NFL Draft 2011: Torrey Smith Will Not Be a Bust Like Darrius Heyward-Bey

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NFL Draft 2011: Torrey Smith Will Not Be a Bust Like Darrius Heyward-Bey
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Torrey Smith is the first highly touted University of Maryland wide receiver to enter the National Football League draft since Darrius Heyward-Bey, who so far in his two year NFL career has contributed nothing but negative value to the Oakland Raiders (as measured by Football Outsiders' DYAR and DVOA).

However, NFL teams thinking of drafting Smith should not worry that having Smith on their rosters will involve a repeat performance of Heyward-Bey's struggles. This lack of concern should stem from the knowledge that Smith is a better wide receiver than Heyward-Bey due to the fact he was a more valuable wide receiver in college.

As I did in two previous articles, I measured value based on how Smith's quarterbacks fared once his statistics are removed from theirs compared to how they performed when his statistics were included in theirs.

For Smith's Maryland career, once his statistics were removed from his quarterbacks', the quarterbacks experienced a 2.6 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 57.2 percent to 55.7 percent), an 8.8 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 6.8 to 6.2), a 6.7 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 11.9 to 11.1) and a 21.7 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 4.6 percent to 3.6 percent).

During Heyward-Bey's Maryland career, once his statistics were removed, his quarterbacks underwent a .5 percent increase in completion percentage (from 60.6 percent to 60.9 percent), an 8.3 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 7.2 to 6.6), a 7.6 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 11.8 to 10.9) and a 13.5 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 3.7 percent to 3.2 percent).

At first glance, it might look like the two former Terrapins are not far removed from each other in terms of ability and value to the Maryland passing game. Smith has sizable advantages in completion percentage value and touchdown percentage value but only a small one in yards per pass attempt value. Heyward-Bey, on the other hand, seems able to claim superiority in yards per completion value, which would indicate he is capable of making bigger plays than Smith.

However, their career statistics are misleading because of the polar opposite paths their collegiate careers took. Once that is factored in, Smith distances himself even more from Heyward-Bey.

The only reason why Smith's production does not look even more valuable is because of his freshman year when he was barely utilized, only receiving 3.2 passes per game.

Due to the small number of times the football was thrown in his direction, once his statistics were removed, Maryland quarterbacks did not experience a change in completion percentage and they were only 1.5 percent worse in yards per pass attempt (from 6.7 to 6.6), 1.7 percent worse in yards per completion (from 11.8 to 11.6) and 10.5 percent worse in touchdown percentage (from 3.8 percent to 3.4 percent).

When Smith was allowed a more integral role in the Maryland passing offense and was given the opportunity to prove himself as a wide receiver in his sophomore and junior seasons, he was extremely valuable to his quarterbacks.

As a sophomore, once his statistics were removed from his quarterbacks', Maryland's quarterbacks underwent a 4.1 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 58.5 percent to 56.1 percent), a 15.3 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 6.5 to 5.8), a 10.2 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 11.2 to 10.3) and a 22.6 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 3.1 percent to 2.4 percent).

During his junior season, once his statistics were removed, his quarterbacks became 4.6 percent worse in completion percentage (from 56.3 percent to 53.7 percent), 15.3 percent worse in yards per pass attempt (from 7.2 to 6.1), 10.2 percent worse in yards per completion, and 23.2 percent worse in touchdown percentage (from 6.9 percent to 5.3 percent).

Smith's sophomore and junior seasons top any season Heyward-Bey had at Maryland and are also indicative of a player who improved with each college season.

Compare that to Heyward-Bey, who had his best season as a freshman and got progressively worse over his career in the value he provided to his quarterbacks' yards per pass attempt and yards per completion averages.

In his freshman year, once his statistics were removed, Heyward-Bey's quarterbacks experienced an 8.5 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 7.1 to 6.5) and a 9.4 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 11.7 to 10.6).

As a sophomore, his quarterbacks underwent a 6.6 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 7.6 to 7.1) and an 8.5 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 11.8 to 10.8).

During his junior season, his quarterbacks became 5.9 percent worse in yards per pass attempt (from 6.8 to 6.4) and 5.8 percent worse in yards per completion (from 12.0 to 11.3).

When the Oakland Raiders drafted Heyward-Bey, they were drafting a wide receiver who had spent his entire time in college becoming less valuable as a wide receiver. Based on his career path, it is no wonder he has failed to make his mark in the NFL.

When an NFL team drafts Smith, however, based on how he performed in his sophomore and junior seasons at Maryland, the franchise should feel confident they are receiving an impact wide receiver that will provide good value to a passing attack.

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