In the last few rounds of the NFL Draft, teams are scouring through tape and scouting reports trying to find that hidden gem – particularly at the wide receiver position. Players like Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, and Marques Colston all went on to accomplished NFL careers after being selected after the fifth round. Similarly, a dynasty owner who snags one of these sleeping giants at value can set their squad up for continued success. Enter Simmie Cobbs. Cobbs has the physique to be one of these late round steals but could be held back by his pedestrian athleticism.
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
A highly touted prospect (27th-ranked player in Illinois) out of Oak Park High School, Simmie Cobbs was voted team MVP for his senior prep season. Cobbs’ career in Bloomington started off slow as despite playing in all 12 games, he put up minimal stats as a true freshman.
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Cobbs burst onto the scene as a sophomore and had his best statistical season. He finished third in the Big Ten in receiving yards, third in average yards per game (79.6), third in yards per catch (17.2), and eighth in receptions. He received an honorable mention All-Big Ten team selection for his 2015 efforts. Both Hoosier fans and dynasty degenerates alike were excited to see what Cobbs could do in his junior season. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle in his first game against Ball State and missed the entire 2016 campaign.
While Cobbs’ sophomore season was his best statistically, his primetime performance on August 31, 2017 against #2 Ohio State made him a household name. He torched the Buckeye secondary for 11 receptions, 149 yards, and a contested jump ball touchdown against likely top ten pick Denzel Ward. Just like his sophomore season, he put up league-leading numbers. He finished second in the Big Ten in receptions, fourth in receiving yards, fourth in average yards per game (70.1), and tied for 11th in total TDs. Cobbs was not only named IU’s Offensive Player of the Year for his efforts, but he was voted First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media.
At 6’3, 220 pounds, Cobbs has the body type of your prototypical NFL wide receiver. Better yet, he’s able to use said frame to box out corners in contested situations and bring in the football. This skill is no more apparent than in the end zone as he is able to show great body control and high point 50/50 balls.
The IU product also demonstrates an ability to run precise routes when not pressed at the line of scrimmage. Cobbs is adept at finding holes in zone coverage and using his big body as a target for his quarterback. While not fast, he possesses great lateral quickness and can use it to juke defenders in space.
While he is built like the model NFL wide receiver, he lacks the true athleticism coveted by NFL scouts at the position. Cobbs’ lack of breakaway speed is apparent on film as you won’t see him out-run college corners. Additionally, he will, at times, allow smaller defensive backs to out-jump him and knock away the football.
Whether he suffers from lapses in concentration or has trouble gripping the football, drops are a concern. In fact, he had an 11.4% drop rate over his collegiate career. It’s frustrating as he will make a contested, one-handed sideline grab followed up by dropping an easy touchdown. Another inconsistency in Cobbs’ game is his run blocking which is unwelcome for a man of his size. Again, he will be dominating a smaller corner one play while watching his defender tackle the ball-carrier in the backfield the next.
Simmie Cobbs’ Combine produced mixed results where both his strengths and weaknesses were confirmed. It’s no surprise to see the former Hoosier in the upper echelon of both height (87th percentile) and weight measurements (88th) as his ability to use his tall, thick build to make contested catches is his most desirable NFL skill.
His ability to run strong, clean routes in space is certified by his excellent performance (84th percentile) in the three-cone drill. This three-cone drill score, along with a very good 60-yard shuttle result, affirm his ability on film to make defenders miss in the open field. Cobbs’ complicated relationship with catching passes is evident as his measurements range from mediocre to good in hand size (42nd percentile), arm length (50th), and wingspan (64th).
Not known for winning foot-races downfield or getting off the ground for jump-balls, Cobbs’ lack of athleticism is shown by his dreadful performance in the 40-yard dash, vertical, and broad jump. This lack of straight-line, breakaway speed and lower-body explosion are the main reasons Cobbs is projected as a day three pick in the Draft.
Dynasty Value/Player Comps
According to Mock Draftable, his athleticism is equivalent to the Combine results of those above. Of these ten comparable prospects – the majority (6) never played a snap in the NFL, two (Mitchell and Binns) had only a cup of coffee in the league, one (Miller) had a productive career only after switching positions to tight end, and Clayton is the only “success” story at wide receiver.
We see a wide range of results for the path of Cobbs’ NFL/dynasty career. The six prospects who never stepped foot on a professional football field, along with Binns and Mitchell, all had one thing in common… they went undrafted. In my opinion, Cobbs’ breakout game against Ohio State (and 50/50 ball win over Ward) on national television all but guarantee he hears his name called. Keep an eye on which round (likely five through seven) Cobbs gets picked as a team is much more likely to cut a player whose guaranteed money is only $60K. Either way, dynasty owners need to keep in mind Cobbs’ floor is irrelevance.
Billy Miller was 6’3, 215 pounds at the time of his Combine measurements which is the exact same height and only five pounds lighter than Cobbs. Miller was a serviceable tight end in his nine NFL seasons, but 613 receiving yards and three touchdowns was his banner season. If Cobbs put on more weight and become a more consistent blocker, it’s entirely possible he could make the move to tight end. Unfortunately, this role would be as the second or third TE on the roster used in obvious passing situations. He would have dynasty value in this role, but only as a fantasy backbencher.
Michael Clayton burst onto the NFL scene in his rookie season compiling 1,193 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Unfortunately, due to a knee surgery and poor attitude, Clayton never eclipsed 500 yards receiving in his next seven seasons. In Clayton’s rookie year performance, we see Cobbs’ dynasty value ceiling.
According to DLF’s April Rookie ADP, Simmie Cobbs is the 17th receiver off the board with an ADP of 41.10. The fourth round of rookie drafts is a complete crapshoot and exactly the spot to take a chance on a player like Cobbs. Just be warned, while you might be drafting a diamond in the rough PPR WR2, you could also end up with the next Chris Denney. Who? Exactly!