2014 NFL Draft Prospect Debate: Who’s the Better Value?

 

Kelvin Benjamin is just as or more physically dominant than Mike Evans, but is his value really 20 picks lower because he struggles with drops? (Photo: US Presswire)

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer

We are about to head into a turbulent time in the NFL Draft landscape where we judge prospects on rumors, film and measureables (if that’s even a word). It can be tough to gauge whether a prospect is actually worth the selection they are projected to be picked at. Sometimes the perceived value of two similarly talented prospects diverges to the point where they are slotted to go a full three rounds apart.

Whether its a blazing 40 time or a bad week in interviews we can overreact easily. That’s not to say its all for not and it certainly makes for interesting debates. Kind of like now. The following is a list of pairs where two prospects with similar skill sets, but differences in reputation and therefore value, are compared. I actually prefer all the prospects with a lower grade in this exercise, but the subject is fully open to debate.

WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
6’4 220

OR

WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida St.
6’5 233

Role: Possession receiver with the skills to be a #1 WR

Why Evans?: The 6’4 Evans has been a beast for two years in the SEC and shows better concentration than Benjamin overall.

Value Difference: 10 to 25 picks

The Case for Benjamin: Both players are power forwards in pads, but in terms of raw athleticism Benjamin trumps Evans. The Seminole is roughly an inch taller, about 10 pounds heavier and likely a step faster. Not only that but Benjamin is an explosive leaper and excels at high pointing the ball outside his frame. His catch radius is so massive its almost impossible to overthrow him in a jump ball scenario.

Evans is similarly gifted and is definitely more sure handed, coming down with almost every tough catch. Benjamin really struggles with drops and that’s the clear reason for the difference in their projected range. But with similar skill sets, and more pure potential on the side of Benjamin, why not trade back and pick up a 3rd rounder for a similar (and maybe better) prospect?

WR Jared Abbrederis
6’1 189

OR

WR Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest
5’9 191

Role: Undersized but gritty slot receiver with reliable hands

Why Abbrederis?: The Badger has the clear edge is size, at least height wise, and that might give him a little more ability to play roles other than a pure slot receiver. Abbrederis fights for the ball and is surprisingly effective in jump ball situations, plus has been healthier over the course of his career.

Value Difference: Around 70 picks, or roughly 2 rounds

The Case for Campanaro: Both receivers are undersized and play with a chip on their shoulder. Abbrederis is a former walk on trying to prove he’s NFL material and Campanaro is a competitive guy who’s been told he’s too short and not durable enough. The speed factor is about equal between the two and both are underrated athletes. Campanaro is more of an injury concern having had missed significant portions of his Wake career. That is certainly cornering and why the Badger is a safer prospect to some.

Campanaro is obviously shorter, so the edge in bulk is less important. All in all the two guys are very much the same player when healthy, and I actually prefer Campanaro. We’ve seen that as a slot receiver size isn’t much of a factor if you have a capable quarterback. Wes Welker, Santonio Holmes, Laveranues Coles, Santana Moss and Steve Smith (both Carolina’s and the now retired “other” Steve Smith) have all been successful slot receivers well under 6’0. Campanaro just seems to be a smoother and more natural athlete but the main advantage in value is the full two round difference.

WR Robert Herron, Wyoming
5’9 193

OR

WR Josh Huff, Oregon
5’11 201

Role: Speedy slot receiver who can take the top off the defense.

Why Herron?: Herron is quite possibly the fastest pure receiver in this draft class (excluding De’Anthony Thomas) and has built a reputation of being a dynamic playmaker.

Value Difference: 20-25 picks

The Case for Huff: This comparison would have been even more enticing prior to the Senior Bowl but even with a great week in Mobile, Herron is still considered the superior prospect. I’m not here to say that’s inaccurate, but is he really a full 20+ picks better? When you sit back at look at drafts, its evident that these microscopic looks are oversight. If a player is a “keeper” who cares if you took him early. That being said, Huff brings similar speed and is a bigger and more durable receiver. Both players might have been overlooked. Herron playing for Wyoming and Huff being overshadowed by Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas and the blurry speed of the Oregon offense. Herron is explosive, but Huff is still underrated and could even be the better prospect.

S Ed Reynolds, Stanford
6’2 205

OR

S Ty Zimmerman, Kansas St.
6’1 199

Role: Tough safety with great instincts and intangibles but limited coverage ability.

Why Reynolds?: Part of a terrific Stanford defense Reynolds gets some spill over credit but is still a tremendous player. His ball skills and to some extent burst are two things you could point to as advantages Reynolds has over Zimmerman. Reynolds also has a longer frame and is a better overall athlete.

