I am going to skip over Shon Coleman and Cody Kessler and go straight to the three WR's that the Browns drafted in the later rounds: Ricardo Louis, Jordan Payton, and Rashard Higgins. I'm skipping Shon because he did not workout in the pre-draft process and I cannot obtain RAS scores or his SPARQ rating without the workout. Cody Kessler on the other hand is a QB, and RAS and SPARQ do not really matter that much for a QB. I will probably revisit them later on a different kind of write-up but for now lets focus on the bunch of WR's the Browns drafted after Corey Coleman. Here's a refresher on the criteria we'll be using to evaluate them:
114 Overall- Ricardo Louis WR- Auburn
1. Athleticism/Size- Ricardo Louis (6'2" 215) has good size and exceptional athleticism; especially in a straight line. The only places where Louis doesn't have exceptional measurables are his shuttle and 3-cone drills. What that reveals is he doesn't maintain his elite speed in and out of hard cuts. Louis' SPARQ score of 129.0 is good enough to put him in the 87th percentile and 5th highest of drafted WR's this year (Corey Coleman was tied for 2nd). Lets see how his RAS stacks up:
Fun Fact: His broad jump of 11' was good enough for the 97th percentile but was short of Byron Jones (DB Dal) who set a world record at 12'3" at last year's combine. The broad jump was last an Olympic event in 1912.
2. Production- Auburn runs a very run heavy offense so WR's have to block most of the time and don't get to run as many routes as a Big 12 Air-Raid offense. Louis was extremely productive when they did throw the ball. His 3.51 yards per route run last year were the seventh-most in college football, but unfortunately he only ran 204 routes all season. You may remember his miracle catch to beat Georgia in 2013, but after that season he was lost in the depth chart and only caught 21 passes in 2014. Returning to form in 2015, he caught 46 passes to lead the run-first team. He also was used very effectively in the running game evidenced by 68 carries for 578 yards over his career.
3. Character- Vanilla story, no red flags.
4. Team Need/Scheme Fit- The Browns obviously needed WR's and addressed it in this draft. Louis projects as "big slot" receiver, and should be used this year on deep threats and screens mostly. Because of his change of direction short-comings I doubt he makes the switch to DB or RB that was rumored when he was drafted.
5. Age- 22.
Overall, Ricardo Louis is an exceptional athlete with good production in a small sample size. At the time he was drafted he was easily the best athlete in the WR class except for the German workout warrior Moritz Boehringer (141.9 SPARQ, 99th percentile!) still available at the 114th pick.
154th Overall- Jordan Payton WR- UCLA
1. Athleticism/Size- Jordan Payton (6'1" 207) is just about the epitome of league average in athleticism and is just above league average in size. His SPARQ score was 113.0 which places him in the 40th percentile of NFL WR's. Payton ran an above average 40 yard dash, 20 yard and 10 yard split but like Louis he struggled in the shuttle and 3-cone drill. Maybe this could be indicative of the type of WR's the Browns will be targeting for Hue Jackson's offense (Coleman did not participate in the shuttle or 3-cone drill). Lets take a look at his RAS:
2. Production- Payton had the second-highest overall PFF grade among WRs in the draft class this season, only behind analytic darling Sterling Shepard. He played 890 snaps and showed well in most areas. It’s tough to identify anything he does that’s special, but equally difficult to identify holes in his game per PFF. He played all four years at UCLA and his production consistently grew every year.
3. Character- No red flags.
4. Team Need/Scheme Fit- The third WR drafted by Browns; hitting their biggest need again. Payton projects as an outside receiver thats not good at anything and not bad at anything either. He should have a long career and his draft stock suffered due to him having no exceptional skill. Think Doug Baldwin before his uptick in production this past year.
5. Age- 23.
Overall, this a safe pick in the fifth round as you pretty much know what you are getting in Payton. He should be a safety blanket in case Coleman, Louis, and Higgins flop or don't produce early. Speaking of Higgins...
172 Overall- Rashard Higgins WR- Colorado State
1. Athleticism/Size- Ok guys, do not freak out. Rashard Higgins (6'1" 196) is one the worst athletes in this WR class. Don't get me wrong, he could still kick any of your internet commenting asses in any athletic competition, but his RAS puts him in the 3rd percentile of NFL WR's. The only area he tested above average in was his height. His SPARQ score of 95.3 was the lowest of any WR drafted and in the 3rd percentile of all NFL WR's. He also ran a 4.64 forty time. Lets look at his RAS:
Fun Fact: The only receivers since 2005 to average over 300 yards a season and run over a 4.6 at their combine or pro day are Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, and Mohammed Massaquoi (Keenan Allen ran a 4.71 at his pro day but ran it on a bum ankle/foot, which takes him off of this list). Thats not great company to be in.
2. Production- Higgins is the poster boy for "tape over measurables." He had a second-round grade from PFF based on play-by-play tape grading. He does everything well, and has a nuanced feel for route running, setting up defenders and running after the catch. Averaged more than 16 yards per catch just on bubble screens over the past two seasons per PFF. Higgins had a mega 2014 season (96 rec 1750 yards 17 tds) with Garrett Grayson (New Orleans backup) at QB and Jim McElwain (Florida Head Coach) coaching. His numbers tailed off this year with poor QB play and barely reached 1,000 yards.
3. Character- Some scouts were put off by his confidence, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Nothing else to note.
4. Team Need/Scheme Fit- 14 picks and 4 of them were WR's, the Browns obviously thought this was a big need and they addressed it. Higgins profiles as a possession receiver with good vision and hands. He excelled in screen plays which could be his niche in NFL.
5. Age- 21
Overall, Higgins would have been a much higher pick if he would've came out for the draft before scouts placed such a premium on athleticism, this was the reason he fell to the bottom of the 5th round. I wouldn't write him off just because of his athleticism, theres a receiver in Pittsburgh that graded almost as poorly as him in RAS that wears number 84. He's doing alright, right?
Thanks for reading!