Forget Treadwell, Doctson or Thomas… The Receiver I want is…

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…The University of Lazy Writings one and only Mr. Click bait!

Honestly though, I’ve struggled during the current pre-draft environment. For the first time in years I have been completely uninterested in any  players that the Vikings may take with the 23rd overall pick. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the Vikes have drafted so well over the past few years that we don’t have many positions of need.

McDonaldsLiquorandWine

But it mainly has to do with the fact that there aren’t any wide receivers that are considered 23rd overall material that either excite me, or make me feel like they’d make an immediate impact on the team. So, considering my predication for skill positions/players, it’s been a really ‘meh/buh’ build up to the draft. So far.

The best way to explain it is that while some of them have amazing intangibles, none of them seem to be the complete receiver I believe the team needs. TCU’s Josh Doctson is considered to be an amazing red zone specialist. He has the innate ability to “win” in jump ball situations. He also runs great routes, which is something we are all acutely paying attention to thanks to Cordarrelle Patterson. However, he’s a smaller receiver who struggles against physical corners. Considering every corner in the NFL is physical (mostly), that doesn’t bode well and could end up making Doctson more of a gimmick/situational receiver than a possession/every down receiver that would justify a first overall pick.

To be honest, I don’t want a possession receiver, either. If the ceiling is Greg Jennings then just bring back Greg Jennings. With a first round pick, on a receiver, I want someone who can change the game. Or, really, someone who can succeed in Norv Turner’s system (which would mean that they’d change the game by proxy). Someone like Josh Gordon, who I just apologized for supporting earlier this year, in 2013.

I’ve written about my preference for Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas (as the best of the worst type situation) in the past, as he measures out better than Doctson or (especially) Laquon Treadwell when it comes to their measurables. Which means he’s at least more of a well rounded receiver, who can overcome physical corners at the line of scrimmage, run every route and catch every pass.

However, he doesn’t have game real breaking speed or ability. His ceiling is more Anquan Bolden than Julio Jones. And I want me a Julio Jones, damn it.

And while receivers like Antonio Brown (4.5 40) have shown that you don’t necessarily need to run a 4.2 – 4.3 to be a dominant down the field receiver, Brown doesn’t play in a system like the Vikings run. Norv looks for more vertical routes from his X receiver, where as Brown runs a lot of horizontal routes, because he has amazing horizontal speed (like Mike Wallace, who clearly didn’t flourish under Turner).

They say Laquon Treadwell could be the type of guy who can run vertically and come down with the ball. Or they used to, until he ran a 4.6 40 at his pro day after training specifically in an attempt to get up to the 4.5 range (like Doctson and Smith). Considering running the 40 is completely different than running in a game, he’s even slower than that on the field.

From what the results of his drills at the combine show us, his lack of speed has to do with a lack of physical strength, as Treadwell had some of the worst measurables I’ve seen for a wide receiver who is not only considered the best in the draft, but just generally (as is implied by the percentages in the below).

It also should be noted that Treadwell only ran 7 drills, where as Doctson and Thomas ran 11. Meaning that he only focused on drills that he felt would make him look better, or rather, he avoided doing drills that would lower his draft stock. And he still performed badly, relatively. Which only means that the drills he avoided would’ve shown (more of) his weaknesses. Treadwell skipped important drills like the three cone drill, 20 yard shuttle 60 yard shuttle (his results also don’t show his 40 results, which again weren’t encouraging).

Just look at his measurables as graphed out perfectly by MockDraftables.com:

Treadwell_2Graph courtesy of Mockdraftable.com

vs.

MichaelThomas2

Graph courtesy of Mockdraftable.com

Essentially, the more dark space you have, the better. It’s like the opposite of an MRI [Note: I’ve been told by someone in the medical know, Reddit user /u/delicious_sandwich that darkness on an MRI doesn’t necessarily mean anything negative. I’d change my analogy but I’d rather let it rest to show exactly how little credibility I have]. Look at Treadwell’s strength related results. Namely his bench press and vertical jump. For a guy who is known as jump ball master, it’s surprising that he is only in the 16th percentile in “ups”. His bench pressing numbers are equally troubling, as it shows that he has spent limited time in the weight room. It, to me, implies that he has never really put a lot of work into being a football player, as it comes natural to him. That works in high school and even college, but as time has shown (over and over again), players that solely rely on talent rarely succeed in the NFL.

