Phillip Lindsay-esque Rookie Comps for the 2019 UDFA Class

BACK ROW SHOW BANDITS!

 

Thank you for the comments on the last article prior to the Draft kicking off - there was a ton of information out there and I appreciate you taking the time to consume mine. For the record, ‘my later round guys’ went as followed:

Kahale Warring to the Houston Texans in the 3rd Round and Dillon Mitchell went to Minnesota in the 7th Round. However, Alex Barnes went undrafted and is now a UDFA with Tennessee and Tyree Jackson also was a UDFA to… well, I’ll get to that a little later! But, on with the show!

 

The underdog story of 2018 unfolded in front of our eyes and we didn't even see it coming.

 

Seven rounds of selections took place, and no one could find room for a 5’8, 185lb running back from University of Colorado. It makes sense right? He wasn't even invited to the combine, overlooked by chiseled, stud, athletes and combine heroes like Ronald Jones - whose draft trajectory took him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Second Round. Phillip Lindsay was a firmly overlooked afterthought. In the rearview mirror. Tossed to the side. What was not to like? He was the first player in Colorado’s history to be a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher and holds the record for all-purpose yards for the school. How did everyone seemingly miss on a guy who had the tenth most carries for a college running back in 2017?  

 

COLLEGE:

 

Ok, so I’ll tell you about that college production that Lindsay had, and I’m going to do that by comparing him to the top running back taken in the 2018 draft class, Mr. Saquon Barkley (what am I, stupid for doing that? Of course - career suicide - let’s go!).

 

Was it the college production that Lindsay didn’t have that scared people off? Of course not, however, Phillip Lindsay accumulated a stat line of 244-1252-16 (att/yds/TD) rushing with the 53-493-1 as a Junior in 2016. Maybe Lindsay’s work wasn’t as appealing or glamorous to ‘talent scouts’ when ‘generational stars’ like Saquon Barkley, who were also crushing it (number 2 overall in the draft to the Giants in the same year as Lindsay, a UDFA) in 2016 while rushing for 272-1496-18 (only 28 more Attempts, 244 more Yards and 2 TDs more than Lindsay in that same year), with 28-402-4 receiving (25 fewer receptions, 91 fewer yards, but with 3 more touchdowns than Lindsay did receiving). The way that Saquon Barkley had been touted, you would think that either a) Saquon’s accomplishments would have been significantly more than what Phillip Lindsay had accomplished and b) it really is a repeat of point ‘a’, there really should have been more distance statistically between the two of them.

 

I mean that's fairly even though right? Well, what about in 2017, prior to becoming ‘Pros’?

 

Phillip Lindsay, as a senior, had a 301-1474-14 TDs on the ground with a 23-257-1 TD season as a senior at Colorado in 2017 (12 games). Barkley, in 13 games, had a 217-1271-18 season on the ground (84 more attempts, 203 more yards for Lindsay, 4 more touchdowns for Barkley) and a 54-632-3 season in the air (31 more receptions, 375 more yards and 2 more touchdowns than Lindsay). Barkley stepped ahead, but only slightly, right?

 

In a bubble, over two years it would be looked at as such:

 

Barkley:

Games: 27 / Total Rushing Attempts: 489 / Rushing Yards: 2767 / Rushing TDS: 36 / Total Receptions: 82 / Receiving Yards: 1034 / Receiving TDS: 7

 

Lindsay:

Games: 26 / Total Rushing Attempts: 545 / Rushing Yards: 2726 / Rushing TDS: 30 / Total Receptions: 76 / Receiving Yards: 750 / Receiving TDS: 2

 

That right there - the final two seasons of college production for both Barkley and Lindsay - is the difference between the second overall pick of the 2018 draft and a guy that didn’t get drafted at all. A few more attempts, a handful of yards, a couple more touchdowns. That is not a lot at all.

 

COMBINE:

 

Phillip Lindsay, as we know was not invited to the draft combine, but he had himself a bit of a day at his schools pro day, where he virtually matched the top time in the 40-yard dash that Nyheim Hines (4.37s) had at the combine with a 4.38. But Hines, on the back of a respectable season at North Carolina State with a 197-1113-12 season on the ground along with 26-152 yards in the receiving game, was ultimately preferred by general manager Chris Ballard, and was drafted by the Colts in the 4th round last season. Hines finished 2018 with a 85-314-2 rushing line and 81-63-425-2 (tar/rec/yds/TDs) in the receiving game as a rookie in 2018. He found himself ultimately as the ‘2A’ next to fellow rookie running back Jordan Wilkins (who was also drafted ahead of Lindsay in the 5th Round) as the ‘2B’. As both fell behind Marlon Mack’s impressive rise, Hines - in essence - repaid his 4th round price tag in 2018.

