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Data Entry: #PlayTheKid

| August 29th, 2017

The Bears should be preparing Mitch Trubisky to start against Atlanta in two weeks. Anything else is a foolish waste of time. I will admit that I was well behind Jeff in coming to this conclusion, but I have reached it all the same. Allow me to break down my reasoning.

Best QB on the Roster

For those arguing Glennon should play now, I have one simple question: what has Glennon done better than Trubisky this preseason? The only positive answer I can come up with is getting the team lined up properly and in time.

What has Trubisky done better than Glennon? Get through progressions quickly, make accurate throws from the pocket, escape pressure, make accurate throws on the run, throw past the chains on 3rd down, avoid turnovers. Basically, Trubisky has been better at everything you want a quarterback to do after the snap.

At worst, you could say the two QBs are even right now. That could be a somewhat reasonable argument to make based on Glennon playing against better defenses and looking progressively less bad every week. But here’s the thing: if it is anywhere close to even right now, you play the uber-talented rookie with superstar potential over the mediocre veteran with serious physical limitations. That should go without saying.

I’ll happily take the 2-3 delay of game penalties a game (that will be gone in a month) in exchange for the 5-6 big plays Trubisky makes a game that Mike Glennon could only dream of.

Ideal Situation for a Young QB

The blueprint for working a quarterback into an offense from an early stage is clearly established. Surround him with a solid offensive line to protect him, a strong run game, and a stout defense. That way he won’t be leaned on to put up 30 points and win a shootout every week, but instead can manage games at first as you slowly increase his responsibilities. That was the formula that worked for Tom Brady in New England, Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, and Russell Wilson in Seattle. All of those guys started as complementary pieces and eventually emerged after several years as centerpieces who were expected to make the guys around them better.

Now look at the Bears’ roster in 2017 and notice they check every single one of those boxes.

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Data Entry: Scouting Chicago’s 2016 Rush Offense & Defense

| August 15th, 2017

The Bears generally had a good rushing attack and bad rushing defense last year. Their offense was only 17th in rushing yards, but 6th in yards per attempt. On defense, they were 27th in rushing yards allowed and 21st in yards per carry allowed.

These basic stats are easy to look up, and I think most fans generally know Chicago’s run game was good (thank you Jordan Howard) while the run defense was bad. What’s more interesting to me is to look at why that happened for both. That is, what areas of the field did they do well running to/stopping the run in, and where did they struggle running/stopping the run?

Thankfully, that information is all available through the NFL Game Statistics & Information System (username and password are both “media” if you want to poke around), so I’ve compiled it into a few handy images that we can look at. This should be helpful heading into 2017, as much of the personnel in the run game (OL/RB) and run defense (front 7) is similar. I’ll re-visit this at the bye week to see how things have changed halfway through the season. At that time, I’ll also add in passing offense and defense, I didn’t bother with those now because the personnel for both has changed so drastically.

Rush Offense

Here’s the data for Chicago’s rushing attack in 2016. The line at the bottom is the line of scrimmage, runs are split into 7 zones, and attempts and yards per carry are listed for each zone, with ranks relative to the rest of the NFL in parentheses. The height of the bar is proportional to yards per carry, and bars are colored green for top 10, red for bottom 10, and yellow for middle 12. Note expected yards per carry varies by region, so the colors are relative to their peers in that region.

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Data Entry: How the Bears Should Handle Mitch Trubisky

| July 28th, 2017

Ryan Pace and John Fox have quite literally gambled their careers on Mitchell Trubisky, so now the question becomes how they should handle his rookie season to give him the best chance of success going forward.

With that in mind, I looked at how teams handled the rookie seasons of the quarterbacks drafted in round 1 in the last 20 years. There were 55 QBs in the sample, but I removed the 6 drafted in 2016 and 2017 because it is too early to draw any conclusions about their career outcomes. This left me with 49 round 1 QBs between 1998 and 2015.

I loosely grouped each quarterback into either a hit (developed into at least a solid starter for several years) or a miss (failed to establish themselves as a solid starter) and then looked at two different factors: how much they played in their rookie year and how well they played relative to their peers around the NFL as a rookie (full data can be seen here). Let’s look at each factor and see if any trends can be observed.

Rookie playing time

The amount of playing time 1st round QBs saw as a rookie varied wildly. Some players didn’t see a single snap their rookie seasons, while others took every snap, with many players scattered at various points in between. Overall, I couldn’t determine much of a trend to indicate players who played more would turn out differently than players who sat and learned.

