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chrisowusu

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By now you’ve probably heard about the big roster move in Tampa Bay. The Bucs just signed a WR off their practice squad! Oh, that’s not the roster move you were thinking of? Whatever.

The Bucs have cut Kevin Ogletree, and it seems that second-year UDFA Chris Owusu; journeyman, Rutgers alumnus, and last year’s #3 WR Tiquan Underwood; and maybe even second-year Welker-wannabe Eric Page will compete for the #3 job behind Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.

Of note is that last week Owusu and Underwood weren’t even on the active roster (Page was primarily a punt returner), but they’re the only two being mentioned for the #3 job. Of the two, I like Owusu better because he’s younger, faster, and heavier—and he played with Andrew Luck and for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.

Hell, I’ll just say it. I like Owusu a lot, aside from any comparison with Underwood and regardless of what happens with the #3 WR position. I’m crazy. He has almost no chance of ever being a fantasy asset, but what Chris Thompson was (is?) to Shawn Siegele and Davis Mattek—they like(d) him, a lot—Owusu will be to me.

You probably know Owusu’s story. He is the Jahvid Best of WRs—great speed, bad collegiate concussion history. Because of his medical history, he went undrafted in 2011, despite being cleared to resume his football career. Since then, Owusu has been a member of the 49ers, Chargers, and Bucs without any (known) subsequent medical issues linked to his concussions. In short, I think we can assume that, since Owusu has been without symptoms for almost 2 years, he’s in the clear. He could suffer an injury in the future, but so could all players and he is apparently not at greater risk of concussions due to his history. In other words, I believe that Owusu is now acquirable at a substantial discount in dynasty leagues.

I say that because of this information: As a true sophomore he had a good season for a 19-year-old contributor, and even after an injury-plagued but promising junior year Owusu had a second-day draft grade from scouts heading into his senior year. And then even after his injury-plagued senior year some people in the scouting community (at least this guy and this guy) still thought of Owusu as no worse than a third- or fourth-round pick. As a football player, Owusu certainly has talent.

And the guy is a freak athlete. He was the most physically impressive WR at the 2012 combine—and Stephen Hill was there. He ran an official 4.36 40-yard dash, tying for the fastest time by a WR. Let me put that time into context. From 2006 to 2013, exactly 46 WRs have scored an official 40 time of 4.31-4.41 second. All of them except for 3 have been drafted. Those 3 UDFAs were 2 non-FBS small-school projects (Mike Mason and Ricardo Lockette)—and Chris Owusu. In other words, just based on 40 times, an FBS receiver has not been as discounted as Owusu currently is since at least 2006.

For the 43 drafted speedsters, the average pick used to select them was 100, and the median was 95. Thus, historically, a WR with a combine 40 time similar to Owusu’s is on average selected with a third- or fourth-round pick. So scouts say that Owusu plays like a mid-round WR, and his 40 time alone puts him in a cohort whose composite player is a mid-rounder. Does this mean that, in most dynasty leagues, a second-year WR with mid-round skills and athleticism is just sitting on waivers?

And what if we look at more than just Owusu’s 40 time? If one screens further within the 4.31-4.41 cohort of 46 players, an intriguing subgroup emerges. You see, Owusu is not only fast. He’s also very agile and explosive. When one adds parameters for agility (10.71-11.21 Agility Score), explosiveness (164.5-174.5 Explosion Score), and actual NFL use (a guy should have made an active roster at some point), this is the resultant subgroup:

Name

Year

Round

Pick

Rookie Age

Ht

Wt

40 Time

Speed Score

Julio Jones

2011

1

6

22

75

220

4.39

118.5

Laurent Robinson

2007

3

75

22

74

199

4.38

108.1

Mike Wallace

2009

3

84

23

72

199

4.33

113.2

Josh Boyce

2013

4

102

22

71

206

4.38

111.9

Mike Thomas

2009

4

107

22

68

195

4.4

104.1

Edmond (Clyde) Gates

2011

4

111

25

72

192

4.37

105.3

Tiquan Underwood

2009

7

253

22

73

184

4.41

97.3

Avg

NA

3.7

105.4

22.6

72.1

199.3

4.38

108.3

Median

NA

4

102

22

72

199

4.38

108.1

Chris Owusu

2012

Und

Und

22

72

196

4.36

108.5

If you think that Owusu is a day-two talent who went undrafted because of medical concerns that no longer apply, doesn’t this table have to encourage you? It’s almost a perfect match. And if you want to look at the table and say, “Gates doesn’t really compare to Owusu, because he was a 25-year-old rookie who couldn’t run routes overdrafted by Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland,” then all the better. Dismissing Gates would mean that all of the relevant subgroup WRs drafted no later than the fourth round (the range in which Owusu should’ve been drafted) would have achieved fantasy relevance (except for the rookie Boyce).

You might look at the subgroup and say, “Can a group including Julio Jones really have any relevance to Chris Owusu?” I think the answer is “yes.”

