Dynasty Draft Profile: Malcolm Mitchell
April 21, 2016 | Rich Hribar
|22.4||72||198||32 5/8||10 1/2|
*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage
Malcolm Mitchell is a name that has been garnering buzz as we’ve gotten deeper and deeper into the draft process. Much like Keyarris Garrett, Mitchell took a hard road to reach this point of his career.
Mitchell was a 5-star recruit out of high school, playing some safety and cornerback as a freshman while also breaking out as an 18-year old receiver with nearly 30 percent of the Georgia receiving yardage in games that he played in while ranking fourth in the SEC in receiving yardage per game (60.5 yards) and fifth in catches per game (4.1).
He then took an immediate step backwards in a season in which Aaron Murray threw 36 touchdowns, being outshined by Tavarres King. King then graduated, leaving the top spot in the Bulldog passing game open for Mitchell to battle with Chris Conley, but Mitchell tore his ACL in the first quarter of the first game of his junior season celebrating a long touchdown run by Todd Gurley.
In the August right before the 2014 season, Mitchell tore his meniscus in the same knee and was then forced to miss the opening month of the season. Never rebounding off of back to back knee surgeries, Mitchell appeared to be plagued by those ailments as he yielded unbelievably poor results with the small amount of targets he did receive, averaging just 8.0 yards per catch and just 5.4 yards per target over the final eight games of the season.
Granted a medical hardship from his 2013 injury, Mitchell was allowed to return for a fifth season, finally healthy for the first time in 24 months. Mitchell then proceeded to remind of us the player he began his career in Georgia as, rebounding across the board from his down 2014, finishing third in school history with 174 career receptions.
He was the primary fixture in the passing game, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the team targets and 36 percent of their passing yardage. Of course, accounting for a large percentage of a bad passing game isn’t everything, and Georgia was just that, ranking 104th in the country in passing yards per game in 2015 at 185.1 yards per week.
Being in such a poor overall aerial attack leaves Mitchell with some relatively subpar counting stats as his 865 receiving yards in 2015 were the most he’s ever tallied in a season entering the league. College production matters to varying degrees, but it’s not often that players that fail to produce at a high level at the amateur level go on to obtain rich production profiles at the professional level. Since 2000, here are the receivers that were drafted and failed to ever record a 1,000-yard receiving season in college and their subsequent top-30 scoring PPR seasons accumulated over their careers.
|Chad Johnson||Oregon State||36||7|
|Laveranues Coles||Florida State||78||7|
|Dwayne Bowe||Louisiana State||23||4|
|Javon Walker||Florida State||20||3|
|Santonio Holmes||Ohio State||25||2|
|James Jones||San Jose State||78||2|
|Brian Hartline||Ohio State||108||2|
|Eddie Royal||Virginia Tech||42||1|
|Brandon LaFell||Louisiana State||78||1|
|Tedd Ginn||Ohio State||9||0|
|Phillip Dorsett||Miami (Fla.)||29||0|
|Craig Davis||Louisiana State||30||0|
|Anthony Gonzalez||Ohio State||32||0|
|Brian Robiskie||Ohio State||36||0|
|Devin Smith||Ohio State||37||0|
|Stephen Hill||Georgia Tech||43||0|
|Devery Henderson||Louisiana State||50||0|
|Terrence Murphy||Texas A&M||58||0|
|Greg Little||North Carolina||59||0|
|DeVier Posey||Ohio State||68||0|
|Yamon Figurs||Kansas State||74||0|
|Austin Pettis||Boise State||78||0|
|Devard Darling||Washington State||82||0|
|Donte Moncrief||Ole Miss||90||0|
|Ace Sanders||South Carolina||101||0|
|Bruce Ellington||South Carolina||106||0|
|Chris Harper||Kansas State||123||0|
|DeAndre Smelter||Georgia Tech.||132||0|
|Jeremy Kerley||Texas Christian||153||0|
|Corey Fuller||Virginia Tech||171||0|
|Legedu Naanee||Boise State||172||0|
|Keith Mumphery||Michigan State||175||0|
|Carlton Mitchell||South Florida||177||0|
|Ronald Johnson||Southern California||182||0|
|Darren Waller||Georgia Tech.||204||0|
|Kyle Williams||Arizona State||206||0|
|Mario Alford||West Virginia||238||0|
The first thing that jumps out to me is that there’s a plethora of Georgia receivers on the list. A.J. Green, Mohamed Massaquoi, Chris Conley and the aforementioned King make the list. There’s a running theme of Georgia receivers being statistically limited by their environment.
