Hackenberg and really the entire offense. They were learning a new system that was not working to Hackenberg's strengths, still with some talent and depth issues. It makes for a long season.

Finally this year the depth is getting back to almost being normal and you're getting some talent at the skill positions (Barkley is going to be a monster if he stays healthy). But the OL is still weak and inexperienced and an offensive line is really never a quick fix. So it's still a below average situation for the QB. I don't watch enough of Cal to know exactly what Goff is dealing with, although I've heard his OL is bad. But the scheme he is running is a great one for him and his strengths.

When the rubber meets the road, how it happened or who is to blame doesn't really matter. It's whether you can play QB in the NFL. He still has some terrible throws at times, for sure. But something that normal stats don't show, and even some of the advanced stats miss, that you see while watching the film instead of just checking the stats is the times that he has no time to throw, or hits a WR in the hands but the ball was dropped, or throws it nowhere near a WR because the WR ran the wrong route. That happens to every QB, but I think it probably has happened to Hackenberg a lot more than the average Power 5 QB.

So I think he is one of those guys that should get a little bit of a break from the numbers when he's evaluated, although in the opposite direction of some of those guys with gaudy numbers but a great scheme or great talent around them, like a Colt Brennan or Timmy Chang at Hawaii.

It will be interested to see where he goes in the NFL and how well he does.

Anyway, love your stuff and look forward to following this thread through draft season.

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Another week is in the books; WR, RB, and QB spreadsheets were updated.

I was thinking of saying more about QBs, but not a lot has changed since 2 weeks ago. Seth Russell's injury means that he will stay as the 2nd most productive QB season since 2008, behind only Russell Wilson. The 3 QBs who CBS has as first rounders - Paxton Lynch, Jared Goff, and Connor Cook - all have pretty good numbers but not spectacular ones. They all rank in the 46th-63rd range for "most productive QB seasons since 2008". Hackenberg's numbers are still pretty bad (e.g., below average at converting 3rd downs, below average at scoring in the red zone), but he and Cardale Jones are the other 2 QBs who CBS has rated in the first 2 rounds. Jones doesn't have enough attempts to make my spreadsheet because he lost his starting job, but his numbers are averageish. He also, you know, lost his starting job.

Fascinated to see where Hackenberg goes and how he does in the NFL. As a PSU alum, I'm biased. But having watched all his games, most multiple times, I'm struck by something you said in an earlier post: QBs are really, really dependent on their surroundings. I think there are superstar QBs that can look pretty good even in bad schemes surrounded by poor talent. But they are very few and far between. Then there are really good/great QBs behind decent lines with decent weapons and play calling. Then there are guys that only look good in great schemes, surrounded by great talent. I think Hackenberg is in that middle group. If he goes to a team with a poor OL, below average talent that doesn't scheme to his strengths, he is going to do poorly. But if he goes to a decent team, I'm not saying a Super Bowl team, with good talent that plays to his strength, I think he can be a star.

But this idea of QBs being so team dependent is driven home both by watching Hackenberg and also watching Luck this season. Luck is clearly still an outstanding QB, but he is struggling with a poor line and poor play calling. Those things are hard to overcome for even the best QBs.

You're more optimistic than I am about Hackenberg.

Situational factors can make a spectacular QB talent put up merely good numbers, and they can let a merely good QB talent put up spectacular numbers, but it is very rare for a spectacular QB talent to put up below average passing numbers in college. And that's what Hackenberg has been doing.

Projecting QBs is tricky in part because there are so few players who wind up being good NFL QBs. Among the large numbers of college QBs with good but not spectacular numbers, it can be tricky to pick out the ones who will turn into good NFL QBs.

But Hackenberg isn't even in that set of QBs with good but not spectacular numbers. His numbers are below average, and slightly worse (on the whole) than those of his predecessor, Matt McGloin. It is very rare for QBs with numbers that bad to turn into successful pros, and Penn State doesn't look like the sort of uniquely dysfunctional team that could hide a QB that talented (e.g., is the surrounding talent really that much worse than Cal, where Goff has managed to put up very good but not spectacular numbers?).

Yeah, sounds like I'm more optimistic than you.

I don't want to turn this into a long back and forth that derails the thread, but one thing you said struck me as incorrect and as helping to make my original point.

You said that Penn State doesn't seem to be some uniquely dysfunctional team. I think Penn State is the very definition of a uniquely dysfunctional team. They had the worst punishment in NCAA football history, save for the SMU death penalty, which makes them very unique. The original scandal drove away a lot of talent and the resulting sanctions have left them devoid of depth, much less quality depth, for most of Hackenberg's career. Of course Matt McGloin had better statistics in the first year of the sanctions. Minus some defections of good players (Silas Redd, Justin Brown, etc), he was working with almost a normal high level team with a coach that schemed the offense around his strengths. But as those older, more talented players graduated, there weren't enough scholarships to fill in with the depth and talent needed to maintain a reasonably high level D1 team.