Value Difference: Huge range, anywhere from 20 to 150 plus picks

The Case for Zimmerman: Zimmerman is an accomplished defender and team leader who compares favorably to Reynolds in most aspects. Both are disciplined in reading plays and anticipating where things are going demonstrating the football instincts you look for in a safety. Their deficiencies are also very similar, namely their lack of coverage skills. Some sources have Reynolds as a Top 100 prospect while others place him well below that projection. The fact is this, Zimmerman can be had at a significantly lower price with very similar skills.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects, Ed Reynolds, Jared Abbrederis, Josh Huff, kelvin benjamin, Michael Campanaro, Mike Evans, Robert Herron, Ty Zimmerman

30 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft Prospect Debate: Who’s the Better Value?”

  1. J H TARBORO says:

    Kelvin Benjamin could be in all honesty for Brady the new ” Randy Moss”. If you watch his tape, he’s better than Mike Evans! Mike Evans is in the conversation only because of Manzel.
    It’s same argument between Bridgewater and Manzel, Bridgewater is better but less exciting.
    Let’s see come combine time and pro day if we have the same argument.

    • alan says:

      and kelvin benjamin is not on the radar because of jamies winston? Mike evans has bailed out manziel a bunch of times with these ill-advised throws where evans just goes up and gets it. he is vincent jackson 2.0.

  2. steve earle says:

    About spelling: exchanging abstract ideas is the highest achivement humans possess yet misunderstandings are still most common. If a word is mispelled, so what so long as the idea it conveys isn’t? I’m a life long bad speller by the way. Probably no news there.

    • Pete H. says:

      Steve, if we fail to value proper spelling, we fail to value our very civilizashon.

      • steve earle says:

        Well far be it for me to disrespect our civilazation or spelling but if I’m trying to convey an abstract idea it’s the idea that’s important to me. If all the other person gets out of it is that I spelled a word wrong it probably wasn’t worth my effort to try to communicate with him in the first place.

      • steve earle says:

        Yea Pete, I kind of picked that up after my reply, just goes to show how really bad speller I am, but I did pretty well in my growth and development class and psych rotation many years ago. (place embarresed face here)

  3. Russell says:

    If you go back and watch tape of T.J. Moe you will see some of Campanero’s game. Campanero was targeted alot at Wake Forest, and so Camp. saw alot of extra coverage. QB Franklin for WF was better getting the ball to Camp., than Wisconsin QB throwing to Abbrederis.

  4. acm says:

    Jimmie Ward vs Terrence Brooks, Mr. Sluis?

  5. JMC says:

    The Patriots should strongly consider trying to sign TJ Ward: Tagging Talib sounds good to me- Got to wonder though, if once they tagged him they let him negotiate with other teams, what the market in terms of dollars and especially years would be-The thinking tract being: Given the choice, if I could only have one, I’d rather have Rod Harrison than Ty Law- not because of the quality of the player, but because of the greater overall versatility of the SS position to the rest of the defense- and to the 2014 Patriots, issues with the cap implications in dollars and especially years with Talib- but if they really want to win with defense (and play action-ball control on offense) they need both the SS and the number one CB-

    • steve earle says:

      I agree with you about TJ Ward. Wouldn’t mind spending some bucks on him at all. The other guy I’d spend money on would be Arthur Jones DE/DT Balt. Both of these players would cost big bucks but they are both young enough and in their primes to be worth it.
      I would expect the two of them would pretty much eat up any cap space set aside for FA’s but that’s fine by me too.

  6. Pete H. says:

    Speaking of value, I think there are a few prospects in each round that would project a reasonable chance at being available and fit the Patriots needs perfectly. I’m curious as to what people think about the following prospects – are they under or over-rated here, who else looks like a perfect fit, etc., particularly the “wildcard” prospects:
    Round 1: Nix (NT), Hageman (DT), Pryor (S), Wildcard: Lee (WR) – could drop like his buddy Woods last year
    Round 2 (top half, in case of trade back or great Mallett deal): Tuitt (DT/DE), Yankey (G), Su’a-Filo (G), Wildcard: Robinson (WR) Not a perceived need, but with a closing window, now may be the last chance to bring in a young pass-catcher and still have time to develop them enough to be solid contributors
    Round 2 (bottom half, in the area of the Pats own pick): Niklas (TE), Jackson (G), Swanson (C), wildcard: Richburg (C) – I think a bit of a reach at this point, but we’ve seen lots of reaches in round 2 with Bill like Tavon Wilson or even Aaron Dobson recently, who is good, but perhaps could have been available 10-20 picks later.
    Round 3: Martin (C), Turner (OL), Dozier (OL), Wildcard: Abbredaris – I wouldn’t be totally shocked if the Pats have lost faith in Thompkins and look for another guy to be the top depth behind Amendola and Dobson.
    Round 4: Mettenberger (QB), Bitonio (OL), Steen (G), Tripp (LB), Wildcard – Fiedorowicz – I’d be surprised if the Pats hadn’t already picked up a tight end by the fourth round, but Fiedorowicz just screams Bill’s type of prospect, and if he’s still available, might be too tempting even if there has already been investment at the position.

