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Dorial Green-Beckham: Rookie Refocus

Examining the film and metrics of Dorial Green-Beckham's rookie season

Dorial Green-Beckham hit the NFL stage in 2015 as a rookie with a year away from the game. He emerged on a Tennessee depth chart as the season progressed and the Titans did little (other than adding Rishard Matthews) in the 2016 offseason. Can Marcus Mariota progress and stay healthy? Will Dorial Green-Beckham develop on his physical gifts? I hit the 2015 tape for some observations of the now second-year wide receiver.

Dorial Green-Beckham: The Film

The first target of the regular season comes where Tennessee motions away another receiver to isolate Green-Beckham against off-coverage. Beckham is a long strider but eats up the cushion quickly on a rounded out-and-up route. He gets a step down the sideline early in the route, but Mariota overthrows him.

The next target for Dorial Green-Beckham in the 2015 regular season is a microcosm of what he can be in the NFL. The Titans are down in the red zone against the Browns with 4th-and-6, down two touchdowns in the mid-fourth quarter. Marcus Mariota progresses through at least two reads and then floats a ball to Green-Beckham on a backside in-cut. The oversized receiver has the cornerback at his mercy, boxing him out like a basketball rebound, for the elementary touchdown catch above his head. This is what Green-Beckham can be regularly.

Against the Colts in Week 3, Green-Beckham gets another isolation red zone opportunity - against Vontae Davis, one of the best corners in the NFL. Beckham draws a defensive pass interference penalty on the jump ball. Another trip to the red zone against the Colts garnered two targets for DGB, including him manhandling Davis in close quarters with his size and strength, pushing off for the touchdown.

In two games, Green-Beckham has already had an elite level of point-blank end zone opportunities as a raw rookie wide receiver.

Dorial Green-Beckham's lone target against Buffalo in Week 5 drew a pass interference penalty on a third-down slant.

Green-Beckham saw his most involvement of the season to-date against Miami in Week 6. Beckham ran a clean out route for a catch. Then, for the first time all year, was out of sync (and bodied up by a cornerback) with Mariota for a back shoulder incompletion. DGB also dropped a deep post slightly behind him. Most receivers make that play. In the second half, DGB made two good hand catches in Tennessee's blowout loss to Miami.

Another growing pain moment for Green-Beckham in Week 8 against Houston. Zach Mettenberger was in for Mariota. The throw was a little behind on a deep out and he did not make a play on the ball. Easy interception as Tennessee struggles on the road.

Week 9 against New Orleans saw a ton of involvement for Dorial Green-Beckham, most in the second half and overtime. Beckham made a reception down the sideline, through a defensive penalty. Later in the fourth quarter, you see Beckham's after-catch ability. He drags a defensive back for close to 10 yards. It is a wrestling match a single cornerback will not win often. In overtime, Dorial Green-Beckham had another 10 yards of YAC.

Week 11 against Jacksonville was another mix of highs and lows for Green-Beckham. He made a couple contested catches in tight coverage (plus a low reception of note), but was pushed around by a defensive back on one target and failed to locate a target slightly behind him (like we saw in a previous game) on another.

Week 12 against Oakland shows it is tough to press Beckham. He has the burst to elude a defensive back at the line, plus the power to press through. Another red zone touchdown as a mismatch for Green-Beckham. Mariota was inaccurate on a majority of DGB targets in this game.

Mariota is spot-on, hitting Green-Beckham outside the pocket against Jacksonville Week 13. This should be a staple element of Tennessee's passing game going forward. DGB makes a sliding catch on a crossing route. DGB with a horrific drop, right through his hands on a deep comeback, an interception by Jacksonville. The final three targets for Beckham were all receptions, including a highlight long touchdown where he made an in-traffic catch, bounced off defensive backs, and rumbled for the 47-yard touchdown to give Tennessee the fourth quarter lead.

The Jets in Week 14 marked a good test for the developing Dorial Green-Beckham - an up-and-down performance with a couple of quality receptions but defensive backs gave him trouble on multiple targets with physical play.

In Week 15 the chemistry between Mariota and Mettenberger with Green-Beckham is coming together. Two early receptions in close coverage are converted. 

A lackluster game in Week 16 against Houston with Zach Mettenberger under center. Beckham had a long end zone target (off-target by Mettenberger) of note.

In Week 17, Green-Beckham converts 1-of-2 goal line opportunities to finish the season.

Overall Thoughts

Dorial Green-Beckham's biggest strengths are in the red zone and on downfield throws (no surprise). He received a fair amount of opportunities on short slant routes where defensive backs will have a tough time cutting him off from obtaining inside position. A well-thrown ball will be a near-automatic conversion.

Marcus Mariota's absence hurt Green-Beckham down the stretch. I really wanted to see how the pair progressed from some early-season flashes right around the point Mariota missed a bevy of games. I think this really hurt the pair's progression heading into the offseason.

Finally, let's look at some metrics on Dorial Green-Beckham:

It is tough to find peers for a receiver of Green-Beckham's size. Looking at 225+ pounds receivers (Beckham is pushing 240), here are the prospects who hit 5-11 PPG in their first NFL season (Beckham at 7 PPG):

Funchess enters Year 2 like Green-Beckham, so nothing helpful there. Jonathan Baldwin and Greg Little had overt wide receiver deficiencies. That leaves Bryant, Johnson, and Williams. Williams faded from the NFL quickly with plenty of non-football reasons. Bryant and Johnson both hit 11 PPG in Year 1, superior to Green-Beckham. Plus Calvin was an athletic freak and a perfect score in the projection model. Bryant was right there in the top-1% of the metrics as well. Unfortunately, this leaves Beckham in the gap between the Dez-Calvin zone and the Baldwin-Little tier. That is a big difference. 

In short, finding similar players is a tough task. The positives are an enviable size-movement combination, strong enough draft pedigree and a well-rounded metric profile:

  • +30% Size
  • +24% Athleticism
  • +27% Production

Dynasty Slant

I have compared Dorial Green-Beckham to Devin Funchess regularly over the past 12+ months as they are similar in most aspects of the projection model and Funchess is significantly cheaper in startup drafts and trades entering Year 2. For DGB, I find his Round 3-ish range of startup cost appropriate. He is after DeVante Parker and Donte Moncrief on my target list. I would take Josh Doctson or Corey Colemen over him as well. But Green-Beckham is next on the list. I would easily trade 1.05 or later in 2016 rookie picks for Beckham, even give 1.05 + mid-2nd for Beckham to package up. Trading a sagging veteran like Demaryius Thomas for Dorial Green-Beckham (straight up if you had to, but maybe a future 2nd or something on the side is possible) is another option.