Popeye the Sailor probably said it best: “I am what I am.” I’m not exceptional. I’m just… apart.
– Michael Fassbender, The Killer (2023)
If there is a statistic where a player’s only company is Marvin Harrison Jr. he must have done something right. That is the case with today’s player, Jaylen Lloyd, a true freshman wide receiver at Nebraska Football.
Before proceeding, let me just say that yes, I already checked to see if this is somehow the son of former NFL WR Brandon Lloyd, who resembles our boy here. Brandon was also known for being a mainstay on the highlight reel of top 10 catches each week during his time in the NFL. The answer I found was: no, at least, as far as I can tell, Jaylen is not related to Brandon. That’s a bummer because that would have made this write-up even more fun.
Coming back to the topic at hand, you’re probably wondering, what is it that he and MHJ have in common with the 2023 season? In the 2023 season, only two WRs in the B1G had three or more receptions of 50+ yards. Those two players, of course, are Nebraska’s Lloyd and OSU’s MHJ.
You might say, well, this is a fairly obscure stat. Does it matter? If we’re talking raw CFF value here, then perhaps not— at least not in a regular CFF format. However, what stood out to me was that he did this as a true freshman WR on a team that didn’t have great QB play. The QB play was pretty mediocre, if we’re being honest.
The stat itself reflects what type of player Lloyd was for Nebraska last season. He was somewhat of a deep-shot merchant for the Huskers. I would assume he is probably very fast, then. This is something we can confirm. According to his 247 profile, he won the Nebraska Class A state championships as a junior in the 100 meters (10.54). He also won in the long jump and triple jump, for whatever that’s worth to you.
For those interested, here is the full record of his track and field accolades in high school (per 247 Sports):
Ran at least four junior 100-meter times faster than 10.60, including a 10.43.
Eclipsed 24 feet a couple of times in the long jump, including a 24-6. Triple jumped 46+ several times, including the aforementioned 50-3.5 at state and a 48-0 district-winning effort.
Ran a 6.94 indoor 60, while long jumping 23-4.5 and triple jumping 47-4.5 during indoor competition.
Won the Nebraska Class A state title as a sophomore in the triple jump with a 46-0 in May 2021. Won bronze in the long jump with a 22-5.
As I thought might be the case based on that track time, Lloyd held an offer from UGA football. Texas Tech, Florida, and Illinois also extended offers to the three-star out of Omaha, Nebraska.
Outlook for 2024 & Beyond
As we probably all know by now, former UGA football commit Dylan Raiola flipped his pledge late in the ’24 cycle to his family-tied Nebraska Corn Huskers. I can’t blame him for this decision, and honestly, I think it would be good for CFB if more recruits were to go this route.
Part of Raiola’s decision probably came down to wanting to compete for a starting spot right away in 2024. UGA incumbent starter— Carson Beck returns for the upcoming season, whereas Nebraska is pretty wide-open in the QB room.
Rising senior Heinrich Haarberg took over as QB from Jeff Sims in September 2023. His first two games were fire, scoring over 30 points in each vs. NIU and LT. Ironically, Lloyd didn’t register a stat in either of those games.
Speaking of, I should mention that our boy here actually leads the Huskers returning receivers in PPG from a year ago. I know that there have been some transfers in (notably Jamal Banks from Wake Forest), but I found that stat pretty telling of the Nebraska WR room. That is because Lloyd’s PPG from 2023 is a measly five PPG. There are four RBs, two QBs, and one TE ahead of him.
One of those QBs— Chubba Purdy, replaced Haarberg in November, getting his shot at lead duties vs. Wisconsin. He scored an admirable 26 points in that contest but would then,, unfortunately,, get stonewalled the following week vs. Iowa.
I’ve fixated on the QB position here because the play of this position is a pretty key variable in the projection for the WRs.
We’ve established that the Husker QB room is pretty mediocre, that they are bringing in an exciting prospect who will probably take some time to develop, and that the WR room from a year ago featured absolutely no pigs, so what am I envisioning for Lloyd here?
Well, first, I want to point out that Lloyd’s PPG numbers shouldn’t really be focused on too much.
For one, being a true freshman, he only really came on at the end of October. His three 50+ yard TD catches came on Oct. 28, Nov. 18, and Nov. 24. Despite never garnering more than three targets, he scored 14.4, 12.8, and 13.6 points in those games, respectively. That’s pretty neat, even if it’s the opposite of what the VolumePig philosophy tells me to look for.
