The Best Comparable features most popular and oft-discussed aspect of PlayerProfiler.com. Each player’s “best comp” is identified by an input-prioritized algorithm that sorts, dismisses, and ultimately matches each player to the most similar NFL peer at his position.
As was discussed in a previous piece, the vast permutations from just a handful of physical, athletic, and on-field productivity-related metrics on PlayerProfiler.com illustrated the true uniqueness most NFL athletes. No players are identical but a handful have relatively close comparables.
In reviewing the 2014 wide receiver class, we found that the per-metric deviation between Allen Robinson and Dez Bryant was surprisingly slight. The 2015 wide receiver class has a handful of players with exceedingly similar counterparts at the NFL level. Here are five WRs with particularly close comps.
Nelson Agholor to Jeremy Maclin
It’s difficult to criticize the Eagles for not matching the Chiefs $55 million contract with 22.5 million guaranteed after they replaced their leading receiver with a younger, faster version of Jeremy Maclin himself in Nelson Agholor.
Beyond straight line speed, Agholor’s Burst Score and Agility Score are equally superior to Maclin’s workout metrics on PlayerProfiler.com.
Given that Agholor and Maclin are such close comparables from both an anecdotal and analytical point of view, most members of fantasy football’s analysis echo chamber have concluded that Nelson Agholor should seamlessly fill the flanker role left vacant by Jeremy Maclin. However, Maclin is an undersized NFL flanker.
On the other hand, Jordan Matthews‘ physical profile and experience better positions him to play Maclin’s former flanker/slot target hog role while Nelson Agholor lines up outside. In this case, physical similarity does not predict offensive role.
Devante Parker to A.J. Green
As tall and slender wide receivers like Justin Hunter and Marquess Wilson have thus far struggled to ascend at the NFL level, A.J. Green remains the svelte standard among professional wide receivers. DeVante Parker is the first lanky receiver to come along since A.J. Green. Parker brings both Green’s über college productivity and outstanding size-adjusted athleticism with him to the NFL.
An identical body type, similar production history, and aligned athletic measurements often produces a stylistic similarity. By cross-referencing less than ten data points, PlayerProfiler has seen into the future as sportscasters and broadcasters will surely point out that DeVante Parker “looks like next A.J. Green” during the 2015 season.
Devin Funchess to Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall may be the best wide receiver selected in the 4th round pick in NFL history. Devin Funchess is the next big, explosive WR prospect to inexplicably fall out of the first round even after dominating his team’s receiving production at the college level.
Game tape watching aficionados watchers will disagree with this comparison. While Brandon Marshall soaks up targets by dominating the catch point with strength and tenacity, Devin Funchess received criticism during his time at Michigan for a timid disposition. Later, it was revealed that Funchess played with a painful foot ailment throughout most of the 2014 college season. In the search for a true player comparison for Funchess, objective data trumps the subjective observations.
Phillip Dorsett to Brandin Cooks
The fact that Phillip Dorsett is so similar to the wide receiver who won the Biletnikoff over Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, and Allen Robinson by itself is tantalizing.
Then, upon realizing that Dorsett’s least impressive workout metric (Burst Score) was still in the 63rd percentile, any fantasy gamer without an irrational bias against short wide receivers would be excited.
Interesting, an aspect of the Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett profile not shown is most intriguing. Though both players posted 4.33 40-yard dash times, Dorsett’s yards per reception (YPR) during his final year at Miami was a mind-blowing 24.2. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks’ YPR was 13.5. This YPR disparity indicates that, while the data on their prospect profiles is closely aligned, their ideal roles at the NFL level may differ. Cooks projects more as an NFL flanker target hog in the mold of Antonio Brown while Dorsett projects more of a dynamic deep threat similar to DeSean Jackson.
Jaelen Strong to Charles Johnson
Jaelen Strong is stunningly similar to Charles Johnson form a physical point of view, but Strong and Johnson have divergent college resumes. Because of the dichotomy between Strong and Johnson’s Breakout Age as well as their respective College Dominator Ratings, this is the weakest comp of the five listed even thought the two players almost identical workout metrics.
Charles Johnson‘s late Breakout Age is less of a concern than Jaelen Strong‘s average College Dominator Rating. Most small school receivers take a circuitous route to the NFL, which helps explains Charles Johnson’s slower-than-average development trajectory. However, Jaelen Strong’s inability to truly dominate at the collegiate level increases the probability that he will be an NFL bust. Though Strong was drafted four rounds ahead of Johnson in their respective draft classes, Charles Johnson is more certain to ascend to fantasy relevance and perhaps stardom.