So in professional sports everyone always wants to make player comparisons and leave the door wide open for a player to be criticized to such an extreme for not becoming the HOF legend that they were compared to. All because naive folks listening took it and ran with it. A player gets compared to Jared Allen and he has no choice but to become a 12-14 sack machine because 7-9 will not cut it. But i kind of see comparisons a bit different. I see comparisons for what they are, similarites in style of play, physical stature, athletic ability, etc... These are all things that are concrete and comparable. To compare a career to another that has yet to get started or only a few years in is impossible. There is nothing to base the comparison off of.
So this post is based on comparisons of the concrete things that I listed, and not some absurd expectations. Remember that as you read. Because as I have said so many times, potential is a word i hate because it is something that is not real, but can become real. So the word misleads people at times by getting them over excited creating these expectations.
SAM BRADFORD/MATT RYAN
First off let me just say I don't believe in comparing older (more experience) players to younger (less experience) players because the older guy was there first making him the one to be compared to. If I did then the best comparison for Bradford would be Andrew Luck, because of their near identical arm strength but most of all the super underrated athletic ability.
But since I don't do older to younger, just younger to older Bradford and Ryan are almost perfect for one another. They are just about identical in size. Only difference there is that Bradford has him by a few pounds. Their arm strength is relatively similar. Bradford has the slight edge in that area but not by much. But more than anything else they both came out of college best known for their accuracy and great timing. Aside from the mobility edge Bradford has, they are pretty adjacent.
ISAIAH PEAD/LESEAN MCCOY
Pead and McCoy have the exact same style of running. To a tee. They both are at their best when in the open field and can show off their speed and shiftiness. They are two elusive runners who happen to be exceptional receivers out of the backfield. McCoy is definitely the more elusive back, but Pead is without question the faster going straight. They share an underrated skill as well. The ability to get physical. Although they are known for agility, acceleration, and speed, neither back has ever been known to shy away from contact when there is no room for anything else. They're not afraid to tangle.
DARYL RICHARDSON/WARRICK DUNN
It was tough to figure out who D Rich best compares to. I will explain in a moment. But when it came down to it, Dunn was the best option. Neither back is known for their imposing size. But both backs are decisive runners who hit the hole quick. They share a running style that you dont typically see from a back their size. That make a cut and get down hill style. They both catch the ball well. But what made it hard to find a someone for this comparison was there is nothing that stands out about D Rich's games. And after listing 50 RB's past and present...it was Dunn that stuck out. Neither back has ever been known for being particularly special in any one category. Neither is bad at anything, but great at nothing.
ZAC STACY/MAURICE JONES-DREW
I originally conpared him to Ray Rice because they share a common lateral quickness. They both are very quick footed and can use it to their advantage. And while all three backs are very similar and I am not including height when I say that, there is no question Stacy and MJD are the more physical runners. MJD is faster straight line, but his feet arent as quick as Stacy's. But they both will abuse anyone who steps in their way. Since they are both short (not small) its really hard to tackle them, so being violent doesn't make it any easier. Stacy outweighs MJD by about 6lbs. And when MJD enter the league he weighed about 195 helping him rip off a blazing 4.39 40. But now 15 lbs heavier I'm sure even their 40 times are closer (Stacy ran a 4.53).
LANCE KENDRICKS/CHRIS COOLEY
This was the easiest comparison by far. Here you have two TE's who will never be appreciated outside of their cities the way they should. And while I know I am about the only one who sees it, Kendricks was a top ten TE last yr. He was an elephant manchild blocking ant infants last yr. He was literally perfect. And his routes were so crisp and good. And his hands were drastically better than his rookie year. He caught the ball the way a pro should. He was easily the teams most improved player. He only had 64 targets catching 65% of them. Give him 30 more targets and were talkinh about 61 rec 756 yds 6 tds. Already better numbers than Jared Cook's best season. And while this post isn't about stats, I just had to mention hoping that a few more people would start to appreciate him a little more. So he really does absolutely everything well. Just like Cooley. Even though they are identical in size at 6'3" 244lbs, Kendricks is far more superior than Cooley athletically, having put up WR like test numbers when entering the league. They block, run great routes, and catch amazingly well. But most of all both are underappreciated.
JARED COOK/JIMMY GRAHAM
I am about to break my own rule and I am not happy about it. But Cook is such a rare specimen my options were limited. If he actually blocked from time to time and ran a full route tree, and had more consistent hands, the comparison would be Tony Gonzalez. They share a common build and identical athletic ability entering the league. But since he doesn't do all that stuff that just left me with Jimmy Graham. These two really are one in the same. Not saying Graham can't block, but he is not the type of blocker you would expect an NFL TE to be. And he runs three routes the vast majority of the time. A seam read, speed out, and sit. The same ones Cook has ran during his four years. Their athletic ability is dead on except cook has the straight line edge by about 0.03 seconds (woooooo). But the measurables is wowing. Cook 6'5", 250, 35 3/4" arms, 10 1/4" hands. Graham 6'6", 260, 35" arms, 10 5/8" hands. I think you get the point. I hate the word potential but Jimmy Graham is what Cook has the potential to be like.
CHRIS GIVENS/JEREMY MACLIN
Givens and Maclin have a lot in common. Two 6' 198lb WRs (although they say Givens has added a few pounds of muscle) with sub 4.4 speed, average hands (not bad or spectacular), who excels at stretching the field and catching screens, and has the ability to be 1000 yard receivers. While Maclin should have reached it at least twice if not for iniury, I'm not sure he ever will. Unless he played for someone like the saints. Same goes for Givens, except the reasoning is different. Its not injuries, but instead other options at WR and Sam being a QB who likes to spread it around. Givens may simply never get the opportunity, especially if he does what they say he wants to do and start running a complete route tree. While that's a good thing, its his YPC that gives him the best chance. If that drops below 15 it aint happening. Just like Maclin.
TAVON AUSTIN/BARRY SANDERS
Now here is the doozy. Austin reminds me so much of Barry Sanders. Again, READ THE OPENING PARAGRAPH!!! But their God given abilites can't be matched by many. Austin has special and rare agility and reaction skills that truthfully can only be compared to Barry because no one else..except for maybe Gale Sayers…had/has lateral speed that matched their straight line speed to the extent of Austin. And maybe Reggie Bush, but his problem was always a lack of toughness, inability to read blocks, and zero patience, always looking to break outside making him terribly predictable. Austin, Sanders, or Sayers have never had those problems. They can move just as fast east to west as they can north to south. And can run backwards losing yards and still somehow gain yards. And Reggie still wasn't quite as fast as these guys going forwards, lateral, or backwards. Also Austin and Sanders share rare vision and field awareness, almost seems like they see the defenders before the defenders see them. That's a major advantage to have.
BRIAN QUICK/TERRELL OWENS
This is actually the comparison I heard the most last year pre-draft, forcing me to do extensive research. My conclusion, they hit the nail dead on. This was closely matched. Their physical skill set and style of play matched a lot more than I thought. The only glaring difference was the combine 40s where Quick ran a 4.5 and Owens ran a 4.36 (and if your just going by size and speed the better comparison to Owens would be Demarious Thomas). But this is bigger than just two 6'3" 220lb WRs, their skill set and style of play is what stands out. Skills being the inability to be jammed, go up and get it, impressive explosiveness when cutting and breaking routes, more elusive than one would think, and major red zone targets. Style of play being physical, physical, and more physical. Literally school yard bullies when facing DB's.
STEDMAN BAILEY/STEVE SMITH (#89)
I have always thought Steve Smith when I see Stedman Bailey. Dating back to 2011 when I watched WV vs Louisville. Then last month in a interview I heard him say Steve Smith is someone he tries to model his game after, and listed every reason I listed as to why he reminded me of him. Suddenly it all made sense. So I must tip my hat to Mr. Bailey, for successfully modeling his game after a future HOF player. That is not easy to do. Both can play slot, but their biggest impact will always be felt on the outside. Two 3rd round elusive WRs, deceptively strong, beautiful routes, amazing hands, and regardless of size consistently wins the jump ball. But above all else that gritty, tough as nails, you can't stop me, on field attitude.
AUSTIN PETTIS/RICKY PROEHEL
I don't know about any of you guys, but I was really impressed and pleased with what I saw out of Pettis the last 6 weeks of last season. He enters the golden year for WRs and you could tell during that span last year that it started to click. He started making plays when they mattered the most. He became Mr. Third Down. He Became Mr. Redzone. He became Mr. Reliable. He became Ricky Proehel. A very quick twitch, smooth, and savvy route runner, who caught everything. Proehel was Wes Welker, before Wes Welker. The possession slot receiver. But I prefer Ricky over Wes because he was bigger, and had better hands. And that's who Pettis' skill set is most reminiscent of. Although Pettis is faster and more athletic than both.
ROKEVIOUS WATKINS/CARL NICKS
Two massive men (Nicks 6'5" 349lbs, Watkins 6'3" 338lbs) drafted in the 5th round 14 picks apart, who are true road graders. But by being coached by one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL in Aaron Kromer, Nicks became the top overall (pass pro and run block) OG in football. Watkins has the skill set and a coach with a similar pedigree to become a similar type of player.
ROGER SAFFOLD/RYAN HARRIS
Saffold reminds me Ryan Harris a lot. They're to me the perfect RT. With the skill and athletic ability to play on the left side. But its not their natural position. Injuries have decimated Harris' career, but before they got out of hand his future was bright. A third round pick in the 2007 draft, one has to wonder if not for injuries where he would rank amongst tackles today. This is Saffold. And unfortunately he is headed down the same path. He is a missed 10 games away from being the next Ryan Harris. Ultra promising and effective when healthy, but rarely healthy. And did I mention they look a lot alike???
BARRETT JONES/SCOTT WELLS
Although Jones can literally play every position on the line he is best suited for center because he is so smart, but lacks certain physical attributes. Neither Jones or Wells is ever going to wow anyone with their brute strength or impressive quickness. But they're both smart, tough, gritty, and technically sound. They beat defenders with flawless mechanics and great effort. And while those tactics are usually called boring, it was enough to earn Wells a trip to the pro bowl. So while boring, its enough to place you amongst the best.
CHRIS LONG/HOWIE LONG
Now isn't this ironic. First off let me just say that if I didn't see the similarities I would not have made the comparison regardless of who his father is. But it is because Howie is his dad that that was the first person I thought to compare him too. And when you watch the two of them, it only makes sense. It quickly becomes obvious who Chris gets his motor from. No question about that. Their effort mirrors one another. Then you watch the hand usage and say, "if he says he didn't pick up all the nuances of his game from his dad, he's a liar" lol. Really its really freaky watching tape of a HOF player and his son, because if not for the jersey and number you would be sure that was Chris 30 years ago, or Howie having the longest career known to men.
ROBERT QUINN/SIMEON RICE
Now here is an interesting comparison for you. Simeon Rice was a player with immense athletic ability, and used it to his advantage his entire career coming off the edge. Both Rice and Quinn play on the right side. They both have good teammates on the D-Line to feed off of and help free them up to go one on one with blockers, and they both have a get off that gets a lot of LTs in trouble.
MICHAEL BROCKERS/KEVIN WILLIAMS
Brockers was a bit different when it came to making a comparison because he is so big and strong, yet so athletic. And he does an exceptional job at using those triats to win in the trenches. I truly do hate that he missed the first month, because it makes me wonder what would his season been like had he played all 16 games healthy? But when I really thought about the first player I thought of was the best player. Kevin Williams is big, strong, and nimble. They're both quick footed big guys. And while Brockers outweighs Williams by 11 lbs (Brockers 322) he moves just as well through traffic. They both have rare motors for players of their position. You don't see many players their size who give that type of effort every snap like they do. These are two guys who chase plays down 10 yards down field.
Brockers on St Johnson (via RamsHerd)
JAMES LAURINAITIS/KEITH BROOKING
Perfect!!! That's the absolute best way to describe this one. Two players who are a model of consistency. Can do everything you want your MLB to do. Superb vs the run, very smart and always in the right place in coverage, true leader and QB of the defense, can pass rush, technically sound, just literally does it all. Brooking is the better athlete but Laurinaitis makes up for what he lacks athletically with his intelligence.