Name

Long Shuttle

Short Shuttle

3 Cone

Agility Score

V Jump

B Jump

Explosion Score

BP Reps

Julio Jones

11.07

4.25

6.66

10.91

38.5

135

173.5

17

Laurent Robinson

11.45

4.28

6.83

11.11

39

127

166

19

Mike Wallace

NA

4.27

6.9

11.17

40

129

169

14

Josh Boyce

11.26

4.1

6.68

10.78

34

131

165

22

Mike Thomas

NA

4.28

6.65

10.93

40.5

126

166.5

16

Edmond (Clyde) Gates

NA

4.17

6.87

11.04

40

131

171

16

Tiquan Underwood

NA

4.11

6.62

10.73

41.5

129

170.5

7

Avg

11.26

4.21

6.74

10.95

39.1

129.7

168.8

15.9

Median

11.26

4.25

6.68

10.93

40

129

169

16

Chris Owusu

11.22

4.11

6.85

10.96

40.5

129

169.5

19

Again, the match between Owusu and the subgroup is almost perfect for the long shuttle, the agility score, and the explosion score. Jones merely represents the positive extreme of what Owusu is, just as Underwood represents the negative extreme.

Was Owusu’s collegiate production comparable to that of the overall subgroup? I think so. Given that his last two college seasons were marred by injuries, I’ve taken the liberty of comparing his best season (by market share) to the best seasons of the subgroup.

Name

College

Best MS Season

Prior to NFL

Class

MSYds

MSTDs

TotMS

Julio Jones

Alabama

2008

3

Fr

0.39

0.36

0.375

Laurent Robinson

Illinois State

2006

2

Jr

0.5

0.55

0.525

Mike Wallace

Mississippi

2008

2

Jr

0.28

0.35

0.315

Josh Boyce

TCU

2011

2

rSo

0.33

0.36

0.345

Mike Thomas

Arizona

2007

2

Jr

0.28

0.39

0.335

Edmond (Clyde) Gates

Abilene Christian

2010

1

Sr

0.31

0.33

0.320

Tiquan Underwood

Rutgers

2007

2

Jr

0.34

0.33

0.335

Avg

NA

NA

2

NA

0.35

0.38

0.364

Median

NA

NA

2

NA

0.33

0.36

0.345

Chris Owusu

Stanford

2009

3

So

0.28

0.36

0.320

As you can see, for all these players except for Gates, their best seasons were not their final college seasons. In fact, like Owusu, Jones achieved his best college season a full 3 years before his rookie year. Owusu didn’t show signs of “market share development” as a junior and senior, but 1) his injuries provide a reasonable explanation for that lack of development and 2) this subgroup suggests that, with Owusu’s physical capabilities and youth, such collegiate development isn’t a prerequisite for eventual NFL success anyway.

And this subgroup, on average, has experienced NFL success.

Name

PPG Y1

PPG Y2

PPG Y3

PPG Y4

PPG Y5

Highest

Julio Jones

11.5

11.43

??

??

??

11.5

Laurent Robinson

3.31

0.87

7.57

3.21

10.84

10.84

Mike Wallace

7.28

11.85

10.81

8.82

??

11.85

Josh Boyce

??

??

??

??

??

??

Mike Thomas

4.28

7.34

3.24

2.5

Out

7.34

Edmond (Clyde) Gates

0.15

2.15

??

??

??

2.15

Tiquan Underwood

0

1.11

0.5

3.9

??

3.9

Avg

4.42

5.79

5.53

4.61

10.84

7.93

Median

3.80

4.75

5.41

3.56

10.84

9.09

Chris Owusu

0.48

??

??

??

??

??

The composite player, within his first five seasons, has a peak year of 7.93 (avg) to 9.09 (median) pts/game. That’s WR3 production. That’s not sexy, but if Owusu turns into a WR3 at some point, you would’ve gotten a bargain by grabbing him off of waivers. And if you think that Owusu, in skill level and athleticism, is much more like Jones, Robinson, and Wallace than like Thomas, Gates, and Underwood, then the expected 11.40 (avg) to 11.50 (median) pts/game in his peak year would give Owusu WR2 upside.

Out of all the guys in the subgroup, Mike Wallace seems the most comparable: same height, similar weights and speed (advantage Wallace), similar enough agility scores (large advantage Owusu), and almost identical explosion scores and market shares. I’m not saying that Owusu will have Mike Wallace’s career success, but I am saying that he is an undrafted player who is highly comparable to Wallace by many metrics—except that Owusu entered the NFL as a much better route runner and player. Whereas Wallace was a glorified one-trick pony as a rookie, Owusu is generally recognized as a polished player who mastered the subtleties of Stanford’s complex offense and ran his routes with nuance uncommon in most college players. Owusu probably will never receive the chance to achieve success similar to Wallace’s, but if he does receive that chance then Owusu could be even better than Wallace.

I grant that, in thinking about Owusu’s prospects, one must engage the hypothetical. Imagine that Owusu was not concussed as a junior and senior but instead developed as a receiver. Pretend that he was not undrafted in 2011 but instead selected in Rounds 2-4. Trick yourself into thinking that Owusu has a better chance of seeing playing time in the future than he probably does. I grant all of that. Still, in Owusu’s case, the hypotheticals should be considered, since they reveal that Owusu’s upside is perhaps higher than that of almost anyone else sitting on waivers in most dynasty leagues.

At his best, Owusu could be the smaller Julio Jones. At his worst, he could be Tiquan Underwood—or the guy who loses out to Underwood in a position battle. For the guy at the bottom of your dynasty roster, that’s pretty good upside.

I don’t think Owusu will do anything in 2013, since TB’s offense is in shambles (you never know), but in 2014, with a new QB, a new coach, and V-Jax potentially gone (he will be 31 years old next year with a salary of $10M that is not guaranteed), Owusu could establish himself as a fantasy asset. If you like Owusu, think about getting him on your roster soon. 2014 might be too late.

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