We're in the home stretch now. The draft is right around the corner. I'm literally shaking with excitement.
(I'm really not. I just felt like being on the other side of misusing the word "literally." It was fun in a "let's put a firecracker in our neighbor's mailbox just for fun" kind of way.)
In an effort to cover as much ground as possible (I'd still like to do one of these on Maxx Williams and Kevin Johnson), I'm eschewing my normal extended introduction and we're jumping right into things.
Dorial Green-Beckham is one of the most polarizing players I've ever seen coming out of college. Granted, a lot of that has to do with off the field stuff.
In fact, let's get that out of the way. As soon as this disclaimer is over I'm not writing about DGB the person today, just the football player. You can read the police report on his off-the-field issues discussed and made available here and here).
So as far as the off-the-field stuff goes, DGB isn't worth the risk in my mind. BUT ... people want to hear about the player. And so that's what today's focus is. So consider me a guy unaware of the off-the-field issues from here on out.
As always, I used the wonderful material at Draft Breakdown to watch film. To see every snap of DGB in five games, click here. The videos take only an average of five minutes or so to watch through once and are a wonderful way to quickly take a look for yourself.
Many people are crazy about DGB the player. They rave about his very unique size and speed combination. And you know what? They're largely correct. There aren't a lot of people in the world who are his size who can run the way he does. He's 6'5 and nearly 240 pounds, but runs as well as many smaller receivers do.
Here's where many Chiefs fans wave the "Jon Baldwin" card and walk away. After all, the argument goes, Jon Baldwin had Combine numbers that were scarily equivalent to what DGB did. We all saw how that translated onto the field (you know; it didn't). In fact, the way Baldwin was touted (as a deep threat with fantastic ball skills) is eerily similar to the way DGB is touted.
Naturally, Chiefs fans have something of Post Traumatic Baldwin Syndrome when it comes to big wide receivers who win at the catch point.
Allow me to quell that particular fear right out of the gate. DGB is significantly quicker and smoother on the field than Jon Baldwin is. It's not even close. Here's a very mundane play to prove that very important point. DGB is on the bottom of the screen.
If you're less than totally overwhelmed, I understand. What you've got there is a really, really basic quick out. You and I have both seen that route roughly a billion times. There's absolutely nothing special about the play.
The point here is that Jon Baldwin absolutely could not run that route. He didn't have any quickness whatsoever and his hips were as bad as I've seen in the NFL. The point of a route like this is to stick the turn once the corner has started to flip his hips to go down the field. For it to work the receiver has to be able to stop, plant, and turn (ready for the ball) before the corner has time to recover.
Jon Baldwin couldn't do it, and the inability to do so is a barrier to entry as an NFL wide receiver. DGB is not Jon Baldwin. While their tape is similar in that neither was required to run many routes (we'll get back to that), DGB is significantly better than Baldwin in the area of quickness and fluidity. So let's put that comparison (and fear) to bed.
On the other hand, DGB's long speed is not overwhelming. I've heard way too many people talk about Randy Moss or Calvin Johnson when they're describing what a "freak" DGB is.
Stop it. That's not even kind of accurate. Calvin Johnson is DGB's size and ran the 40 significantly faster (4.35 to 4.49) in addition to posting more impressive combine numbers across the board. And Randy Moss was simply much, much, much faster than DGB. His speed was incredible. DGB's speed is "decent." There's no comparison.
That shows up on film. while DGB has decent speed, he wasn't getting much separation on deep routes unless there was some kind of coverage breakdown. College CB's were generally able to stick with him. That separates him from DeVante Parker (another big receiver who wins at the catch point), who was able to get over the top of defenses and get separation more consistently and more quickly.
There was only one aspect of DGB's game where all that promise showed up, and that was at the catch point. And yes, DGB is really, really impressive going up and getting a contested pass.
I mean, seriously. Whoa.
That's one of the better catches you'll see, and it demonstrates something DGB showed repeatedly in the film I watched. When put in a position where he needs to go up (or in this case, go back. What a terrible throw that was) and get the ball, he excels in a way most receivers don't.
An analyst I very much respect once said (I believe quoting another analyst, but who knows? I'm not taking the time to find out) that rather than focusing on what a prospect CAN'T do, it's often good to focus on what they CAN do and what that would bring to a team.
DGB, without a doubt, tracks and catches contested passes better than almost any player I've watched who isn't A.J. Green or Megatron. His combination of height and leaping ability to a knack for focusing on the ball regardless of what else is going on is an INCREDIBLY marketable skill. He's going to play well in the right system with that ability alone.
