*our "Big WRs" are defined as 6'0+ and 205+ pounds, or 6'2+ no matter what weight
**You may enjoy an article on the overall statistical problem with drafting WRs, which is a forerunner to these individual player reports -- NFL Draft 2011 - Why are you so sure Julio Jones and A.J. Green are NFL "Locks"? A Look at the Comedy that is WR Draft Picks in the NFL - Fantasy Football 2011
I am really digging myself into a deep hole with A.J. Green fans. Again, before the angers boils over...please note -- I think A.J. Green is a solid NFL WR prospect, and will likely be a decent pro. I just think that Green is not a likely future elite NFL WR, and thus not worthy of a high 1st Round selection. Green is a dime-a-dozen WR physically (to me), having a few "red-flag" physical measureables that (historically) has led to college WRs to struggle in becoming a future star in the NFL (and a potential bust). *more detail on our research report of A.J. Green -- NFL Draft 2011 - Statistical Analysis of WR A.J. Green - Fantasy Football 2011
If you would agree that A.J. Green is a future "Ok-to-Good" WR at best (and I'm not sure many are there with us...), then you wouldn't want to waste a Top-5 Draft pick and a ton of money on a WR skill-set that you could get with a nice (cheaper) free-agent WR signing. I would much rather take a more uniquely physically built WR with a later pick...and gamble on a cheaper upside. The 3 WR's I'm about to discuss are all likely 2nd-4th Round selections, but in our regression analysis of historical WR translation from college-to-the-NFL, our system rates these 3 WRs slightly above A.J. Green. All 3 of these WRs have a few signs of potential greatness, but all 3 with flaws/baggage as well. They are not worthy (because of the baggage or question marks) of a 1st Round selection from a business perspective, but could pan out better than most/all of the "unquestioned" 1st Round Mock Draft WRs...and for a much cheaper spin of the roulette wheel later in the draft (lower risk/higher reward).
I am lumping all 3 of these WRs together for a somewhat bizarre reason. They are all "bigger" WRs at 6'2+, and that is a common thread -- but the thing that caught my eye is...they all had only/exactly 5 receiving TDs in their final college season, with each one of them playing 13 games each their final season. Now, 5 receiving TDs sounds silly as the basis for anything (but, there will be more analysis, just hold tight...). The reason I bring this up is that most fans would glance at the season totals and see just 5 TDs...they would typically move on from considering these 3 WRs as serious NFL prospects (plus they are rarely, if ever, mentioned in the media). I would definitely be turned off by this at first glance as well, however there is something hidden within this low TD production for 2 of these WRs that may make them a little more intriguing (and potentially great 2nd-5th Round Draft value).
Let's analyze these "Big WRs" in greater detail and put the 5 TD scenario in perspective, and perhaps you will be impressed by one or two of these particular "Big WRs" because of it....
Jonathan Baldwin (Pittsburgh) is a physical "monster" of a WR. Standing 6'4+ and 228 pounds, with huge hands and decent vertical speed (very decent for his size); Baldwin grades out historically great on some key physical metrics. However, there is an issue with Baldwin registering just 5 TDs in his final season....the issue, statistically speaking, is that it stinks. A terrible performance statistically/historically among college WRs translating to the NFL as our system looks it over for strength of opponent, style of passing game, QB worked with, etc.
Why are Baldwin's 5 TDs last season so bad? Baldwin played on a team that had a decent QB (Tino Sunsersi) who threw for 16 TDs to 9 INTs this past season, and had a 64.5% Completion Percentage as well. The Pitt Offense had over 27+ Pass Attempts per game in 2010, and yet that only resulted in just 5 TDs for Baldwin all season. Baldwin barely led his team in total receptions (53 to 43) and had mediocre yardage (822) on the season as well (did have 1,111 the year prior). From a single season perspective, Baldwin's 2010 performance metrics generate red-flag issues comparing it to past history in our WR database.
Baldwin has just 16 Rec TDs in 35 career games at Pitt; with his size -- it should have been a lot more. Baldwin has red-flags for performance all over (a la Julio Jones), as well as red-flags on very "bad" agility metrics -- both are tell-tale problems for translating to the NFL. However, Baldwin is still one of the biggest, strongest, most physical WRs available in this Draft. As for his reported character issues...I can't quantify that, but it seems a little scary as well. Baldwin's reputation as a "diva" is gaining momentum, and was cleared/dropped of charges for misdemeanor assault/harassment in 2009.
Greg Little (North Carolina) is perhaps the strongest, most physical WR available in this year's NFL Draft. Little had an amazing (for a WR, or most any skill position) 27 Bench Press reps at the NFL Combine, he is also 6'2+ and a solid 231 pounds...all that size with decent vertical speed, but unusually high (for his size, or any size) agility metrics. Greg Little's major issue is that he was suspended for the entire 2010 season due to an investigation on improper conduct and benefits received after his Junior season. When we discuss Little's stat productivity, it is in the context of his 2009 (his final full season).
