There are a handful of players I fell in love with combing through college production data that the NFL didn’t seem too keen on. My process is outlined here but breakout age, receptions per game and top 3 round NFL draft capital remain important pillars in my prospect evaluation. 

The following 3 players met one or more of my thresholds but fell very short of being a day 2 selection in the NFL draft. I wanted to dig deeper and watch some tape to see if the NFL missed something or if I did. 

For each player I will list why they caught my eye in the first place then dig into the film. Of course I couldn’t watch the tape and not turn it into some numbers! I charted a few items while watching:

  • Targets 
  • Receptions
  • QB incompletions – this is an instance where the receiver got open but the pass was not complete due to a bad pass
  • Slot – the percent of targets for which the receiver started in the slot
  • Most frequent route – the film I had didn’t always show the route on incompletions, so I only counted routes for receptions
  • Air yards / reception (rec) – yards gained from the line of scrimmage to the catch point only
  • Yards after reception (yac) / rec – yards gained from the catch point to the end of the play

Isaiah Hodgins – Buffalo Bills

Metrics

Breakout Age Best Market Share College Receptions per game BMI Round Selected
20 40% 5.2 25.8 6

Why I liked him

The 40% market share in 2019 is a very impressive number, even though he didn’t have a teenage breakout. He also eclipsed the 4.5 receptions per game threshold I look for, and declared early for the NFL.

Film Review

Games Targets Receptions QB incompletions Slot Most frequent route  air yards/rec yac/rec
3 32 23 7 18% curl (5) 14 3.9

Subjective observations (2018 Oregon, 2019 Oklahoma State, 2019 Arizona)

  • The Oregon game in 2018 was hard to watch. He looked sluggish and unenthusiastic on almost every snap. The QB in this one was horrible, one hopping throws and 5 of the “QB incompletions” were in this contest. 
  • The next 2 games from 2019 were both very exciting, he showed crisp routes and ability to get open down field with double moves
  • Impressive change of direction and cutting given his 6’4″ frame
  • Didn’t see much press man coverage, so it is unclear how he would handle that
  • Looks like a possession receiver, but can succeed down the field as evidenced by 14 air yards per reception
  • Unenthusiastic blocker and seems to take the occasional play off
  • Comp that came to mind – discount Michael Pittman
  • Favorite play – 25 yard corner route vs. man with a double move that led to a wide open score against Arizona

NFL team fit

John Brown has a lengthy injury history, is on the wrong side of 30, and only signed through 2021. The Bills took 2 X types in 4th rounder Gabriel Davis and Hodgins. They will compete to be the outside receiver opposite Stefon Diggs in a year or 2. I like him as a stash but realistically for 2020 he’s a taxi squad guy in deep dynasty leagues. 

James Proche – Baltimore Ravens

Metrics

Breakout Age Best Market Share College Receptions per game BMI Round Selected
21 40% 6 28.3 6

Why I liked him

Proche is an old prospect, coming in after his 5th season in college but had an incredibly productive resume at SMU. He caught 6 balls per game over his entire career and boasted a 40% market share his final season. Additionally, he registered a 28.3 BMI at the combine which was nice to see. 

Film Review

Games Targets Receptions QB incompletions Slot Most frequent route  air yards/rec yac/rec
3 44 26 12 36% curl, screen (6) 8.5 3.5

Subjective Observations (2018 Cincinnati, 2019 Memphis, 2019 Temple)

  • Crisp cuts and savvy route running ability
  • Not a lot of “wow” plays
  • Almost all his YAC came off screens
  • Most work was done around the line of scrimmage
  • Very scrappy and enthusiastic player
  • Sells every route on every play
  • Good blocker when needed
  • Favorite play – 28 yard end zone fade with a leaping catch over his defender against Cincinnati

NFL team fit

He seems like a perfect player for what the Ravens need. He will block in their high volume run scheme and can eventually work his way into a possession type role player. I think he has the makings of a clubhouse “glue guy” who is a solid 4th/5th WR and will stick around for a long time, but maybe not on fantasy rosters.

Quintez Cephus – Detroit Lions

Metrics

Breakout Age Best Market Share College Receptions per game BMI Round Selected
19 35% 3.1 26.7 5

Why I liked him

After a teenage breakout in 2017, Cephus missed a season due to legal troubles but came back with a vengeance in 2019.  His 4 year stint in college can be overlooked because he may have been on track to declare early if not for the season off. He’s got a solid build and disappointed at the combine with a sluggish 4.73 forty but did register an 82nd percentile burst score. 

Film Review

Games Targets Receptions QB incompletions Slot Most frequent route  air yards/rec yac/rec
3 19 13 5 36% curl (4) 13.3 5.8

Subjective Observations (2019 Michigan State, 2019 Central Michigan, 2019 Iowa)

  • Tenacious player, runs aggressive routes
  • Good after the catch, has running back-like determination to get extra yards
  • Uses hands, shoulders, and body rather than speed to get open
  • Won’t blow past defenders but was still successful creating separation on multiple “go” routes against man coverage
  • Versatile, showing ability to win from multiple roles
  • Murderous blocker, seeks out DBs to hit on run plays 
  • Favorite play – 20 yard back shoulder fade to the sideline where he maintained balance, spun off the defender and finished off the last 5 yards into the end zone

NFL team fit

I really think the Lions got a gem in Cephus, and am happy I have snagged him late in many drafts. Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola are playing out contracts, but as early as 2021 Cephus could walk into a prime time role opposite Kenny Golladay. With his ability to man the slot and play outside, he can find playing time in many ways. 

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