Is There A ‘Next Tyreek Hill’? We Examine Five Top Candidates in The NFL…
*I will have a Tyreek ‘situation’ update later today, FYI.
I was thinking about the tragedy of the Tyreek Hill situation from the fantasy-dynasty perspective. There are so many of you reading this that have shared some amazing times with Tyreek. It’s because of Tyreek that maybe you found our website. It’s because of the gamble you took on Tyreek, when I was howling at the moon that he must be the cornerstone piece to a fantasy redraft plan…to draft him a round early…to trade for him in Dynasty back when he was thought to be a gimmick return man only or to trade for him when he was ‘discovered’ but not properly valued (undervalued). If we never get another game from him…many of us have had a stellar ROI from Tyreek over the year/s. For some, it turns the stomach today – great for fantasy, potential psychopath human we ‘adored’.
I was thinking about the good times, and lamenting the opportunities ahead that seem to be lost/at risk with Tyreek…when I thought about if there would ever be another Tyreek Hill, and would I find them before everyone again…which led to the thought – ‘Could there be a next one hiding out there right now?’
I started scanning my brain for options…possible answers to the question. Then I ran through our database with different Tyreek-like combinations of attributes to see what popped up with the highest hit rate. After considering different inputs, I had five names that stood out…3-4 of them are going to get your attention – a couple will make you flinch at first but stick with me. You’re going to buy my #5 right away (but a twist is coming). You’re going to be ‘OK’ with #3-4…in an ‘anything is possible’ way. You’re not going to buy #1-2, upon first seeing the names, but you need to lean in to the argument…it’s bigger than just ‘next Tyreek’.
I’m going to pitch the five names in descending order, and they all have different attributes/reasons for this claim…
#5) Mecole Hardman, Kansas City
The guy was drafted to be the Tyreek insurance policy/replacement.
Here’s the problem, something that you know if you read my recent CFM scouting report on him… He’s really nothing like Tyreek Hill. They’re both fast, but the similarities end there.
Hardman is not a quasi-running back. He’s not a great return man. He’s definitely fast, but he was a ghost performer for Georgia…about the 4th-6th most important target for his college team on any given snap – how’s he going to replace the most dangerous man to even play the game?
However, he has one key attribute to be on my list – he’s about to be shoved into that role (potentially).
I think Chiefs 2018 rookie Byron Pringle, who they hid on IR last season, is better prepared/more like Tyreek Hill…a 4.46 runner/6.87 three-cone, 6’1”/203, and 24.1 yards per catch in his final season at K-State. I’d push Pringle harder, but I know ‘draft status’ will get Hardman all the opportunities. Pringle is better than Hardman.
Hardman is on the list because you expect him to, but he’s really not on my list…this, in my mind, is a list of four guys.
#4) Andy Isabella, Arizona
You want fast? He ran a 4.31 40-time at the 2019 NFL Combine. He had a sub 7.0 three-cone. He was wildly productive in college. There’s not a metric you can point to where Hardman is the better prospect than him in any aspect.
Isabella is about to do work in an offense built for him to succeed beyond expectations. He’s a master receiver in the short game, but if you try to cheat up on him he’ll go 4.31 and fly right by you. He can run the ball some, and did at U Mass.
Isabella has high-end speed, terrific WR skills…but he’s not the crazy game-breaker Tyreek is…not the instant ‘wow’, but he’s someone to consider for it. Some hope of it. Isabella brings speed + great receiving skills to the table for this discussion, but he’s not fully Tyreek-like in my mind’s eye.
Paired with Kyler Murray makes this even more viable. Paired with Josh Allen would have been death.
#3) Parris Campbell, Indianapolis
Here’s what Parris Campbell brings to the table – a blazing 4.31 40-time. But Hardman ran a 4.35? But Isabella ran a 4.31 too? And Tyreek was a 4.3 runner. Yes, but here’s what is special about Parris’s 4.31…doing so at 205 pounds, whereas all the other guys are in the 180s or lighter. When you really think about it…running a 4.3s at 205+ pounds is crazy.
You know how many WR prospects my database shows ran a 4.35 or faster 40-time AND a 4.10 or better short-shuttle time (Campbell didn’t run a three-cone time, so we can’t compare/only can speculate) in the past decade?
If I go back 25 years, I get one other guy confirmed for those parameters and two guys estimated. Confirmed…Chad Jackson, former 1st-round draft pick Patriots who never really ‘made it’. The two guys who have the 40-time and size and unconfirmed shuttle times that low…Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss. Let that marinate for a moment.
I watched tape of all five of my proposed next-Tyreek candidates in prep for this piece. I just wanted to get another feel for them against each other in my mind’s eye.
Hardman was a deep ball guy who rarely took bubble screens. Isabella worked medium and deep mostly for big catch and run plays. Campbell was awesome with the bubble screens, better than I realized studying him months ago. Campbell has the speed and tape to back up that he’s a major speed-demon threat and can work after the catch in/through traffic more like Tyreek.
