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2018 NFL Draft Prospect: WR Deon Cain, Clemson

The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. It’s important for daily fantasy players to know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.

This piece is on Clemson wide receiver Deon Cain, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.

For more on all the other receivers in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft wide receiver rankings.

Updated as of Mar. 8.

Junior | 6’2″ and 202 Pounds | Born August 9, 1996 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 3-4

Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.43 sec | bench reps: 11 | 3-cone: 6.71 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.37 sec | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 115 in

Based on his production, it’s hard to believe that Cain is receiving legitimate Day 2 hype from a number of respected analysts. He had a decent freshman campaign as a depth receiver with 34 receptions for 582 yards and five touchdowns, and he especially came on in the second half of the season with either 90 yards or a touchdown in seven of his final eight games, but he missed the two College Football Playoff games because of a drug-related suspension. He progressed as a sophomore and finished second on the team with nine touchdowns, but he was still just sixth on the Tigers with 38 receptions and little more than a big-play and red-zone specialist.

With the graduation of Clemson’s two best wide receivers and tight end, Cain assumed the role of No. 1 receiver in the 2017 offense, and he was a psuedo-satisfactory player, leading the team with 734 yards and six touchdowns receiving, but he managed to capture only 18.8 percent of the Tigers’ receptions. As a guy who never had 750 yards receiving, double-digit touchdowns, 20 percent of the receptions, or 25 percent of the receiving yards, Cain leaves a lot to be desired.

But here’s why some film-centered analysts like him: He’s athletic — he had strong 40 and 3-cone times at the combine — and he’s apparently a smooth route runner. Plus, he’s had only three years at the position because he converted from quarterback to wide receiver during the recruitment process. On top of that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has a history of developing wide receivers — even relatively unproductive ones — for the NFL.

  • Jacoby Ford (2010, fourth round)
  • DeAndre Hopkins (2013, first round)
  • Jaron Brown (2013, undrafted)
  • Adam Humphries (2015, undrafted)
  • Sammy Watkins (2014, first)
  • Martavis Bryant (2014, fourth)
  • Charon Peake (2016, seventh)
  • Mike Williams (2017, first)
  • Artavis Scott (2017, undrafted)

Swinney has been the Clemson HC for nine full seasons, and in that time he’s gotten nine receivers to the NFL. Of course, not every professional receiver is a starting-caliber player, and of the receivers who weren’t rookies last year the three with the best careers — Hopkins, Watkins, and Bryant — also happened to be the only three who had at least 800 yards receiving in any collegiate season.

Cain is a Clemson receiver, but within that cohort he looks much more like the guys who serve as depth players than the guys who turn into productive starters. He might be the next Martavis, but he could also just as easily be the next Jaron or Charon.

——

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. It’s important for daily fantasy players to know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.

This piece is on Clemson wide receiver Deon Cain, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.

For more on all the other receivers in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft wide receiver rankings.

Updated as of Mar. 8.

Junior | 6’2″ and 202 Pounds | Born August 9, 1996 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 3-4

Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.43 sec | bench reps: 11 | 3-cone: 6.71 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.37 sec | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 115 in

Based on his production, it’s hard to believe that Cain is receiving legitimate Day 2 hype from a number of respected analysts. He had a decent freshman campaign as a depth receiver with 34 receptions for 582 yards and five touchdowns, and he especially came on in the second half of the season with either 90 yards or a touchdown in seven of his final eight games, but he missed the two College Football Playoff games because of a drug-related suspension. He progressed as a sophomore and finished second on the team with nine touchdowns, but he was still just sixth on the Tigers with 38 receptions and little more than a big-play and red-zone specialist.

With the graduation of Clemson’s two best wide receivers and tight end, Cain assumed the role of No. 1 receiver in the 2017 offense, and he was a psuedo-satisfactory player, leading the team with 734 yards and six touchdowns receiving, but he managed to capture only 18.8 percent of the Tigers’ receptions. As a guy who never had 750 yards receiving, double-digit touchdowns, 20 percent of the receptions, or 25 percent of the receiving yards, Cain leaves a lot to be desired.

But here’s why some film-centered analysts like him: He’s athletic — he had strong 40 and 3-cone times at the combine — and he’s apparently a smooth route runner. Plus, he’s had only three years at the position because he converted from quarterback to wide receiver during the recruitment process. On top of that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has a history of developing wide receivers — even relatively unproductive ones — for the NFL.

  • Jacoby Ford (2010, fourth round)
  • DeAndre Hopkins (2013, first round)
  • Jaron Brown (2013, undrafted)
  • Adam Humphries (2015, undrafted)
  • Sammy Watkins (2014, first)
  • Martavis Bryant (2014, fourth)
  • Charon Peake (2016, seventh)
  • Mike Williams (2017, first)
  • Artavis Scott (2017, undrafted)

Swinney has been the Clemson HC for nine full seasons, and in that time he’s gotten nine receivers to the NFL. Of course, not every professional receiver is a starting-caliber player, and of the receivers who weren’t rookies last year the three with the best careers — Hopkins, Watkins, and Bryant — also happened to be the only three who had at least 800 yards receiving in any collegiate season.

Cain is a Clemson receiver, but within that cohort he looks much more like the guys who serve as depth players than the guys who turn into productive starters. He might be the next Martavis, but he could also just as easily be the next Jaron or Charon.

——

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports