Oh believe me, I know. I know. I really, really, really KNOW, really!
The title of this article alone is enough for some of our readers to dismiss everything I’m about to say. In some ways, I think I’d be inclined to do the same if someone walked up to me and said exactly what’s in the title. I might call them crazy or think it’s the lead in to a bad joke. Hear me out though, I promise at the end of this article you will at the very least come away with some very interesting conversation starters or justification when you stash Brian Quick late in your start-up draft.
Leading off with a question as bizarre as the one in the title and an answer which is just as startling, one would expect some solid arguments to back all of this up. Never fear, I have a lot of numbers I’m about to throw your way.
Let’s start with some of the very basic comparisons – the measurables of each player.
Starting off, Quick and Fitzgerald have very similar body shapes and frames. Quick stands 6’-4” while Fitzgerald is 6’-3”. Both of them weigh 220 pounds. Both are both rumored to have a wingspan of 34 ¼”. During their pre-draft workouts, Quick ran a 4.55 second 40-yard dash compared to Fitzgerald’s 4.48 second performance. In the short shuttle, Quick posted a 4.23 second performance while Fitzgerald clocked in at 4.28. Quick’s vertical jump was 34” while Fitzgerald’s vertical jump was measured at 35”. These stats alone already should have quite a few people raising some eyebrows due to their extreme closeness. However, just because two people are built similar or even post similar workout numbers, doesn’t always mean they will play the same on the field.
Part of what makes a player good, bad or fantasy irrelevant all has to do with what kind of situation they find themselves in. Both Quick and Fitzgerald found themselves drafted on to teams with records far below .500. Quick finds himself on a Rams team that posted a horrible 2-14 record in 2011. Fitzgerald didn’t land on a team with a much better record, finding himself on an Arizona Cardinals team that posted a 4-12 record the year before he arrived. While common sense would tend to dictate that a player going to a horrible team might see a dip in how well they perform on that team. In actuality, however, wide receivers with the right skills might actually thrive in such a situation. Due to the fact that a horrible team will likely fall behind early and often, deep throws tend to be more a more prevalent aspect of these offenses as they struggle to stay, or get, in the game. Any wide receiver who is the deep threat on such a team is bound to see more chances than a deep threat on a team playing with a lead more often.
Upon being drafted by their respective teams, both Quick and Fitzgerald entered training camp with high expectations placed upon them. Both were expected to play major roles on their teams in their first year and were expected to become their team’s number one receiver very quickly. Quick finds himself on a team lacking a true deep threat for a number of years and only Danny Amendola has been a bright point for the Rams receiving corps in the past five years. Fitzgerald found himself as the number two option behind Anquan Boldin coming into Cardinals camp, but became the number one receiver for the Cardinals in short order.
A further look into the situations both of these players found themselves in reveals even more similarities that make one take pause. Both Quick and Fitzgerald found themselves being thrown to by third year quarterbacks, Sam Bradford in Quick’s case and Josh McCown in Fitzgerald’s. The year prior to both of their selections, their teams produced passing yards well below the league average and offensively were eerily close to each other. The Rams passed for 2,870 yards and rushed for 1,667 yards while the Cardinals passed for 2,959 yards and rushed for 1,531 yards. Both the Rams and the Cardinals scored the lowest points in the league (#32 of 32) the year before each player arrived and had the highest point differential (#32 of 32). Furthermore, both teams turned over their coaching staffs in the off-season prior to the arrival of each player.
While the similarities between Quick and Fitzgerald’s measureables and situation are striking, yet a third category exists by which to compare these two players – performance. Looking at the final year in college of each player, one can be forgiven for assuming Fitzgerald’s statistics are superior to Quick’s. Quick recorded 71 receptions for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Fitzgerald posted 92 receptions for 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns. When you abstract the offense that each of these players found themselves in, you begin to see that in college the two players performs similar in different circumstances
In the offense Quick found himself in, his team passed the ball 27.72% of the time, while Fitzgerald’s offense passed 27.92% of the time, so far roughly the same. However, the average yard per reception for Quick’s team was 12.13 yards, while Fitzgerald’s team had an average reception of 14.92 yards. Individually Quick’s average reception was for 15.44 yards, over three yards more than his team’s average, Fitzgerald had an average reception of 18.17 yards, also about three yards over his teams average – this would seem to indicate that either Quick’s quarterback, the offense his team ran or both were a bit more conservative than that of Fitzgerald’s team.