Greg Little fared better than Jonathan Baldwin with his 5 receiving TDs, relatively speaking. Little was paired with UNC QB T.J. Yates, who is a decent pro prospect now...but wasn't that developed in 2009. Yates (2009) did complete 60%+ of his passes, but also threw 15 INTs with his 14 TDs. Yates wasn't that great of a QB (at that point), so Little's performance was a little hamstrung by the passing game -- his 5 TDs within the context of just 14 passing TDs thrown on the season is not that bad a ratio. Little may have an additional minor excuse as well, as he was a RB through most of his Sophomore season and was switched to WR late 2008 after a Brandon Tate (NE Patriots) injury.
Greg Little is a physical "beast", he also comes with WR inexperience and major baggage. We have him fairly highly rated based on great physical and decent actual performance metrics, but "buyer beware" on the items we can't quantify -- character. If not for the character issue and a missed 2010 season, I think Little would be discussed as a 1st Round draft pick as well. If given a chance to perform in 2010 with a more seasoned T.J. Yates, Little may have posted a season that may have warranted a top-of-the-class among 2011 WRs...we'll never know.
Terrence Toliver (LSU) is the biggest unknown of these 3 WRs for most fans. You're not likely going to find Toliver among anyone's Top-10 pre-Draft WR's list, but he is rating (in our system analysis) as a potentially very good translation to the NFL, with a few metrics jumping out as a possible elite WR...but also a few red-flags; before we get too excited.
Toliver, like Baldwin and Little, also had just 5 TDs in his final season (2010). What's impressive about that is -- the LSU team threw for only 10 passing TDs all season (one of the 10 thrown by a RB...thrown to Toliver). Just 10 passing TDs in all of 2010 for LSU, as well as just barely over 2,000 yards passing (just 155 yards per game)...the overall receiver stat opportunities for Toliver were very limited by comparison to Baldwin and Little...in the proper context, Toliver's on-field performance was actually pretty good (it just looks weak on the surface). Overall, Toliver's 5 receiving TDs are much more impressive (compared to their teams totals) than Baldwin or Little.
Toliver measures 6'3.5" with very big hands, but is a little slower on his vertical/straight-line speed and is also thinner of frame than these other "Big WRs" (just 212 pounds). Where Toliver catches my eye is on his agility metrics. Toliver may be the single most agile (measurement-wise) WR in the 2011 NFL Draft, right there with/ahead of a much higher thought of WR (in the media) in Austin Pettis of Boise State. Toliver is hands down (to me) a better pro-prospect than Pettis.
Toliver has some baggage as well, he broke his hand in an altercation in early 2010 and was reportedly tasered by police during the incident. Through pre-Draft interviews/buzz Toliver seems to have the least "character concern" (of these 3 WRs) by scouts/execs, but is not without a blemish on his record..
The NFL WR that is the best match for Baldwin, Little and Toliver in our system:
Jonathan Baldwin -- Looking for a physically tall/dominant WR with decent speed and an underperformance on-the-field in our system; and we really couldn't a perfect match. Baldwin has a lot in common physically with Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston...but both of them way outperformed Baldwin on the field. A bigger WR who was closer to a performance letdown was Aaron Kelly...but Kelly was a much smaller framed WR, not as physically imposing as Baldwin. Baldwin's physical metrics and his poor performance really don't make much (historical sense)...which may make him very intriguing in the NFL Draft, or bust waiting to happen.
LEGEND FOR RATINGS:
- SPEED = a combination of speed measurements from the NFL Combine/Pro-Days, measured against our database on similar WRs
- AGILITY = a combination of agility test measurements from the NFL Combine/Pro-Days, measured against our database on similar WRs
- HANDS = a combination of performance metrics and physical metrics to grade "hands" or ability to catch the ball translated ahead to the NFL. A unique/private metric of ours.
- TD = a combination of performance metrics and physical metrics to grade "TD catching prowess", a kinda "red zone" factor translating ahead to the NFL. A unique/private metric of ours.
*school grade system, A+ being the best in class historically all the way to F- as historically the worst combination of metrics -- all based on what WRs with those measurements did (or didn't do) in the NFL.
|LAST||FIRST||Draft Year||COLLEGE||H||H||W||40-y||Hands||Speed||Agility||TD |
Greg Little -- Another WR that is hard to match up in our system, part of a new breed of very high physical metric WR's with softer/non-dominant/non-jaw dropping actual game/stat performance metrics. Dorin Dickerson, Dewayne Jarrett and Robert Meachem had some things in common with Little...but all performed ahead of him on the field. Little was on the cusp (but just missed some of our cutoffs) of having more performance metrics at an elite level -- which would have potentially pushed Little up as high as our #1 rated "Big WR" of 2011.
