A little bit of backstory about how we got here.
A couple of days ago, this tweet came across my timeline—
To which I replied—
Now I just need to write an article, “Daurice Fountain is most likely to be this years Justin Jefferson.” https://t.co/3oWE9l3E9X— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) September 6, 2021
This caught the eye of my colleague Ron Kopp Jr.—
I double-dog dare you— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) September 6, 2021
And if it’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I never back down from a double-dog dare.
Do I honestly think Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Daurice Fountain will be the best rookie wide receiver in the NFL this year?
But last year, most people didn’t think Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson would turn out to be one of the best receivers in the NFL in his rookie season. The year before that, people thought that Seattle Seahawks wideout DK Metcalf would be good; they just didn’t expect him to come out looking like the next Megatron (former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.)
The wide receiver position is hard to play. Making the jump from college to the pros is more about the minute details of route running and hand fighting than having a blazing 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine.
Case in point: Devante Adams of the Green Bay Packers is widely considered one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. His 40-yard dash time at the combine was 4.56 seconds. But watch the man run a route, and you will quickly understand why he is impossible to cover.
So why Daurice Fountain?
So far this year, he’s been the best wide receiver on the Chiefs roster who’s not named Tyreek Hill.
D-Fo (Daurice Fountain) is officially my dark horse candidate to wear the rookie* wide receiver crown, and I’m going to spend the next few paragraphs trying to make the case to try and convince you why you too should believe in him as well.
*Note: I’m overlooking Fountain’s six previous games with the Indianapolis Colts. For the purpose of this article, we are considering him a rookie-like player.
Let's take a look at the measurables.
Weight: 203 lbs
College colors: purple and gold.
College mascot: a predatory big cat (Tigers)
Average yards per catch final year in college: 13.9
To see Jefferson’s complete pre-draft athletic profile, click here.
Weight: 210 lbs
College colors: purple and gold.
College mascot: a predatory big cat (Panthers)
Average yards per catch final year in college: 14.29
To see Fountain’s complete pre-draft athletic profile, click here.
When we look at the raw athletic data, we find two very similar players in their physical makeup.
Fountain carries just a little more weight— but despite the few extra pounds, Fountain still posted a 42 1⁄2 vertical jump at his pro day in 2018. That’s higher than Justin Jefferson, DK Metcalf, JaMarr Chase, AJ Brown, Julio Jones and Devante Adams.
Fountain also posted a broad jump of 134 inches to match his vertical. Of the players listed above, only Julio Jones bested him at 135 inches.
On paper, in the red zone, there is not a wide receiver who is more equipped to go up and get a 50-50 ball than Fountain.
Route running and change of direction
Justin Jefferson possesses elite agility. What started as a simple out route in the national championship game turned into a massive gain thanks to his ability to tip-toe the sideline and cut the ball back inside.
In this play, Fountain gets the Arizona Cardinals defender on his heels by starting hard downfield with his first few steps before planting his outside foot and cutting back across the field. This allows D-Fo to get a free release and leave the defensive back gasping for air. However, the most impressive part of this play is his ability to take a solid shot going over the middle and hold onto the ball.
I have nothing to back up this claim, but I think this was the play where Andy Reid and Brett Veach decided Fountain had made the 53-man roster.
In limited playing time this preseason, Fountain caught 10 receptions for 118 yards.
If we say he played two quarters a game on average and then double his output to equal a full four-quarter game, his stats look like this— 20 receptions for 236 yards. That’s an average of 78.66 yards per game. If we multiply that by 17 games, we get 113 receptions for 1,337 yards, averaging 11.8 yards per reception.
To put everything into context, Jefferson had 88 receptions for 1,400 yards in 2020.
When you consider that Fountain did not have the luxury of Patrick Mahomes passing him the ball this preseason, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Fountain could make up the additional 63 yards and match or even exceed Jefferson’s numbers from 2020.
Now, all of this is assuming that Fountain sees the field and gets consistent snaps in 2021. At best, he seems to be the fifth wide receiver on this roster, but you never know — if Fountain can make the most of the opportunities provided to him, he just might be able to carve out a larger role in this offense.
To be honest, this all still seems like a long shot. But hey, I said I was going to make my case, so here it is, and I hope I look like a genius at the end of the year.
What do you think, did I convince you? Is DFO going to be a top wide receiver in the NFL this year?
This poll is closed
Sorry buddy, I’m not convinced.
Heck yes, he is the next Larry Fitzgerald!