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Establishing (Realistic) Expectations for Rome Odunze

| July 9th, 2024

The Bears have three rookies with a chance to play meaningful roles on offense or defense this year, so I want to take some time this week to look at what history can tell us about what to expect for those players, both in their rookie seasons and in their careers. We looked yesterday at QB Caleb Williams, and today will focus on WR Rome Odunze, before ending tomorrow with a look at DE Austin Booker.

The Setup

To get a baseline for Odunze, I looked at all WRs drafted near him in the last 10 years. Odunze was drafted 9th overall, so I went +/- 5 picks and looked at WRs drafted between 4th and 14th. This gave a list of 17 players who were viewed fairly similarly to Odunze coming out of college, and enables us to see what history has to say about reasonable expectations for Odunze, both as a rookie and in his career.

Rookie Performance

With that setup in mind, let’s take a look at how those 17 WRs fared as rookies. Full data can be seen here, but the average stat line for these players was 13 games and 680 snaps played, with 91 targets leading to 54 catches for 766 yards and 5 TD.

That’s not bad – those values would have ranked 41st among WR in targets, 46th in receptions, 40th in yards, and 28th in TD. Basically, the average player in this sample has performed like a mid-tier WR2.

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A Deep Dive into the WRs, Part II: Depth, Downs, and Red Zone

| May 21st, 2024

This is the 2nd part of a 2-part series exploring Chicago’s top trio of WRs, which includes accomplished NFL veterans DJ Moore and Keenan Allen to go with top 10 pick Rome Odunze.

In part one, we examined overall efficiency, production from the slot, and impact against man and zone coverage. Today, we will explore target depth, 3rd/4th down production, and usage in the red zone. Like in part one, data presented is for the NFL only, so Odunze will not be in tables, but I will try to provide context for his performance in these areas when possible.

Targets by Depth

Let’s start by examining how frequently and effectively Moore and Allen were targeted at different depths of the field. The table below shows this data split into four depths: behind the line of scrimmage, 0-9 yards downfield, 10-19 yards downfield, and 20+ yards downfield. A variety of production metrics are given in each depth, along with Moore and Allen’s ranks compared to the 54 WRs with 75+ total targets in 2023. Ranks in the top 25% are highlighted in green, while those in the bottom 25% are highlighted in red, and the high, average, and low values of the 54-player sample are shown for context. All data is from Pro Football Focus (PFF).

(Side note: sorry if the formatting is poor for the graph. You can click on it to see it in a new window in full if it’s not showing up right for you.)

A few thoughts:

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A Deep Dive into the WRs, part I: Total Usage + Man vs. Zone

| May 20th, 2024

After lacking talent at the wide receiver position for the better part of the last decade, the Bears have completely revamped the room in the last two offseasons with the additions of DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, and Rome Odunze, and they now boast what might be the best WR trio in the NFL.

This week I want to dive into the WRs, with an in-depth look at:

  • How efficient they were
  • How frequently and efficiently they played in the slot
  • How they performed against man and zone coverage
  • How frequently and efficiently they were targeted at different depths of the field
  • 3rd and 4th down production
  • Red zone usage

We’ll examine the first three areas today, with a follow-up piece tomorrow looking at the latter half of the list.

I want to note that the analysis will mostly focus on Moore and Allen, since they have NFL production that is easier to analyze and contextualize. I’ll provide some Odunze stats when relevant, but it’s hard to say for sure how college production and/or usage will translate to the NFL.

Overall Stats

Let’s start with a basic look at overall production in 2023. The table below shows how Moore and Allen ranked compared to all NFL wide receivers in the basic receiving stats.

At first glance, it is easy to see that both players were among the most productive in the NFL in 2023, and that wasn’t a one-year fluke either. Moore is currently averaging over 1000 yards per season in his career, and Allen is as well if you don’t count the season when he only played one game.

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Dare We Dream Of Rome (Odunze)?

| April 24th, 2024

Let me be honest with you — I haven’t allowed myself to think about Ryan Poles drafting any of the ‘Big 3’ Wide Receivers (Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze) for two reasons:

  1. It’s seemed more and more likely over time that all three of those WRs will be drafted by #8 (with Atlanta trading out of their pick and allowing a WR-needy team to jump Chicago)
  2. If one of those WRs did fall to 9, it’s seemed like an obvious Ryan Poles move to subsequently dangle that 3rd WR as a trade chip for the WR-needy team described in Atlanta’s deal above, giving Ryan Poles a few more picks in the 2024 draft.

This logic made sense to me for a long time. But a few things happened yesterday that have me wondering if Ryan Poles has an explosive move planned for mid-Thursday night.

First off, when asked about whether Ryan Poles felt any need to add picks in this draft he had this to say:

Is that gamesmanship? Could be, but Ryan Poles has a habit of being unusually honest with the media in open sessions. I’ll never forget standing at Poles’ presser at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine where he all but told the media that he wanted to trade #1 overall before the start of Free Agency. Within days, the pick had been dealt.

But Poles (potentially) sticking at #9 doesn’t automatically signal interest in Odunze being the pick. The Bears could easily stick at #9 and take any of the popular pass-rushers on the board — names like Byron Murphy, Jared Verse, Dallas Turner come to mind.

But search presumed #1 Overall Pick Caleb Williams’ social media, and you’ll find a budding relationship blooming with he and Rome Odunze — is this a smoke screen? Or a smoke signal? You tell me.

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With Caleb Williams a Foregone Conclusion, All Eyes Shift to the Ninth Pick: WR Edition

| March 29th, 2024


When it comes to the ninth pick in the draft, three wide receivers seem to have consensus appeal: Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State), Malik Nabers (LSU) and Rome Odunze (Washington). There are varying opinion as to the ranking of these three but the likelihood remains that at least one will be on the board when the Bears pick for the second time in the first round.

So, who are they?  As always, this time of year, I lean on Lance Zierlein at NFL.com.


Marvin Harrison Jr.

Zierlein Comparison: CeeDee Lamb.

Zierlein Overview: “Harrison comes from impressive NFL bloodlines and possesses similarities that made his father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, special. Harrison can run but isn’t a burner. What makes him tough to handle is his consistent play speed paired with quality salesmanship in his routes. He’s able to uncover no matter where he’s aligned or which part of the field his assignment takes him to, and he is capable of finishing catches in a crowd. Harrison can be sudden while working possession routes, and he’s well qualified to beat any opponent with his ball skills if the battle heads deep. Harrison is a touchdown champ with a variety of ways to excel, and that characteristic figures to follow him into the pros. He has the traits and tools to win in all three phases of the route and on all three levels of the field. He’s a pedigree prospect and a Day 1 starter with high-end production expected.”

Video:


Malik Nabers

Zierlein Comparison: Justin Jefferson.

Zierlein Overview: “Nabers is the next big thing coming out of LSU’s receiver room, with the pure explosiveness and talent to be mentioned in the same breath as former LSU stars starring in the league today. Despite a lack of polish and precision as a route-runner, Nabers’ gliding movements and speed alterations seem to disguise the top-end speed and separation potential that await opposing coverages. He’s a bouncy leaper with the athletic ability to make the impossible catches possible. He tucks away accurate throws and displays the toughness and play strength to fight for tight-window victories over the middle. Nabers will need to address his tendency to track and play deep throws with finesse, or his early advantages will turn into 50/50 battles. He can play all three receiver spots and has the profile to become a productive, high-volume target over all three levels as a potential WR1.

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