Dynasty Draft Profile: Sammie Coates vs Chris Conley
March 25, 2015 | Rich Hribar
|Conley||22.2||74||213||33 3/4||9 7/8|
|Coates||21.8||73||212||33 3/8||9 3/8|
*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage
When looking at Sammie Coates and Chris Conley separately, I kept coming back on how their physical profiles and college production were such a match that I wanted to roll them up into one post since we may have an arbitrage situation presenting itself. As physical specimens, both of these guys were chiseled from the granite of Olympus and they didn’t disappoint at the combine in displaying pure athleticism. The area where both really glistened was in the jumping drills where they placed themselves in rare athletic companionship by posting a total explosion score (vertical plus broad jump) of 170” or higher at 210 pounds or heavier.
|Donte Moncrief||Ole Miss||2014||90||74||221||39.5||132|
|Charles Johnson||Grand Valley State||2013||216||74||215||39.5||133|
|DaRick Rogers||Tennessee Tech||2013||UFA||75||217||39.5||132|
|Stephen Hill||Georgia Tech||2012||43||76||215||39.5||133|
|Dez Bryant||Oklahoma State||2010||24||74||225||38||133|
|Calvin Johnson||Georgia Tech||2007||2||77||239||42.5||139|
|Ernest Wilford||Virginia Tech||2005||120||76||226||40.5||130|
The NFL loves athleticism in bigger bodies, almost entirely turning a blind eye to on field performance in some cases. Seven of the players above were taken in the first three rounds and it likely was a main contributing factor in getting Charles Johnson selected coming from such a small pond. As much as I also enjoy my receivers in checking off the requisite boxes in size and athletic profile, the main red flag that pops up when looking at both is their production profile.
Both of these players also fit in another small box of comparisons, this time a negative one. It’s rare that athletes of this caliber don’t produce heavily or at least above par against amateur competition and in my model, both have an giant gap in athletic profile to production. I won’t give away all of the ingredients that go into the scores, but these are their cohorts that have physical scores of 100 or higher that rank 40 or more points higher than their final season production score.
|Donte Moncrief||Ole Miss||2014||90||100.00||59.02||40.98||0|
|Greg Little||North Carolina||2011||59||102.95||59.69||43.26||0|
|Legedu Naanee||Boise State||2007||172||101.90||37.79||64.10||0|
|Javon Walker||Florida State||2002||20||101.12||57.83||43.29||3|
Javon Walker posted three top-30 scoring PPR seasons and Heyward-Bey had one, but that’s all of the relevant fantasy production that came out of this group of athletes that entered the league without baseline production so far. A final season production score under 50 is really a big red flag and both fail to reach that threshold.
Not wanting to harp strictly on one side of the coin and learn lessons from the ghosts of Odell Beckham’s past, looking under the hood of each receiver is where they begin to separate from each other.
Coates did have success in 2013 in terms of market share yardage but he’s still lacking meat on the entire production bone. In 2014, Coates was the lead target in his offense, accounting for 23.1 percent of the Auburn looks (75 total), but his 45.3 percent catch rate ranked 270th in the country out of 284 receivers with 50 or more targets. That low percentage was largely due the type of targets he was getting as his yards per reception ranked fourth among receivers (21.8 yards) with 30 or more receptions, but 60th in yards per target among the same group.
For his career, he had seven career 100-yard receiving games and 13 scores, but only one receiving touchdown came inside the red zone, with the other 11 coming from 34 yards or longer. He did have his best games against the best competition in 2014, but he’s the type of player that should’ve wrecked subpar opponents, but was reliant on the home run play.
As Coates’ production profile paints, his athleticism shows up on the field in the form of pure explosion and power. In routes he’s stiffer, giving very few glimpses of that elite agility that he had in the cone drills. His strengths show up in straight line vertical speed and getting the ball immediately at the line of scrimmage and using his speed and his explosion in the form of power. With the football, you can see why he’s often compared to Demaryius Thomas.
His perceived biggest asset and what may perhaps be his biggest weakness is his downfield ability. While he generally has no issue running past any corner and does make plenty of contested catches on his highlight reel, most of them are done in awkward fashion in where he tracks the ball well, but makes chest level receptions or fails to catch the ball at its highest point.