In Hackenberg's first year, with some solid talent still around (esp. Robinson) and a coach scheming to his strengths, he looked fantastic, esp for a 18 year old true Freshman. But then last year they lost even more experience, still weren't back filling depth and talent because of the lack of scholarships, AND brought in a new coach and OC whose scheme was almost the opposite of Hackenberg's strengths. There is a real nice post describing the differences in the O'Brien and Franklin/Donovan offenses right here, if you're interested.

But this caused a lot of dysfunction for Hackenberg and really the entire offense. They were learning a new system that was not working to Hackenberg's strengths, still with some talent and depth issues. It makes for a long season.

Finally this year the depth is getting back to almost being normal and you're getting some talent at the skill positions (Barkley is going to be a monster if he stays healthy). But the OL is still weak and inexperienced and an offensive line is really never a quick fix. So it's still a below average situation for the QB. I don't watch enough of Cal to know exactly what Goff is dealing with, although I've heard his OL is bad. But the scheme he is running is a great one for him and his strengths.

When the rubber meets the road, how it happened or who is to blame doesn't really matter. It's whether you can play QB in the NFL. He still has some terrible throws at times, for sure. But something that normal stats don't show, and even some of the advanced stats miss, that you see while watching the film instead of just checking the stats is the times that he has no time to throw, or hits a WR in the hands but the ball was dropped, or throws it nowhere near a WR because the WR ran the wrong route. That happens to every QB, but I think it probably has happened to Hackenberg a lot more than the average Power 5 QB.

So I think he is one of those guys that should get a little bit of a break from the numbers when he's evaluated, although in the opposite direction of some of those guys with gaudy numbers but a great scheme or great talent around them, like a Colt Brennan or Timmy Chang at Hawaii.

It will be interested to see where he goes in the NFL and how well he does.

Anyway, love your stuff and look forward to following this thread through draft season.

I like this sort of informed pushback. It's half the reason why I made this thread.

In this case, it doesn't move the needle very much on my opinion of Hackenberg. The main reason is that Hackenberg's numbers are just too far back for these sort of circumstantial factors to be enough.

For example, here is how those 5 QBs compare when we look at the percent of their (non-red-zone) passes which went for a first down:

42.1% Connor Cook

41.4% Paxton Lynch

38.6% Jared Goff

38.5% Cardale Jones

28.0% Christian Hackenberg

And there are another 80+ quarterbacks who come in ahead of Hackenberg on this stat (and have 200+ attempts). Maybe there is some horrendous situation that would be enough to vault a quarterback past most of those 80ish other players into my list of the top few NFL prospects, but it is hard to imagine what it would look like.

(These stats, along with the others, have been updated to include this week's games.)

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I have no opinion on Hackenberg, but do recall some people arguing that Allen Robinson's final season at PSU was inflated because of Hack. After seeing how well Robinson is doing in the NFL, it looks as if those people might have had it backwards. Maybe Robinson was propping up an otherwise mediocre QB. Hack's QBR, completion %, and YPA have never been better than they were in that first season when he still had Robinson.

Anyway, the guy who interests me on PSU is RB Saquon Barkley. He has to be in the conversation for best freshman RB in what is admittedly a thin looking crop.

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I have no opinion on Hackenberg, but do recall some people arguing that Allen Robinson's final season at PSU was inflated because of Hack. After seeing how well Robinson is doing in the NFL, it looks as if those people might have had it backwards. Maybe Robinson was propping up an otherwise mediocre QB. Hack's QBR, completion %, and YPA have never been better than they were in that first season when he still had Robinson.

Anyway, the guy who interests me on PSU is RB Saquon Barkley. He has to be in the conversation for best freshman RB in what is admittedly a thin looking crop.

My numbers agree with you on Barkley. I currently have him as the best freshman RB, and the #9 RB prospect. He has good size, he's broken plenty of long runs, and he has been extremely effective at scoring TDs in the red zone.

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Another week is in the books; WR, RB, and QB spreadsheets were updated.

I was thinking of saying more about QBs, but not a lot has changed since 2 weeks ago. Seth Russell's injury means that he will stay as the 2nd most productive QB season since 2008, behind only Russell Wilson. The 3 QBs who CBS has as first rounders - Paxton Lynch, Jared Goff, and Connor Cook - all have pretty good numbers but not spectacular ones. They all rank in the 46th-63rd range for "most productive QB seasons since 2008". Hackenberg's numbers are still pretty bad (e.g., below average at converting 3rd downs, below average at scoring in the red zone), but he and Cardale Jones are the other 2 QBs who CBS has rated in the first 2 rounds. Jones doesn't have enough attempts to make my spreadsheet because he lost his starting job, but his numbers are averageish. He also, you know, lost his starting job.

Fascinated to see where Hackenberg goes and how he does in the NFL. As a PSU alum, I'm biased. But having watched all his games, most multiple times, I'm struck by something you said in an earlier post: QBs are really, really dependent on their surroundings. I think there are superstar QBs that can look pretty good even in bad schemes surrounded by poor talent. But they are very few and far between. Then there are really good/great QBs behind decent lines with decent weapons and play calling. Then there are guys that only look good in great schemes, surrounded by great talent. I think Hackenberg is in that middle group. If he goes to a team with a poor OL, below average talent that doesn't scheme to his strengths, he is going to do poorly. But if he goes to a decent team, I'm not saying a Super Bowl team, with good talent that plays to his strength, I think he can be a star.

But this idea of QBs being so team dependent is driven home both by watching Hackenberg and also watching Luck this season. Luck is clearly still an outstanding QB, but he is struggling with a poor line and poor play calling. Those things are hard to overcome for even the best QBs.

You're more optimistic than I am about Hackenberg.

Situational factors can make a spectacular QB talent put up merely good numbers, and they can let a merely good QB talent put up spectacular numbers, but it is very rare for a spectacular QB talent to put up below average passing numbers in college. And that's what Hackenberg has been doing.

Projecting QBs is tricky in part because there are so few players who wind up being good NFL QBs. Among the large numbers of college QBs with good but not spectacular numbers, it can be tricky to pick out the ones who will turn into good NFL QBs.

But Hackenberg isn't even in that set of QBs with good but not spectacular numbers. His numbers are below average, and slightly worse (on the whole) than those of his predecessor, Matt McGloin. It is very rare for QBs with numbers that bad to turn into successful pros, and Penn State doesn't look like the sort of uniquely dysfunctional team that could hide a QB that talented (e.g., is the surrounding talent really that much worse than Cal, where Goff has managed to put up very good but not spectacular numbers?).

Yeah, sounds like I'm more optimistic than you.

I don't want to turn this into a long back and forth that derails the thread, but one thing you said struck me as incorrect and as helping to make my original point.

You said that Penn State doesn't seem to be some uniquely dysfunctional team. I think Penn State is the very definition of a uniquely dysfunctional team. They had the worst punishment in NCAA football history, save for the SMU death penalty, which makes them very unique. The original scandal drove away a lot of talent and the resulting sanctions have left them devoid of depth, much less quality depth, for most of Hackenberg's career. Of course Matt McGloin had better statistics in the first year of the sanctions. Minus some defections of good players (Silas Redd, Justin Brown, etc), he was working with almost a normal high level team with a coach that schemed the offense around his strengths. But as those older, more talented players graduated, there weren't enough scholarships to fill in with the depth and talent needed to maintain a reasonably high level D1 team.

In Hackenberg's first year, with some solid talent still around (esp. Robinson) and a coach scheming to his strengths, he looked fantastic, esp for a 18 year old true Freshman. But then last year they lost even more experience, still weren't back filling depth and talent because of the lack of scholarships, AND brought in a new coach and OC whose scheme was almost the opposite of Hackenberg's strengths. There is a real nice post describing the differences in the O'Brien and Franklin/Donovan offenses right here, if you're interested.

But this caused a lot of dysfunction for Hackenberg and really the entire offense. They were learning a new system that was not working to Hackenberg's strengths, still with some talent and depth issues. It makes for a long season.

Finally this year the depth is getting back to almost being normal and you're getting some talent at the skill positions (Barkley is going to be a monster if he stays healthy). But the OL is still weak and inexperienced and an offensive line is really never a quick fix. So it's still a below average situation for the QB. I don't watch enough of Cal to know exactly what Goff is dealing with, although I've heard his OL is bad. But the scheme he is running is a great one for him and his strengths.

When the rubber meets the road, how it happened or who is to blame doesn't really matter. It's whether you can play QB in the NFL. He still has some terrible throws at times, for sure. But something that normal stats don't show, and even some of the advanced stats miss, that you see while watching the film instead of just checking the stats is the times that he has no time to throw, or hits a WR in the hands but the ball was dropped, or throws it nowhere near a WR because the WR ran the wrong route. That happens to every QB, but I think it probably has happened to Hackenberg a lot more than the average Power 5 QB.

So I think he is one of those guys that should get a little bit of a break from the numbers when he's evaluated, although in the opposite direction of some of those guys with gaudy numbers but a great scheme or great talent around them, like a Colt Brennan or Timmy Chang at Hawaii.

It will be interested to see where he goes in the NFL and how well he does.

Anyway, love your stuff and look forward to following this thread through draft season.

I like this sort of informed pushback. It's half the reason why I made this thread.

