2017 Devy Players: College WR Prospects
A couple of months back I did a start-up Dynasty draft that included “developmental” players in the player pool. This is what is commonly referred to as “Devy”. Devy players can include any college football player that is not yet eligible for the NFL. I am a fan of college football from a standpoint of looking at the prospects that will be entering the NFL. With that being said, I had a relatively limited knowledge of what I was looking for out of my Devy selections. So, it was time to dig in!
In doing some research, I came up with a list of players that I was interested in. As I tend to do in Dynasty, I was focused on the WR position. After accumulating said list, I paired it down to (10) guys that I wanted to get a bit more hyper-focused on. That list:
- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC (2017 NFL Draft eligible)
- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan (2017 NFL Draft eligible)
- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (2017 NFL Draft eligible)
- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (2017 NFL Draft eligible)
- Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU (2017 NFL Draft eligible)
- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State (2017 NFL Draft eligible)
- Jordan Villamin, WR, Oregon State (2017 NFL Draft eligible)
- Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State (2017 NFL Draft eligible)
- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M (2018 NFL Draft eligible)
- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (2018 NFL Draft eligible)
Part of my evaluation was watching what I could find for game film on these guys and reading breakdowns from scouts whose opinions I’ve learned to trust over the years. But the last (and one of the most important pieces for me) was looking at their college production to date.
I’ve found the best way to look at collegiate production is using techniques I’ve learned from Jon Moore (formerly of RotoViz). He preaches the use of market share adjusted as well as age related statistics. I implore you (if you have not already) to read his work on “Visualizing the College Careers of…” at his former site. It is a very insightful way to be able to compare player production on a more normalized scale since offenses vary so much at the NCAA level and players are at different levels of their developmental curves.
What Jon does is take market share production (more or less, MS yards = a player’s receiving yards/team’s overall passing yards) and plot it against that player’s age. To have some comparison, he also plots the college careers of all 150+ fantasy point receivers. The trendline of these data points allows for a reference of where we’d like to see WR production relative to age at the college level. Jon goes into more depth on all of this in his work but I wanted to quickly explain it since I used this technique for my analysis.
Without further ado… here is how these college WR prospects’ careers look to this point:
Note: one thing I did do was add Amari Cooper to this plot for another reference point since he’s one of the more bulletproof prospects we’ve seen in years
- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC – that age 19 season is insane! I really wish we had seen a better Freshman campaign but it was one in which he was outshined by Nelson Agholor. This season is going to be real telling as to how I view JuJu as a prospect coming into the NFL in the 2017 class. As of now, he’s at least trending in the right direction and I’m a big fan.
- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan – Davis is an ideal prospect from what this graph shows. Being at or above the trendline every year is really what we’re looking for here. Everyone thought he would declare for the NFL draft this past year & he would’ve been a very high pick in Dynasty rookie drafts based on his profile. The dip last year is somewhat concerning and he has to hit > 38% MS yards next year to keep pace with the age adjusted production.
- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson – was not overly impressed with Williams after looking at this. However, we need to put his age 19 season in context. He was playing behind Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant while also having to share targets with Adam Humprhries. Looked a bit better as top dog in his age 20 season. We need to throw away his age 21 season as it is a one game sample. He’s an intriguing guy due to his size but will come out as an older rookie than Corey Davis with a significantly worse track record of performance.
- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU – Sutton is a Devy Twitter darling. 2015 was his 1st year playing WR so we only have one data point on him. This is somewhat concerning but at least it was a good data point. The fact that he had more market share yards than Dupre in his inaugural shot at the position is certainly promising. More than any of the other 2017 eligible receivers, we really need to see more from Sutton.
- Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU – Dupre looks like a real solid (but not spectacular) prospect in this evaluation. He’s right around the trendline in both seasons. I’d expect him to linger right around there this coming year as well; as he took the next step and equaled fellow 2017 eligible WR Travin Dural in MS yards for LSU in games where they were both active last season.
- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State – honestly, I was expecting to see Washington rate much higher here. He’s a guy I was very excited about based on his raw production at such a young age. The problem is that Oklahoma State had such a potent passing attach that his market share production took a big hit. This is a prime example of why looking at college statistics through this lens is so crucial. There’s still a chance that he is a really good prospect but I’d really like to see him dominate the touches in his own offense to confirm that.
- Jordan Villamin, WR, Oregon State – Villamin made a nice jump from age 19 to 20. He basically leapfrogged Dupre on the graph. The concern is that there were no overt talents holding him back in his Freshman season (so why didn’t he dominate). Perhaps, being a big guy, he needed to grow into it a bit. Not totally sure so will really have to hope that he (like JuJu) continues the upward trend in the coming season.
- Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State – this was a kid I wasn’t immediately aware of but saw him brought up in a conversation or two and decided to throw him into this mix. He made, by far, the most improvement from 18-year-old to 19-year-old season in this group. While that does create some cause for concern, his age 19 season actually slides nicely on the same line as Amari Cooper’s age 18 & 20 seasons. Another thing to note is that the two WRs that were getting targets ahead of him as a freshman were still on the team last year and he surpassed both of them. Godwin probably intrigues me the most of anyone in this group. 2017 will be instrumental in determining whether or not he truly made a leap in his game last year.
- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M – as a 19-year-old Freshman, Kirk put up a very good season! Not quite on par with some of the other performances on this graph but he’s definitely a guy I have high hopes for at this point. Even if he just gets a MS this year equal to what Villamin or Sutton did last year, he will be on track to being a very nice prospect.
- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama – I want to like Ridley. He’s really fun to watch. But I just can’t get past the age. In his 21-year-old Freshman season, he had the same market share production as his fellow Frosh counterpart on this list. The problem is that Kirk did it at 2 years younger. He’s going to need to be flat out dominant in his final two years at Alabama for me to get excited about him as an NFL prospect.
I felt much more prepared to be investing on these highly volatile commodities (Devy players) after at least having something substantial to use when judging them. Plus, it gave me a leg up on my 2017 (and 2018) rookie scouting!
Remember to check out Jon Moore’s work on RotoViz. I have learned so much about evaluating college prospects simply by reading what he writes.
Come see me on Twitter @slimbo737 for any sort of DynastyFF (and Devy?) talk!