Anyone who doubts that advanced statistics can provide insight into the potential success of NFL draft prospects should look back at last year's Playmaker Score projections from Football Outsiders. Entering the 2015 NFL draft, some draft observers saw a close, three-way race for the title of the best receiver in the class between Amari Cooper, Kevin White and DeVante Parker.
But Playmaker Score thought that Cooper was clearly the top wide receiver prospect of 2015. It also identified an injury-prone late-round afterthought named Stefon Diggs as a prospect so promising that he was in striking distance of both White and Parker, even after factoring in those players' much stronger ratings from scouts.
There's still plenty of time for these players' careers to develop, but early returns suggest that Playmaker Score got it right. Cooper led all rookie wide receivers with 1,070 yards, and Diggs -- playing on the run-first Minnesota Vikings -- managed a strong second place with 720 receiving yards. On the other side, while Parker came on strong at the end of the season, he finished just sixth among rookie wide receivers in receiving yards. The jury is still out on White, who missed his entire rookie year on injured reserve.
There is no guarantee that Playmaker Score will be on target again in 2016, but it would be foolish to write it off as mere statistical gobbledygook.
For an explanation of how Playmaker Score works, check out the full explanation at the bottom of the article. What follows is a ranking of the top 10 receiver prospects for 2016 according to our model, including a projection for the average number of regular-season receiving yards that each wide receiver will gain per season in his first five NFL years.