Last year, Pro Football Focus rolled out a new package of college football analytics to complement their very popular NFL product. This was the brainchild of their new major investor Cris Collinsworth, the NBC Sunday Night Football commentator and former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver. Many of their new directions in the past two years have been as a result of his input and ownership of the company, so it's no surprise that today's unveiling of Collinsworth's mock-draft produced some unusual results, most notably, the selection of Baylor's Corey Coleman to the New York Giants with the 10th overall pick.
I know many disagree, but I don't think the debate over who is the top wide receiver prospect in this class. Corey Coleman has the same sort of elite quickness and speed that Odell Beckham Jr. possesses. Do I think Coleman is as good as Beckham? No -- he doesn't have Beckham's route running skills -- but he will protect Beckham. Any team trying to double Beckham will have a real problem trying to cover Coleman one-on-one. His releases against bump-and-run are electric, and if a player misses him on the jam, the next time they'll see him will be in the end zone. Head coach Ben McAdoo can no longer count on the health of Victor Cruz, and he has to create other options for quarterback Eli Manning. Drops are a problem, and Coleman isn't much of a threat over the middle, but his outside play-making ability will put safeties in a real dilemma against the Giants.
The logic with regards to Coleman's talents is sound, but this may be the first time we have seen both the receiver mocked this high, and mocked to the Giants. PFF's grading system and advanced statistical tools have clearly highlighted something about Coleman that won't be revealed publicly between now and the NFL Draft. Whatever it is, it might be important.
Last year, the standout player from PFF's college analytics was Stanford's Henry Anderson, a defensive end who was selected by the Indianapolis Colts. Anderson went on to also score favorably in PFF's NFL grading, and finished the 2015 season as their 20th-best interior defender.
Now, Anderson was selected in the third round of last year's draft, nothing near as high as the Giants's 10th overall pick, so there is a value difference in terms of risk-reward, but should Jerry Reese roll the dice on PFF's projection and select Coleman in the first round, would anyone be upset if he ended his rookie season with numbers comparable to Anderson? A top 20 receiver would surely be a home-run for the front-office, no?
The only disagreement may come in the form of positional asset allocation. Do the Giants really need another 1st-round receiver? Regardless of Coleman's output as a rookie, would it be as beneficial as say a linebacker, or offensive lineman, or pass-rusher? Personally, this is my only qualm with Collinsworth's pick. I don't think the Giants' need to put a weapon across from Beckham outweighs the numerous roster holes in other areas. This is a top-10 selection, and you have to think that there will be other high-value players at premium positions available.