Los Angeles Chargers Land Hidden Gem? New Study Crowns Rookie WR a Top Route Runner

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The Los Angeles Chargers pick of Ladd McConkey in the second round piqued many people’s interest. And for good reason. According to a new study by Quinn MacLean at Sumer Sports, McConkey has one of the most unpredictable and versatile route trees among all wide receivers draft, not just in 2024, but since 2020. And that can spell big success at the next level.

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, McConkey’s route tree versatility grade is a 3.22. This is the 5th best among receivers drafted since 2020 and 2nd 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 their respective teams.

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Ladd McConkey’s Route Versatility With Georgia and The Los Angeles Chargers

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.”

That is true for McConkey. He had the highest targets per route run among the 2024 pass catchers listed above. He was targeted on over every 4th route he ran. He also posted the 4th highest yards per route run in all of college football last year. About .2 yards more than Marvin Harrison Jr and .2 fewer than Malik Nabers.

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Running a versatile route tree means you end up doing a lot of dirty work in the intermediate area of the field, which is where a lot of this cohort earned their stripes. McConkey earned a 96.6 PFF grade when catching passes in this area of the field, one of the top grades in the nation.

The Los Angeles Chargers starting wide receiver spots are completely up for grabs right now. While there are many people vying for the few precious first-team snaps, McConkey has already made the hardest leap to navigate from college to the pros figured out.

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