This is what Browns’ team president Mike Holmgren had to say after the draft regarding their selection of Greg Little:
“… in Little, I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised if you don’t know him very well. He’s a young man who has a tremendous upside. A home-run hitter isn’t necessarily everyone going out for a long one. Yards after a catch and a receiver’s ability to break a tackle and move after the catch can be a home run of sorts. That’s where one of his strengths is.”
Below are comments from Browns’ head coach Pat Shurmur regarding Little :
“He has a lot of the attributes you look for in a receiver. He can beat bump and run. He’s extremely good about catching the football. He’ll fight for the ball. He finds a way to separate. He’s got size. And he finds a way to get in the end zone. That’s something very critical for a receiver.”
What is so important about these comments? The lockout has put dynasty league owners in an unprecedented dilemma. Without free agency, there is a lot of uncertainty as to where free agent players could land, making it more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve. Owners need to be mindful of key roster moves or relevant coach-speak because they can be offer insight in determining the true value of a player.
A key roster move that caught my eye was the Browns’ selection of wide receiver Greg Little from North Carolina 59th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. This move, along with the comments above from Browns’ management, encouraged me to take a closer look at this player. Based on our premium statistics, I believe he is a sure-fire top-10 option in your PPR rookie draft.
Little was regarded as a first-round talent entering his senior season, but was suspended by the NCAA for lying to investigators about receiving travel accommodations and jewelry from an agent. Little missed the entire season. Our own Steve Wyremski interviewed Little prior to the draft and talked to him about his suspension and the draft process. Little used the time away from football to improve his game and have a better understanding of the maturity needed to be successful at the next level. He is a well-spoken individual with high football intelligence.
Little is a physical freak who is still learning the intricacies of the wide receiver position after spending time at running back earlier in his career. With his basketball background, Little has no issues catching and adjusting to the football at its highest point and is physical after the catch in the open field. At 6 ft 3 in 231 lbs., Little will be a matchup nightmare and he plays with a great deal of intensity and desire.
So where does Little fit on the current Browns’ depth chart? Here is a look at the projected returning players for next season (Chansi Stuckey is a free agent):
|2010 Season||Overall||Pos||FP||FP/SN||FP/TA||TA/SN %||Snaps|
This group is not likely to keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. Mohamed Massaquoi has been miscast as a No. 1 receiver and Brian Robiskie has not shown the promise expected of him as a coach’s son. Joshua Cribbs is best used a return specialist and it remains to be seen if Carlton Mitchell can develop into a viable player. As a whole, this group of players rated as the 2nd worst receiving corps in the NFL based on our PFF Ratings. It is not far-fetched to say that Little may be the most talented receiver on the depth chart.
Pat Shurmur, of the Andy Reid coaching tree, will be calling the offensive plays for the Browns in 2011. Shurmur will be installing his version of the West Coast Offense which will focus on the short passing game to maximize the talents of QB Colt McCoy. By taking a look back at Shurmur’s use of wide receivers in the St. Louis offense last year, we can get a sense of how Little and the other Browns receivers will be used.
First up are offensive snaps by position (Left WR – Split End, Slot Left WR, Slot Right WR, and Right WR – Flanker).
Little has been labeled as a prototype West Coast WR because of his ability to catch in traffic, gain yardage after the catch and beat the jam. This offensive snap data bodes well for Little to succeed. He can beat the jam while lining up at split end on the left and gain extra separation on the right side at flanker.
Shurmur’s offense featured Mark Clayton (RWR) for the first five weeks of the season before he was injured. Clayton lined up on right side of the formation 63% of the time and had 30 of his 40 targets there (75% of his total targets). Once Clayton was replaced in the lineup by Laurent Robinson and Brandon Gibson, Shurmur’s offense became more balanced:
The final piece of the puzzle to Little’s potential rookie impact is the quarterback. Pat Shurmur was lucky enough to have rookie QB Sam Bradford operate his offense last year and now turns the keys over to fellow second-year QB Colt McCoy. Shurmur will try to maximize McCoy’s arm strength and quick decisions but to compare him to Bradford would be unfair. McCoy showed flashes at times last year in a very limited offensive scheme. Reviewing his 2010 passes by direction reveals an interesting trend:
|QB Colt McCoy 2010 – Passes by Direction|
|10 – 19 yards||2%||10%||9%||21%|
McCoy threw 85% of his passes under 20 yards and favored the center and right side of the field. Whether it was keeping his reads to the right side of the field or his progressions went right to left, McCoy’s track record could mean big things for Little at flanker. In what I will name the flanker zone (center and right side of the field, 0-19 yards); McCoy targeted this section of the field 59% of the time last year. Little would be McCoy’s first read on slants, comebacks and deep-outs which could equal a heavy dose of targets.
Greg Little should be high on your redraft sleeper list this summer. He has the physical ability, the football intelligence, the opportunity and organizational support to be this year’s version of the Bucs Mike Williams – a rookie wide receiver that can make a huge fantasy football splash.
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