RotoViz Round Table: Breshad Perriman Edition
Breshad Perriman is another intriguing, yet polarizing prospect. Is he gold, or fool’s gold? Team RotoViz discusses.
Before the combine Shawn Siegele made the argument that Breshad Perriman is a discount Kevin White, a case that was bolstered by their incredibly similar Combine and pro day results. I’m going to take it a step further today and suggest that Perriman may actually be a better prospect than White. In addition to similar measurables, they also have very similar market shares of production. But when you account for the fact that Perriman is more than a year younger than White he actually trumps him in that area. The biggest difference between the two might be in their raw production. White had 59 more receptions, 403 more yards, and one more touchdown than White. But given that Perriman still topped 1,000 yards and had nine touchdowns himself I don’t really care, especially since Perriman trumps White in both yards per reception (20.9 vs. 13.3) and yards per target (11.1 vs. 9.2). So what about film and draft position? Maybe White does have significantly better film which is why he’s projected to be drafted significantly earlier than Perriman. But isn’t it possible that age shows up on film? Scouts say things like, “White just looks like an NFL receiver.” Maybe that’s because he literally does look more like NFL receivers because of his age. They say, “White just dominates his opponents with his size and strength.” Isn’t it possible that age-adjusted production matters for just that reason? People who discount athletic measurables are fond of saying things like, “I don’t care how fast they are on a track, I care how fast they are on the field.” Wasn’t everyone surprised when White ran a 4.35 forty yard dash? I’m not saying I’d draft Perriman over White. If nothing else because of draft position White figures to get a lot more opportunity in the short-term. But in the long-term I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Perriman has the better career.
Either you care about College Dominator Rating, or you don’t.
Either you care about Height-adjusted Speed Score (HaSS), or you don’t.
If you do in fact care about those things, then you necessarily care about Breshad Perriman.
Maybe you don’t care about Dominator and HaSS. Maybe you are like many of the mainstream NFL Draft analysts who can only evaluate players by comparing them to other players. Well then, the PlayerProfiler.com Best Comparable algorithm is for you. It identifies comparable players based on Height, Weight, College Dominator Rating (share of receiving yards and touchdowns), College Yards Per Reception (YPR), Breakout Age, 40-time, Burst Score (equally weighted aggregate of vertical jump and broad jump), and Agility Score (3-cone drill plus 20-yard shuttle).
Here is a breakdown of their respective prospect profiles:
- Height: 6-2
- Weight: 212
- College Dominator: 36.6
- College Yards Per Reception (YPR): 20.9
- Breakout Age: 20.0
- 40-time: 4.30 (accounts for +0.05 pro day 40-yard dash time adjustment)
- HaSS: 125.7 (99th percentile)
- Burst Score 121.9 (52nd percentile)
- Agility Score: N/A
- Height: 6-3
- Weight: 215
- College Dominator: 36.8
- College Yards Per Reception (YPR): 13.3
- Breakout Age: 21.2
- 40-time: 4.35
- HaSS: 123.4 (97th percentile)
- Burst Score: 123.6 (62nd percentile)
- Agility Score: 11.06 (61st percentile)
The data indicates that Breshad Perriman’s closest comparable is Kevin White, and Kevin White’s best comparable is Breshad Perriman. Furthermore, the variance between White and Perriman is the smallest variance between two comparable WRs in the 2015 draft class. According to abilities that we can actually measure, White and Perriman are doppelgängers.
Why then do 100 out of 100 NFL draft analysts rate Kevin White ahead of Breshad Perriman?
- Industry groupthink – why draft Teddy Bridgewater when you can have Johnny Manziel?!?!
- Quarterback play. Justin Holman – while Clint Trickett was a top-40 college quarterback by every measure (67.1 completion percentage, 7.8 YPA, 67.8 Total QBR), Justin Holman fell outside the top-50 in all categories, and his 56.9 percent completion percentage, in particular, made it more challenging for Breshad Perriman to impress NFL talent evaluators and sport media draft analysts.
How did Holman’s struggles specifically affect Breshad Perriman’s draft stock? An ineffective UCF offense meant fewer total plays, fewer red zone opportunities, and fewer total catches, leading to fewer opportunities for highlight reel-worthy plays, forcing Perriman to do more with less (see 20.9 YPR vs. 13.3 YPR). Just one less ball thrown to a location where Perriman could go up and make a spectacular acrobatic catch is one less opportunity for a film watching aficionado to “fall in love” with Perriman’s ability to “highpoint the football” and to “look the part” of a “true game changer.” Less accurate throws not only make big plays more challenging, every inaccurate pass, that is not converted into a catch, is an opportunity for a subjective film watcher to credit Breshad Perriman with a drop. Not surprisingly, he posted a 14-percent drop rate based on Pro Football Focus’ perception of each catch’s degree of difficulty.
If Breshad Perriman and Kevin White traded jerseys and quarterbacks last season, Perriman would be a top-10 lock, and Kevin White would be the “late riser.”
