Yesterday, I published the Banana Stand’s Contrarian Running Back Rankings, using the full body of statistical models available to give the most accurate projections and comps you’ll see anywhere. Today, we have the much-anticipated Wide Receiver rankings employing the Dominator Rating and Height-adjusted Speed Score.
For a quick refresher, the Dominator Rating is a combined market share metric. It represents the percentage of receiving yards and touchdowns a player had on his college team. A wealth of documentation suggests similar methods are more accurate than scouting reports or raw stats. The Height-adjusted Speed Score (HaSS) uses the same basic principles that created the Speed Score for running backs. The stat is set so that 100 represents an average mark for receivers invited to the Combine. Calvin Johnson’s 143 is the highest recorded mark. Anything over 120 is elite. (For a fuller explanation of the methodology, check out the 2012 article.)
The 2013 class lacks top end performers but is very deep. Savvy teams will land similar prospects in the fourth and fifth rounds as those available in the first. I’ve provided what I see as appropriate values and contrasted those with their likely draft spots this weekend. For most of the notable players, I’ve also given comps that endeavor to match a player with not only similar guys in terms of DR and HaSS but specific physical profiles.
These are reality rankings. RotoViz has the best 2013 rookie dynasty ranks on the web.
1. Charles Johnson – DR .50, HaSS 113
Jon Moore put me on to Johnson’s existence. Ranking Johnson No. 1 will be seen in most quarters as purely for shock effect, but in fact ranking him anywhere else would be to ignore the methodology. Johnson’s Height-adjusted Speed Score is at the same level of Cordarrelle Patterson, and he jumped better in both the vertical and broad categories. I always add .05 to Pro Day 40 times, but if you take Johnson’s 40 at face value, his HaSS jumps to 118 and puts him close to the superstar range. Moreover, his Dominator Rating impresses even with defenses relentlessly scheming to take him away. Johnson’s DR is right in line with previous small school stars like Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin, and Pierre Garcon who have emerged as forces in the NFL. Even if you adjust Johnson’s DR pretty dramatically because of concerns about his competition at Grand Valley State, he still comes out as the top prospect – basically Brian Quick with a lot better athleticism. The red flags with Johnson are more about his age than his DII status. Johnson began college way back in 2007 and bounced all over the place. Age does have an important impact in draft value, and if this is your reason for demoting Johnson, that’s understandable. Johnson’s projected selection in the draft covers an incredible range. He could be picked as early as the late second round by a team like the Patriots or he could come close to falling all the way out of the draft.
Comps: Miles Austin, Pierre Garcon
Value: 15-32 Projected: Late Second to Seventh
2. Stedman Bailey – DR .49, HaSS 86
Bailey tore the lid off the Big 12 last season and was utterly dominant scoring all over the field. His numbers absolutely dwarf those of more heralded teammate Tavon Austin. Here’s the thing I don’t get. The scouts are always talking about the tape and how it doesn’t lie, and yet Austin is a trendy first round pick with Bailey projected in the third. It’s impossible to watch West Virginia and not see how much better Bailey is than Austin. The diminutive speedster almost never catches a ball more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but Bailey is dynamic at all depths. Unfortunately, Bailey lacks both size and speed. He profiles most similarly to guys like Greg Jennings and Antonio Brown. Matthew Freedman has demonstrated that second round receivers with Bailey’s production numbers frequently go on to be superstars. Don’t be surprised if he has the biggest rookie season.
Value: 30-60 Projected: 45-90
3. DeAndre Hopkins DR .40, HaSS 98
I continually go back and forth between Bailey and Hopkins for the No. 2 slot. Because of height and age, Hopkins is a better bet to emerge as a No. 1 wide receiver. The Clemson product destroyed SEC competition as a junior and absolutely dominated in the highest leverage situations. Unfortunately, like Bailey he lacks first round athleticism. At 6’1”, you just have to run faster than 4.57. On the optimistic side, he’s a slightly weaker version of Hakeem Nicks.
Value: 30-45 Projected: 20-30