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Becoming Someone Else

While dissecting rookies, you can’t help but draw comparisons to players who have already suited up and attempted to prove their worth at the pro level. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out for the best.

Nelson Agholor becoming Victor Cruz

Don’t get overly enamored by the fact that Agholor had a touchdown in his first preseason game. The Indianapolis cornerback completely messed himself up on the play, allowing Agholor to prance down the side line untouched. What you should take away from that play was his ability to catch an overthrown ball at its highest point, hit the ground, hit the X-button for spin move, and then accelerate to full speed in just the blink of an eye.

Agholor’s draft profile indicated that he was “quicker rather than fast.” This is meant as a negative in regards to Agholor not being able to take the top off a defense in the same way Phillip Dorsett can. While that may be true, his quickness does allow him to get in and out of his breaks at an insane rate and look for yards after the catch. Agholor has displayed all the positives that one could ask for from a budding rookie throughout organized team activities and practices. He has earned praise for his hands, precise routes, and quickness. All of these attributes added to his build at 6-foot, 200 pounds and has Agholor looking an awful lot like a Victor Cruz in the making.

Devin Funchess becoming Alshon Jeffery

Travel back in time three years ago and read Alshon Jeffery’s NFL draft overview. The Chicago general manager took a serious beating for trading up and selecting Jeffery in the second round. Jeffery was viewed a slow, albeit tall receiver who was more bust than boom thanks to mental lapses and potential problems with conditioning. The Chicago Bears were under fire for not bringing in a burner to play opposite of Brandon Marshall. Well, kudos to the Bears because everything has worked out perfectly to this point.

WR_Devin_Funchess_NCAA_1
Devin Funchess while at Michigan.

Carolina must like what they’ve seen because they are using this “Chicago Big Man Plan” as its offensive blue print. Cam Newton now has a 6-foot-4 and a 6-foot-5 option at wide receiver to toss it up to. Like Jeffery, the biggest knock on Funchess is his lack of top-end speed. While Funchess may not have great speed, with his size he’ll cast a shadow over most cornerbacks. Those factors will likely result in production sooner rather than later. Going simply by the one preseason game where Funchess played strictly on the outside, we can see the same type of potential that Jeffery had thanks to Kelvin Benjamin drawing top corner coverage as he plays the role of Brandon Marshall.

(Editor’s note – This was submitted and edited prior to Benjamin’s season-ending injury.)

DeVante Parker becoming Hakeem Nicks

All the attributes are almost exactly the same. Great size. Great athleticism. First-round talents entering great offensive situations with a proven quarterback. So far the stories are scary similar. Even scarier though, is the fact that Parker is struggling to shake a foot injury in the same way that Nicks did early in his career. One could actual argue that Nicks was never really able to fully recover as the foot injury never allowed him to grow into the truly elite player we all expected.

Parker had foot surgery in college and when he returned he was noticeably slower on the field. Then, after the Miami Dolphins selected him in the first round, Parker had to have yet another surgery to clean up the previous one. This is extremely troubling for Parker’s immediate and long-term prospects. The Dolphins have been overly quiet about the rookie’s status in the same manner the Chicago Bears were before they dropped their disappointing news of Kevin White. This isn’t to say that Parker’s pro career is spoiled before it ever really started as we saw Odell Beckham Jr. miss tons of time last offseason with an injury and then burn down the league upon his return. This is just meant to serve as a cautionary tale of what could happen in a worst case scenario.

Breshad Perriman becoming Greg Little

The two biggest things you want to avoid as a rookie receiver are missed practice time and being labeled as a ball-dropper. Routes can be cleaned with experience and chemistry with the quarterback can be built up over time. Drops, however, could turn into a career-long problem. Perriman has been labeled as a dropper since college and things didn’t change in the extremely limited time we got to see the rookie receiver practice. Adding literal injury to insult, Perriman has missed more time than expected with a swollen knee that even required an MRI to access the damage. The results came back negative but clearly this is something that requires monitoring in redraft leagues.

The comparison to Greg Little is meant to serve as a gigantic red flag. There are no striking similarities in draft positioning, style of play, size or anything else outside the negative connotation of being a pass-dropper. With Little, it was believed that the issue with his hands were a mental block at first that would improve over time. That encouragement from the coaching staff eventually turned into angst as his depth chart position dipped and his overall targets trailed off as the drops continued to pile up. The comparison of Perriman to former Baltimore receiver Torrey Smith would have simply been too easy and the name Greg Little calls for far more skepticism and caution.

Dorial Green-Beckham becoming Justin Blackmon

All the talent in the world but he’s arriving with more baggage than LAX. Tennessee has had problems fairly recently in regards to handling troublesome wide receivers as Kenny Britt is now catching passing in St. Louis. Green-Beckham already has a lengthy rap sheet and the next infraction would likely result in a suspension or even as extreme as time served.

Green-Beckham would have been a first-round pick if it weren’t for his off-the-field issues as he has an incredibly rare combination of size and speed. Keep in mind that there’s another extremely talented receiver with off field issues who is currently not even in the league in Justin Blackmon. Oh, and then there’s that other great receiver with personal problems who is serving a season-long suspension in Josh Gordon. Keep all the negatives in mind in dynasty formats as the personal lives eventually ruined the value of the on-field production for the aforementioned young receivers. History always has a funny way of repeating itself.

About Patrick White

Have been with Sharks for seven years. Been printed and published. Have been copied by, faced off against, and beaten some of the fiercest competition and abbreviated outlets in football. If you read RnF and live by the old "If you're not first, you're last" mentality, you'll be just fine.