    • steve earle says:

      This is an excellent list Pete, if our draft comes out looking anything at all like this I’ll be really happy. Every name you put out here is a guy who can contribute early on imo. I have JCF up a little higher on my board ( prob be taken from 50th to 75th) but the idea that he might slip to the 4th after we might have taken ASJ or some other top TE makes me crazy excited by the idea. And whats really crazy is it could happen.

  7. Ken says:

    Great piece – would love to see you do more. Ideally, the positions of need for the Pats.

  8. Henry says:

    I would be furious if we took Kelvin Benjiman. Having insane measurable does not lead to success in the NFL. Ask Mike Williams. And Abbrederis over Campanero is a no brainer, Abbrederis is bigger, better hands, better route runner, better level of comp.

  9. Daniel R. Martin says:

    My same old mock draft, now with highlight videos (for the lesser known propsects)! :-)

    Is there a better value at DT in the second? I’m concerned about Easley’s knee issues and allegations of misconduct.

    Is OT a need to be addressed in the second round?

    2 – Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE (33rd Overall for Mallet)

    2 – Antonio Richardson OT (Received for 1st Rd pick)

    2 – Dominique Easley DL

    3 – Brandon Coleman WR (Received for 1st Rd pick)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zhPTLZ3Tdc

    3 – Chris Boreland ILB

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCbBmcxmFHY

    4 – Craig Loston SS (Received for 1st Rd pick)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTUV0xyvuOw

    4 – Dri Archer RB/WR/PR/KR -

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMHo1j8fDns

    6 — Colt Lyerla TE

    6 – Aaron Murray QB

    C6 – Seantrell Henderson OT

    7 – Boseko Lokombo ILB

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rB3E-8KsOk

    7 – Spencer Long OG

  10. John says:

    In terms of value, I would say this:

    Evans > Benjamin (Even if Benjamin is a better overall athlete, I think Evans is a sure bet to be a good receiver in the league. Benjamin screams Jon Baldwin)

    Campanaro > JABB (Although different players in my mind, the are similar talent-wise. Campanaro has better value)

    Huff > Herron (I believe Huff is a better talent/football player)

    Reynolds > Zimmerman (I’m one of those guys that view Reynolds as a fringe top 100 talent)

  11. Russell says:

    Mike Evans showed me poor maturity in thier Bowl game, lost his cool, and lacked game focus.
    Abbrederis shows me some of if ,not the best seperation on his route running of all the WR’s. After QB Russell left Wisconsin , the QB play did not help Abbrederis much.

  12. Matt says:

    Evans is a big kid. That size should come in handy in the Redzone.

  13. acm says:

    Mr. Sluis, any chance you could add a Calvin Pryor vs Craig Loston comparison?

    As for the comparisons above, I’d take the “cheaper” guy in all of them. Just don’t consider the players expected to go higher in the draft to be that unique in their skill-set to warrant the at times big difference in draft stock.

    And btw, you misspelled “measurables” and it’s not even a word ;)

    • munchkin says:

      If it’s not a word, how can one misspell it? Whatever happened to creative license?

    • Russell says:

      I misspell words all the time, and make words that sound good. :0)

    • MarcSluis says:

      The Pryor vs Loston comparison is one I was thinking about too, and will have one more post with this theme, so I’ll be sure to include them. I agree that the “cheaper” guys are all the best value.

      About the misspelled “measureables”. I was sort of making fun at us draftniks that we make up and use words like that while knowing its not truly a word.

      • acm says:

        great, could you also consider Jimmie Ward vs Terrence Brooks?

        as for the misspelling/making-up words, I knew perfectly well what you meant and just made a joke but for whatever reason it took on a life of its own and now half the posts here are about irrelevant BS.

        • steve earle says:

          I thought and took your spelling thing as humor and got a good laugh at your sense of humor jumping off a bridge bit too. It did remind me of that guy last summer (Gatoraid) who was so obsessed with Tebow being cut calling me a “hater” then noting several times that I mispelled Poison. Guess I was a little over sensitive about that still. Sorry I got offtrack.

      • steve earle says:

        Marc, if your goingto do a Pryor vs Loston why not throw in Dixon too? Even better how about rating some SS’s that could be targets for the Pat’s?






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