  • 8 of the 9 players who started every game their rookie season turned into solid starters – with poor David Carr being the lone exception.
  • But 8 of the 9 who started 13-15 games did not. I don’t think those extra few games make that much of a difference, and trends are scattered below that, with too much noise to make any conclusions.

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Data Entry: Playoffs or Bust for John Fox in 2017?

| June 7th, 2017

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

I’ve seen a lot of speculation this offseason that John Fox is on the hot seat with the Bears in 2017. There were even some rumors that he might be fired following a disastrous 2016. But now his job is widely believed to be on the line should 2017 not show significant improvement.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at what history says about Fox keeping his job beyond 2017 based on similar situations around the NFL. Since this will be Fox’s 3rd year on the job, I looked at coach success in the first three years.

New Coach

Coaching turnover happens fast in the NFL. From 2000 to 2016, there were 142 coaching hires, an average of just over 4.4 per team. Thus in the last 17 years, the average head coach has lasted just under 4 years on the job.

Looking at the current list of 32 NFL head coaches, that 4 year marker also proves to be significant. Exactly half of the coaches are entering at least their 4th season, with the other half all entering their 3rd season or less (full data here). What do those 16 head coaches who have been around for 4 or more years have in common? All but one of them made the playoffs sometime in their first three seasons, with the lone exception (Jason Garrett) achieving that feat in year 4 after 3 straight 8-8 seasons that indicated the Cowboys were close.

It appears the achievement needed for John Fox to keep his job past 2017 is clear: guide the Bears to the playoffs.

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Data Entry: Trubisky Will Determine Next Five Years for Bears

| May 5th, 2017

Photo: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears secured the man they believe is their quarterback of the future when they grabbed Mitch Trubisky with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. There has been plenty of discussion about the wisdom of that move, so I am not here to add to that.

Here is what I am curious about: as a Bears fan, what can I look forward to in the next few years if Trubisky does or does not pan out?

Quarterback is the most important position in football, so it makes sense that hitting or missing on one will have a significant impact on the immediate future of the franchise. This is especially true when you have committed such a high pick – a premium resource -to a quarterback and thus are determined to give him a few years to succeed.

General Setup

Thus I went back and looked at all of the quarterbacks drafted in the top 5 of the draft over the last 20 years to see how the franchise drafting them fared for the 5 years after the draft. Since I’m looking at 5 years, the most recent draft I could use was 2012, so the sample here looked at all 26 quarterbacks drafted in the top 5 between 1993 and 2012.

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Data Entry: A General Manager & His Quarterback

| April 17th, 2017

Throughout the offseason, I’ll be doing a monthly piece here at DaBearsBlog, helping fill the content void of the long offseason. Each one will be a numbers-crunching look at something Bears related in which I attempt to earn the “Data” moniker so kindly bestowed on me by the comments section regulars and, more importantly, answer a Bears question that I’ve been wondering about. If you have anything you’d like me to look into, let me know in the comments or email me at woodjohnathan1@gmail.com and I’ll see what I can do.


As all Bears fans are well aware, this is the offseason of QB change in Chicago. Jay Cutler is gone, Mike Glennon is here on three 1-year deals, and a fresh face is likely coming in the draft.

I have already looked a couple times at quarterbacks from a historical perspective, trying to identify where the best place to draft one is and what to look for in their college background. Today, I want to look at this decision from the perspective of what it means for general manager Ryan Pace.

Getting a good QB is absolutely essential in the NFL. Teams that don’t have one can’t compete for a title, and GMs who fail to acquire one generally don’t last long. Since very few GMs get a 2nd chance after being fired, Ryan Pace is staking his career on at least one of Mike Glennon or “draft pick to be named” panning out.

Or at least that’s the theory. I put it to the test to see if the numbers backed that claim up.

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Tracking the evolution of passing in the NFL

| July 10th, 2015

I recently had a Twitter conversation with Kev (a great follow on Twitter) of Windy City Gridiron (a great Bears site you should definitely check out) about how passing has changed in the NFL in the last 10 or 15 years.  He shared that 5 quarterbacks passed for 4,000 or more yards in 1999, 5 in 2004, and 11 in 2014.

