In July DLF Rookie mocks, wide receiver Tajae Sharpe was the WR11 and 18th rookie overall going after players like Pharoh Cooper, Jordan Howard, Paul Perkins, and Devantae Booker who all seem to be buried on their respective depth charts. Fast forward to week two of the preseason and Sharpe played about two quarters hauling in six receptions for 68 yards. Most will see this as overreacting to a good preseason outing. However, if you were watching closely, I think you’d see his rise has been a consistent one.
Sharpe has been on my radar since last off-season when I was looking into devy prospects. I preface this with full disclosure that I have a soft spot for receivers who run a route and believe that a catch is only part of making a play. Receivers like Sharpe, emphasize their ability to beat their defender before the quarterback releases the ball. While at UMASS, Sharpe did an instructional video on route running. I watched it thinking, wow, for a college kid not only to do the video but speak with passion and coach through how a route should be run.
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Sharpe was very productive in college as the go to receiver. Six games with 11 or more receptions, five of them over 125 yards. The asterisk has been strength of competition, however others have emerged similar criticisms with good NFL success. When a talented receiver comes out of a weaker conference we really want to see them to have been the dominant receiver. The UMASS offense threw 495 passes with Sharpe being by far the most targeted receiver with a 37.8% college dominator rating in the 72nd percentile, per playerprofiler.com. The next highest on team was the TE with a production line of only 33-477-3. Sharpe finished his senior year with 111-1319-5.
In May, Sharpe reported to the Titan’s rookie mini-camp with a football in hand. Yes, a football in hand. The following was a quote by Sharpe in this article, Sharpe brings his own ball.
“I am a man that plays football so I want to always have it in my hand.’’ Sharpe continued, “I just like to hold the football. I usually go to sleep with my football. This is my job and this is my dream. I love it, and I’m going to carry it around as much as I can, just because.”
Are you kidding me? When most young NFL players come into the NFL many get a sense of complacency and think the work was getting to this moment. Not Sharpe. He not only came in ready to go to work, he lives and breathes football. I often have said on Twitter, players need to treat their opportunity like an entrepreneur starting a new business. You go to bed outlining what you will do in the morning; you dedicate all of your brain power to it. Sharpe is everything you want in a young player.
As we got into June when Titans mini-camp opened, Sharpe was already getting first team repetitions with fellow wide receiver Rishard Mathews. Head coach Mike Mularkey simply said at the time that he was rewarding the players who’ve been the most consistent.
By August, we were seeing these types of tweets routinely.
— Zach Bingham (@Bada_Bingham) August 5, 2016
College success, Rookie camp, mini-camp, training camp, preseason games – this isn’t an overreaction. This is a pattern of hard work paying off and I’m rooting for this kid at every step.
At this point, many are now catching on that Sharpe is closer to the late 1st late rookie pick than mid to late second. Currently, I have Sharpe ranked as my WR46 overall which is much higher than most have him. I expect that in dynasty start up drafts you will start to see him go off the board around WR50-60. I am in the middle of a high stakes draft and I just took him at 8.06 in a WR heavy draft as the 55th WR. The round will fluctuate as your specific draft flows. In August DLF mocks, his ADP was 12.10. However you should expect his September ADP to jump at least two rounds and anticipate that he will be off the board by the tenth round.
In the trade market, this might be the hardest time to buy. The acquisition of a rising player puts you at the mercy of the owner who has the rising player. In these situations it is better to flip the table and make the deal about the player you are “selling”. An example would be to take a player like Ameer Abdullah, Matt Jones, or Jay Ajayi and offer them for Sharpe and a future second. This type of deal will appear as you moving a player that the market is souring on because of their weaker preseasons. This will give the impression to the Sharpe owner that they are buying low on a player and will see it as you overreacting to their bad performance thus removing the attention from your excitement to get Sharpe.
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