Another Los Angeles Rams Steal? New Study Names Rookie Among Best 2024 Draft Route Runners

Credit: Aaron Martinez / USA TODAY NETWORK

If you were to ask any football fan to name the best wide receivers from the 2024 NFL Draft, they would likely have a long list before they arrived at the Los Angeles Rams 6th-round wide receiver Jordan Whittington.

But according to a new study by Quinn MacLean at Sumer Sports, Whittington has one of the most unpredictable and versatile route trees among all wide receivers draft, not just in 2024, but since 2020.

Sumer recently conducted an in-depth study of FBS wide receivers from the 2018 to 2023 season on every route run to determine route-running versatility using Shannon Entropy, which aims to provide a singular value on the predictability of the receiver’s next route. Unpredictable route running versatility leads to a higher target rate at the collegiate level. Those with a higher target rate here are also more likely to be drafted (as shown in the gold-shaded bubbles below).

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According to their findings, Whittington’s route tree versatility grade is a 3.2. This is the 8th best among receivers drafted since 2020 and 4th best in the 2024 class. While most of the names on this list aren’t the whose-who of recently drafted WRs, most are important role players on thier respective teams.

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Jordan Whittington’s Route Versatility With Texas and The Los Angeles Rams

Eager points out in his article that “A WR with experience running many different routes at a high level gives defenses issues in coverage and can provide a signal on the level of trust the offensive coordinators have on their route running ability.” and “that the trust of collegiate offensive coordinators in their route running ability may be used in various different ways to get the player targets in the passing game.”

Despite having a versatile route tree, Whittington never became a go-to option that others in this cohort became in college. Whittington received one of the lowest targets per route run while at Texas. Even in his best season, he didn’t lead his team in any traditional statistic.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-OTA
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This could have actually been a symptom of other players around him NOT having as complete route trees. Whittington had one of the shortest average depth of targets among Texas pass catchers last season, 7.2 yards, while Adonai Mitchell was 16.1 yards and Xavier Worthy was 10 yards.

That left Whittington to do a lot of the dirty work at the line of scrimmage and in the intermediate area of the field, which is where a lot of this cohort earned their stripes, including another Rams 2024 rookie, Drake Stoops. Whittington earned the 6th highest PFF grade when catching passes in this area of the field.

This is exactly where the Los Angeles Rams like to operate and it is the reason that they bring on pass catchers like Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua.

Jordan Whittington will have to crack into a tough top three in Los Angeles, but having a versatile route tree will give him a good chance to get in first-team reps in his rookie season.

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman
Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK