Wake Forrest Deacon
Predicting how collegiate performance will translate to the NFL is difficult enough. When we have a pseudo season with players sitting out an entire year, it only heightens the difficulty. Big names like Ja’Marr Chase have strong enough prospect profiles to allow them to skip out on their final year without it infringing upon their draft capital. However, the question stands to be asked, how do the players who do not have strong prospect profiles project to the NFL with only two years of collegiate playing experience? This brings up to Sage Surratt, the Wake Forest wide receiver who has been forgotten by many.
The Background and The Breakout
As an incoming freshman, Sage Surratt received a three-star grade from 247sports. His first season was a redshirt year. In his redshirt freshman season, he was Wake Forest’s second-leading receiver, posting 41 receptions for 581 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 14.2 yards per reception in only ten games. This was good for a Breakout Age of 20.4, landing him in the 53rd-percentile among qualified wide receivers in the PlayerProfiler database. He played in nine games the next season, compiling 66 receptions for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 15.2 yards per reception.
Prior to Surratt’s season-ending shoulder injury, he was leading all Power 5 teams in receiving yards and had logged 17 plays with 20 or more yards gained. He was asked to return punts on top of that, logging 11 returns for 91 yards and averaging 8.3 yards per return. In his injury-shortened 2019 campaign, he posted a 21.7-percent (46th-percentile) College Target Share. He also registered a 44.9-percent (90th-percentile) College Dominator Rating, mostly propped up with him accounting for 35.48-percent of the team’s touchdowns.
While I am not the biggest fanboy for College Dominator Rating, I am a fan of the College Target Share. Posting a 35.4-percent mark in the games he played is impressive given he was the team’s main weapon. When adjusted for a full season in which he missed four games, he posted a 21.7-percent mark. Both numbers are impressive, but it just shows how special his breakout season would have been if he didn’t fall to injury. When compared to his teammates, he put up more yards than the next two wide receivers combined. He also averaged 2.23 Yards per Team Pass Attempt for his career, with a 2.90 Yards per Team Pass Attempt average in his impressive second season. This is a rating that gauges efficiency, and with such low competition on the playing field, seeing him posting these metrics is encouraging for his NFL potential.
Though Sage Surratt only played in 10 games in his redshirt freshman year, the team did not disclose any injury information for the three games he missed. His redshirt sophomore season was cut short after nine games due to an undisclosed right shoulder injury. All that was disclosed was that the injury required surgery. The bigger issue is that he failed to play a full season in his collegiate career. I tend to be risk adverse when it comes to the injury bug and my fantasy teams. While this is not a red flag for me, a caution sign is necessary for his durability when evaluating his NFL projection. Only being “injury prone until you are not” seems prominent in Surratt’s case.
Digging deeper, the most perceived glaring issue that Surratt faces is that his rise to prominence also took place when Jamie Newman took the helm of the Wake Forest offense. In the games that he played with Newman over the last two years, he put up 85 receptions for 1,246 yards and 12 touchdowns. That gave him an average of 14.65 yards per reception when playing with Newman. Without him, the he only logged 22 receptions for 331 yards and one touchdown, but had a 15.04 yards per reception average. The fact that the dropoff wasn’t too steep is encouraging.
Thus far, Surratt’s profile is far from bulletproof, which is why sitting out the COVID-19 year was a move that will most likely prove to be detrimental to his projected draft capital. Given that he played in the ACC, the level of competition has been far from competitive when compared to most Power 5 schools. He has only faced one Power 5 school, Florida State University twice, posting 10 total receptions for 203 yards and one touchdown. The upside given the lack of competition he faced is that he’s done what you would ask of a good player against poor competition, dominating against it.
Don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself:
Wake Forest rSO Sage Surratt has been playing lights out. At 6'-3" and 215 lbs, he's physical at the catch point, has strong hands and adjusts to the ball extremely well. 74% YTD CMP. 40% Dominator rating @XTBoxscore #devy @DynastyHHPod @DevyHappyHour pic.twitter.com/vrBzIf17hK— Brandon Lejeune (@DevyDeepDive) October 14, 2019
2021 WR Sage Surratt - Thread— Cory P. (@FF_Guitarist) March 24, 2020
He's going to end up being overshadowed by next years top tier, but he's a talented player.
Big, physical and athletic flanker - understands how to deceive defenses with subtle nuances to his route running ⬇️#devy #demondeacons pic.twitter.com/K9tlSv95Py
Welcome to Tier 2 of my #Devy WR Rankings Sage Surratt 🔥— Ray G 🏁 (@RayGQue) October 22, 2019
6’3 215 | 2nd In FBS in Receiving Yards
He is 2020 Eligible - If he doesn’t declare he’s in T1 with: Moore Ross Chase Bateman & ASB
Play 1 -Toughness/Physicality
Play 2 -Route Manipulation
Play 3 -Contested Catch #DDP pic.twitter.com/xOaDDf5smy
To The Metrics!
Capping off the impressive second season was that he posted a 2.90 Yards per Team Pass Attempt rating, which is beyond impressive. The threshold for what is ‘acceptable’ is 1.30, with anything above 2.0 being borderline great. For reference, CeeDee Lamb averaged 2.7 Yards per Team Pass Attempt. Surratt is a black box when it comes to his athletic profile, but if I have learned one thing from this 2020 draft class, it is that a wide receiver does not need to be an athletic powerhouse to be successful in the NFL. And yes, that was a Tee Higgins statement.
Did Someone Say Draft Capital?
When it comes to the 2021 draft class, the term ‘loaded’ does not even give it due credit. While Sage Surratt has a strong profile, it’s dwarfed by the top-end talent in this class. The formula to finding top-end prospects starts with the college profile and ends with when their named is called on draft day. Key word here is ‘when,’ since draft capital is an extremely important indicator when projecting rookies.
Surratt may have a good profile, but missing an entire season will be used as a knock against him. An advantage he has is that this class lacks prospects with similar frames and collegiate profiles. The only two players that rival his size and profile are Seth Williams and Tylan Wallace. All three take a backseat to Rashod Bateman in that regard. That being said, his chance of earning day-two draft capital with his profile is a near lock.
So What to do in rookie drafts?
From a fantasy perspective, Sage Surratt will miss the first round in any rookie draft format. A big-bodied wide receiver with a suboptimal college production profile and a questionable athletic profile is not a prospect I like to target. To make matters more difficult, he failed to show any glimpses of potential at the Senior Bowl during the one-on-one drills against defensive backs. A drill that offers the receivers the chance to showcase their route running and seperation abilities. Given the tremendous depth of the 2021 wide receiver class, Surrat is someone I will not be selecting unless getting a serious discount.