Mon. Nov 30th, 2020

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Henry Ruggs vs. Jerry Jeudy

3 min read

Here’s a data dump of some content that didn’t make it into the player comments section of Football Outsiders Almanac 2020.

With the help of Nathan Forster, I went back to compare Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy to other wide receiver teammate pairs in the Playmaker Score database. That means going back to 1997.

Ruggs was drafted ahead of Jeudy even though he was less productive in college. I was curious how often that had happened with teammates, that the more productive collegiate player was drafted later. (Obviously, Ruggs and Jeudy went only three picks apart… most of the other receiver pairs I’m going to mention here were picked with a much larger gap in between.)

The metrics we’re using here are the metrics used in Playmaker Score. We’re looking at receiving yards per team pass attempt in the player’s peak year, and then receiving yards per season in the player’s first five years in the NFL. Ruggs, for example, had 1.84 yards per team pass attempt in his peak year. Jeudy had 3.00 yards per team pass attempt in his peak year.

I don’t think I learned anything about whether Jeudy is more likely to be a successful NFL player than Ruggs, but here’s some data anyway.

The player who had a higher peak Yd/TA goes earlier in the draft 76% of the time.

When the player with the higher peak Yd/TA goes first, he ends up with a better first five years in the NFL 75% of the time.

When the player with the lower peak Yd/TA goes first, which is the case with Henry Ruggs III, he ends up with a better first five years in the NFL 63% of the time.

Jeudy and Ruggs are the fifth pair of WR teammates to go in the first round since 1997. The first pair also had the player with the lower Yd/TA go first, when Ike Hilliard of Florida (2.21) went seventh overall while Reidel Anthony (3.14) went 16th overall in 1997. Hilliard, drafted first, also ended up with the better NFL career. The other pairs of first-round wide receivers were:

  • 2001 Miami: Santana Moss (pick 16, 2.32 Yd/TA) and Reggie Wayne (pick 30, 2.22 Yd/TA)
  • 2007 LSU: Dwayne Bowe (pick 23, 2.69 Yd/TA) and Craig Davis (pick 30, 2.27 Yd/TA)
  • 2007 Ohio State: Ted Ginn (pick 9, 2.66 Yd/TA) and Anthony Gonzalez (pick 32, 2.16 Yd/TA)

Here’s a look at the seven times that the receiver with a higher peak Yd/TA went later in the draft but had the more productive NFL career, which would be the situation if Jeudy outperforms Ruggs in the NFL:

  • 1998 Wisconsin: Donald Hayes (CAR, pick 4.106) over Tony Simmons (NE, 2.52)
  • 2000 Florida: Darrell Jackson (SEA, 3.80) over Travis Taylor (BAL, 1.10)
  • 2000 Texas A&M: Dante Hall (KC, 5.153) over Chris Cole (DEN, 3.70)
  • 2001 Ohio State: Ken-Yon Rambo (OAK, 7.229) over Reggie Germany (BUF, 7.214)
  • 2009 Penn State: Deon Butler (SEA, 3.91) over Derrick Williams (DET, 3.82)
  • 2010 Kansas: Dezmon Briscoe (CIN, 6.191) over Kerry Meier (ATL, 5.165)
  • 2017 Louisiana Tech: Trent Taylor (SF, 5.177) over Carlos Henderson (DEN, 3.82)

Finally, a weird one from recent years. In 2018, three different receivers were drafted out of Georgia. They were drafted in opposite order of their peak yards per team attempt: Mecole Hardman (KC, 2.56) and then Riley Ridley (CHI, 4.126), and finally Terry Godwin (CAR, 7.237). So far, draft order is clearly winning out over college production in determining the best NFL receiver out of this group.

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