In this case, it doesn't move the needle very much on my opinion of Hackenberg. The main reason is that Hackenberg's numbers are just too far back for these sort of circumstantial factors to be enough.

For example, here is how those 5 QBs compare when we look at the percent of their (non-red-zone) passes which went for a first down:

42.1% Connor Cook

41.4% Paxton Lynch

38.6% Jared Goff

38.5% Cardale Jones

28.0% Christian Hackenberg

And there are another 80+ quarterbacks who come in ahead of Hackenberg on this stat (and have 200+ attempts). Maybe there is some horrendous situation that would be enough to vault a quarterback past most of those 80ish other players into my list of the top few NFL prospects, but it is hard to imagine what it would look like.

(These stats, along with the others, have been updated to include this week's games.)

Yeah, like I mentioned, almost every stat you look at make him look terrible. Although PFF saying he is the worst QB in Power 5 seems a little insane to me. And Josh Norris grabs some stats here that show the bad (3rd down conversion, YPA) but also some circumstance (most drops) and decent perfromance (20 yard plays and air yards).

Anyway, he will project poorly. Will still probably go early (2nd day) in my opinion. Should be interesting.

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I have no opinion on Hackenberg, but do recall some people arguing that Allen Robinson's final season at PSU was inflated because of Hack. After seeing how well Robinson is doing in the NFL, it looks as if those people might have had it backwards. Maybe Robinson was propping up an otherwise mediocre QB. Hack's QBR, completion %, and YPA have never been better than they were in that first season when he still had Robinson.

Anyway, the guy who interests me on PSU is RB Saquon Barkley. He has to be in the conversation for best freshman RB in what is admittedly a thin looking crop.

No disagreement. I think it shows that Hack, like we saw with Cutler last night at SD, is a put it up and trust the WR to make a play guy. I think lots of QBs shy away from that but in a vertical system with receivers like Robinson, he could thrive.

And yes, Barkley is amazing. Just lacking long speed, but his lateral skills are top notch.

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With the stats updated to include this week, here are the top 20 WRs by my career production metric (which gives the most weight to this season and to the receiver's best season):

Leonte Carroo Rutgers
Corey Coleman Baylor
Rashard Higgins CSU
Will Fuller Notre Dame
JuJu Smith-Schuster USC *
Sterling Shepard Oklahoma
Roger Lewis BGSU
Josh Doctson TCU
Tanner Gentry Wyoming
Keevan Lucas Tulsa
Tyler Boyd Pittsburgh
Corey Davis W Mich
Pharoh Cooper S Carolina
Shelton Gibson WVU
Thomas Sperbeck Boise St
Taywan Taylor Western Ky
Courtland Sutton SMU *
Kenny Golladay N Illinois
Daniel Braverman W Mich
Aaron Burbridge Mich St

* not draft eligible

Higgins, Shepard, Boyd, Davis, and Cooper all benefit significantly from production in previous seasons, and Lucas from pro-rating his 4 games this year.

There are various tier breaks within this group; I think a couple important cutoffs are near Doctson and Cooper.

NFL success depends on more than production, obviously. Other relevant factors include size, speed, and hands.

Focusing on hands, I have found data on drop rate for several WRs this year from CFF, and for several WRs in 2014 from Zierlein (who I think used drops per target rather than drops per rec+drop). We can divide the WRs by drop rate into 4 categories (I'll limit this to the top 13 WRs):

Bad: William Fuller (14% drop rate in 2015, 11% of targets(?) in 2014) & Corey Coleman (10% in 2015 & 9% of targets(?) in 2014)

Mediocre: Rashard Higgins (9% of rec+drops in 2013-14)

Good: Shepard (excellent both years), Boyd (both years), Doctson (2015 stats), Carroo (2014 stats)

Unknown: Smith-Schuster, Lewis, Gentry, Lucas, Davis, Cooper

The top of this draft class is looking pretty shaky.

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How is Treadwell not on that list?

Treadwell has been rising up the rankings over the past few weeks after a slow start to this season, but his season-long stats are still not as good as the guys on that list. Leaving out Cooper, Higgins, Davis, and Boyd (who wouldn't make the top 20 without including previous years' stats), here is how Treadwell's numbers compare to that group's:

9.5 yards per target: 13th out of 17 (group average: 10.8)

0.7 YPT above teamYPA: 15th out of 17 (group average: 2.9)

29% of team's passing yards: 14th out of 17 (group average: 36%)

100 receiving yards per game: 11th out of 17 (group average: 105)

0.7 TDs per game: 13th out of 17 (group average: 1.1)

26% of team's passing TDs: 17th out of 17 (group average: 44%)

1.0 25+ yard rec per game: 14th out of 17 (group average: 1.3)

Total receiving yards are the only stat where he's even close to the middle of the pack.

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How is Treadwell not on that list?

Treadwell has been rising up the rankings over the past few weeks after a slow start to this season, but his season-long stats are still not as good as the guys on that list. Leaving out Cooper, Higgins, Davis, and Boyd (who wouldn't make the top 20 without including previous years' stats), here is how Treadwell's numbers compare to that group's:

9.5 yards per target: 13th out of 17 (group average: 10.8)

0.7 YPT above teamYPA: 15th out of 17 (group average: 2.9)

29% of team's passing yards: 14th out of 17 (group average: 36%)

100 receiving yards per game: 11th out of 17 (group average: 105)

0.7 TDs per game: 13th out of 17 (group average: 1.1)

26% of team's passing TDs: 17th out of 17 (group average: 44%)

1.0 25+ yard rec per game: 14th out of 17 (group average: 1.3)

Total receiving yards are the only stat where he's even close to the middle of the pack.

Which is why the numbers always have to be taken with a grain of salt. He's the top WR prospect on many lists yet can't even crack the top 20 list by your metrics. Do you feel comfortable enough with your numbers to say he doesn't deserve to be there?

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The top of this draft class is looking pretty shaky.

Especially if Fuller doesn't change his mind and stays at Notre Dame for another year. That one hurts.

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How is Treadwell not on that list?

Treadwell has been rising up the rankings over the past few weeks after a slow start to this season, but his season-long stats are still not as good as the guys on that list. Leaving out Cooper, Higgins, Davis, and Boyd (who wouldn't make the top 20 without including previous years' stats), here is how Treadwell's numbers compare to that group's:

9.5 yards per target: 13th out of 17 (group average: 10.8)

0.7 YPT above teamYPA: 15th out of 17 (group average: 2.9)

29% of team's passing yards: 14th out of 17 (group average: 36%)

100 receiving yards per game: 11th out of 17 (group average: 105)

0.7 TDs per game: 13th out of 17 (group average: 1.1)

26% of team's passing TDs: 17th out of 17 (group average: 44%)

1.0 25+ yard rec per game: 14th out of 17 (group average: 1.3)

Total receiving yards are the only stat where he's even close to the middle of the pack.

Which is why the numbers always have to be taken with a grain of salt. He's the top WR prospect on many lists yet can't even crack the top 20 list by your metrics. Do you feel comfortable enough with your numbers to say he doesn't deserve to be there?

If I owned Treadwell in a devy league, I'd be looking to trade him to someone who bought into him more than I did.

If I was having a devy draft right now, and I had to take a draft eligible WR, and I couldn't trade the pick, then Treadwell would be in my top 5 (possibly even #1).

In general, I put some stock in these stats, and I use them to try to form my own impression of players (which is relatively independent of other people's impressions). But that is just one angle for looking at players, and when it comes time to make a roster decision I try to combine a bunch of different sources of information. The end result is that my opinions tend to disagree form the consensus in the direction that these stats point, but by a much smaller degree than the numbers say.

I also tend to put off a lot of this analysis until the offseason. By then my stats will include more data, and I'll have more information about other people's take on players. And I'm not actually in any devy leagues, so I don't have any decisions to make (except for trading future draft picks) until after the combine.

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I've added my RB ratings formulas to the RB production spreadsheet, and by these numbers the top RB prospects in college football are (with tier breaks):

Ezekiel Elliott

Nick Chubb *

Leonard Fournette *

Royce Freeman *

Dalvin Cook *

Elijah McGuire

Kenneth Dixon

Wendell Smallwood

Derrick Henry

Shock Linwood

Samaje Perine *

C.J. Prosise

Devontae Booker

Saquon Barkley *

Alex Collins

* not draft eligible

The order shuffles around slightly depending on whether I only use this season's stats (good for Fournette, Freeman, Cook, Linwood, and Booker) or I use their cumulative 2014-2015 stats (good for McGuire, Dixon, and Perine).

RB is the position where pure size & athleticism are most important, so there are likely to be a lot of changes when I get actual combine numbers. For now I am relying on nfldraftscout's estimates of size & speed (and occasionally on players' 100m times - Chubb is currently the only RB who benefits from that).

There hasn't been a lot of movement in the RB rankings over the past month. Elliott still sits at #1 (with Fournette & Chubb close behind), and is a strong favorite for the #1 spot in rookie drafts. Samaje Perine is the biggest riser, moving up to #6. That makes 5 of the top 6 RB prospects draft ineligible underclassmen. The #1 WR prospect (Smith-Schuster) is also draft ineligible.

A few names that missed the cut a month ago but are now on the watch list at RB: Paul Perkins, Kareem Hunt, Jordan Howard, and DeAndre Washington. Looking in the other direction, McGuire, Smallwood, and Prosise have slipped down the rankings.