I speculated that this might be based more on passing attempts than anything, and that turned out to be true; from 1999 to 2014 the top 10 passers based on yardage increased from 524 to 598 pass attempts (12.4%) while increasing from only 7.4 to 7.6 yards per attempt (2.6%).

This small snapshot got me thinking, and I decided to study how the passing game has changed in the NFL from 2002 (the first season with 32 teams) to 2014; all stats come courtesy of ESPN‘s database.

Volume

I started by looking at passing across the league as a whole.  From 2002 to 2014, passing became slightly more frequent; passing attempts per game (which I calculated as passes plus sacks) have trended from about 34 to 37 per game.  At the same time, runs per game have dropped slightly from 28 to around 27, meaning the overall passing percentage has increased, as you can see in the table below.

So teams pass it more in the modern NFL than they did 10 to 12 years ago, but not by a huge amount.  I also find it interesting that the average number of offensive plays a team runs per game has increased slightly in the last ten years, and all of those extra plays are passes.

Efficiency

Next I want to look at how effectively teams throw the ball.  I’ll start with the basic passer rating, the standard measure of passing efficiency (I did not use ESPN’s total QBR for a variety of reasons, including that I can’t break that down by component because the formula is not public and their database only goes back to 2006, limiting the sample size). Passer rating has increased fairly steadily in the NFL since 2002, with a few fluctuations, as you can see below.

passer rating 2

The biggest thing that stands out to me from this graph is the massive jump in 2014; after gradually increasing from 81 to 84 from 2007 to 2013, it jumped to 87 in one year.  I’ll be curious to see if that comes back down a bit in 2015 or not.

Passer rating is calculated from four components: completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage.  I tracked each of those categories from 2002 to 2014, and generally they all got better over time.  You can see that in the graph below; note that interception percentage dropping is actually getting better.  In order to put all four categories on the same graph, I took the average of each for the 13 seasons as a whole and calculated their z-score for each season. If you’re not familiar with this, basically 0 is average, above 0 is higher than average, and below 0 is lower than average, with the values getting farther from average the farther from 0 you go.  The full data can be viewed here.

z scores

Sacks

I also looked at how sacks have changed since 2002, and found that the answer is not much.  As you can see in the table below, sack percentage has remained fairly steady, with year-to-year fluctuations, as has the average yards lost per sack.

Rushing

Finally, I looked to see how rushing has changed over the same time period.  As I said above, teams average roughly 1 run per game fewer now than they did 10 or 12 years ago, but how well they run the ball hasn’t really changed in that time period, as you can see in the table below.

Since 2002, the NFL has fluctuated between 4.0 and 4.3 yards per carry, with no clear pattern that I can discern, and they have scored touchdowns on roughly 3% of their runs.  If anything has changed, teams have gotten better at avoiding fumbles, as those have take a slight downward tick from 2% down towards 1.5%.

Conclusions

In the last 13 seasons, NFL teams have gotten better at passing the ball.  They complete more of their passes, average more yards per attempt, throw more touchdowns, and throw fewer interceptions.  What hasn’t changed is how often they get sacked and how many yards they lose when that happens.  The running game has also remained fairly steady in terms of yards per attempt and touchdowns, though teams have gotten better at avoiding fumbling.

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A closer look at John Fox’s record

| July 6th, 2015

There has been a lot of excitement among Bears fans about John Fox this offseason.  They cite his 119-89 career record (0.572 winning %) as a head coach, and think it means similar good results are coming to Chicago.

I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, but Fox’s record as a head coach is a bit overinflated.  He’s not a bad coach by any means, but he’s also not a great one.  Let’s dig in to the numbers to find out why.

Peyton correction

For one thing, Fox’s career winning percentage is skewed by the three years he spent with Peyton Manning.  You’ll pardon me for not crediting Fox when he had the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history, fully developed, drop into his lap. In 10 years without Peyton, Fox averaged 8.1 wins per year and made the playoffs 40% of the time.  In 9 seasons over the same span (which correlates nicely to Peyton’s prime), Peyton’s teams averaged 12.4 wins and went to the playoffs 100% of the time.  In 3 seasons together, they averaged 12.7 wins and went to the playoffs 100% of the time.

Fox’s presence had basically no change on the outcome of Peyton’s seasons, while Peyton’s presence drastically improved Fox’s outlook.  So let’s look at Fox’s results without having them skewed by the Peyton years.

Who does he beat?

