Why Ryan Pace must learn about breakout age
Even the staunchest Ryan Pace supporter would have to admit that he has made his share of mistakes. Of course, for Pace, his job with the Chicago Bears was his first GM role, and with that is going to come lessons to learn from. It is one thing to make a mistake, but it is another to not learn from it and repeat it. After whiffing on Mitchell Trubisky, Ryan Pace got a do-over and chose Justin Fields. He will get another chance to make the same mistake.
The same will have to be said of his wide receiver selections. While trading up is a whole different story for Pace, the first thing he must recognize is his scouting process is the value of age and breakout age.
Breakout age is further explained here but is a wide receiver metric that looks into what age a player was when the offense started to revolve around that player. This is not looking at raw production, but rather how often a coach or quarterback felt that a particular player was their best option. It is not a crazy analytic guess to say that if a player steps onto the field at a young age and demands attention that he is going to go on to be successful later on.
One of the big red flags with Miller coming into the NFL is that he was older than a lot of his competition. When Miller was the same age as his peers, he struggled, but once he was more mature he excelled. In the NFL, only the strongest and best around and Miller will never just be the oldest and most physically imposing player.
Below you can see a list of the Chicago Bears’ current wide receivers along with Anthony Miller.
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It is fair to say that Riley Ridley and Javon Wims were late picks, but they fell because they could not get onto the field when they were young. It took until they were much older to thrive in college, and it likely will not happen in the NFL.
Beyond that, the two players who broke out in college at the youngest age of course are Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney. Mooney is a perfect example of the value of breakout age. A player in a small school offense with a lower-end quarterback. Breakout age showed that while the stats were not gaudy, that he was dominating his peers who were older.
Below is a small sample, but a brief look into why Ryan Pace should factor breakout age into his scouting. Check out the top 10 WRs in yards. This does not include Tyreek Hill who had a lot of personal issues during college. The rest you can the year they broke out as a key piece of their offense.
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The average age is 19.2, and only 2 players did not breakout before turning 20 years old. In the case of Calvin Ridley, he played at Alabama with many pros, and the same could be said for A.J. Brown.
Even still, both had a breakout age under 21, and you will not see many studs who took until they were that old to excel in college and become useful NFL receivers.
This has to be a lesson for Ryan Pace. He should recognize first hand that Miller, Ridley, and Wims busted after failing to break out at a young age. Robinson and Mooney excelled in college at age 18 and success have followed. These are the wide receivers he must target.