I have a confession to make. I haven’t spelled ‘Isaiah’ on the first try EVER. I make this confession because I have two reasons for writing this article. Number 1: I’m a Hokies fan and wanted to dive further into Ford, and Number 2: By the end of writing this piece, I will know how to spell Isaiah on the first try!
Ford has gone under the radar this off-season, beginning in the second round of dynasty rookie ranks and creeping back into the early third by the time of this article. He had a very mediocre (to bad) NFL combine. Additionally, dynasty twitter nearly never mentions his name unless target share is being discussed. This makes for a perfect time to dive into Ford a little bit deeper.
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Ford declared at the end of this junior year but put together three very productive seasons with the Hokies. In his first two, he played under Frank Beamer on a very ‘defense-first’ team. Ford ended up as the top receiver as a freshman in 2014, catching 56 balls and 709 yards. He was just 18 years old at the time. He doubled the production of the next closest received in 2015 and put up a whopping 1,164 yards and 75 receptions on a very mediocre 7-6 Hokies squad. Coming off these two 1,000 yard seasons, Ford has declared for the draft.
Ford could very well be a quarterback’s security blanket (like a Jarvis Landry) or he could fade into the WR4-5 world in the league. That’s the big question mark for Ford. The stats, production and target share tell me a story that makes me believe he will find success in the NFL. However, in his big games against Ohio State and Clemson, he was mediocre (3-61-0 and 4-89-0, respectively.)
When you watch Ford on film, you see a polished, smart route runner who makes gritty catches. My personal favorite ‘grit’ catch is found here against Pittsburgh:
If you watch the rest of the game tape against Pittsburgh, you’ll see his route draw pass interference several times and quarterback Jerod Evans force him the ball even when he isn’t open. As I mentioned above, this is the type of ‘security blanket’ player that I could see Ford translating to in the NFL.
His quickness also stands out on film. When he comes out of breaks, he puts defenders on the ground several times throughout his film at Draft Breakdown. This type of quickness with his football intelligence is a very promising asset for a player who doesn’t have the best straight-line speed. For lack of a better word, he’s a playmaker when it counts (at least in college).
I had a tough time finding true negative tape on Ford. He is a very well rounded prospect but isn’t flashy. It’s clear on tape that he doesn’t run a 4.3 and he’s not 6’6” 240lb. We are talking about a third round dynasty pick here. I’m very impressed by his strong tape and breakout college stats at age 21.
The tape and production are great for Ford. However, his metrics aren’t nearly as sexy. This is where his value has started to dip in the dynasty community.
Per Player Profiler, Ford ran the bottom 25% percentile for the 40-yard dash and height-adjusted speed score. The tape also agrees with his 66th percentile burst score, but that’s pretty much the only positive to take away from his metrics.
His Mock Draftable player page also shows his metric mediocrity.
None of these metrics come as a surprise, but they are concerning. The major thought going through my head is “Can Ford be productive on the NFL stage with these sub-par metrics?” That answer is still unknown.
Today, Ford is going 29th overall in DLF rookie mock drafts. I think that’s about a half round too late. I’ll be owning a lot of Ford come next season if his price tag holds steady. I’ll start looking at him in the early 20 range.
The last piece of the puzzle will be NFL draft stock. If Ford goes on day two, I’d expect his value to rise back into the middle of the second round of the draft. If Ford goes in the fifth round or later, I’ll be far more skeptical of drafting him, however, his value will likely tank in that case. I fully expect Ford to go in the third-fourth round of the draft, and his value to hold steady going into the regular season.
For a third round rookie price tag, I want a player with proven production and pedigree. It’s a gamble but I think it’s a really smart one to make that pick Isaiah. I spelled it right! Success!
- Rookie Profile: Patrick Mahomes, QB Texas Tech - April 26, 2017
- Rookie Profile: Isaiah Ford, WR Virginia Tech - April 21, 2017
- The Dynasty Value Impact of Suspension: A Josh Gordon Story - January 28, 2017