Jeff Janis: An NFL Draft Love Story
I discovered Jeff Janis back in Febuary when I was combing over the list of WR’s who were invited to the NFL combine. It isn’t very often that a player like Janis, who attended school at Division II Saginaw Valley State, is invited to the combine, or more importantly, is ever of concern to fantasy football players. I expected Janis to have a typical small school profile, a little guy with lots of speed who would be a UDFA kick returner.
Then he performed at the combine. The following is a list of comps generated by finding other players of Janis’ height, within 10 pounds of his weight, and with a Dominator Rating greater than 35%.
|Year||Name||College||Height (in)||Weight (lbs)||40 Yard||Vert Leap (in)||Broad Jump (in)||Shuttle||3Cone||Agility Score||DR|
|2014||Jeff Janis||Saginaw Valley State||75||219||4.42||37.5||123||3.98||6.64||10.62||45|
|2012||Michael Floyd||Notre Dame||75||220||4.4||36.5||122||4.37||7.11||11.48||39|
|2008||Jordy Nelson||Kansas State||75||217||4.51||31||123||4.35||7.03||11.38||49.5|
|2006||Hank Baskett||New Mexico||75||224||4.5||35||119||4.22||6.8||11.02||52.5|
|2013||DaRick Rogers||Tennessee Tech||75||217||4.52||39.5||132||4.06||6.71||10.77||43|
|2012||Alshon Jeffery||South Carolina||75||216||4.48||36.5||122||4.17||6.71||10.88||37|
A not unimpressive list. Jeffery, Floyd, and Nelson are all obvious hits at the NFL level and honestly, Janis blows Nelson out of the water as an athlete; the only reason I kept Nelson in this table of comps is because when all of your comps are cross-race, people get uncomfortable. Well, that, and everyone will want to comp Janis to Nelson and it’s helpful to see how much more athletic Janis is.
Rueben Randle will be starting for the Giants in 2014 and is gaining some buzz as a fantasy option. Kenny Britt was (is?) obviously talented and was productive in stretches when he wasn’t hurt, and Da’Rick Rogers comes with some baggage but could be starting for the Colts in 2014. There are only 2 clear misses in this comp table: Easley and Baskett. The jury is still out on Mellette. I loved him as a sleeper for dynasty leagues last year and if he finds his way onto the field, I would err on the side of him being more productive than not. So, 11 comps, 3 as sure fire hits and only 2 failure comps. As you can see, Janis basically destroyed the combine. I shouldn’t have to tell you guys this, but yes, 40 times, height, weight, vertical leap, all these numbers matter. Are they perfect? Of course not, but this is a scientific, falsifiable process in a way that saying “Janis is a body catcher, so nah” isn’t.
Elephant In The Room
There is a player that I intentionally left off of that comp list, but still warrants discussion.
|Name||Height (in)||Weight (lbs)||40 Yard||Vert Leap (in)||Broad Jump (in)||Shuttle||3Cone||Agility Score||DR|
Same height. Same weight. Jones is 1.8% faster, can jump 2.6% higher and 9.7% farther, while Janis has a significant advantage in lateral agility. Obviously Jones’ Dominator Rating was performed in the toughest conference to play college football in and Janis’ was done in DII against 5’8 cornerbacks, but we’ve seen an insane non-FBS DR be predictive in the past with the likes of Miles Austin, Pierre Garcon, and Marques Colston. The theory is pretty simple: if you’re NFL ready, you should be absolutely annihilating inferior competition. In terms of the comparison to Jones, I don’t think they are exactly a great 1 for 1 comp, partially because we don’t have RZ conversion numbers for Janis but this comp matters to illustrate a larger point: Janis is going to be a HUGE value in rookie drafts. In the first Rotoviz rookie mock draft, he wasn’t drafted at all, and the only reason he went in the 2nd round of the next RV rookie draft is because I was the one who took him.
If Jeff Janis had gone to an SEC or Big 12 school, the conversation about him would be undoubtedly different. Either he would be talked about as a first round pick because his incredible performance and measurables would have transferred over to a harsher level of competition, or he would be in the Martavis Bryant category as a physical project who had the tools but needed to be taught the position. Regardless, the situation where he is coming from provides an interesting discussion. Both Aaron Mellette and Charles Johnson were perfect Rotoviz players last year, and have basically amounted to nothing thus far. We know that draft position is incredibly predictive in terms of future production, because the higher a prospect is drafted, the more likely it is they will get an opportunity. Mellette never stayed on the field and Johnson suffered an ACL injury while bouncing between the Packers and the Browns.
The point? Janis is likely going to be drafted very late or sign on with a team as a UDFA and won’t be given a shot right away. He probably isn’t worth your 2nd round rookie pick, but I also think that is a gamble that I’m going to feel very comfortable taking given that Janis has a more incredible physical profile than all of the other non-FBS standout WR’s in recent history. His landing spot is something that I will be monitoring very closely, because athletes of Janis size/speed/agility combo just do not come along very often and if he does get on the field for an NFL team, he will make a serious impact.