tavon-austin

When it comes to receivers, you often hear things like “he’s a deep ball threat,” or “he’s more of a possession guy,” or, my favorite, “he’s a redzone threat.”  But what does it mean to be a redzone threat?  Does a guy just have to be tall?  Should he have great leaping ability?  Is it strictly a matter of winning the ball?

Using this awesome RotoViz tool, I ran a little experiment.  I wanted to see which receivers produced touchdowns at the highest rate with their redzone targets.  While this might differ from your definition of “best,” anybody who can be counted on to score points is good by me.  Much to my surprise, a number of smaller receivers, like Tavon Austin, performed well in this metric.  Check out the chart to see the best redzone players who are in the 2013 NFL Draft: (min 12 targets, Defense quality>20)

Player Tm SEAS TRG YDS YPT TDS TDRT
Stedman Bailey West Virginia

2012

24

146

6

14

58%

Chandler Jones (TE) SJSU

2012

12

102

9

7

58%

DeAndre Hopkins Clemson

2012

13

76

6

7

54%

Martel Moore Northern Illinois

2012

13

78

6

7

54%

Antavious Wilson Marshall

2012

16

113

7

8

50%

Chad Bumphis Mississippi State

2012

12

70

6

6

50%

Joseph Fauria (TE) UCLA

2012

18

78

4

9

50%

Marcus Sales Syracuse

2012

14

103

7

7

50%

Antavian Edison Purdue

2012

16

99

6

7

44%

Robert Woods USC

2012

19

79

4

8

42%

Jack Doyle (TE) Western Kentucky

2012

12

61

5

5

42%

Brent Leonard Louisiana-Monroe

2012

17

143

8

7

41%

Zach Sudfeld (TE) Nevada

2012

15

96

6

6

40%

Darrin Moore Texas Tech

2012

26

127

5

10

38%

Marquelo Suel Akron

2012

14

78

6

5

36%

Alec Lemon Syracuse

2012

17

109

6

6

35%

Anthony Amos Middle Tennessee

2012

20

100

5

7

35%

Josh Boyce TCU

2012

12

65

5

4

33%

Mike Shanahan (TE) Pittsburgh

2012

15

97

6

5

33%

Tavon Austin West Virginia

2012

12

65

5

4

33%

Markus Wheaton Oregon State

2012

22

139

6

7

32%

Andy Cruse Miami (Ohio)

2012

16

39

2

5

31%

Gavin Escobar (TE) San Diego State

2012

16

58

4

5

31%

Ryan Swope Texas A& M

2012

16

96

6

5

31%

Michael Edwards UTEP

2012

13

51

4

4

31%

Stedman Bailey continues to amaze me.  Despite his medium size (5’10’’, 193lbs), he produces redzone touchdowns at the most prolific rate in America.  His 2012 season was off the charts and I think his NFL potential is fantastic, especially considering that he is unlikely to be drafted as a #1 receiver.  Assuming Bailey lands a role as a #2 receiver, Bailey should benefit greatly from coverages rolling away from him.  Matthew Freedman even thinks Bailey might be the next Isaac Bruce.

And wouldn’t ya know it?  There’s DeAndre Hopkins again.  He ranked as one of the most clutch receivers of 2012 and his strong showing here furthers the point that Hopkins is a big time playmaker.

Chad Bumphis.  Enough said.

Joseph Fauria isn’t a premium tight end prospect, but he looks to have immense red zone potential.  Not only does he have a proven track record of catching touchdowns, but he has a 6’7’’ frame, nearly 11’ hands, and strong explosion scores for a 260 lb man.  Watch to see if he can carve out a niche role early in his career.

It’s fascinating to see two Syracuse receivers rank this highly.  Despite my indifference toward Ryan Nassib, he must be doing something right.  I’m not crazy about either wide out, but I’d say Alec Lemon is a day 3 prospect to know.

Robert Woods is the first suspicious name on this list.  In saying that, I mean that Woods might have benefitted from the presence of Marqise Lee, thus providing him more favorable opportunities to score.  In general, I’m really troubled by the decline in Woods’ metrics across the board.  Also, his workout performances are very ho-hum with the exception of his 40.  Nothing says “rare prospect” to me.

After appearing on the clutch list, Darrin Moore also finds his way onto the touchdown-producing list.  He caught 1,000+ yards and 10+ TDs last season but is being completely ignored.  Texas Tech or not, that is some major disrespect.

Josh Boyce blew up the NFL Combine and people have been asking about him.  He’s a top 20 WR prospect in my eyes and grades similarly to Tavarres King and Quinton Patton.

And finally we arrive at our poster boy, Tavon Austin.  What are we to make of his redzone prowess and is it translatable to the NFL?  I think yes, but not like you might expect.  The four touchdowns in question were scored on the following routes:

-          (1) Out route, ball caught in endzone

-          (1) Touch pass, ball caught short and run in

-          (2) Bubble screens, ball caught short and run in

So, while Austin isn’t winning jump balls, he is winning in the open field.  At the next level, I can definitely see teams designing plays that isolate Tavon with a defender, a matchup he will win regularly.

In my forthcoming Rookie Dynasty Rankings, Markus Wheaton lands in the top 5.  I didn’t expect him to grade so highly, but he projects fantastically in my models and he completely won me over during senior bowl practices.  It’s a good feeling to have both man and machine believe in the player.  Given his strength and route running, I think he is one of the safer bets to have a smooth transition.

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