It’s kind of interesting to think about the fact that when Shawn Siegele initially wrote about Perriman I don’t think many people thought that he was actually very close to Kevin White. But now Perriman is going to be drafted likely at the end of the first round, or beginning of the second round. The major change is obviously that Perriman ran a blazing fast forty time. I’m all for NFL teams incorporating the latest information into their evaluations, but it also seems like it’s probably really tough to incorporate that information into the evaluation in any kind of a calibrated way. What’s the formula there? Is it:
NATURAL HANDS CATCHER *.65 + FORTY TIME + SHOWS SUDDENNESS * .37 + PRODUCT OF SYSTEM*-89 + ABILITY TO MAKE CONTESTED CATCHES*.49 = PROSPECT ?
That’s a facetious question, but I really do think Perriman illustrates why teams have a tough time with the draft. If Perriman’s ranking on actual NFL boards has mirrored his rise in the Play the Draft market then I wonder what forty time people were assuming for Perriman previously and if you assumed something like 4.5 for his forty time, is his actual forty yard dash that much of a difference maker in terms of his NFL prospects?
I’m in the camp that says that forty times do matter and yet Perriman’s rise seems to illustrate how sometimes people can go overboard in focusing on them. I realize that I haven’t addressed at all my outlook for Perriman, but I think the other writers did an admirable job in that department.
I like to target players who will potentially fall because a lot attention is being diverted by a stat with questionable predictive ability, especially if it’s already factored into an evidence-based evaluation (in this case, Perriman’s DR holds up nicely next to Kevin White or Jaelen Strong). Perriman’s pro day workout continues to generate tremendous buzz, but caveats about his 14 percent drop rate are always attached.
James Todd and I have written quite a bit about why drop rate receives far too much attention in receiver evaluation, but it can be helpful to see that a high drop rate is in no way unique or limited to poor players. In fact, the list of big name players who’ve posted a 13 percent drop rate or higher at some point since PFF started charting is pretty star-studded. It includes Torrey Smith, Kelvin Benjamin, Martavis Bryant, Vincent Jackson, T.Y. Hilton, Jordy Nelson, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe, Terrell Owens, Marques Colston, Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss, and Roddy White.
When we think about athletic players with high drop rates, we immediately think of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Greg Little, or Stephen Hill, but in these cases you frequently see much more exaggerated drop rates – often even above 20 percent – combined with other serious skill issues related to the receiver position.
If Perriman is drafted in the first 20 picks of the reality draft, he may go early enough in rookie drafts that a drop-based discount isn’t particularly apparent. On the other hand, he looks pretty equivalent to Kevin White, Devante Parker, Jaelen Strong, and Dorial Green-Beckham, so any draft slot outside the top two or three picks starts to qualify as fair value.
Breshad Perriman? More like “Bro-Shad,” know what I’m saying? I love guys like Perriman because they enable fantasy players who earn late first-round picks on a regular basis to continue to make the playoffs every year despite their disadvantaged draft positions.
My investment thesis for Perriman is similar to my argument for Dorial Green-Beckham as a great No. 5 pick in a rookie draft. While the market might value him as a mid- to late-first round rookie pick, his intrinsic value is likely higher. He is available at a discount, and at his price he is almost nothing but upside. The same goes for Perriman, who as others have pointed out is the discount Kevin White.
I’m not going to make an argument for why or how Perriman is undervalued, since others have already capably done that. Instead I want to give my guidance for how to approach this draft.
If you have picks 2-5, I suggest that you attempt to move down to picks 6-9, as the odds are high that you will be able to pick up a decent piece in the transaction and still be able to draft either Perriman, DGB, Jaelen Strong, or Jay Ajayi, all of whom I believe are arbitrageable versions of White, Amari Cooper, DeVante Parker, and Melvin Gordon.
For instance, if you trade pick No. 3 for pick No. 7 and a decent second-year player, you have an excellent chance of being able to draft Perriman — who has the potential to produce like a top-3 draft pick — and you also give yourself the opportunity to select a player who slips in the draft. If something crazy happens, and Parker, DGB, and Perriman are drafted at Nos. 4-6, are you really going to be disappointed that you had to draft Gordon instead of Perriman at No. 7?
Guys like Perriman are the key to the 2015 selection process. If you are able to leverage successfully the discrepancies between their market and intrinsic values, you will position yourself to win your draft — and eventually your league.
This is a very tight draft class because you have two unique guys in Cooper and Green-Beckham, but then you have White, Parker, Strong and Perriman who have a wealth of overlap in terms of measurable physical profiles and quantifiable production. The other pressing thing this group has going for it above the secondary tiers of 2014 is that the subsequent tiers of this incoming rookie receiver class don’t possess a lot of week winning types. Whereas last year you had Benjamin, Allen Robinson, Cody Latimer, Donte Moncrief, and down the line, Martavis Bryant, this season’s secondary tiers are littered with safer floor, lower ceiling potential. Secondary receivers and running backs are one thing this class has going for it in spades, which also happens to be the two most replaceable commodities in dynasty. You’re going to have to spend a little bit this year on a potential high-ceiling receiver if that’s how you prefer to use your draft capital (I do). I can go on with specifics of why I would rank each member of that quartet the way I will, but when it comes to drafting, I leave my ego and overconfidence at the door. We inherently know that not all of these players will succeed regardless of our pre-draft notions, so I prefer to either A) get multiple players of the group to increase my odds of hitting on a potential WR1 if able to trade down or B) get the cheapest option. Inherently, as more of a risk-averse fantasy player by nature, Perriman is very likely going to be on the cheaper end of the group in the majority of drafts, so he fits either strategy that I want to execute.