While it was the off season and I had no games to simulate I had a computer sitting idle beside me and decided, for shits'n'giggles, to run a little test. Now you're all probably wonder where this is going, focusing on a foot and all. Well for those who don't know, last off season Tampa Bay decided to trade out star corner Morris Claiborne to relieve some cap issues. With his departure they had to get a little creative with their secondary, and by "little" I mean the 5'7" Gunner Recall
. With blistering speed, agility and acceleration, Recall can keep up with any player in this league and can turn on a dime, however the problem comes in with the size factor. He stands at least 3 inches shorter then the smallest speedster receiver you normally see, so I though it would be fun to run a test to see how the match up of Recall versus Aaron Drogan
would go. At 6'7" and 244 lbs that's a whole foot of height and 40 pounds that Gunner is giving up going toe-to-toe with this monster, but will the outcome be as disparate as their stature? Drogan is still very raw (at the roster point this was done) so his full effectiveness as a receiver is not realised quite yet where as Gunner has the physical and intangible tools to get the job done.
So as not to make this completely absurd I used the most common offensive and defensive playbooks from both the Jets and the Buccaneers in my trials (NYJ = OFF: DEN & DEF: 4-3 BUF
, TAM = OFF: DEN & DEF: 3-4 BAL
). I used the Week 2 rosters from the 2018 season with the standard line ups used in that week, only changing the CB depth chart for Tampa to put Recall on Drogan at #2. I then ran 5 test games to try and get an overall picture of what the outcome would normally be. Below are the matchup results:
Game 1 - NYJ 20 vs TB 23
Game 2 - NYJ 19 vs TB 18
Game 3 - NYJ 33 vs TB 13
Game 4 - NYJ 24 vs TB 38
Game 5 - NYJ 17 vs TB 27
From the numbers you can see that Drogan only had 1 game with multiple touchdowns and 2 games over 100 yards. In all but 1 of these games, Gunner deflected at least as many passes as he allowed catches.
As far as their averages go, Drogan would catch at 5.6 balls per game for 92 yards with just under 1 touchdown. Gunner would make 5.6 tackles per game, deflect 2.8 balls, allowed 2.6 catches with an average of 0.2 interceptions.
Outside the numbers, from the few highlights I witnessed in these games (wasn't paying that much attention):
Drogan made one end zone catch running to the corner without jumping and Gunner didn't make a play for the ball
A streak play where Drogan made the catch (no jump) and Recall's tackle fell off him, leaving Drogan an open field to take it for the score
Recall undercut a short cross route with his superior athleticism and easily made the pick with Drogan nowhere near the fall of the ball
All but one game Drogan was the Jets' leading receiver
Following these tests I swapped Drogan and Recall to the #1 position on their respective depth charts to see if that change created any notable differences:
Game 6 - NYJ 24 vs TB 9
Game 7 - NYJ 10 vs TB 45
Game 8 - NYJ 27 vs TB 29
Game 9 -NYJ 18 vs TB 13
Game 10 - NYJ 29 vs TB 16
In this setup Drogan didn't seem to fair as well with only 1 game over 100 yards and only managing 1 touchdown in the 5 attempts. Gunner also suffered allowing 6 catches in 2 games (to 2 deflections in each) and another with 4 catches allowed.
With the averages, Drogan caught 4.8 balls per game for 13.02 yards and a miniscule 0.2 touchdowns. Gunner averaged 3.8 tackles, 1.2 deflections, 3.4 catches allowed and 0.2 interceptions.
I didn't get a chance to watch any of these games so have no idea about any highlights or noticeable points.
Overall, with these 2 players at their respective skill levels and game plans not designed to take advantage of this sort of situation it would appear that the foot height difference does not play any abnormal factor in the end result. If Drogan had higher catch and awareness and there was more focus on the pass then this may show a thing or two, but as it stands great athleticism can make up for height.