NFL comparisons are hard. Many times, they require a lot of context and will only ever be partial snapshots of who either the compared players will be.
For a very long time, I tried to avoid using anything other than what I considered to be the most obvious of comparisons for this reason. But in my preparations for the 2018 NFL Draft and the work that goes along with it, I spent a lot of time speaking with former NFL Scout Gary Horton. Horton, who also mentored Todd McShay on his way to ESPN, provided me with excellent insight into the value of comparisons. They can be spun in any number of ways: stylistic, career trajectory, role in an offense, etc.
But his point was quite evident: comparisons are an important and valuable piece of the NFL Draft evaluation process for many decision makers.
So, here we are. For the first time in my 4+ years of writing scouting reports, I’m making comparisons a staple of the report format. I’ve already come up with some I like, and some I am still struggling with. Here are three wide receiver comparisons for 2018 NFL Draft prospects that I like quite a bit:
Southern Cal WR Deontay Burnett – Pittsburgh WR Eli Rogers
Burnett is a diminutive guy, and has the same quickness showcased by the 5’10, 187 lb Rogers in Pittsburgh. But this comparison is rooted in the fact that there’s a very specific role in the NFL for a player like Burnett and Rogers fits the mold perfectly. Burnett, like Rogers, isn’t a physical guy. The Trojans product is listed at 6’0, 170 lbs; I doubt he reaches the former and he’d better hope he’s not too much lighter than the latter.
Rogers made his money as a UDFA thanks to some speedy testing, Burnett will have to find an edge in athleticism as well.
Florida State WR Auden Tate – Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson
Come again? That’s right, I think Auden Tate has big time potential. And he, like Robinson, has teased that ability without consistently putting it onto the field. Robinson exploded onto the NFL scene in 2015, going off for 80 receptions and 1400 yards with 14 touchdowns.
Tate has the same kind of size (6’5, 225 lbs) and ball skills to be the same type of X-receiver for a team in the NFL. Robinson had better college production than Tate (40 receptions for 548 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2017), but Tate played this season with his backup QB (James Blackman) after Deondre Francois went down with an injury vs. Alabama.
Alabama WR Calvin Ridley – Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon Diggs
Come again, again? The Alabama product doesn’t quite have the same production issues as Auden Tate, but his stat line still doesn’t match his natural abilities and technical skill. The same has always been the case for Stefon Diggs, who never really found his footing until reaching the pros with the Vikings.
Both of these guys are super quick, are dangerous run after the catch receivers (just ask Marcus Williams) and will have similar success as quick footed route runners in the NFL.