The biggest riser at any position is Arkansas QB Brandon Allen, who has vaulted to #2 by my numbers after a couple of huge games against Mississippi and Mississippi State. Allen has been efficient in the red zone and on 3rd down, in addition to having a nice raw stat line, and he has done it while facing one of the toughest schedules of any college quarterback.

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I'm still waiting on NCAA Savant to update the target data for this week, but with Leonte Carroo's season coming to a close I took the liberty of checking the play-by-play and updating his stats manually so that I could say something about how he has fared since my midseason post on him.

Out of the receivers in my sample (the 100 players with the most receiving yards), Carroo ends his season 1st in all of college football in yards per target with 13.7 YPT. (Second is Taywan Taylor, with 12.6 YPT for the high flying Western Kentucky Hilltoppers). Carroo has done that on a rather woeful Rutgers offense which has averaged only 6.1 YPT when throwing elsewhere, giving him a +7.6 YPT edge on his teammates. Second on that metric is a full 2.5 yards behind him, +5.1 YPT from Toledo WR Cody Thompson. And Carroo hasn't done it as a situational deep threat - in the 8 games he's played, he has accounted for 44% of his team's passing yards (2nd most of any receiver) and 59% of their passing TDs (most of any receiver), along with 71% of their 25+ yard receptions (most of any receiver).

Another way to look at it - here is how the Rutgers passing attack breaks down:

39/59, 809 yd, 10 TD, 12 25+ (13.7 YPA) throwing to Carroo (8 games)

101/160, 1045 yd, 7 TD, 5 25+ (6.5 YPA) throwing elsewhere (in the 8 games Carroo played)

62/114, 631 yd, 2 TD, 3 25+ (5.5 YPA) throwing in the 4 games Carroo missed

My overall WR ratings formula currently puts Carroo and JuJu neck-and-neck as the best receiving prospects in college football, with a rather large gap behind them.

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With the regular season in the books, here are some receiving top tens (with a few lists going to 11).

The top 100 players by receiving yards were eligible to make the lists, and I also included Keevan Lucas. Lucas (4 games), Leonte Carroo (8 games), and Dezmon Epps (6 games) have most of their stats calculated relative to the games that they played, but the other guys who missed games have their stats pro-rated.

Yards Per Team Attempt (YPTA)
3.83 Corey Coleman Baylor
3.69 Leonte Carroo Rutgers
3.39 Josh Doctson TCU
3.37 Daniel Braverman W Mich
3.32 Corey Davis W Mich
3.31 Will Fuller Notre Dame
3.31 JuJu Smith-Schuster USC
3.24 Keyarris Garrett Tulsa
3.21 Dezmon Epps Idaho
3.15 Aaron Burbridge Mich St

Yards Per Target (YPT)
13.71 Leonte Carroo Rutgers
12.10 Taywan Taylor Western Ky
11.73 Bryce Treggs California
11.72 Jay Lee Baylor
11.65 Will Fuller Notre Dame
11.44 Josh Doctson TCU
11.21 Cody Thompson Toledo
11.09 JuJu Smith-Schuster USC
11.09 Roger Lewis BGSU
11.07 Kermit Whitfield FSU

Yards per target above team YPA (YPT-TmYPA)
8.04 Leonte Carroo Rutgers
4.80 Cody Thompson Toledo
4.26 Devin Lucien Ariz St
3.98 Jerome Lane Akron
3.88 Kermit Whitfield FSU
3.86 Will Fuller Notre Dame
3.70 Josh Reynolds Texas A&M
3.61 Shelton Gibson WVU
3.60 Brandon Reilly Nebraska
3.59 Bryce Treggs California
3.59 JuJu Smith-Schuster USC

Market Share of Team Passing TDs (% PTDs)
63% Keevan Lucas Tulsa
59% Leonte Carroo Rutgers
58% Carlos Harris N Texas
57% Will Fuller Notre Dame
53% Hunter Sharp Utah State
50% Thomas Duarte UCLA
48% Kenny Golladay N Illinois
47% Jerome Lane Akron
47% Pharoh Cooper S Carolina
47% Courtland Sutton SMU
47% Jordan Williams Ball State

Market Share of Team Offensive TDs (% Tot TDs)
33% Leonte Carroo Rutgers
32% Carlos Harris N Texas
29% Gabe Marks Wash St
28% Keevan Lucas Tulsa
28% Pharoh Cooper S Carolina
26% Josh Doctson TCU
26% Corey Coleman Baylor
24% Will Fuller Notre Dame
24% Jordan Williams Ball State
24% Ed'Marques Batties MTSU
24% Isaiah Ford Va Tech

25+ Yard Receptions Per Game (25+/g)
1.82 Corey Coleman Baylor
1.75 Keyarris Garrett Tulsa
1.70 Josh Doctson TCU
1.58 Aaron Burbridge Mich St
1.55 Mike Thomas USM
1.50 Leonte Carroo Rutgers
1.33 Will Fuller Notre Dame
1.33 Taywan Taylor Western Ky
1.33 Roger Lewis BGSU
1.33 Thomas Sperbeck Boise St

There are two names who make all six of these lists: Leonte Carroo (who tops 3 of them) and Will Fuller. Two notable names who don't make any of these lists: Laquon Treadwell and Ohio State's Michael Thomas.