|LAST||FIRST||Draft Year||COLLEGE||H||H||W||40-y||Hands||Speed||Agility||TD |
Terrence Toliver -- Looking in our system for taller WR's who did not have blazing vertical speed, but despite that were very highly agile. Also looking for "Big WRs" who were above average on-field stat/performers in college relative to strength of schedule and style of Offense played in -- coincidentally former LSU standout Dwayne Bowe is a nice fit for a potential profile for Toliver, with Toliver not as sturdy (physically) of frame as Bowe...and is an injury risk (in our system), because of it.
|LAST||FIRST||Draft Year||COLLEGE||H||H||W||40-y||Hands||Speed||Agility||TD |
Ranking the Top "Big WRs" that we have profiled so far
(0.900+ we start to take the "big WR" serious as a potential NFL elite, 0.800+ is a WR to take seriously as potentially very good and potentially great, below 0.800 is the more probable NFL mediocre WR, and a higher potential bust) * See this story for background on our system scoring methodology -- NFL Draft 2011 - In Search of the Next Great NFL WR -- a Mathematical Analysis of College WRs - Fantasy Football 2011
0.981 = Leonard Hankerson, Miami
0.934 = Julio Jones, Alabama
0.898 = Greg Little, UNC
0.847 = Terrence Toliver, LSU
0.811 = Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh
0.714 = A.J. Green, Georgia
2011 NFL DRAFT Outlook for Baldwin, Little, and Toliver
Jonathan Baldwin is typically a Top 5-10 WR overall on Mock Draft lists, and I would agree with that. However, I would suspect Baldwin being such a physical presence and a high-risk/high-reward type of opportunity -- I could see him as one of the first 4-5 WRs taken as a potential "shock" pick in the early 2nd Round (to a team that gambles too much on character concern skill players (so he could be a Bengal or Raider soon). Baldwin is an intriguing gamble, but with such low statistical final season performance and off-field questions -- it likely would scare me off of him as a high 2nd Round pick...but I understand the gamble. If Julio Jones is worth a Top-10 pick because of his elite physical metrics despite mediocre on-field performance, then Baldwin is definitely worth a Top-50 pick based on the same (and a cheaper play as well). Baldwin just has too many things that point to a bust for my liking.
Greg Little is our #3 rated overall "Big WR" on a statistical analysis, and like Baldwin he is a Top 5-10 Mock Draft WR. Like Baldwin, Little has off-field questions as well. Little may be (in reality) a Top 3 or 5 WR in this Draft -- and ultimately a steal. However, given a suspension last season and many other good WRs to gamble on (like Baldwin, Hankerson or Toliver, to name a few)...Little may drop into a 7-10th WR taken, which may present an incredible value because there are signs of a potential elite WR with Little (along with some red-flags). Because Little may possibly be the best WR in the 2011 class (we see some signs of it, but not a guarantee), and yet might be available in the 3rd-4th Round...he may be the best "value" WR in this 2011 Draft.
Terrence Toliver is our #4 rated overall "Big WR" on a statistical basis, but you will have a hard time finding in the Top 15-20 overall WRs on any Draft list. Toliver is likely bound for a 3rd-5th Round Draft pick, but given some of the data our computer is showing on him -- he could be a major steal...even if that just means he is just a solid, contributing NFL WR; and is much cheaper than a A.J. Green or Julio Jones will be payroll-wise. If your team lands Toliver late, you should have some excitement for this low-risk pick to potentially turn into something much better than expected. He has higher "injury issue" metrics, so "buyer beware".
The only 2011 "Big WR" that we haven't found a major flaw with is Leonard Hankerson. After that, questions arise with the rest of our top "Big WR" field. As you may know from previous articles, I am very much against high draft pick WRs...it is possibly the worst business decision that is repeatedly made in the NFL by bad teams with lots of needs. Given the fact that the high pick WR/bad business decision is likely to happen again in 2011 with Green and Jones, I would be much happier passing on Green/Jones and taking my chances with a Baldwin, Little or Toliver at a much cheaper pick/price...if their background check turned out to be something I could live with (on Baldwin and Little).
The NFL season schedules are coming out soon plus the NFL Draft is almost upon us, so the computers are geared up to start running analysis on projecting players and situations for 2011 -- our 2011 Fantasy Football Draft Guide on sale this summer (even if you don't play Fantasy Football you might really enjoy this work) with 400+ players evaluated statistically for the upcoming season!
Our Fantasy Football Draft Guide is EVER-EVOLVING !!!! Not like a stale magazine with outdated data by the time it arrives on newsstands, and is obsolete when the next big injury or personnel move is made -- we update our player projections and commentary as often as daily (sometimes multiple times daily if news warrants it)...we work just like your own personal "war room" right up to Draft Day (see home page for clips of some of last years work) and you can access the e-Guide "at will" with your initial purchase.
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