Placing Ole Miss Wideouts | Pretty Penny v. Bargain Buy

Welcome to this week's edition of Pretty Penny v. Bargain Buy! If you’re new to the game — welcome! The rules are pretty simple:

Every Thursday, I’ll shoot out a Tweet asking for your Pretty Penny v. Bargain Buy match-ups. A match-up includes two players who play at the same position, but will likely get drafted it different rounds. The higher ranked player is the Pretty Penny, and the cheaper player is the Bargain Buy. I’ll take a few match-ups and break them down in-depth as to why I prefer one player over the other, and then I’ll rip through some rapid-fire ones at the end.

Using this value-based paradigm of evaluating draft picks is a helpful way to look at the draft. It shows us where positional classes might be weaker or stronger; how players in similar molds, but at different degrees of development, should be understood; which positions require high investment, and which can be found at later picks.

We’ll be back here every Friday, so make sure you’re following me (@BenjaminSolak) and The Draft Network (@DraftNetworkLLC) on Twitter to get your match-ups in for next week’s column!

Last week: Never Skimp On Corners


Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown (Round 2) v. NC State WR Jakobi Meyers (Round 4)

I really like this one, offered by the inimitable Joe Marino. He's a big "Kobe" fan, so I'm pretty sure that's where he wants me to lean.

I'm not sold though. Brown is currently slotted as a Round 2 grade for me, and while I see the comparisons to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jarvis Landry, I do wonder exactly how much value that role offers to an offense. JuJu's been awesome in Pittsburgh, there's no two ways about that -- but playing opposite Antonio Brown helps clear the way to be an impactful WR2. Landry as a WR1 in Miami was always a contentious point, as it was limiting for that offense to have such a low depth of target.

So do you want to spend a second on Brown's mold of player? A lot of that depends on your offensive philosophy and other weapons, I suppose. Meyers, on the other hand, profiles as a potentially higher ceiling player given his limited experience playing WR, and his versatility playing an outside alignment. Meyers impresses especially with his YAC ability, but he does model the footwork and spatial understanding to separate, which is great to see.

I'm gonna fall Jakobi, mostly because I'm not sure you have to invest a second-round pick into the "big slot" mold when there's a plethora of players who can win that job that will be available on Day 3.

Bargain Buy: NC State WR Jakobi Meyers (Round 4)


Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf (Round 1) v. Colorado State WR Preston Williams (Round 5)

There's a couple levels to this one. Let's start off-field and move on.

Metcalf's season was shortened with a neck injury this year that could have put his declaration and even career in jeopardy. Fortunately, the injury wasn't as severe as it could have been, Metcalf's recovery went well, and he's been cleared for football activities in time for the NFL Combine.

Williams, on the other hand, was originally a Tennessee 5-star recruit who transferred away from the program and joined Colorado State, but was arrested for violating a restraining order related to a domestic violence incident in his first year on campus -- he eventually pled guilty to charges of harassment. Williams remained on campus and tethered to the team through an indefinite suspension as Colorado State considered their options of dismissing Williams or letting him play for the team. They eventually elected to allow Williams to play. In one year with the Rams, Williams turned in 96 receptions, 1,345 yards, and 14 touchdowns.

That background kept Williams out of the NFL Combine this year, and it's also keeping him out of higher rounds of the NFL Draft. A catch-radius monster with natural hands and strength, Williams wins downfield by out-muscling and out-jumping much smaller defensive backs. His routes are an utter mess, and he needs to learn how to better translate his burst and long speed into separation, but the raw tools are there.

As a finished product, Williams would hope to look like Metcalf, who has strong releases off the line of scrimmage, a strong route tree on those concepts he was asked to execute with the Rebels, and fantastic downfield explosiveness to win separation. D.K. has more thickness to his frame than the lankier, and likely longer, Williams, and wins more after the catch accordingly.

Metcalf is a rare breed and worthy of a Top-15 selection. While Williams could offer tremendous return on value by panning out, if you're in need of a WR1 for the 2019 season, Metcalf is by far your better avenue.

Pretty Penny: Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf (Round 1)


Washington S Taylor Rapp (Round 2) v. Colorado S Evan Worthington (Round 5)

If you've followed my draft crushes specifically this year, you know I'm a fan of both these players -- for wildly different reasons. This is a fun comparison, because it's basically a ceiling v. floor conversation.

Rapp is probably the highest floor safety among the top players. A freshman stud for his play in the box, Rapp lined up far more frequently as a deep middle safety for the Huskies over the past two seasons. Why? Not because he's stronger there, but because he was simply the best player at the position. So it was good for the team, and bad for Rapp.

As I wrote in the preseason, Rapp could have asserted himself as a true Round 1 combo safety with a future at NFL free safety if he answered one huge question in his junior season: does he have the ball skills to create turnovers? Now, Rapp responded with two INTs and four PBUs this season, up from his numbers of one and zero from last year (respectively), but those numbers still illustrate his limitations: he isn't super long, he isn't super rangy, and he lacks great timing approaching the catch point.

Rapp projects best as a box safety at the next level given his prolific ability as a blitzer and pursuit defender against the run -- traits he modeled to an elite level when Washington rotated him into the box.

Interestingly, Evan Worthington has much the same issues in his evaluation. Built like a box safety at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Worthington played free safety for Colorado -- but he actually turned into some strong film. Over the last two years (his only two years of FBS ball), Worthington has 7 INTs and 10 PBUs, though his stronger numbers came in 2017.

As we see on his film, Worthington can attack the catch point nicely, maximizing his length and burst to get there, and then adjusting to the ball like a doggone wide receiver. The peaks are really high, but the valleys are low -- he still needs to develop his angles and timing, as his raw technique plays him out of position at times. There's a cool video clip to that effect.

So Worthington has more of a chance at becoming a deep safety, but less of a sure bet at winning as a box safety. Rapp has that high floor as a box safety, but he may never become more than that. Man, I'm still waffling even as I write this.

I'm taking the plunge, but don't quote me on this -- I may feel differently tomorrow.

Bargain Buy: Colorado S Evan Worthington (Round 5)


Best of the Rest

Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill (Round 3) v. Utah State RB Darwin Thompson (Round 4-5)

3 is too early for Hill and 4 is too early for Thompson. I think Hill has markedly more desirable physical traits, but I can't talk myself into him as a Day 2 pick. Thompson, begrudgingly.

Ohio State iDL Dre'Mont Jones (Round 3) v. Texas A&M iDL Daylon Mack (Round 4)

Both are inconsistent and underdeveloped as players; untrustworthy in Year 1. But Dre'Mont is a safer bet right now, for sure.

Boston College EDGE Zach Allen (Round 2) v. Oregon EDGE Jalen Jelks (Round 6)

Despite the fact that both "played" some iDL in their career, their body types are totally different. Goes to show you the differences between the ACC and Pac-12. I think Round 6 is too good a value to pass up on a player with Jelks' upside.

Boston College iOL Chris Lindstrom (Round 1) v. Wisconsin iOL Beau Benzschawel (Round 4)

I remain a diligent member of "Chris Lindstrom is an absolute stud" club. Next question.

Delaware S Nasir Adderley (Round 1) v. Washington S Taylor Rapp (Round 2)

A lot of this depends on where in Round 1 and 2 we're talking, but I'll take Rapp's high floor and defined role over Adderley, a player who may have to bounce between a position or two before he finds a great fit.

 

Written By:

Benjamin Solak

NFL Draft Analyst

NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Deputy Editor of Bleeding Green Nation. Undergrad at UChicago.

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