ALEC OGLETREE/LANCE BRIGGS
Well here is one that I was hesitant to do. But it was purely because of me being biased and not because its not an excellent match. Both players bring speed and instincts, and cover very well. Briggs is hands down the best OLB in the NFL, because no one is better in those three categories than him. I wouldn't say that about Ogletree though. But I would say his skills matches up with Briggs a lot and he will be getting coached by a staff who could make an average player in those categories look close to a Briggs knock off. So since the talent and support is there this comparison made too much sense to not do. Ogletree plays purely off of instincts and athletic ability. Get this kid in the film room and work on his technique and hand usage and you wont be able to tell the difference between him and Briggs.
JO-LONN DUNBAR/ANTONIO PIERCE
Simply put what you see is what you get. Neither Dunbar or Pierce will ever be confused for an All-Pro, but neither is a scrub either. What you have here is two very solid LBs who might sneak in a pro bowl or two (MAX) on their football resume. They will bring good intangibles being good leaders and they will play smart and physical. Solid starters who play with a chip. But can get lost in coverage, and whiff from time to time, usually that time being the worst time. But they can start for a lot of teams.
JANORIS JENKINS/DARRELLE REVIS
Here is the simple truth about Janoris Jenkins. Here is the most talented, most pure, and most complete corner to come out since Revis. I remember when Revis was drafted and the way the draft analysts spoke of him. The certainty they all had was unanimous. There wasn't one doubt in what he would become. He went number 14 and the only reason he wasn't a top five or even top ten pick is because of need. Although the Rams picked Adam Carriker one spot before him at 13 and needed a corner. Can you imagine having him and Janoris on the same team? I just got chills. Well that feeling is the same feeling I will get three years from now when Janoris is being called the best in the league and top 5 regardless of position. They enter the league about the same size. Janoris 5'10" 194, Revis 5'11" 197. They both possess rare foot speed and change of direction allowing them the ability to stick with any WR regardless of how sudden the cuts may be. Just watch week 5 vs the cardinals. Forget the pass rush and watch how Larry Fitzgerald could not get away from Jenkins. They both are really strong, good tacklers, fast, aggressive, fearless, tough, aware, and agile. But above all else, their mental approach to the game is what sets them apart. They both have a reputation for being hardworking, competitive, gym rats, and film junkies.
TRUMAINE JOHNSON/SEAN SMITH
Tru best compares to Sean Smith. Though a inch shorter and about 10lbs lighter Tru is still one of the biggest corners in the league. Of the 169 corners to make the initial 53 man rosters last year, 53 were 6' or taller. And only 21 were 6'1" or taller. So Tru is in rare company. Their physical skill sets are very similar but Tru is slightly more loose in the hips and has better ball skills. Smith has been viewed as a top 20 corner in the league. Tru has this ability but could use a little more polishing.
DARIAN STEWART/DEXTER JACKSON
Jackson was a solid safety who played for ten years with three teams. He won a super bowl with the bucs as their starting SS and won the MVP of that game. Although the award should have gone to Simeon Rice. Stewart and Jackson share a similar build with a skill set to match. They both play the run well and can rush the passer when down in the box. Neither player has the hips to be recognized as a force to be reckoned with in pass coverage, but both have enough ability to be good enough. In the end that's all that matters. Both players are physical and take good angles to the ball.
TJ MCDONALD/DONAVIN DARIUS
Is it weird that I compared TJ to Darius and I'm not a huge fan of TJ but back from about 2001-2005 Darius was one of my top three favorite safeties? Well the truth of the matter is there's no better comparison. Both players are massive safeties who are close to the size of a weakside LB. Both players are hard hitters. Both players were considered extremely smart and football savvy entering the league. Darius never made a pro bowl but by the time he retired he was one of the most well respected and known players in the league. And a lot of WRs feared him. This looks like it might be the result of McDonald's career as well. Although I expect slightly better pass coverage from him. Darius wasn't bad in that area and McDonald isn't great, but his ball skills are just a tad bit better entering the league than Darius was.
Thanks for reading everyone. If you have any other comparisons please feel free to mention them in the comments.