The second thing is that the QB play last season sucked for the Huskers. So what happens if that improves and Lloyd is on the field more in year two?
While it’s not a given that the QB play will be better in 2024 than it was in 2023, I have to feel that there’s only one way to go from here. I also mentioned earlier that Banks transferred into the program this offseason. He’d be my bet to be WR1 this upcoming season. However, Lloyd’s profile is extremely intriguing to me in deep best ball formats. These types of players can score 14-15 points off one play, essentially, and is it unreasonable to expect a jump in year two for the true frosh? I don’t think so. I would keep Lloyd in mind for those of you who are in deep league best ball formats.
Coaching & System
As far as the patterns of the coaches are concerned, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t want to re-type out coverage I’ve already provided once before. Last offseason, I wrote about Nebraska Football, and in that article, I ran through the offensive staff. Lucky me, there are no new changes here. Here’s that text:
Enter new head coach Matt Rhule, who returns to the collegiate ranks via the NFL. Rhule was fired from the Carolina Panthers in the 2022 NFL season but does bring an impressive track record of turning fledgling programs around quickly (see Baylor, Temple, etc).
The OC he brings in is a man by the name of Marcus Satterfield, who joins by way of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Satterfield served as the OC and QBs coach in 2021 and 2022. Prior to that, he served with Rhule on the Carolina Panthers’ staff as the assistant offensive line coach in 2020.
In fact, Satterfield and Rhule have been together more often than not in the last decade—they served together on Baylor’s staff (Satterfield was the TEs coach in 2019 and recruiting coordinator in 2018; Rhule was HC); they also worked together at Temple from 2013 to 2015 (Satterfield served as OC, Rhule as HC). In between those years, Satterfield spent two years as the head coach of the FCS program Tennessee Tech (2016-17).
With regard to the patterns of each coach, there are some notable stat lines from their tenures. At Carolina, WR DJ Moore was targeted 118 times over 17 games (just under 7 targets a game), of which he paid off 888 yards and seven TDs on 63 receptions. The year before (2021), two separate WRs received over 100 targets (Moore—163, the other—110). Moore crossed the 1,000-yard mark, securing 93 receptions for 1,157 yards and five TDs in 17 games (9.5 targets a game). The 2020 season was a committee in the backfield, but two WRs went over 1,000 yards in 15 and 16 games, respectively. Robbie Chosen (formerly Robbie Anderson) was targeted 136 times (8.5 targets per game), DJ Moore—118 (7.86 targets per game).
All told, the WR1 averaged 133 targets, 74 catches, 1,079 yards, and 5.33 TDs per season. Granted, that was over 16/17 game seasons, so the average in FP terms is around 13.36 per game.
At the collegiate level, Rhule had the current NFL’er Denzel Mims at Baylor. Mims crossed 1,000 yards in 2017 with 61 receptions for 1087 yards and eight TDs. His numbers wavered slightly in 2018 (55-794-8), as another WR—Jalen Hurd—caught 69 passes for 946 yards also. But Mims would return to clearing 1,000 yards in 2019, catching 66 passes for 1,020 yards and 12 TDs; that was an average of 18.46 FPG over the 13 games Baylor played that season. That’s a pretty good average—enough to raise my eyebrows and inspire me to take a hard look at the current Cornhusker roster.
There has been an addition to the staff, however. Glenn Thomas joins as the co-OC from the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he served as an offensive assistant coach. Prior to that, he was the OC of Arizona State (2022), UNLV (2020-2021), co-OC at Baylor (2017-2019), and Temple (2016). Again, this is a coach with ties to Rhule, so it’s not a surprise that he’s found his way to Lincoln.
His time with AZ State and UNLV produced zero 1,000-yard receivers. However, of the three seasons, two of them did feature a 1,000-yard rusher. Let’s keep that fact in the back of our minds this offseason as we proceed with our research. The other seasons overlap with Rhule, which has already been covered.
My thinking is that there can be some WR alpha to be had here but that the patterns of the staff are not that notably positive. As mentioned, Banks would probably be my guess to be the go-to guy in the offense. That doesn’t mean there can’t be value for Lloyd, and who knows—maybe he ends up being the WR1 for a staff with multiple 1000-yard receivers in their recent history.
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