 

However, Phillip Lindsay had two better seasons of college production than Nyheim Hines did (and others, this isn’t a slight on Hines, just a comparison), yet could not get an invite to the combine and was a UDFA picked up by ‘local’ NFL outfit the Denver Broncos. Hines, goes earlier with less production in college than Lindsay with the only difference being between the two (from what I can see) is about 18lbs of mass and maybe (maybe?) a better college football program.

 

ROOKIE SEASONS:

 

I’m going to go back to my previous comparison of Phillip Lindsay and Saquon Barkley.

 

Barkley in 16 games:

Rushing: 261-1307-11 TDS

Receiving: 121-91-721-4 TDS

 

Lindsay in 15 games:

Rushing: 192-1037-9 TDS

Receiving: 47-35-241-1 TD

 

Barkley had 69 more attempts, 270 more rushing yards, 2 more rushing touchdowns. It was in the receiving game that Barkley crushed, well, everyone, with 56 more receptions, 480 more yards, and 3 touchdowns. Again, that isn’t a lot of difference between the two considering that a) Barkley was the second pick overall and b) Lindsay was the second running Back (again, undrafted) that Denver took last year and started the season as their third choice running back in a dreaded committee.

 

Denver got a steal.

 

And they knew it too.

 

Lindsay is only the 14th UDFA player to be rostered by the Broncos roster in 15 years, and to be fair in this respect he is in great company. Guys like Chris Harris Jr, Wesley Woodyard, and C.J. Anderson are a few guys to make the team this way, and on top of that, Lindsay’s qualities showed enough to be a reason as to why the Broncos only rostered 3 running backs at the start of the season - two of which were rookies. On top of that, Lindsay is also the second running back since C.J. Anderson to have 1,000 yards rushing in a season, which was the second time it has happened for Denver since 2013. It worked out well for everyone it seems!

 

As a result of his fantastic rookie season, Phillip Lindsay made the Pro Bowl - and was the first UDFA Rookie to ever do so.

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL:

 

Ironically, in fantasy football, Phillip Lindsay had himself a season, finishing as the RB12 overall in half PPR scoring as an RB1 with 205.3 points. He was the second highest-scoring rookie0 running back, going behind (surprise, surprise) Saquon Barkley, who finished as the RB2 overall with 340.3 points. On fantasyfootballcalculator.com - Barkley was the 1.07 in half PPR redraft formatting, and the RB6 taken overall. Phillip Lindsay wasn’t even in the top 68 running backs drafted. Hell, he isn’t even on the list. Persona-non-grata. Sin Cara. Non-existent. In fact, his fellow rookie teammate in Denver, Royce Freeman, went in the 3rd round and Devontae Booker went well before Lindsay too. On top of that, all 3 running backs (including the 2 rookies) for the Colts went well ahead of Lindsay as well. And to paint a worse picture, a guy like LeGarrette Blount - in half PPR scoring formats - was the RB51, going well before Phillip Lindsay.

In fantasy football, like reality, Lindsay was again an overlooked. We opted for what we knew, what we had seen and not what was a better fit and option.

 

Think about that for a moment, because as bad as hindsight bias is in the ‘we should know better’ world of finger pointing that comes with it, is lessons we should learn - otherwise, we will keep making the same mistakes, right? Lindsay out-produces Hines and Wilkins (and Ito Smith and Ronald Jones) and couldn’t get a shot at the combine or draft, has close-to-similar production as the number 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley, and again we see Lindsay as a guy we overlooked. That is as crazy.

 

Speaking of crazy, talk of Ronald Jones carving out a role for Tampa this year after a year where he flopped! Wait, what? No. Stop it! Not this garbage again! This! This is the reason why guys get drafted when they shouldn’t and are the reasons why guys like Lindsay miss out. Hype, flashy highlights, and motion of support. Jones should have been in the now-defunct A.A.F, not in Tampa.

 

My reasons for talking about Lindsay this week, purely come from a place of interest. Because last week the draft took place where these kids get the phone call to that could and or will change their life. We also won’t see guys like Lindsay getting that call, having to work harder than those who may or may not have earned it more.

 

WHAT DID WE LEARN:

 

It is with ALL of this said that I have found four guys for you to keep an eye on who went undrafted this year. And in true Phillip Lindsay fashion, the ‘local’ NFL team they may end up on as a result. I mean local is relative right? 32 NFL teams are spread over only so many states, and some colleges are in states without an NFL team. Stop picking on me!

 

Anyways...