And that play wasn't alone. Watch his game against Kentucky. He had like four grabs like that. It was insane.
Additionally, there are other things to like about DGB. Of the wide receivers I've watched this offseason (which has been virtually all of the upper tier and many of the middle tier prospects) DGB was at the very top in terms of blocking ability. He's clearly a lot stronger than his relatively wiry frame would indicate. With most receivers they just try and get in the way of a defender. DGB looks to be physical, and when he locks onto a secondary player he's able to actually drive them back at times and almost never gives ground. He also walls off well depending on where the runner is, a rare trait in a WR.
A lot of Chiefs fans put a great deal of emphasis on blocking ability in our receivers. Frankly, I'm not sure Andy Reid and John Dorsey view it as QUITE so crucial, considering they just dumped arguably the best blocking WR in the league and replaced him with a guy who is a middling blocker at best. That said, those who like a physical wide receiver will love the way DGB plays.
Another pleasant surprise with DGB is how well he handles physical play. He doesn't allow jostling to move him off his route, he doesn't really seem all that bothered by press coverage (though it was rare that he faced it), and he's absolutely unfazed by corner hand fighting with him as the ball is in the air. As was mentioned earlier, DGB generally wins that fight, often committing offensive pass interference that went uncalled because the defensive player was fighting just as hard... but lost (at least, I imagine that's why so many went uncalled).
Some wide receivers can't handle contact (that was another problem Jon Baldwin had, by the way. Same with Donnie Avery, so it's not just a "big, slow WR" issue). DGB isn't one of them. He often INITIATES contact. Overall, he just plays a lot tougher than I expected.
A related feature is DGB's ability after the catch. He shows good balance as well as strength in his lower body, and is better than one would think at shrugging off tacklers to gain extra yardage.
That is definitely not the type of play I expected when going into DGB's film. He shook all 11 Kentucky starters, three special teamers, an assistant head coach, and Johnny The Tackling Alzheimer's Patient.
DGB is absolutely not some finesse player. He's a big, physical receiver who happens to be pretty fast and quick for his size and strength. He's a guy you can definitely see succeeding at the next level considering his unique ability at the catch point and the way he shrugs off physical contact.
Of course, the reason I look at the film for these guys is to determine if they are a fit for the Chiefs. And after watching DGB carefully, I'm still not convinced.
Don't get me wrong, he's better than I'd thought. Quite a bit better, actually. But the simple fact is that through five games I saw something like 4-5 total different types of routes from DGB, and that's being generous. He simply never had to do much more than run straight lines at varying speeds. His way of trying to shake a defender was simply to slow down a little then speed up. It's ugly to watch, actually.
And why DGB's quickness was better than I expected, his long speed was actually worse. Given the stories I'd heard I walked in expecting some kind of freak. The simple reality is DGB is not going to get separation deep on NFL corners. He's not fast enough, and doesn't have an extra gear even with those long strides.
DGB's strength is that he's open even when he's not open. If he goes to a team where the quarterback is willing to chuck the ball up to him (and he works hard on his routes) he could have a very good NFL career. He's going to win a TON of jump balls in the NFL over secondary players who are physically outmatched (in that respect the Calvin Johnson comparison really DOES hold up).
But re-read that second sentence. Is there anything about Alex Smith that convinces you he'll ever be a guy willing to chuck it up and trust a receiver with no separation to win at the catch point? There shouldn't be. Smith does it maybe once or twice a game, if that.
To put it simply (and steal another quote from Cian Fahey, the earlier-mentioned analyst), DGB wins where Smith loses. Or even worse, he wins where Smith doesn't even attempt.
Now, does this mean if Reid and Dorsey choose DGB there's no possible way it works out? Of course not. Tape is subjective, and I'm wrong all the time. perhaps he stuns me by showing off better-than-expected route running in the NFL, or Reid schemes ways to get him open naturally, or Smith starts chucking it... OK, that last one isn't going to happen barring a body switch.
But if I were a betting man I'd put money on DGB not working out. Which means the Chiefs are almost destined to take him considering my track record for predictions. On the plus side, with me being pessimistic he could well shatter receiving records (reverse jinxes for the win!).
At the end of the day, despite some really unique strengths, I hope to see the Chiefs go elsewhere at wide receiver this week.
Just a few more days, guys.