It was revealed recently that WR Brandon London will sign a contract extension upon returning from a family visit. I haven't seen any details yet, but I would expect it to be a bit less than Greg Camarillos 3 year, $3 million deal, possibly similar to the $2.1 million extension offered to Patrick Cobbs? Who knows, but its probably a decent bump up from the rookie minimum of a bit under $300,000. So what is our coin going to buy us (Hey-we buy the tickets, we buy the $7 beers, and we buy the hats & jerseys so it IS our money)?
Well, we certainly aren't paying for past production. 3 receptions for 30 yards, 0 TDs, 2 kick returns for 28 yards, and 6 special teams tackles. Nothing to write home about. But consider this. Look at the following descriptions of wide receivers.
WR A: 6'-1", 216 lbs, 4.72s 40 yard dash
WR B: 6'-3", 223 lbs, 4.63s 40 yard dash
WR C: 6'-4", 225 lbs, 4.52s 40 yard dash
WR D: 6'-4", 215 lbs, 4.52s 40 yard dash
WR E: 6'-2", 211 lbs, 4.48s 40 yard dash
All but one of those receivers is (or at least was) a 'number 1' WR type of player. Who is the odd man out?
A looks a bit short, and he is the slowest- is it him? Nope, that's Anquan Boldin- he went over 1,000 yards on the year even after having his skull crushed by a cheap shot.
Maybe E? Roy Williams- he didn't have the best year in Dallas, but they traded away practically their whole draft to get him.
I'm sure you all know B is Larry "The Unstoppable Man-Beast" Fitzgerald- good for 1,431 yards and 12 TDs on the season.
So that brings us to either C or D. Of course you've figured out that one is Brandon London- but who is the other? C is Brandon Marshall. They look nearly identical in build and speed. They even share the name Brandon-yet London has 3 catches and 30 yards, while the Marshall has 104 catches, 1,265 yards, and 6 TDs.
So it would seem we are 'investing' in potential, and for London I feel that the sky is the limit. Simply put, I love this move by the Trifecta. He has every tool available to Marshall and then some; with time in training camp to get an understanding of the offense, don't be surprised to see his trend of increased playing time continue. I feel that IF (and its a big if) he can get his head around the mental aspect of the game, then he could be as good or better than Marshall.
For example, look at the following:
One of London's biggest drawbacks was that he played at UMass, a 1-AA/FCS school, and thus didn't face 'elite competition' in college. But he did play for all 4 years, starting his final two. Marshall only had one year with any significant stats and was otherwise wildly inconsistent (though they were very good stats to be fair). And Marshall played at UCF in Conference USA and the MAC- a step above 1-AA no doubt, but he wasn't exactly matched up against 1st round draft picks week in and week out either. And if you look at their college stats, for London you see solid and steady improvement, Marshall did nothing for 3 years then had an explosive year.
|London, Career Receiving|
|Marshall, Career Receiving|
Marshall's high was significantly higher, but he also has much lower valley's as well. I love to see solid production that steadily rises with experience, and that is London. Also keep in mind, that if you argue that London faced weaker competition, you would also have to acknowledge that he also was on a weaker team himself- with other WRs that couldn't help as much with the load, a worse O-line buying time for him to get open, and a worse QB to get him the ball.
If you want to compare apples to apples, lets look at their results from the combine/pro-days. This will give you a good idea of how they match up athletically- and they are only competing against themselves here so it is a level playing field:
|40 Yrd Dash||4.52||4.52||0|
|20 Yrd Dash||2.66||2.71||-0.05|
|10 Yrd Dash||1.49||1.6||-0.11|
|20 Yrd Shuttle||4.15||4.31||-0.16|
Note: The Diff Column is London's stat - Marshall's stat so a negative time is faster, negative height is shorter, etc.
So Marshall has 1/8" and 10 lbs on him, and they are even in the 40 yard dash. But London is quicker in the 10 and 20- so he gets off the line faster. He jumps one inch higher, 2 inches further, and is better at the shuttle and 3 cone drill. All in all his measurables predict him to be slightly MORE athletic than Marshall. Now he hasn't proven it, but like I said- we are investing in potential and it seems to be there.
The biggest factor seems to be London putting it all together in his head.
Mentally, there is no comparison between the two. Marshall has been arrested on multiple occasions for DUI, domestic violence, assault of a law enforcement officer, among others. London is the son of a former NFL D-line coach who now is the head coach of the Richmond Spiders- the 2008 FCS National Champions. He works hard, and gives his all whether its making a catch or busting a wedge.
OK OK, so maybe I am sounding a bit too enthusiastic. I do not believe he is the second coming of Larry Fitzgerald, and he may never be as good as Marshall. But he has the tools. And unlike a draft pick, he has flashed some of that potential on the field. And you can see the heart and determination he plays with every time he gets on the field. Does he go for 1000 yards next season? Not a chance. But maybe in year three. . . Anyways- all I ask is that you just keep him in mind when you are praying for that 1st day draft pick to be spent on a WR ;) We could use it on a real position like tackle or LB instead!
Some bonus facts about Brandon London:
- Tied a school record with 13 receptions in one game
- Tied a school record with 4 TDs in one game
- He is 2nd all time at UMass with 148 receptions
- He is 3rd all time in receiving yards with 2,022
- He is 4th in career receiving TDs with 15
- He has the 5th best record for single season TDs with 9
- He had at least one catch in the last 20 games of his college career
- Caught the game winning 31 yard TD pass to advance to the NCAA semi finals in 2006
- He led his team in catches his junior and senior seasons
- He has 6 siblings
- His father and uncle were both football players