The complete stat sheet, which doesn't stop after the 10th name and which includes several other stats, continues to be right here.

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Treadwell has been all hype based off of his potential that he has not lived up to. Not really sure what I think of Thomas at this point.

I like the guys that have done more with less.....will explain later.

Tex

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I think the stats Z emphasizes are always going to favor deep threats and players who have weak WR/TE teammates. Look at Fuller. He is a very good player, but he's small and all he can do is run deep. Since Notre Dame doesn't have anyone else at WR/TE, the 1-2 big catches he makes each week are enough to account for a large percentage of the team's offense. He is really a niche player though. A one trick pony deep threat. I would say that his best case scenario in the NFL is something like DeSean Jackson while his worst case scenario (which might be more likely) is something like Kenny Stills.

I don't have a strong opinion on Treadwell, but he's the anti-Fuller in almost every way. Big frame. Mostly targeted on short routes. Plays on a strong WR/TE corps with several other possible NFL talents (Adeboyejo, Stringfellow, Engram). You can see how stats which favor big plays and % of team's offense are not going to make him look good, but I don't know that it really says much about his prospects compared with someone like Fuller or Carroo. That doesn't mean I think those guys are definitely worse, but I just think the frame that's being used to look at these players is always going to favor a deep threat over an equally talented possession receiver. With a few exceptions like JuJu and Pharoh, most of the names on the lists above are guys who specialize in deep routes and going long.

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Yards per target above team YPA (YPT-TmYPA)

Market Share of Team Offensive TDs (% Tot TDs)

How predictive are these in hindsight review? I can't imagine these being very important. I get you'd expect to see elite WR perform highly, but to EBF's point below and for other concerns, I don't see how these are valid metrics to measure. Mostly small sample size - if one OC uses Stud as a decoy on three red zone occasions to clear out the underneath to take advantage of the defensive emphasis on Stud , that's going to destroy Stud's.metrics. If the OC emphasises Stud getting the ball with high volume using heavy screens and slants, his YPTAT is going to suffer. QB limitations could heavily affect both. Scheme could as well, a team heavy on spread offense could really handcuff a guy.

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Yards per target above team YPA (YPT-TmYPA)

Market Share of Team Offensive TDs (% Tot TDs)

How predictive are these in hindsight review? I can't imagine these being very important. I get you'd expect to see elite WR perform highly, but to EBF's point below and for other concerns, I don't see how these are valid metrics to measure. Mostly small sample size - if one OC uses Stud as a decoy on three red zone occasions to clear out the underneath to take advantage of the defensive emphasis on Stud , that's going to destroy Stud's.metrics. If the OC emphasises Stud getting the ball with high volume using heavy screens and slants, his YPTAT is going to suffer. QB limitations could heavily affect both. Scheme could as well, a team heavy on spread offense could really handcuff a guy.

One of the tabs in the spreadsheet has the stats from receivers who have gone on to have NFL success (100+ career VBD). One way to see which stats are most predictive is to look at which stats those WRs excelled at (compared to other college WRs).

Their stats are above average across the board, but they are better on some stats than others. Here is a summary, based on taking the best season for each WR and seeing how it would have ranked relative to the 2011 & 2012 college season receivers. The number represents their percentile - e.g. the 0.77 for "yards per team attempt" means that these WRs were at the 77th percentile, on average, in YPTA.

0.77 Other big plays (rushing & returning)

0.77 Yards Per Team Attempt

0.75 Yards Per Target

0.71 25+ Yard Receptions per game

0.70 Market Share of Yards

0.68 Market Share of Team Offensive TDs

0.68 Market Share of Team Passing TDs

0.65 Team Strength of Schedule

0.63 Market Share of 25+ Yard Receptions (or 30+ Yard Receptions)

0.63 Yards per target above team YPA (YPT-TmYPA)

0.62 Rec TD per game

0.61 Rec Yd per game

0.59 Yards over Team Replacement (YOTR)

0.59 40+ Yard Receptions Per Game

0.57 Market Share of 40+ Yard Receptions

Most of these stats do better than the standard Rec Yd Per Game and Rec TD Per Game.

I suspect that "other big plays" coming in first is something of a fluke, although it is in fact the case that Harvin, Cobb, Antonio Brown, TY Hilton, and Jeremy Maclin were unusually good at this.

Looking at the two stats you picked out: Market Share of Team Offensive TDs is (just barely) the TD-related stat which the successful NFL WRs do best on. On the other hand, they stand out much less on YPT-TmYPA than they do on simple YPT.

