Kenny Golladay: The Sleeper of the Sleepers

by Peter Howard, April 23, 2017

Kenny Golladay turns up a lot when searching for NFL Draft sleepers using PlayerProfiler’s Data Analysis Tool. It is also not a great year for 1st round picks. There are few prospects with clear routes to being top-12 fantasy football producers at their position and many of the most interesting are tight ends. But it’s a great year to go hunting for future producers in the lower rounds. So without any more jabbering, and hardly any pomp, let’s look at the player sleeping amongst the sleepers.

Sleeper Status

St. Rita high school in Chicago is a run-heavy high school. Kenny Golladay didn’t see many reps until his senior season. This lead to only one offer at the College level, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. Two seasons resulted in 1300 yards and 9 touchdowns, few wins, and a change in coaching staff. Golladay decided to test the market again and found Northern Illinois University more than willing to snatch him up. He sat out for a year before becoming their leading receiver in 2015 and 2016.

I am not tracing this back to high school just to soften the blow of Kenny Golladay being a 23-years old prospect and avoid mentioning that he is coming out after his senior season. But rather, Golladay has been a sleeper before and succeeded in spectacular fashion. His 1,129 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015 was the best season of any NIU receiver since 2000 and it got him nominated for the Biletnikoff Award.

College Dominance

Accounting for 41.8% of NIU’s total team touchdowns and receiving Kenny Golladay didn’t seem phased by the higher level of competition. He also racked up 29 rushing attempts for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns while at NIU.

Kenny Golladay’s College production from ND and NIU

Wave a caution flag over Kenny Golladay‘s senior season. Even though he was still dominant and increased his yardage total, his touchdowns dropped. This was despite a slight increase in volume from 73 to 87 receptions. He also saw a decrease in yards per reception from 15.5 to 13.3. On top of this NIU’s lead rusher dropped from to 1286 and 18 touchdowns in 2015 down to 885 and 8 touchdowns in 2016. This drop in efficiency in the face of extra opportunity is concerning. I lean towards forgiving the slump because of the consistency in his production and the fact he didn’t regress or plateau after stepping up from North Dakota.

In the end, it results in a prospect with a 41.8-percent College Dominato Rating (82nd percentile) and a 19.8 Breakout Age (64th percentile). Both are predictive measurements we like to stalk when looking for later round value. Kenny Golladay’s dominance in the receiving game matters more to me than the success of the Northern Illinois Huskies game plan.

Athleticism

Whether searching for production or measurables Kenny Golladay shows up alongside more highly touted sleepers. At 6-4, 218-pounds with a 4.50 40-time, Golladay’s 110.7 Height-adjusted Speed Score (HaSS) is in the 91st percentile.

Kenny Golladay Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

This is above other favorites Krishawn Hogan and Jerome Lane as well as Curtis Samuel, Chris Godwin, and Mike Williams. A combined look at Kenny Golladay‘s athleticism and production using Kevin Cole’s WR prospect Regression Tree placed him in the highest possible success bracket.

Kenny Golladay has the potential to become a successful player in the NFL but he will need time to develop. His route tree – like a lot of big, smaller school wide receivers – is limited. But there is nothing in his college production or athletic profile to suggest he can’t do that. In fact, Golladay has already shown he can once before.

NFL Upside

We have to wait for the 2017 NFL Draft to know which sleepers are the most interesting. But we can examine NFL archetypes in the meantime. These provide, if not a direct projection, at least Kenny Golladay‘s reasonable path to NFL success.

quincy-enunwa-fantasy-football

Quincy Enunwa Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

In the shadow of 1st round bust Kevin White, who was also an older prospect who transferred into a Division 1 program before posting highly productive numbers in his senior season, it might be difficult to buy into Kenny Golladay. Yet White only produced one dominant college season. On the other hand, Golladay was dominant and productive in both his junior and senior seasons.

Kenny Golladay does not project to be an early round pick, and his future NFL team will not be as invested in giving him early-career opportunities. Fortunately, this will also drive down his price in dynasty leagues similar to his best comparable player, Quincy Enunwa. Golladay and Enunwa share the same College Dominator Rating and similar Breakout Age.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, it wasn’t until 2016 that Quincy Enunwa produced significant fantasy numbers. Something he accomplished despite questionable quarterback play and two veteran studs in front of him; Eric Decker and Brandon MarshallKenny Golladay is likely a different player then Enunwa, who played at a higher level of competition in Nebraska but was less productive in yards and touchdowns and never had a YPR over 14.8. But we don’t know what team he will be on, nor work for their coaching staff, so we can’t know his role. For now, however, the athletic and metric comparison provides a successful NFL archetype for Golladay.

Top Sleeper Candidate

Kenny Golladay is a candidate to break out in the first few years of his NFL career. He has the athleticism and metrics NFL teams and fantasy player’s covert. So far he has visited several NFL teams already and recently had a private workout with the Saints. Golladay may not be at the top of anyone’s sleeper lists so far but he has been noticed by the NFL.

For now, he projects to begin his career towards the bottom of an NFL  depth chart. If the sleeper amongst the sleepers can find a depth chart without a big play threat or in need of a red-zone target he will demonstrate an early, if inconsistent, glimpse into his potential. In dynasty, he is a bench stash in any decent landing spot.