Let’s start by looking at game outcomes.  As I mentioned above, Fox is 81-79 in ten years as a coach without Peyton Manning.  I want to look at who those wins and losses come against.  I split up teams into three loosely defined categories: good (10+ wins, so typically playoff teams), average (7 to 9 wins), and bad (6 or fewer wins) and looked at Fox’s winning percentage against each category.  In order to adjust for the quality of opponent, I compared that winning percentage to what the expected winning percentage would be.  For example, Fox went 11-43 against 54 opponents with 10 or more wins, and those 22 opponents averaged 11.3 wins in the seasons Fox’s team played them.  Thus, opponents posted a winning percentage of 29.5% (4.7 wins in a 16 game season) against them.  Full results can be seen in the table below.

This provides some interesting results.  Fox’s teams did worse than expected against playoff-caliber teams, better than expected against average teams, and about as well as expected against bad teams.  Fox has a reputation for being a conservative manager in-game, and that perhaps plays out in his record against the top teams in the NFL.  You have to be more aggressive to beat good teams, who are not going to make mistakes and beat themselves.

Or this could simply indicate Fox’s teams (outside of the Peyton years) have not had top-level talent to compete with top teams, but they are still disciplined enough to beat everybody else.  Whatever the reason, Fox’s teams have struggled to beat playoff-caliber opponents.

Offensive and defensive production

Now I want to examine how Fox’s teams have fared on both offense and defense.  Like with win percentage, I looked at how many points Fox’s teams scored and gave up compared to what their opponents averaged that year.

Over the 160 game sample, Fox’s offenses scored an average of 19.4 points per game against defenses that gave up an average of 21.7 points per game, meaning Fox’s offenses have performed an average of roughly 2.3 points worse than expected as a whole.  On the defensive side of the ball, things look better.  Fox’s teams have given up an average of 20.6 points per game against teams that scored an average of 21.6 points per game, meaning they have been roughly 1.1 points per game better than expected (rounding error, the actual results are closer to 1.1 than 1.0).

Like with winning %, I broke down the results by quality of opponent, based on their offensive or defensive ranks in points allowed or scored, but this time there wasn’t really a clear pattern for either offense or defense.  The full results are shown below for offense and then defense.

Party like it’s 2004-12

So what have we learned? The Bears have a defensive-minded head coach who couples a below-average offense with an above-average defense, beats the teams he should, loses to the top teams, and ends up right around average.  Sound familiar?

Fox is Lovie.  Lovie is Fox.

In 10 seasons as a head coach, Lovie Smith is 83-77; in 10 seasons without Peyton Manning, John Fox is 81-79.  Fox’s offenses have scored about 2.3 points less than expected, while his defenses have given up 1.1 points fewer than expected.  For Lovie, those numbers are 1.7 and 2.1, indicating that his offenses have been slightly less bad than Fox’s and his defense’s a good bit better.

If there is one noticeable difference between the two, it is who they beat.  Lovie does about as well as expected against 10+ win teams (32% wins vs. 30% expected), worse than expected against average teams (43% wins vs. 51% expected), and better than expected against bad teams (78% wins vs. 72% expected).  Incredibly, Lovie has never lost a game against a team 4-12 or worse (25-0) in his career, and he’s also done a better job than Fox competing against other playoff-caliber teams, although he has been much worse against average teams, where Fox excels.

If Fox has one clear advantage over Lovie, it is that he has assembled a much more complete coaching staff than Lovie ever managed to do in Chicago.  Bears fans can only hope that makes a significant difference.  Otherwise, there are worse fates than simply being respectable, as we saw when Mark Trestman ruined ran the Bears.  If Fox keeps the Bears competitive and around .500 for 4-5 years by beating average and bad teams, then retires and leaves the franchise in solid condition for the next guy, I would consider that a job well done.

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Waiting on Alshon extension will cost Bears

| June 22nd, 2015

New general manager Ryan Pace has mostly received positive reviews for his work since being hired in January, but he has made one key decision that will end up costing the Bears in a big way.

He has not given receiver Alshon Jeffery a contract extension this offseason and reportedly has no plans to.

Head coach John Fox shed some light on the reasoning for this when he hinted at Jeffery being out of shape in 2014, which contributed to his injury problems.  Of course, Jeffery still managed to back up his breakout 2013 season with 85 catches, 1,133 yards, and 10 touchdowns.