The most Tyreek-ish rookie WR is Campbell…and he’s still not the real (Tyreek) thing. A great knock-off, but not as ‘wow’ as watching Tyreek. What Campbell is terrific at…not only the speed-agility and moves through traffic – he can play as an underneath receiver. He’ll go into danger and play small ball if you want him too. He’s not a skinny/frail, deep-ball speed merchant guy. He works the entire field. Very impressive. He’s got claim to being ‘next Tyreek’, but I think he’s a little lacking to be fully Tyreek.
#1b) Curtis Samuel, Carolina
You paused seeing this name. You hesitated. Many of you know I ‘like’ Samuel a lot…beating the drum for him all last season, and finally getting the drum beat answered back late in the season.
People act like Curtis Samuel doesn’t exist…like D.J. Moore is something so special that Samuel cannot have enough oxygen to exist as a Panthers’ WR – but I hate to break it to the DJM fanatics…Curtis Samuel is the Panthers #1 WR right now…and for Weeks 1-16 coming up. He’s already ‘the guy’. He finished 2018 as ‘the guy’.
You love guys who run in the 4.3s, well guess what…Samuel ran a 4.31 40-time in 2017 at the NFL Combine…at an impressive 196 pounds.
You know he was a #40 overall draft pick, right? Like, almost a first rounder? People act like he’s some non-draft status-having entity.
You also realize he had, possibly, the most impressive single college season (2016) anyone has ever seen…if anyone was really looking. The guy was a legit #1 WR and legit tailback for his team…simultaneously. Not a great WR who took some jet sweeps/reverses, etc. Not a running back with really good hands. Curtis Samuel is one of the best 20 WR technicians in the NFL, according to me – excellent route runner, terrific hands, amazing after the catch…can beat you deep or off bubble screens AND he was a true line up in a single setback and take hand-offs at Ohio State.
Samuel’s 2016 season – 97 carries, 771 yards, 8 rushing TDs while catching 74 passes for 865 yards and 7 TDs. Pardon my French, but that’s frickin’ amazing. And we as football fans/students just let it roll on by because the NFL analysts don’t pay it no mind. Ridiculous.
I can see it on tape…Samuel is a freak of nature. Incredibly dangerous as a runner – 12 carries, 148 rush yards, 2 rush TDs as a pro…12.3 yards per carry. His two rush TDs (from 2018) are ‘best of the year’ highlight reel runs. He didn’t hit the starting lineup until later in the 2018 season and then lost Cam, and he still scored 7 TDs (5 rec., 2 rush) on the season. He was Cam’s go to in the red zone at 5’11”. Why? Because Samuel can beat anyone off the snap, and he can go over the top and high point catch with the best of them. He is a Pro Bowl WR talent, who could be a better-than-Phillip Lindsay tailback if they allowed him to be.
Samuel is fantastic, and he’s explosive, but not as explosive as Tyreek.
What Samuel brings to the table that’s unique – Pro Bowl/legit WR, who could be a Pro Bowl tailback. He’s great at everything…and a 4.31 runner.
The only person that can stop Samuel is O-C Norv Turner, possibly the worst offensive coordinator in the history of football.
If you have a dynasty team, and you do not have Curtis Samuel on your roster, for the incredibly low price he is at – you’re doing dynasty football wrong (or you have an all-star WR group ahead of him).
#1a) Tarik Cohen, Chicago
I wrestled with who was my top Tyreek-a-like, as you can tell from the ‘1a’ and ‘1b’ labels. Here’s the thing…Samuel is a stunning mix of Pro Bowl WR, his best attribute, but can also produce as a legit tailback. Cohen is the same but opposite…plays running back and is a nice runner of the ball but he makes his hay as a receiver. He’s a running back first, whereas Samuel is a #1 WR first. But the thing is, Cohen could be a Pro Bowl slot wide receiver if they wanted to move him there.
Cohen is electric in the return game. Every time Cohen has the ball, via hand-off, screen, downfield throw, or return game…I hold my breath. He always seems one shoelace tackle away from breaking a big play on every play – in that way, as great as all the other guys are (#1-3/4 on here), Cohen is more like Tyreek – you can just feel the electricity when he has the ball. They call him ‘the human joystick’, and it’s true. He’s a magician with the ball.
Cohen is not only a magician, but from Week 4 to Week 14 last season, he was one of the top PPR backs in all of fantasy. A sick combo of pass catcher (had 7 or more catches in a game five times in a 9 game stretch mid-2018 season), who was also taking 5-8 carries in most games as well. 99 rushing attempts, 71 catches (for 725 yards), and 35 returns, and a passing TD last season.
Here’s the downside, I think Matt Nagy might be as dumb/dumber than Andy Reid. In the playoffs, a Bears shocking loss to Philly last season, Cohen had a season low 1 rush attempt and a measly 3 catches. The only barrier to Cohen super-stardom is Matt Nagy…but that was the problem Tyreek fought until Patrick Mahomes broke the spell (and they still underutilized Hill last year in key spots).
Cohen is an amazing weapon…a game-breaker every time he touches the ball. And that makes him the most Tyreek-like in my eyes.
However, he’s still not as talented/gifted as Tyreek…but no one is.
The true answer to the “Who’s the next Tyreek?” question is…no one. Not yet. There are a few to watch and like/love, but Tyreek is one-of-a-kind. But just in case, be sure to have Campbell-Samuel-Cohen on your fantasy teams this year, please.