Increasingly, NFL wide receivers look more like linebackers. The average WR in the NFL is six-foot and over 200 pounds. Because of that, there isn’t a big market for a 5’8” 190 pound guy.
But then again, Olamide Zaccheaus isn’t a typical WR. He’s mostly been listed at halfback at Virginia, and in reality, he’s a hybrid running back-wide receiver. Over his career, he’s had 79 carries for 551 yards and two touchdowns, coupled with 250 receptions for 2,753 yards and 22 TDs. These numbers put him in rarified company at Virginia. OZ (as he is known) is the all-time leader in receptions at UVA and is second all-time in receiving yards and TDs. He also holds the single-game record with 247 yards receiving. His junior and senior years are the top two in UVA history in single season receptions, and he’s one of just three UVA players to break 1,000 yards in a season for the Hoos.
Of course, college production does not necessarily translate to NFL production, and OZ is unlikely to put up those kinds of numbers in the NFL. Very few players, in fact, have put up those kinds of numbers. Although Zaccheaus wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, his UVA Pro Day results compare favorably to many WRs who were.
Zaccheaus’s 4.49 in the 40 yard dash would have ranked tied for 18th among WRs (sixth fastest among RBs) at the combine this year. His 4.19 short shuttle would’ve tied for 10th among WRs (3rd among RBs). And his 7.0 3-cone-drill would’ve tied for 9th among WRs (3rd among RBs).
I’m comparing those numbers to both WR and RB because Olamide’s role in the NFL is likely to continue as a WR/RB hybrid. His best comparisons in size, speed and quickness are hybrid guys like Danny Woodhead, recently retired from the New England Patriots. Woodhead had a bit more speed, but Zaccheaus is quicker and stronger. Both are capable of handling the ball out of the backfield as well as lining up in the slot. Both are very good on third down because they can catch the ball out of the backfield. .
Zaccheaus is a very strong route runner and has great hands. Those are his strengths as a WR.
This play shows off the route skills. Zaccheaus is lined up in the slot. He sells the outside moves, gets the DB to commit and then turns inside to the post. He uses his body to shield the defender and makes an easy TD catch.
And on this play, he shows off his hands by reaching well outside his body frame to make a tough catch while falling down.
On this play, Zaccheaus runs a pretty simple comeback route, but he breaks to the ball, giving up space from the defender, which enables him to turn upfield. And then he outruns the defense. Sure, maybe his 40 time isn’t the best. But it doesn’t look like he’s getting caught from behind any time soon.
Because of his lack of size and top-end speed, Zaccheaus is going to fall in this draft. His performance at the UVA Pro Day didn’t show elite athleticism, though it did show elite explosiveness.
Do you know another WR who didn’t show elite speed or athleticism in the build-up to the draft? Antonio Brown. Brown was 5’10” 186 and has the same size hands and arms. Brown ran a 4.48 and the rest of his performance at the combine was similar to Zaccheaus’. Brown was drafted in the sixth round and all he’s done is become (arguably) the best WR in the NFL.
Now, I’m not saying that OZ is going to be the next Antonio Brown. I am saying that some NFL team is going to get a heck of a bargain late in the draft.