Home | Articles | Analytics | NY Jets’ Malachi Corley beats 7 WRs drafted over him in key stat

NY Jets’ Malachi Corley beats 7 WRs drafted over him in key stat

Malachi Corley
Malachi Corley

The analytics paint a promising picture for New York Jets WR Malachi Corley

When it comes to the NFL draft, it is borderline impossible to make accurate predictions about how a prospect will perform at the next level.

What we can do is use historical data to identify trends. These trends can either warn us of potential busts or pull us toward potential steals.

No historical data trend will ever be a perfect predictor, but some are stronger than others. Scott Barrett of Fantasy Points located one trend for wide receivers that is among the most predictive you will ever see.

In a thread on X (formerly Twitter), Barrett pointed out that many of the wide receivers selected early in the 2024 draft failed to hit a benchmark that has historically proven to be an extremely strong indicator of whether a player will be a bust: 2.00 yards per route run in their college career.

According to Barrett, if a wide receiver prospect averaged under 2.00 yards per route run throughout their college career, they have an implied bust rate of 97-99.95%.

To prove this, Barrett shared a few examples showcasing how remarkably consistent it is for sub-2.00-YPRR players to fail in the NFL. For one, he stated that, since 2015, there have been over 2,000 FBS wide receivers to leave college with a career YPRR under 2.00, and of those, only D.K. Metcalf and Terry McLaurin went on to become NFL studs.

As a more recent example, Barrett listed the sub-2.00-YPRR wide receivers drafted from rounds one through three since 2020. The list: Amari Rodgers, Tyquan Thornton, Devin Duvernay, Jonathan Mingo, Terrace Marshall Jr., Michael Wilson, Chase Claypool, Josh Palmer, and Van Jefferson. Bust City USA.

The New York Jets were one of the teams to dip into the upper end of this year’s hyped wide receiver class. They traded up to select Western Kentucky’s Malachi Corley with the 65th overall pick, the first slot of the third round. Corley was the 12th wide receiver off the board. The next wide receiver was not selected until 15 picks later, making him the final wide receiver drafted in the top 79.

After reading some of the wildly predictive data from Barrett, Jets fans are certainly wondering where Corley lands in this all-important metric.

You will be pleased to hear that Corley is safe from the dreaded sub-2.00-YPRR club. Not only that, but his career YPRR exceeded the majority of the 11 wide receivers drafted ahead of him.

Here are the career YPRR averages of the top 12 wide receivers selected in 2024:

  • 1. Marvin Harrison Jr., #4, Cardinals (2.98)
  • 2. Malik Nabers, #6, Giants (2.83)
  • 3. Ladd McConkey, #34, Chargers (2.54)
  • 4. Rome Odunze, #9 Bears (2.50)
  • 5. Malachi Corley, #65, Jets (2.22)
  • 6. Xavier Worthy, #28, Chiefs (2.21)
  • ===Bust watch===
  • 7. Ricky Pearsall, #31, 49ers (1.99)
  • 8. Ja’Lynn Polk, #37, Patriots (1.95)
  • 8. Brian Thomas Jr., #23, Jaguars (1.95)
  • 10. Keon Coleman, #33, Bills (1.87)
  • 11. Xavier Legette, #32, Panthers (1.75)
  • 12. Adonai Mitchell, #52, Colts (1.68)

Corley’s career YPRR of 2.22 was better than seven of the 11 wide receivers drafted ahead of him. Outside of the “Big 3” (Harrison, Nabers, and Odunze), Corley was second-best, trailing only Ladd McConkey.

Suddenly it’s not so crazy that the Jets reportedly had Corley as the No. 4 wide receiver on their draft board. Considering the data we’ve analyzed today, it seems likely the Jets’ analytics department played a role in the team grading him so highly compared to the rest of the non-Big 3 prospects. While we can only speculate whether the Jets were aware of this specific trend when ranking the wide receivers, it’s still great to see that the Jets made a decision backed by strong data. Six teams who picked ahead of the Jets will have nobody but themselves to blame if their selections go on to fail. The data was right there to warn them that Corley was a safer pick.

It should be noted that Corley was facing non-Power 5 competition at Western Kentucky while each of the other 11 prospects came from a Power 5 school. The inferior competition surely could have inflated his numbers compared to his peers.

Still, the inferior talent applied to his own team, too. It’s not as if Corley had elite quarterbacking with the Hilltoppers. His quarterback over the past two years, Austin Reed, was a D-II transfer who went undrafted this year. Reed was an inferior quarterback even by Conference USA standards. In 2023, Reed ranked seventh out of nine Conference USA starters in yards per attempt (7.1), sixth in PFF’s passing grade (67.1), and eighth in big-time throw rate (4.2%). Yet, Corley still averaged 2.78 YPRR in 2023 and 2.68 in 2022.

Barrett admitted in his thread that YPRR cannot be used to predict future stars. Its ability to predict future busts is far stronger. So, Corley’s success in this metric does not guarantee he will be a superstar for the Jets. What it does do is exclude him from a club that all but guarantees he will be a bust, which is promising news. While many of the highly-drafted wide receivers in this year’s class would be outliers if they went on to be successful, Corley’s track record gives him a realistic chance to succeed.

The Jets hope these numbers are the first signal that Steve Smith Sr. was correct when he labeled Corley as the “steal of the draft.”

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22 days ago

There is also the YAC. We know that Malachi is a YAC beast!

22 days ago

Interesting take, you mentioned the competition I wonder if that factors in? I’m sure there’s a way to break that down too, not saying you should but if you are correct about the Jets’ analytics dept, I’ll bet they have.

A total opinion here but…Corley needs to wear a number in the 80’s. He’s got to look like a WR, if he wears a single digit or a teen he’ll look like a glorified RB out there. I’d love it to be 80 itself but I think 87 will also work well for him.