In terms of percentage of their team’s receptions Fitzgerald has an edge at 36.65% to Quick’s 30.60%. What is interesting, however, is what Quick did with the receptions he made. Despite Quick having a lower percentage of his team’s overall receptions, both Quick and Fitzgerald scored exactly 57.89% of their team’s passing touchdowns, seeming to indicate that Quick did more with less.
After examining categories that both players have some degree of control over, let’s look at one they don’t, perception. When you read the scouting reports written about Quick and Fitzgerald, it’s almost funny to see how similar people perceive their game. The following are comments made about either Quick or Fitzgerald in various scouting reports, see if you can identify which player each writer is talking about:
A big, physical WR… uses his size and physical ability to make plays deep down the field,
Sells pass routes, shields opponents from the action or physically beats defenders to make the reception.
Strong hands and has no issue going up, attacking the ball, and coming down with it
He has great leaping ability, very strong hands, and he catches the ball well in traffic.
A well-rounded athlete with a strong work ethic and a promising learning curve
Tracks the deep or intermediate pass and displays a tremendous sense of timing
Does not get deep separation or a receiver that wins out in foot races.
Doesn’t have elite top end speed…takes a few strides to get up to full speed
Lacks the quick explosive route running skills.
Has a very under developed route tree
He is also a little inexperienced and will need just a little polish at the next level
Far from finished as a developing receiver
So after looking over those strengths and weaknesses, can you tell who is who? Well, Quick’s strengths are all the odd numbered entries and his weaknesses are all the even numbered entries, the opposite, of course is true for Fitzgerald with his strengths being the even numbers entries and his weaknesses being the odd numbered entries. Or do I have those backwards? I’m kidding, of course, but the point is clear – Quick’s strengths and even his weaknesses sound nearly identical to those paid to scout players for a living. Most of the scouting reports for one player could pass as material written about the other.
While Quick and Fitzgerald have an amazing amount in common, from measureables to situation and performance to perception, a few things that can’t be measured or determined will inevitably make all the difference in determining just how close Quick comes to being a player in the mold of Larry Fitzgerald. Chief among those intangibles that will make all the difference are heart, dedication and focus – those are all things that have set Fitzgerald apart in his professional career. Fitzgerald is known around the league for how disciplined he is both during the season and off-season as well as both on and off the field. His single-minded approach to the game has yielded incredible dividends for him throughout his career as evidenced by his domination of the position for several years. His dedication is so well known that other elite wide receivers seek him out in the off-season to train with, so much so that Fitzgerald now hosts a camp for his fellow receivers.
If Quick is ever to research the heights that Fitzgerald has, he too must commit himself mind, body and soul to constantly improve upon his game, especially due to the fact that he has entered football later and has had far less training then most. Such a level of commitment is extremely rare and if Quick does not reach Fitzgerald’s success, this would be one of the most likely reasons why. This isn’t to say Quick can’t have the kind of focus Fitzgerald does, but that level of commitment and focus is rare, even among the most elite of athletes.
If Quick can mirror Fitzgerald in his heart, dedication and focus just as he has with his measureables, performance and situation, then we may witness the emergence of a whole new force at wide receiver. While this would be unlikely to happen immediately, maybe not even for a couple of seasons, if Quick can somehow capture even some of Fitzgerald’s focus then it will definitely happen.
While reaching Fitzgerald’s status is a tall order for any receiver, Quick is a player to stash away and cross your fingers on – the stars might just be aligned for him to emerge as a great option and that’s always worth a shot in the dark.
For more great articles, check out Dynasty League Football.