The 2017 WR Sweet 16: (4) JuJu Smith-Schuster vs (13) K.D. Cannon
The RotoViz Wide Receiver Prospect Sweet 16 Tournament matches the top incoming prospects in a head-to-head March Madness style format. Various RotoViz writers break down each match-up with the winner moving on to the next round.
(3) John Ross vs (14) Josh Malone
(4) JuJu Smith-Schuster vs (13) K.D. Cannon
After 2015, JuJu Smith-Schuster was positioned to be the top WR coming into 2016. During his sophomore season, Smith-Schuster posted 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns at a clip of 16.3 ypr. Unfortunately, injury and QB play caused Smith-Schuster’s numbers to drop in 2016. Smith-Schuster does still tout the No. 2 Phenom Index score among WRs in this tournament. Will that be enough to move him on?
Cannon has arguably outperformed Smith-Schuster when looking at both player’s total college production. Cannon also produced at a young age, posting over 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns in his freshman year. For his career, Cannon posted a robust 16 ypr. Cannon gets knocked as being a product of the Baylor system, however multiple WRs from that program have been able to carve out a role in the NFL. Can Cannon do the same and advance in this matchup?
Shawn Siegele – JuJu Smith-Schuster: Cannon is one of the most underrated receivers in the RSI, but Smith-Schuster’s rookie ADP threatens to fall into crazy bargain ranges. These are two of the four WRs I’m targeting in every draft.
Matthew Freedman – K.D. Cannon: I like JuJu Smith-Schuster. I actually even kind of love him: So good, so young, but so likely to be drafted significantly higher than Cannon. People might poo-poo on the Baylor system and the ability of Baylor receivers to transition to the NFL, but productive Baylor receivers who have proven themselves to be athletes — Josh Gordon, Terrence Williams, and Corey Coleman — have collectively done pretty well in the NFL. Cannon is small, but he’s a producer who’s also athletic. Ever the contrarian among contrarians, I’ll take the discount on Cannon.
Anthony Amico – JuJu Smith-Schuster: I really like Cannon, but the draft cost for Smith-Schuster has fallen enough to where he’s a value even if it rises slightly late in the process. His age-adjusted production is prolific, and his 2015 season is one of the better age-adjusted seasons we have ever seen. Smith-Schuster managed to produce in his age-17 season opposite a first-round pick in Nelson Agholor. He deserves to move on here.
Matt Wispe – JuJu Smith-Schuster: It’s hard to ignore the diminishing buzz around Smith-Schuster, but this may just turn him into a complete value. He still appears to be one of the highest-ceiling prospects in the class.
Blair Andrews – JuJu Smith-Schuster: I want to like K.D. Cannon in this match up. He was more productive than Smith-Schuster last season and is not that much older. But the upside on Smith-Schuster is hard to ignore. Player Profiler lists his closest comp as DeAndre Hopkins. Mockdraftable lists Josh Gordon as an 82 percent comp. That’s good enough for me.
Heith Krueger – K.D. Cannon: This is a very difficult decision. Smith-Schuster is one of the more underrated prospects in this year’s draft with his incredible age-adjusted production and above average physical frame and speed. However, I have go to with the underdog here. Cannon has been one of my favorite prospects throughout the draft process, averaging 16 yards per reception throughout his college career, displaying fantastic long speed and decent burst at the combine, and posting consistently strong production throughout his three seasons at Baylor.
Jutstin Winn – JuJu Smith-Schuster: I like Cannon, but 1) he doesn’t have anything like Smith-Schuster’s 2015 season on his resume, 2) he’s a year older, and 3) he doesn’t even figure to be significantly cheaper (and if he is, it means he went far later in the NFL Draft).
Jordan Hoover – Ju Ju Smith-Schuster: As others have already noted, this is a very difficult first-round matchup. Both prospects posted a 0.20-plus Dominator Rating as they turned 19-years old. While I love the idea of actively targeting Cannon in upcoming rookie drafts, my slight preference here is Smith-Schuster.
Scott Smith – JuJu Smith-Schuster: Cannon is one of the more underrated prospects in this draft, but when it’s all said and done, he may not even be the best WR on the Baylor team. Ish Zamorah, in my opinion, will end up being better in the NFL. Smith-Schuster’s 2015 campaign had him positioned to be the top WR coming into the 2016 season. Injuries and QB play caused him to slip. That slip in production, along with recency bias, has Smith-Schuster falling in rookie drafts and possibly becoming one of the better values among rookies.
Smith-Schuster has just the right mix of age-adjusted production and negative recency bias to make him a value in rookie drafts. Cannon should not be slept on however. Outperforming Smith-Schuster in both receiving yards per game and final season msYDs shows that Cannon is a viable option in rookie drafts. Smith-Schuster moves on in this match up to face the winner of Zay Jones and Chris Godwin.