Receivers don’t necessarily need to be the strongest guy on the field, Randy Moss, especially as a rookie, looked like he couldn’t open a garage door. But Moss was fast enough and could jump high enough to not have to either fight as much at the line of scrimmage or fight for jump balls. Treadwell, by nature of his speed and play style, should be stronger as he plays a more physical style of ball.

For the sake of fairness, here are Josh Doctson’s results…

Doctsonmain

Graph courtesy of Mockdraftable.com

I will be honest, Doctson does measure out better than Thomas or Treadwell. He has everything except size (despite his 6’2″ status and 202 lb. frame? Where are the 7′ receivers?). So, I’d have to lean towards him being the guy I’d take (but not necessarily the guy I “want”) now that I’ve re-assessed these things (and watched more “tape” aka YouTube videos set to terrible hip hop music). While he doesn’t knock my socks off (because they’re fused to my feet) I also have to realize that I do have unrealistic standards when it comes to finding a receiver. Thanks a lot for setting the bar so high, Randy Moss/Troy Williamson.

I grew up in a house where the Vikings were front and center. My dad, not a social fellow, would actually have friends over to watch games. His Sunday-Wednesday mood was completely contingent on whether the Vikings won or lost. Considering we were still recovering from the Gary Cuozzo (DDS) era when I was born, I obviously avoided my father until most Thursdays.

That is until we drafted Moss and everything changed. I was hooked, I understood how a “game” can mean so much to someone. It was pure bliss! Until it wasn’t, and I REALLY understood how a game can affect ones mood. Still, we had Moss. So every game, no, every play was awesome. We could score at any time, with most any quarterback at the helm. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

Genuinely, I boycotted the Vikings in 2005. It was the only training camp that I missed, and I didn’t watch as we used the 7th overall draft pick we received for Moss on a guy who literally couldn’t catch. Sigh. I’ve resigned myself to not really being as excited for this draft as I have been most years because I feel like we’re going to end up with another first round pick at receiver for a player that isn’t going to take our passing game to the next level.

That’s the problem, though. I keep looking for another Moss, and that’s next to impossible. The closest thing to him, since him, would be Calvin Johnson. No one is actually comparing Johnson to Moss, despite Johnson’s elite play. That’s how good Moss was.

So. Imagine my skepticism when I came across the following on YouTube:

German Moss? Impossible! Das es nein a Moss!?

Sure. The Germans have some experience with at least attempting to create super-humans, but the war ended before their research could be completed (or did it?). Who knows, maybe they succeeded? Maybe there is some random, rough ass diamond, that could actually supplant my favorite player ever while also converting the heavily German Packers fan-base to the light side.

So, let’s get to the bottom of the biggest German conundrum since Lebensraum. First, let’s check out his measurables to set a baseline:

Boehringer2.png
Graph courtesy of Mockdraftable.com

Okay. I’m intrigued…

Remember when I said that the darker, the better? This is the best ranking of any wide receiver, or player, ever and if it were an MRI, it would mean someone needs to start looking for a 12 pack of caskets at Costco.

For the sake of reference, let’s look at Calvin Johnson’s numbers (as Mockdraftable.com started their database in 1999, a year after Moss was drafted).

CalvinJohnson1
Graph courtesy of Mockdraftable.com

If you take the average percentage of each drill you can find a base value that could be considered a tangible way to track which receiver is most well-rounded. Treadwell’s average is 51.28, Thomas’ is 63 and Doctson’s is 68.91. Take those numbers at face value, as not every receiver ran the same amount/type of drills (Treadwell ran 7, where as Thomas/Doctson ran 11, Boehringer/Johnson 9). Boehringer’s average percentage is 84.333, where as Johnson’s is 84.111 (he was brought down by his hand size, a pain I know all too well…).

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Boehring didn’t score any 100’s like Johnson, but he didn’t have any scores below 65 (arm length, bench press). The latter can improve, but isn’t troubling (like Treadwell) either. Honestly, he is looking more and more to be the stud everyone is hyping him up to be.

Some people have erroneously compared Boehringer to last years project, Babatunde Aiyebusi from Poland. Mostly because they’re both European prospects and are considered “raw”. However, Boehringer is actually draft eligible (Aiyebusi wasn’t) and is still young (22 vs. Aiyebusi at 26). Aiyebusi was just a physical specimen, but he didn’t know how to play football. Boehringer is also a physical specimen, but clearly he knows how to play some football…

Unlike my unrealistic prior obsession with Josh Gordon, the Vikings have actually shown interest in Boehringer. They went to his pro-day. As did other teams, most annoyingly of which are the Green Bay Packers. I can’t deny the fact that a German stud wide receiver would have the potential to surpass even Brett Favre as the Packers fans most legendary player, as they could relate to Boehringer even more than most of them related to Mark Chmura.