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I think the stats Z emphasizes are always going to favor deep threats and players who have weak WR/TE teammates. Look at Fuller. He is a very good player, but he's small and all he can do is run deep. Since Notre Dame doesn't have anyone else at WR/TE, the 1-2 big catches he makes each week are enough to account for a large percentage of the team's offense. He is really a niche player though. A one trick pony deep threat. I would say that his best case scenario in the NFL is something like DeSean Jackson while his worst case scenario (which might be more likely) is something like Kenny Stills.

I don't have a strong opinion on Treadwell, but he's the anti-Fuller in almost every way. Big frame. Mostly targeted on short routes. Plays on a strong WR/TE corps with several other possible NFL talents (Adeboyejo, Stringfellow, Engram). You can see how stats which favor big plays and % of team's offense are not going to make him look good, but I don't know that it really says much about his prospects compared with someone like Fuller or Carroo. That doesn't mean I think those guys are definitely worse, but I just think the frame that's being used to look at these players is always going to favor a deep threat over an equally talented possession receiver. With a few exceptions like JuJu and Pharoh, most of the names on the lists above are guys who specialize in deep routes and going long.

I agree that Fuller doesn't look like a great prospect, despite his production. If he is as skinny as his listing, and doesn't have a blazing 40, then my formula will rate him close where I had the 9th best WR in last year's draft class.

Treadwell doesn't stand out on any statistics that I've seen (except passer rating). You'd think that a possession receiver on a talented passing offense would at least have a high catch rate, but Treadwell has only caught 60% of his targets (ranking 42nd out of 101). Many of the guys on my lists beat that number too: Kermit Whitfield, Daniel Braverman, Taywan Taylor, Sterling Shepard, Josh Doctson, Dezmon Epps, Leonte Carroo, and Devin Lucien have over a 65% catch rate. Treadwell has 8.5 YPT (and was at 8.4 YPT last year). It doesn't take a one-dimensional deep threat to have a high YPT - Jarvis Landry had 11.5 YPT at LSU. The only successful NFL receivers from the past several draft classes who never topped 9.0 YPT (in seasons with enough rec yds to make my lists) are Randall Cobb (who had a hybrid role at Kentucky which included 55 rushing attempts) and Antonio Brown (who was evaluated as a 6th round pick at the time, and I don't know much about those Central Michigan offenses).

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  • 4 weeks later...

With all but one game of the season in the books, here are my RB prospect rankings.

I have been watching a bunch of game videos and tracking my elusiveness metrics, though I've found fewer games than I'd like of some players (especially Wayne Gallman, Kelvin Taylor, and Elijah McGuire, and also Paul Perkins, DeAndre Washington, Shock Linwood, Jonathan Williams, Kareem Hunt, Jordan Howard, and Alex Collins). There has also been some data on yards after contact trickling out from Pro Football Focus; hopefully there will be more to come. In addition to standard stats and those elusiveness numbers, my RB ranking formula also relies heavily on size and athleticism. I'm currently using NFLDraftscout's estimates there; when accurate info comes in from the combine that could shake up these rankings. And at some point I'll also incorporate my own opinions into the rankings, rather than just sticking with the formula.

On the whole, this is looking like a strong and deep group of RB prospects. Unfortunately 4 of the top 5 guys are underclassmen which leaves Ezekiel Elliott alone as the clear frontrunner in this year's draft class. But there's a lot of good depth this year behind him.

In the interest of round numbers, here are the top 27 (which includes 16 draft-eligible RBs):

Ezekiel Elliott Ohio State
Leonard Fournette LSU *
Nick Chubb Georgia *
Royce Freeman Oregon *

Dalvin Cook FSU *

Alex Collins Arkansas

Kenneth Dixon La Tech
Derrick Henry Alabama
Paul Perkins UCLA
Samaje Perine Oklahoma *

Kareem Hunt Toledo
Shock Linwood Baylor
Elijah Hood N Carolina *
Elijah McGuire La-Lafytte
Jordan Howard Indiana

Saquon Barkley Penn State *
C.J. Prosise Notre Dame
Jonathan Williams Arkansas
DeAndre Washington Texas Tech
Wayne Gallman Clemson

Christian McCaffrey Stanford *

Stanley Boom Williams Kentucky *
Jalen Hurd Tennessee *
Wendell Smallwood WVU
Devontae Booker Utah
Johnny Jefferson Baylor
Sony Michel Georgia *

(* not draft eligible)

I'll give more commentary and analysis later, or other people can get that started with their comments.

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I like that you still have Chubb up there in the first tier. I'd take a healthy Chubb over any RB/WR/TE in NCAA.

I'm curious to see where Elliott is drafted. I kind of see him as a late first, but wouldn't be surprised if he cracks the top 15.

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