Not a Physical Marvel... But how much does that matter?
Sometimes we’re so wowed by a prospect athletically that we overlook his faults and overrate him based on physical upside. Rest assured: there’s no danger of that with Landry. He’s some great, useful things, but a mismatch-creating specimen isn’t one of them. His 2014 combine was among the least impressive among wideouts since the Truman administration, headlined by a brutal 4.77 40-yard dash and a 28.5” vertical. And his pro day measurements – typically fluffed-up numbers influenced by a prospect’s handlers – were similarly poor weeks later. It’s hard to drum up much organic excitement for a guy of Landry’s athletic profile.
But we know that measurables don’t always matter, as a rule. It’s shrewd to use them in creating a baseline of expectations, but a select few do indeed outplay their measurements. Landry’s pro day 40-yard time wasn’t much worse than that of Anquan Boldin or Keenan Allen, and he didn’t jump significantly worse than Jordy Nelson or Rueben Randle. And like those other guys, Landry proved a reliable, high-volume target on the college level.
Regardless of your feelings toward collegiate stats, the fact that Landry was so productive at LSU is a positive indicator. He trumped teammate Odell Beckham, Jr. statistically, posting much better reception, yardage, and touchdown marks while they lined up together. And unlike Beckham, Landry saw the bulk of his success against top competition. In two years as a starter, Landry played 16 games vs. SEC opponents, totaling 90 catches for 1,234 yards and eight touchdowns.
And that reliability carried over nicely into Landry’s rookie season. Pro Football Focus credited him with 1.86 yards per route, third-best league-wide among full-time slot receivers. He was marked with just two drops among his 86 catchable targets (fifth-best in the NFL), and Ryan Tannehill notched an impressive 96.6 rating when throwing Landry’s way (36th out of 90 qualifiers). The Dolphins took notice of his quick NFL transition:
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Opportunity is the reason Landry’s ADP has yo-yo’d so wildly, from the middle of the third to early in the seventh and everywhere between. The Dolphins have rebuilt their passing game, and there’s concern that Landry, who isn’t a supreme talent to begin with, could be brushed aside. But at this point, he actually looks like the most predictable – and high-volume – option of the group.
As you saw above, Landry blossomed into an elite slot target midway through last year, and his opportunity nearly doubled. Short-arm specialist Ryan Tannehill preferred Landry to all others down the stretch, and there’s a strong chance we’re seeing one of those overlooked QB-WR pairings that spin PPR gold. While there’s a lot of talent among the team’s other options, there’s a lot of unknown, unpredictability, and variance of opinion at this point:
- Trade acquisition Kenny Stills is a freakishly efficient young talent, but may need time to acclimate to such a change in culture. His role and fit within the offense are up in the air.
- First-round pick DeVante Parker boasts great measurables and flashed big things in school, but he’s losing his entire offseason to an aggravation of a Jones fracture in his foot. That’s a somewhat troubling injury, and the chances of him joining the team in Week 1 and making an impact are slim. This has the look of a redshirt year for Parker.
- Greg Jennings is (amazingly) just 31, but he’s slowed down markedly. He’s fresh off three very unspectacular and injury-plagued seasons and could be near the end of the line.
- New tight end Jordan Cameron is an enticing target, but his history of concussions and other various dings make it hard to project a huge role in Miami.
Landry closed 2014 on a 104-catch pace, and considering the uncertainty across the field, he could certainly repeat that pace this year. With a floor of 80-90 targets and outstanding per-target efficiency, he’s unlikely to disappoint PPR owners regardless of his peripheral numbers.
Make no mistake: Landry is a limited player. With mediocre size and blah athleticism, he doesn’t create much separation or dynamism in relation to his peers. His 5.7 aDOT speaks to that, as do his disappointing four targets inside the 10. As a result, there’s a lack of significant upside in Landry’s projection. He’ll never post a 1,300-yard, 12-TD season, so he’s not the sexiest option among some of his ADP peers. Landry is currently being drafted alongside Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, and Amari Cooper, and he often loses the upside showdown. It’s not all his fault – Tannehill’s limitations keep this offense conservative and limit everyone’s ceilings – but that doesn’t change things. Landry is unlikely to provide elite yardage, and there’s very little upside beyond the volume he’s given.
But that doesn’t make Landry a risky pick; it actually makes him a fairly shrewd one. It represents a fair trade-off: you sacrifice monstrous upside, with the expectation of massive usage dragging him to upper-shelf numbers anyway. And in this offense, there’s real potential for 100 catches – and the 1,000ish yards and 6-8 touchdowns that would have to come with it (see: Edelman, Julian). Landry’s top-15 ceiling and manageable floor make him an elite WR3 pick, one very well-suited to its fifth-round ADP.
- High volume. Landry is an elite slot receiver who catches every short toss flipped his way, which suits his offense very well. It’s hard to imagine his reception total falling outside the 80-100 range.
- High efficiency. Landry’s stunningly low drop rate in college carried over into his rookie year, where he caught 75% of his throws and produced elite yardage per route. With his conservative role in the offense, it’s safe to assume he’ll generate strong PPR value with any volume he sees. He boasts one of the highest floors among your WR3 options.
- Value. As training camp wears on, the Dolphins’ more glamorous young WR options will likely soak up more and more glowing practice press. Expect that word-of-mouth to raise their ADPs and lower Landry’s more and more – even though Landry boasts the most predictable and high-volume outlook. He could conceivably serve a PPR WR2 from the sixth or seventh round.
- Reliance on volume. Unlike more gifted, high-upside youngsters, Landry desperately needs that sky-high volume to stay startable. He doesn’t create yardage or touchdowns at a great clip, so anything short of an 80-catch season could kill his WR2/3 value.
- Competition. The Dolphins have added two talented young options and a cagey veteran to the passing game, so Landry won’t have his role just handed to him. If one or two of the new faces hit the ground running, Landry may not ultimately see that elite volume he needs.
- Quarterback inconsistency. Ryan Tannehill has made strides, but we’re still not entirely sure what we have there. His completion rate shot up last year, but his peripheral rates did not, which could indicate his 2014 was a bit of an outlier. Landry isn’t the type of talent who transcends mediocre QB play.
C.D. Carter is hesitant on Landry:
"I suspected Landry’s ceiling was capped, and the equity scores bear that out. Landry’s high projection would make him a reasonable selection at his current ADP, but his negative median score ensures I won’t draft him over guys like [Jeremy] Maclin, Roddy [White], and Charles Johnson."
But our own Sigmund Bloom sees real WR2 value here:
“Jarvis Landry's underwhelming physical traits and razzmatazz-lacking role conceal the potential to produce on an Edelman/Welker level in PPR”