Comparisons are hard. There are a lot of different ways they can be interpreted. Often times there is an unfair association between the prospect coming out and the NFL success of his pro counterpart. And while that’s sometimes relevant, often time comparisons are meant to illustrate the roadmap to success for players. Probably seven out of every ten football and draft fans will tell you they hate comparisons.
I mean, shoot, I have carved out a little sub-section of my followers who flock to Twitter each time there’s a terrible prospect comparison on television to see if I’ll down another three-finger pour of whisky. (It’s a funny world we live in.)
But in speaking with a few former pros, the value of comparisons can’t be understated. At the end of the day, a General Manager or decision maker needs to know what the plan is to cultivate a fruitful pick. Again, it goes back to the “roadmap for success”.
So I say all of that to say this: don’t associate these comparisons as one to one. But there are a number of 2019 NFL Draft comparisons that I’ve been able to come up with that I like. A lot!
Here are my five favorites to date.
Mississippi WR A.J. Brown :: Cleveland WR Jarvis Landry
Say it again: not all comparisons are one to one. So, yeah. If you read that I’m comparing these two and you have a hard time with it, I know it’s officially a you problem and not a me problem.
Brown is much bigger than Landry. But Brown doesn’t project all that favorably on the outside…and that’s okay. His pathway to success is going to be as a chain moving middle of the field receiver who can win with strong hands and effective routes.
Jarvis is smaller but he isn’t especially quick, so Brown’s lack of explosiveness relative to some of his colleagues in this year’s class can be accounted for. I like Brown, a lot, if you’re suggesting he’s a back half of Round-2 selection. Landry was drafted 63rd overall in 2014.
Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown :: Tampa Bay WR Desean Jackson
First round wide receivers in the last 10 years to check in under 180 pounds:
- West Virginia’s Tavon Austin
That’s it. That’s the list. Now, to be fair: Austin was equal parts receiver and running back out of WVU, so that isn’t mean to doom Brown’s pro prospects. Especially considering his comparison to Desean Jackson as a football player.
Jackson was drafted 49th overall in 2008 and ran 4.35 at 178 pounds. I’d expect we will see Brown in that same range: the dude is tiny but he can fly.
Things that will never be winning factors for either player: functional strength, catch radius, contested catch rate.
Things that will always be winning pieces of both players: speed, explosive plays, run after the catch, speed and also speed.
Brown, if he’s able to stay healthy, will have the potential to have a Desean Jackson type impact in the NFL. Jackson, in 11 seasons, has logged 589 receptions for 10261 yards (17.4 YPC) and 53 touchdowns. And while Jackson has only played in 16 games twice in his 11-year career, he’s never played in less than 10.
Alabama OT Jonah Williams :: New England LT Isaiah Wynn
This one really just comes down to their perceived barriers to success. Isaiah Wynn was contemplated at offensive guard because he lacked ideal length to play outside. This came despite terrific feet, effective framing of his blocks, strong work at the point of attack to reset the line of scrimmage and a long, accomplished college career.
Jonah Williams has been a consensus top prospect at offensive tackle until the anonymous scouts came creeping out of the woodwork to cast doubt on his draft stock. Their reasoning? Because he lacked ideal length to play outside. Despite terrific feet, effective framing of his blocks, strong work at the point of attack to rese–you get the point.
Florida DE Jachai Polite :: Atlanta DE Takk McKinley
McKinley out of UCLA tested well. He was a measured 6-foot-2, 250 pounds and logged a 4.59 40-yard dash. But more importantly, he was a player that won predominantly with speed, showing good understanding of how to attack guys off the edge and win with burst as a rusher.
You can CTRL+C and CTRL+V those qualities onto Polite’s resume. Polite isn’t a liability against the run, so he should get a good volume of reps early on. But it isn’t his strength. No, instead, Polite wins with elite burst off the edge. I anticipate Polite will test better in change of direction drills, but even his size profile looks like it will check in similar to McKinley.
Michigan LB Devin Bush Jr. :: Atlanta LB Deion Jones
Deion Jones checked in at the NFL Combine at 6-foot-1, 222 pounds and then ran 4.59 in the 40-yard dash and leapt 10′ in the broad jump. An explosive player, no doubt. Jones was also a player that wasn’t always the fastest to initially flow to the ball at LSU and there were questions surrounding his ability to play off of contact.
Just a few years later and you can find a lot of the same markers in Devin Bush’s resume. Bush, listed at 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, is super explosive and while he got better playing off of contact with violence in 2018, it will probably never be regarded as a true strength.
The pathway to success for Bush is that of Jones: get him free flowing on the second level and let his elite speed carry him to the football.