The other thing that sticks out is that there’s not many successful stories here as just 14 of the 92 listed players have posted multiple top-30 scoring fantasy seasons with just nine posting three so far in their careers (with players still pending).
Sorting by draft position, of those players to post those multiple campaigns, all but three were selected within the first three rounds, an area where Mitchell isn’t anticipated to be selected next weekend. The NFL has shown they don’t factor lack of production into draft capital, but the rope of opportunity to overcome that profile becomes increasing shorter the longer it takes for your name to be called during the draft. That absence of high caliber output doesn’t destroy Mitchell’s outlook by any means, but it does give him unfavorable company if he’s a later round selection.
Mitchell definitely helped his cause for climbing up draft boards at the combine as he checked in with a massive wingspan and strong athletic showing. He ranked in the upper half of receiver percentile scoring in every measured drill except for the 20-yard shuttle (21.6 percentile). His 4.45 40-yard time measured in the 74.4 percentile and broad jump in the lofty 90.5 one. Given his strong measurables combined with lower end final season counting stats, we’re not left with a large bucket of objective comparables.
Breaston’s draft range is a fairly good proxy for where we may see Mitchell be selected and he did give us one tangible season while Cruz has been one of the few undrafted, non-combine invitees to have success over the past decade. Given the mentioned tables so far, there’s reason to temper our expectations with Mitchell, but there’s silver lining in each one.
Flipping into a subjective gear off of his objectively good combine showing, Mitchell has a lot of qualities to his game that warrant consideration in that third round arbitrary area in relation to opportunities for success.
I mentioned his wingspan being a big plus as Mitchell has the largest combination of arm length and hand size adjusted for height in this class, and it definitely shows up in the strengths of his game. Mitchell was credited with just four drops over the past two seasons as he’s able to use his wingspan and body control give him an edge even when separation isn’t present.
Because Mitchell has a tweener build, he’s able to take on a lot more contact than a typical possession type of player. Mitchell fights through contact in route without being redirected and combined with his stellar hands; you have a player that is going to win a lot of contested catch situations, which happen much more frequently at the NFL level.
Where Mitchell makes his money is on the hitch and working his way back to the quarterback. Per Pro Football Focus, those routes accounted for 22 percent of his targets and he caught all but one of them on the season. He’s fantastic at driving on the football and just as good after the catch.
I’m a big believer that Mitchell definitely is talented and athletic enough to be a strong contributor from day one, but I also want to acknowledge the objective lower end probability that he becomes a significant fantasy contributor. A lot of what I said about Keyarris Garrett rings true for Mitchell, only I believe Mitchell is less dependent on landing spot since Garrett is more limited in what he excels at. But like Garrett, Mitchell fits the mold of where I like to use my third round draft selections, where I can make a play on the upside with the risks inherently heavily baked in. Mitchell is currently the overall 25th pick in rookie drafts per Dynasty League Football, but he’s already crept up closer to that second round from the 31st spot he held in March ADP. If he gets much higher, which could happen through draft position, landing spot or both, then it really puts me in a tougher place when balancing out probability of success with perceived talent. I’m no true scout, so in those situations I’m likely to remain agnostic to my internal scouting report and play the objective odds, but Mitchell is a name I have circled as a potential target in becoming a contributing secondary receiver in the NFL.