Drops are a well-documented issue with Coates, but he catches the ball well enough when he’s square to the throw. It’s the uncomfortableness he frequently shows on balls over the shoulder when he does get his body into position that create some of those problems for him. The spades he has are natural attributes that are cherished in the NFL, but he still needs to work on the brass tacks of the position to become more than a volatile fantasy option during his career.
Conley’s lack of production is head scratching because he looks the part when awarded opportunity. Whether it was the Georgia system, the quarterback change, the run game dominance or whatever other powers that were in play, I really don’t have answer as to why he was never fully utilized.
Conley had 17.2 percent of Georgia targets, which was second on the team behind senior Michael Bennett, but his 53 total targets on the season ranked 254th at wide receiver in the country. He was able to secure 67.9 percent of those targets and his 12.4 yards per target ranked sixth best of all receivers with 50 or more targets. Although he had just four 100-yard receiving games, Conley scored 20 times over his four seasons with nine coming from the red zone (six from inside the 10-yard line), but still displaying home run juice with seven coming from 25 yards or longer. Like Coates, he can hit the long ball and tracks the ball just as well.
Whereas Coates’ full athleticism isn’t always on full display, Conley has put some impressive acrobatic catches involving body control and great hands on tape for teams to believe he can regularly do it once in the NFL.
Unlike Coates, Conley’s explosion isn’t used to generate raw power after the catch as he’s more apt to run away from a defender than create a ton of yards after the catch. He also does struggle against physical defenders as he plays smaller than his attributes would suggest. His average agility marks also could play a role in this part of his game after the catch, but he makes fluid movements in breaks within his routes which combined with his natural size create added separation.
Ultimately, these are two different players on the field that happen to have an overlap in physical and production profiles. With Coates projected to be selected within the first 50 picks of the draft, Conley is a solid consolation prize for a team that ends up with him later on and may have a similar timetable in development. In fact, they would be taking what I believe is the better receiver. Given both of their minuscule production profiles, I’m hesitant to call either receiver a guy I will actively pursue though for fantasy purposes as they each still require a leap of faith in development.
For fantasy owners, invested draft capital really matters to initial value. For Conley’s fantasy sake, he needs a team to show they see him for his football ability rather than strictly what he did at the combine. If a team does select him within the first four rounds, then he moves into the early third round stage of drafts as opposed to a deep cut later on. Coates will almost assuredly hold his mid-second round price based on where he’ll be selected. He’s really not my type of player without the required patience that he comes along with, but that’s completely fair value to swing on a ceiling for those willing to deal with his shortcomings.
For all of their overlapping shortcomings and potential, it wasn’t surprising that Conley and Coates found themselves selected just nine spots away from each other in the third round of the draft. For Coates, his landing spot is crippling to his initial value as the Steelers selected and received encouraging contributions from a similar player in Martavis Bryant a year ago. With Bryant anticipated to have his role blossom as a sophomore, Coates will have a hard time finding available snaps early on. The Steelers potentially needed an interior receiver and Antonio Brown plays outside more often than inside despite having an all-around skillset, so Coates will really have to push Markus Wheaton for playing time to make Pittsburgh use Brown more on the interior. I would put that in the low probability bucket despite not regarding Wheaton highly as I see Coates more as a niche player and lid lifter for the interior passing offense when on the field. It’s going to be fun to see him in sub packages with both he and Bryant on the field, but it’s hard to envision Coates developing into a steady fantasy contributor.
Conley still holds some value as he’s arguably the second best receiver on the Kansas City roster already and has an easier path to snaps and targets. The downside is that he finds himself in a system that has produced just four 1,000-yard receivers over 16 seasons and is helmed by a quarterback who has never produced a 1,000-yard receiver. Alex Smith has thrown for 20 or more touchdowns just once in his NFL career, so it’s hard to be real excited about Conley carrying his strong touchdown rate over as a rookie. His landing spot lowers his ceiling, but does raise his floor up as he should be asked to contribute early for the Chiefs, holding his value as a late second, early third round option for rookie drafts.