By Alex Kurpeski, Oz Jones, & Tzali Nislick
Before we get around to the intro for this piece I’d just like to thank Jesse Reeves @JesseReevesFF for inspiring this series and supplying us with some of his own data and research for future sections. If you haven’t checked out Jesse’s work then you’re missing out on some of the best insight there is. – Alex
Finding the right Devy is arguably the toughest task imaginable in fantasy football, as your choice must depend on some combination of a player’s measurables, level of competition, college production, high school production, flexibility, floor, ceiling, median, injury history, off-field issues, athletic pedigree, etc, etc. It’s a tall task to determine all of these things accurately without the tools and advanced access allowed to NFL scouts (who are prone to making mistakes even with their resources). At a certain point, gut feeling needs to be placed on the back burner, replaced by the data-driven lizard brain that lives deep inside of our pink, squishy command center. Today, we here at 3CoSports are looking to provide you with a small sample size of devy prospect analysis, with fingers crossed that our self-scouting is as accurate as we believe it to be. There will be some aspects of this analysis that are a bit arbitrary, but we feel as though these parts are warranted. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at our finite list of Devy targets for 2020 and beyond, starting with the quarterback position.
Rubric for Devy Analysis Grade
- Level of Competition → 1 (Big 10, SEC), 2 (ACC, Pac-12, Big 12), 3 (American, C-USA, MWC), 4 (other FBS conferences), 5 (Non-Div 1A)
- Athlete Scale → 1 (elite athlete), 2 (above average athlete), 3 (average), 4 (below average), 5 (poor athlete – rare)
- Production → 1 (elite-level production), 2 (above average production), 3 (average production), 4 (below-average production), 5 (poor production)
- Experience → 1 (played in > 75% of eligible games), 2 (75-65%), 3 (50-64%), 4 (25-50%), 5 (<25%)
- “Fit” (how well a player’s skill set translates to the NFL) → 1 (fits in any system), 2 (fits in the majority of systems), 3 (fits in certain systems), 4 (fits in few systems), 5 (fits in almost no system)
- Breakout Age (using Jesse Reeves data) → 1 (18), 2 (19), 3 (20-21), 4 (22), 5 (23+)
- “Help” (strength of team around them) → 1 (top tier team + coaching staff in all relevant areas related to player), 2 (above average), 3 (average), 4 (below average), 5 (poor)
- Grade Scale: (1-1.99 = A+ to A-), (2-2.99 = B+ to B-), (3-3.99 = C+ to C-). (4-5 = D+ to D-)
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Bryce Young, Alabama
D.J Uiagalelei, Clemson
Kedon Slovis, USC
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
Justin Fields, Ohio State
Sam Howell, North Carolina
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Brock Purdy, Iowa State
J.T Daniels, Georgia
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
Sam Ehlinger, Texas
D’Eriq King, Miami
Michael Penix Jr., Indiana
Mac Jones, Alabama
Jamie Newman, Georgia
K.J Costello, Mississippi State
Ian Book, Notre Dame
Today we’re going to start by analyzing the two passers who we have graded out in the C+ tier: K.J Costello and Ian Book.
K.J Costello, Mississippi State (ETA: 2021)
Costello will have the golden opportunity to reinvent himself as a passer this season, as he joins the now Mike Leach-led Mississippi State Bulldogs as a graduate transfer. At 6’5, 240 lbs, Costello is the typical statuesque pocket passer that has become taboo in recent years due to the success of more mobile passers. Truth be told, the best thing that Costello has going for him right now is the fact that he will be playing for Mike Leach, the Air Raid innovator who has launched no-names like Luke Falk, Gardner Minshew II, and Anthony Gordon to college football superstardom, which those passers have then parlayed into NFL careers.
Mike Leach’s 2019 WSU team was the only offense to pass on 80.0%+ of plays.
Enter K.J. Costello.pic.twitter.com/xNFrhXhIAQ
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 4, 2020
Should Costello succeed as the signal-caller for the Bulldogs in his lone season as the team’s starter, he could very well follow suit. Despite his limitations as an athlete, Costello possesses tremendous arm strength while also having some previous big game experience following his stint as the starter for Stanford. But the SEC is, as we know, not the PAC-12 – and it has yet to be seen how Leach’s Air Raid system can adapt to SEC defenses. If nothing else, Costello and Mississippi State will be an interesting watch this year (though maybe not as “fun” as their in-state rivals).
While the traditional pocket passer archetype has been slowly dying out, Costello could very well elevate himself to an early-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft if he can manage to dissect the staunch defenses of the SEC under Leach’s guide. With a fairly strong supporting cast behind him, it would not be surprising to see Costello throw for over 5,000 yards this season.
– Alex + Oz
Devy Analysis Grade: 3.14 (C+)
Ceiling: Carson Palmer
A standard pocket passer, Costello overcomes his lack of mobility to emerge as a viable starter in an offense with a vertical passing scheme, offering nice fantasy value when protected by a decent offensive line.
Median: Mason Rudolph
Costello maxes out as a “meh” backup on a team that doesn’t intend to make him their long-term starter, reminding NFL scouts that the limitations of a non-mobile QB are quite tough to work around.
Floor: Nathan Peterman
Costello washes out like most immobile pocket passers from mediocre programs, hanging around as a third-stringer for a couple of seasons.
Ian Book, Notre Dame (ETA: 2021)
Book has been steady, but not necessarily spectacular, for the Fighting Irish since taking the reins as starting QB from Brandon Wimbush four games into the 2018 season. Wimbush would later transfer, leaving the starting gig all Book’s heading into 2019. His touchdown to interception ratio was excellent at 34:6; then again, he also had both Chase Claypool and Cole Kmet, two players who would go on to be second-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, catching passes. But, his completion percentage dropped eight points from ‘18 to ‘19, despite upping his attempts by only 27%, and his YPG dropped almost 30 yards as well (262.8 to 233.9). Moreover, Book had five games in 2019 where he finished with a sub-60% completion percentage (compared to only one such game in 2018), including a horrendous performance against Michigan where he went 8/25 for 73 yards (with one TD pass). Yet even with some stinkers last season, Book was one of the most efficient deep passers in college football, trailing a trio of impressive passers in the category of completion% on downfield throws.
Completion % on throws 20+ yards downfield last season:
1. Kedon Slovis, USC – 57.1%
2. Joe Burrow, LSU – 56.6%
3. Tanner Morgan, Minn – 56.1%
4. Ian Book, Notre Dame – 52.5% pic.twitter.com/lXlJlqbYQe
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 6, 2020
Given the COVID-related game cancellations, the Fighting Irish currently have nine games on their schedule. Notre Dame is currently favored in all of these contests other than Clemson, which should bode well for Book’s potential to put up numbers. (Look out for the season finale against Louisville in South Bend, however.) While Book will need to play with much more consistency and poise than he did last season, his familiarity with the Irish system should allow him to improve overall. Though undersized, Book is the kind of playmaker that certain NFL teams could turn to as a starter in a pinch, which gives him Day 2 upside.
– Oz & Tzali
Devy Analysis Grade: 3.14 (C+)
Ceiling: Rich Gannon
Book makes the most of his skill set, parlaying his accuracy and comfortability in West Coast schemes into a decent career as a starter.
Median: Case Keenum
Book maxes out as a bridge-QB type, providing decent depth as the second passer on a team’s depth chart.
Floor: Jake Browning
Book’s decorated collegiate career means little to NFL scouts and he fails to do anything of note at the Pro Level.