 

Quarterback: Tyree Jackson, Buffalo University

Signed By: Buffalo Bills

Final Year Production: (Throwing) 407-225-3131-28 / (Rushing) 55-161-7

Comparison: Josh Allen

Why: Big arm, somewhat inaccurate, decent wheels, similar build and play style.

Summary: Last week I specifically mentioned Jackson as a guy that might not get drafted and could be someone who matches Josh Allen in physical metrics alone. Jackson, no doubt needs work but to keep the playing style fluid for the team that is being built in Buffalo, Jackson, is clearly a better alternative than Matt Barkley or Derek Anderson.

 

Running Back: Devine Ozigbo

Signed By: New Orleans

Final Year Production: (Rushing) 155-1082-12 / (Receiving) 23-203

Comparison: A poor-man’s Royce Freeman at Oregon. He is very much a big-bodied bruiser, his lack of production is obvious up until his 2018 season which makes you question whether he is a one hit wonder or not.

Why: Ozigbo lands in a place where Latavius Murray has been picked up and Alvin Kamara reigns supreme. However, the rotation of running backs behind those two is something to really be desired and likely up for grabs.

Summary: Alvin Kamara was on fire when Mark Ingram served his suspension, and when Ingram returned the dreaded ‘RBBC’ went somewhat back into play. But, when Ingram wasn’t available, Kamara had little help. Murray steps into that role left behind and although he is extremely useful, he has often found himself behind the proverbial ‘8-ball’ when it comes to his health or being used in ‘comittees’. Murray comes with a $14m fee this offseason, however, based on his contract could be (reasonably) cut after two seasons. Which, if he comes up with another 140-578-6 season you would have to ask yourself if the Saints couldn’t find a cheaper alternative. That cheaper alternative could well be Devine Ozigbo, but expecting anything from him this year may be a bit rich.

 

Wide Receiver:  Jaylen Smith, Louisville

Signed By: Baltimore Ravens

Final Year Production: 36-550-1

Comparison: Myles Boykin who was drafted by the Ravens at 6’4, 220lbs, 4.42 40 yard dash with a 59-872-8 final year production - similar to Smith’s 2017 season.

Why: We have some ‘my buddy, my pal’ love right here!

Summary: No, his last year wasn’t great, however, his junior year in college was somewhat respectable in a team lead by a name of Lamar Jackson, who is (as we know) the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens (where you guessed it) where Jaylen Smith has found himself as a UDFA. The last time these two hooked up, Smith and Jackson connected with a 60-980-7 season, which at 16.3 YPR could be something that gets our attention. Baltimore boosted their offensive stocks in this year's draft by adding Marquise Brown (1st Round) and Miles Boykin (3rd Round). Smith could see himself sneak onto the roster if he can prove that his connection with Lamar Jackson stands up.

 

Tight End: No one. There’s literally no one that I could find that went from a ‘local college to local NFL’ team. But Because I am a trooper I will give you a flyer:

 

Tight End: Donald Parham, Stetson

Signed By: Detroit Lions

Final Year Production: 85-1319-13

Comparison: Stetson is 6’8, 240lbs with a 4.73 40-yard time. He could be a Coby Fleener type without the college pedigree. I’m not sure how great the coaching at Stetson was or how tough the division they were in was.

Why: What we have here is a raw clump of clay that in the right hands could be something Stetson didn’t really take to football until his senior year of high school, but with physical attributes that could be seen as unique he is, for now, someone that stands out from the cookie cutter options that may be out there.

Summary: I mean talk about tight end wastelands am I right? We were all happy for T.J Hockenson for being selected number 8 overall but tell me there wasn’t a groan that followed when you saw it was Detroit that grabbed him. They (in hindsight) looked to have held Eric Ebron back and to have talent like Hockenson fall to them, part of me wished they took Ed Oliver (for fantasy purposes) instead. To make matters worse, the Lions also signed Isaac Nauta, also a tight end out of Georgia whose seen as more of a ‘blocking tight end’ only with one of their 7th round selections. Oh, and they signed Jesse James as a free agent away from Pittsburgh this offseason too. That's 4 tight ends in a place that doesn't use the position that effectively.

 

And on that note, that will just about do me for this week!

Check out (@FootballNuke) Chris Foster and Matthew Bruening’s (@SportsfanaticMB) this offseason. There are some fantastic articles up and running which you can find here: https://www.backrowfantasyshow.com/writers.

If you haven’t already also (which would be shocking considering you’re on their website), give @Barkbackrow, @Armsbackrow, @Nealdrox, and @Onlyhere4brfs (congrats to the new guys Neil and Lambo - they’re doing a heck of a job also) a follow and get around @hucksbackrow for his fantastic DFS plays of the week during that season too!

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