Each draft season, the evaluation of top prospects almost certainly ends with “reminds me of” or “plays like.” This draft season is no different. Evaluators do this to explain show a possible similarity in success that is solely based on physical attributes, arm strength, quickness, speed, etc. NFL pro comparisons aren’t just limited to draft season, as players are compared all throughout the season and some even garnering comparisons in high school. Nevertheless, let’s dive into comparing the NFL’s top offensive prospects to their professional counterparts.
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Young, who is often knocked for his size, is a 6-foot, 194-pound (school measurements) quarterback with exceptional mid-range accuracy. The former five-star recruit began his collegiate career in Tuscaloosa back in 2020. He got the nod to start following Mac Jones‘ departure for the NFL. Since then, he has been unquestionably one of the best at his position. This past season, Young threw for 3,328 yard, 32 touchdowns and just five interceptions. In addition to his accuracy, Young has great instincts and an exceptional feel for the game. His thin frame and lack-of-ideal-height are some of his only cons.
Comparison: Drew Brees
Sometimes it can be seen as disrespectful when NFL pro comparisons compare prospects top legends, but Brees and Young succeed in similar categories all while having nearly identical size. Coming out of college, Brees stood at 6 feet and 213 pounds. (combine measurements). I’m not saying that Young is set to have similar success as Brees, who is undoubtedly one of the best to play the position at the highest level. Moreover, this comparison is to say that the knock on Young for his size appears irrelevant.
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Stroud is a strong-armed quarterback who has the highest floor and possibly the safest ceiling. Additionally, he finds most success from standing tall in the pocket and firing strikes to his receivers. Stroud has shown he has the athleticism to escape the pocket and throw on the run, or even pick up yards with his feet, but its not his preferred method of football.
Comparison: Joe Burrow
Burrow popped onto the scene quickly in college football and has had similar success in Cincinnati as he did in Baton Rouge. He doesn’t get flustered, he also doesn’t panic, he progresses through the pocket and waits for his opportunity to make a play with his arm. That’s what I see in Stroud, who threw for 3,688 yards, 41 touchdowns and six interceptions in his final year at Ohio State.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Possibly the most exciting player in this draft, there is not much Robinson can’t do as a runner. As soon as he touches the ball, you see his vision as he picks his spot then bursts through it with his lateral quickness and speed. Furthermore, Robinson is able to plant his foot and make lateral cuts that prove difficult to defend. In the open field, he is very fluid. Correspondingly, Robinson has ideal size for the runningback position. He stands at 6 feet, 220 pounds.
Comparison: Saquon Barkley
Probably the easiest of these NFL pro comparisons, Barkley does everything described above the highest level. Picked as the No.2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley has been a bright spot for a struggling Giants organization. The tape speaks for itself. If you put on both of their highlights side-by-side, the only difference is the color that their wearing.
Quentin Johnson, WR, Ohio State
Johnson is a 6-foot-4, big-bodied playmaker who is the most physically gifted receiver in this class. He serves as a prototypical x receiver due to size and ability. Despite his size, he does not have great success with contested catches. Moreover, Johnson is an exceptional route runner with top speed. In his final season at TCU, Johnson amassed 60 receptions, 1,069 yards and six touchdowns.
Comparison: Mike Evans
Evans serves as the Bucs x receiver that possesses great size and speed. Throughout the course of his career, Evans has proved to be one of the leagues top down-field threats.
Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Addison transferred to USC after winning the Biletnikoff Award in 2021. The award is gifted to college football’s best receiver. Addison creates separation consistently and easily. He’s quick-twitched after the catch, allowing more YAC. Furthermore, Addison is a big-play receiver that has characteristics of a Heisman winner.
Comparison: Devonta Smith
Eagles’ Devonta Smith is a top route runner in the NFL. He has the ability to read cornerbacks movements before they make them, assisting his top-notch twitch at the highpoint of his route. Moreover, both stand a 6-feet and have a thinner frame, however, they’re space creation makes up for their lack of size.
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Mayer is a 6-foot-4, 265 pound tight end that is dominant over the middle of the field. His receiving skills are exceptional, as he possesses soft hands and great ball skills. Moreover, he is the best blocking tight end in this year’s class.
Comparison: Rob Gronkowski
Mayer sizes as a smaller version of Gronkowski, who is regarded as one of the most dominant tight ends in history. Similar to Mayer, Gronkowski was a successful blocker with amazing ball skills. Gronk succeeded as a red-zone threat, and whichever offense drafts Mayer will most likely use him in a similar way.
Conclusively, the future of the NFL has and will always continue to show glimpses of its past.
NFL pro comparisons for the draft’s top defensive prospects coming soon.
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