At this point it’s clear that Jeffery is an excellent NFL wide receiver, and those players don’t  come cheap.  When I looked at a possible extension for Jeffery earlier this offseason, I examined similar players to him who re-upped with their teams after 3 years and estimated he would be looking at a deal in the neighborhood of $10 million a year, with roughly $20 million guaranteed.

That’s a pretty price to pay, but here’s the simple truth: the longer the Bears wait to pay Jeffery, the more money they’re going to have to pay him.

With one year left on a rookie contract that will pay him around $4.5 million, Jeffery is doing just fine for himself financially, but his next deal is the one that provides life-altering financial security.  Jeffery and his agent are well aware of this fact, but this year the leverage lies with the Bears, because they are the only team that can negotiate with him, and they can guarantee him a lot of money right now before he has to risk a career-ending injury in 2015 that could mean he doesn’t end up seeing that money at all.

For this reason, deals that are the most team-friendly are typically signed with one year left on a players’ contract.  This is how the Steelers locked up Antonio Brown through his prime for just over $8 million a year and $8.5 million guaranteed coming off an 1,100 yard season, while teammate Mike Wallace signed a contract for $12 million a year and $30 million guaranteed in free agency 12 months later despite being 2 years older than Brown and coming off an 800 yard season.

If the Bears make Jeffery play out his rookie deal in 2015, then he has the ability to negotiate with 32 teams instead of just one, the leverage shifts to his side, and he becomes significantly more expensive to keep around.  Let’s look at some similar players to Jeffery who recently hit free agency to see just how high those prices get.

Expensive comparisons

There have been a couple of big-name wide receivers to hit free agency coming off their rookie contracts in recent years.  In 2015, Randall Cobb signed for $10 million a year, $13 million guaranteed, but he took a hometown discount to stay with Green Bay and could have gotten $12 million a year (it’s understandable that Cobb took a discount to play with the best QB in the NFL on a Super Bowl contender, but don’t expect the same from Jeffery).

Jeremy Maclin also got $11 million a year, with $22.5 million guaranteed, in 2015, while 2013 saw Mike Wallace ($12 million a year, $30 million guaranteed) hit it big.  Even the older Vincent Jackson, who hit free agency at 29 and with 2-3 more years of his career spent than the three above, got $11 million a year and $26 million guaranteed in 2012.

Alshon’s past two seasons (2,552 yards, 17 touchdowns) are every bit as good as the combined best two seasons for Cobb (2,241 yards, 20 touchdowns), Maclin (2,282 yards, 20 touchdowns), and Wallace (2,450 yards, 18 touchdowns).  And those three have the advantage of having caught passes from great quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger or having played in the most stat-happy offense in the league under Chip Kelly, neither of which can be used to deflate Jeffery’s numbers and keep his price down.

Jeffery also has another year to add to his resume before hitting free agency, which will very likely find him hitting the market with a more impressive body of work than any of his recent peers.  He should even look better than Jackson, whose two best seasons prior to free agency totaled 2,273 yards and 18 touchdowns, though Jackson did have three 1,000 yard seasons on his resume, a feat which Alshon seems likely to match but which neither Cobb (1), Maclin (1), nor Wallace (2) could.

Indeed, Wallace is the closest recent comparison to Jeffery as of right now, and he struck the biggest deal of the bunch at a time when the salary cap was $30 million lower than it will be in 2016.  Wallace was also coming off an uninspiring 64 catch, 836 yard season when he hit free agency, meaning his value was not exactly at a maximum.

I think it’s safe to say Wallace’s deal is a floor for what Jeffery could expect to receive should he be allowed to hit unrestricted free agency next year, with the potential being there for him to get a significantly bigger contract.  That means Jeffery is looking at an additional $2 million a year, minimum, on a contract signed next year, which adds up to $10 million (all of it fully guaranteed) more on a five year deal than the Bears could probably lock him up for right now.

Franchise tag

Of course, the Bears could let Jeffery play 2015 under his rookie deal and stick him with the franchise tag to prevent him from hitting free agency, but this is an expensive option as well.  The Broncos and Cowboys are doing that this offseason with Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant, and they are both getting $12.8 million, fully guaranteed, from their teams in 2015.

The franchise tag guarantees you the average of the top 5 cap hits at your position in that year, and right now that means Jeffery would get $15.3 million dollars in 2016, though that could go up with new contracts to Thomas and Bryant or down with restructures of contracts to players like Calvin Johnson.  And that only secures one year of services for Jeffery, who would then be a free agent looking at a huge contract in 2017.

