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The ‘NED’ phenomenon: Why Jets’ Malachi Corley warrants caution

Malachi Corley
Malachi Corley

This predictive factor advises caution when projecting the future of Malachi Corley

New York Jets fans couldn’t have been more excited to witness their beloved team select Malachi Corley in the third round of the 2024 NFL draft. Yet, while he’s already being coined as the “YAC King” and the second coming of Deebo Samuel, a predictive factor suggests caution against throwing out these names so early.

That factor is a “non-early declare” prospect—otherwise known as NED.

A non-early declare prospect (or NED, as we’ll be referring to for the rest of the article), is a player who has played at least four seasons of college football. Compared to their early declare (or ED) counterparts, the hit rate on NEDs is quite low, especially on Day 2 of the NFL draft.

Unfortunately, this is exactly where Corley lands.

While this factor is primarily used in fantasy football circles, it’s a very predictive metric in terms of wide receiver success. You can do that here if you’d like to see an entire thread discussing this phenomenon among all three rounds.

The correlation is consistent throughout the draft’s first three rounds, which warrants caution when assessing Corley’s potential future.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll be using data from 2003-2021. Since we’re referencing Corley, we’ll take a look specifically at third-round EDs (early-declare) versus NEDs (non-early declare) who have been drafted since 2021.

As you can see, the EDs for third-round prospects are slim, mainly because those players get drafted earlier. However, they still have a 33 percent hit rate based on performance.

Stats courtesy of @DFBeanCounter

Now, we’ll look at the third-round NEDs who have hit. This list features some incredible players, such as Cooper Kupp and former Jets wide receiver Eric Decker.

Stats courtesy of @DFBeanCounter

Yet, while the NED list looks far better, what’s missing are the 53 other prospects who did not make the intended hit rate based on performance. And despite the short list of EDs who were taken in the third round, their 33 percent hit rate is greater than third-round NEDs (26.4%).

Intriguingly, the Jets are one of the only teams where this correlation holds inconsistent value. In the past 10 years, three of the Jets’ five wide receivers drafted in the first three rounds have shown this factor to be true.

  • Garrett Wilson, ED: Star
  • Elijah Moore, ED: Bust
  • Denzel Mims, NED: Bust
  • ArDarius Stewart, ED: Bust
  • Devin Smith, NED: Bust

Considering that every wide receiver selected by the Jets outside of Garrett Wilson in the last 10 years has been a bust, that alone probably brings enough caution when evaluating Corley.

However, caution should be advised with the Jets’ 2024 third-round pick being given such hefty labels before playing his first NFL game.

After all, we’ve seen Moore, Mims and Smith both fail to receive second contracts from the team despite having higher draft capital. Moreover, like Corley, Mims and Smith were both NEDs.

However, with recent draft classes being affected by COVID-19, these numbers might shift slightly. Hopefully, the Jets are fortunate, which is the case with Corley. Otherwise, the team may have been better off throwing caution to the wind to attempt to target an ED receiver earlier in the draft.

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Jets71
Jets71
18 days ago

I agree, the “YAC King” and Debo labels have to stop.

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