While he doesn’t have a choice as to what team he’d join (if he’s drafted), the fact that he’s a fan of the Vikings, or namely of Adrian Peterson, bodes well. In the above video he explains how he started playing football at the age of 17, after watching Adrian Peterson play on YouTube. He explains that he was enamored by AD’s physicality and break away speed, and if when you watch him play it’s clear that he subscribes to the same style of play.

So… Is this realistic? Could he end up on the Vikings? It seems that they are at least doing their due diligence on him.

But, again, they’re not alone. After his amazing pro-day on March 31st Boehring has met with: Green Bay, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Seattle, New Orleans, Carolina and Minnesota. Wowzers. While it does look like his draft stock is growing, it’s also been said that he’s essentially considered a day three prospect/pick. That’s encouraging, as it would open up the earlier rounds to the best player available line of reasoning (despite my thoughts on that theory, which is a story already brilliantly written by DrawingDead0).

As exciting as I find all of this, I also have to at least attempt to look at this objectively. While he is a physical monster, he’s also extremely raw. Sure, he’s played football, but as his highlight GIF’s show, he played in a rinky dink league. Which means he played against competition that wouldn’t even make a division III school in the US, and that he could rely more on his physicality than route running/technique, which is something scouts have noticed.

He’s been called “extremely raw“. Which, as a Vikings fan should give us some pause. We already have a physical specimen who doesn’t know how to run routes on the roster. Do we need another one? Speaking of Patterson, let’s actually compare his measurables to Boehringers…

Patterson_MockDraftable
Graph courtesy of Mockdraftable.com

While some of the percentages confuse me (how can someone who is 6’2″ only be in the 61st percentile in height? Is this also including NBA draft picks?) I still find these measurables to be extremely telling, while also having their limits. Prior to falling in love with MockDraftable.com, I was actually a pretty “anti-measurable” guy. Not that I don’t find them important, but I found that especially after the Trae Wayne’s 20 yard shuttle debacle, some people put far too much into measurables, especially for non-skill players.

However, considering we are looking for a skill player and Boehringer doesn’t have any tape of him playing against competition anywhere near the level of the NFL, we have to put more stock into his stats than his tape. Some players are just that, players. They’re not big, fast (by NFL Standards) or strong, but they are just gamers. Someone like Antoine Winfield, for example.

 

I also understand that one of my hesitations regarding Treadwell, Thomas and Doctson is that they wouldn’t make an immediate impact. Boehringer is going to take some time to acclimate to the game, especially as it comes to the competition. So, we could either draft another receiver earlier in the draft or bring in Greg Jennings as a stop gap until Boehringer learns the game. Jennings would be an amazing mentor for the kraut and while he is learning he could still effect the game (as he apparently loves to run bubble screens, a play that even Cordarrelle Patterson could correctly run).

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Tell me that wouldn’t look great in purple and gold. 

I’m excited for the draft now, as I believe Boehringer can be the exciting, complete receiver that the team needs. He also would open up the earlier rounds of the draft to a slew of new opportunities. While I’m not advocating that we spend a first or second round pick on him, I do think that we’d be better off safe than sorry by picking him up in the third or fourth round(s). Competition matters, but at the end of the day with his skillset and physical prowess there is little reason to expect that he wouldn’t succeed in the NFL in time. I want that time to be with the Vikings. As the “German Randy Moss” video concludes, “Vikings, don’t screw this up!”. Indeed.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hey, I appreciate the data–I’m in a real serious dynasty league–extremely deep with no add/drop and early draft– so he was someone I have been considering as a sleeper prospect. I believe to see huge upside, so I liked the charts you made for me to visualize side by side data. Obviously his level of competition in Germany isn’t that of collegiate ball but they just don’t make many humans that big, fast, strong, tall, agile and give them massive hands and leaping ability every day…agree with your analysis 100%

    • First off…

      Thanks for replying to the article, Peter!

      Secondly, thanks for actually agreeing! That’s rare for me, personally. I did think that the breakdowns showed enough to support my argument, but apparently most people didn’t agree (on reddit, anyway).