Compensatory pick?

Of course, it could be argued that the Bears are willing to let Jeffery walk next offseason so they can get a compensatory pick in the 2017 draft.  This makes little sense for two reasons.  First, the highest compensatory pick you can receive is only at the end of the 3rd round.  As one of the 10 or 15 most productive receivers in the NFL, Jeffery is worth more to a team than the 100th pick in the draft.

2nd, and most important, you only get compensatory picks if the money spent on players you lose is greater than the money you spend bringing in new players in free agency.  Given that the Bears are slated to have more than $40 million in cap space and few big-name free agents to re-sign besides Jeffery next offseason, they will be spending money to bring in outside players, so losing Jeffery likely wouldn’t even bring them a compensatory pick in return.

Compensatory picks are for teams with too much homegrown talent to afford keeping.  The Bears are definitely not in that position right now; they don’t have enough good players worth spending money to keep around.  Jeffery is one of those players, and letting him walk would be foolish.

Doesn’t make sense

No matter how you spin it, not giving Alshon Jeffery an extension this offseason is a foolish move that will either cost the Bears millions of dollars (likely $10 million over the course of a 5 year deal) or result in them losing one of the few young playmakers on the roster with little to no return.

If Chicago is going to re-sign Alshon Jeffery, then waiting another year will only increase his leverage, even if he has a down season.  If they don’t plan on making him a highly-paid part of their future, then their best plan for maximizing his value is to trade him away now instead of losing him for nothing next year.

Maintaining the status quo with Jeffery diminishes the returns he will provide to the Bears, yet this is exactly what Ryan Pace is doing.  It’s a rookie mistake for a young GM who is believed to mostly be doing a good job so far.

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What can the Bears expect from Kevin White in his career?

| June 5th, 2015

I recently looked at the recent history (2006-14) of 1st round wide receivers in their rookie seasons to see what it is reasonable to expect from Kevin White in 2015.  Now I am going to look more closely at comparable players from that list to Kevin White based on his physical attributes and college production.

Physical attributes

put together a list of the height and 40 time of all 30 receivers drafted in the first round since 2006 (based on Combine measurements when available, Pro Day when needed).  Kevin White measured in at 6’3″ and ran a 4.35 second 40 yard dash, so I looked for guys who measured between 6’2″ and 6’4″ and ran the 40 in 4.40 seconds or less as being similar to White.  The full list, which is very short, is seen below.

There are only four wide receivers who can roughly match White’s size/speed combo who have been drafted in the 1st round since 2006.  That shows the rare traits White possesses, and the names Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas show you just how high his upside is.  Of course, players like Robert Meachem and Darrius Heyward-Bey show that this is no guarantee of stardom.

College production

I also looked at the college production of all the wide receivers drafted in the 1st round since 2006.  Since one of the fears with Kevin White is that he only has one strong season of college production on his resume, I looked at their production in their best college season as well as their production in their 2nd best college season.  Besides White, there were six players with at least 1,000 yards in their best season, less than 750 yards in their 2nd best season, and at least 400 yards difference between their best and 2nd best season.  That list is provided below.

 

Once again we see players who are stars and players who are busts, with very little in between.  Of the six players with similar college resumes to Kevin White, two (Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant) have become NFL superstars, two (Kelvin Benjamin and Odell Beckham) are coming off big rookie seasons and seem headed to NFL stardom, while two (AJ Jenkins and Robert Meachem) never accomplished much in the NFL, though Meachem at least had a couple seasons as a solid role player.

Combining both

Looking at players with White’s combination of size, speed, and college production, we narrow it down even further.  There are only two players who are comparable to White in both of the categories above: Demaryius Thomas and Robert Meachem.

I think it seems reasonable  to say those two serve as a baseline worst (Meachem) and best (Thomas) case scenario for White’s career.  It’s also worth noting that neither player did much as a rookie. Thomas had 22 catches for 283 yards as a rookie, while Meachem spent his rookie season on injured reserve and only posted 12 catches for 289 yards in his sophomore campaign, but that is a very small sample size and does not mean for sure White will have such a small impact in his rookie season.

Boom or bust?

Throughout his comparables we see the immense boom or bust potential that White possesses.  Bears fans can only hope that he avoids busting, because he should be a superstar if he does.

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