2022 Finding ‘The Next Deebo’ (College Rookie Play-in Game) -- March Madness Tourney


Intro: We all know what the phrase ‘next Deebo’ means – a player who works at one position primarily but takes on a second position (in-game) beyond just a random 1-2-3 carries or targets…that they become a real dual-threat option for their team, and thus a great producer for Fantasy Football.

Before there was ‘Deebo’ (midway through the 2021 season), there was ‘Cordarrelle’ as the breakout WR who started also taking a good workload at RB…so much so he became the team’s lead RB, but then got all but dropped on his WR aspect.

Before ‘Cordarrelle’ there was Curtis Samuel trying to breakthrough as a ‘nails’ WR in 2020, but also a guy taking 3-5 carries a game in CMC’s absence and looking like he might make the turn – but then he went to Washington in free agency, got hurt, and barely played/impacted in 2021.  

Before Samuel there was everyone looking for the ‘next Tyreek’. We might forget that Tyreek started out as a low target WR taking 1-2 carries a game, and then taking every carry for a 50+ yard TD…then he was converted over from random WR/RB to main WR, and they stopped pushing him in the running game the past two years (definitely don’t get that guy the ball more, whatever you do).

We’ve had some promising guys try to breakdown this ‘Deebo’ wall, but Cordarrelle really was the one who kicked in that door to start 2021 season (then ATL went away from it)…after the door was kicked in, then Deebo ran right through it 2nd-half of 2021 and became the ultimate/best dual threat of our lifetimes – so much so every analyst is running around saying certain players ‘can be their Deebo’, and you’re going to get sick of hearing about it they say it so much now. But credit to Deebo (really, credit to Kyle Shanahan) the ‘Deebo’ role is a thing now…I think some teams are going to copy because of its success, as they should…as they should’ve created it years ago. It’s the evolution of the game – players/weapons who you don’t know where they’re gonna lineup or what they’re going to do, and they’ll draw plenty of mismatches to expose.

With that in mind, we’re going to have a ‘next Deebo’ tournament/FFM daily series for the next few weeks during March Madness time.

I am going to nominate one player from each NFL team to be the possible ‘next Deebo’…the ‘their Deebo’ hopeful. I’ll explain why I choose that player, and why not others if there was a close option – and then like March Madness, we’ll pit two of them against each other/state the case and I’ll choose a winner…the one most likely to be used as ‘the next Deebo’ for the 2022 season.

We’ll go by division, matchups by 2021 record (so #1 v. #4, #2 v. #3 in the division), one matchup/winner declared each day into April until we have one AFC rep and one NFC rep and then we’ll declare a final ‘Super Bowl of Deebo’ winner.

Now, San Francisco has their own Deebo already…so he is not in this tournament. For the SF slot, there will be a play-in game between two current draft prospect options. Unsigned free agents will be an option for the team they were last on in 2021, so like a heavy Final Four favorite, but current free agent (as of this writing), Cordarrelle Patterson, will be an option for Atlanta. Got it? Good. Let’s go…


Today’s Matchup: NFC West = College Rookie Play-in game for the SF spot (to face ARI)


TE Connor Heyward, Michigan State


WR Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky


Connor Heyward is listed as a TE prospect, but I think he’s more of a running back prospect – fast feet for his size (5’11”/233)…and teams at his Pro Day asked him to do RB drills as well as TE drills. He’s an interesting ‘move’ TE, but shorter than the NFL likes…but there’s a world of possibilities with him if an NFL team can imagine it…I should say, if they’re willing to execute it – they talk a good game, and then never do anything they say they were thinking about. Heyward could line up at H-Back, 2nd TE, ‘move’ TE/split out, and straight up tail back…all in the same game, or same series.

Heyward was an RB his first 4 seasons at MSU and took his 5th-season as a tight end and was pretty effective in his transition. A world of possibilities here, even if just a straight up power RB.

Same thought, but a whole other direction with Wan’Dale Robinson…a player who is 5’8”/178 (55 pounds lighter than Heyward). Wan’Dale was a WR/tailback at Nebraska 2019-2020 (91 catches, 134 carries total in his two seasons there) then transferred to Kentucky and became a primary, and top, WR…#2 in the SEC in receptions (104) and yards (1,334) in 2021.

Robinson is built to be and plays like an aggressive Swiss Army knife of a player…short passing game, bubble screens, jet sweeps, wildcat. He’s a weapon that ran a 4.44 40-time at the Combine. So, in the end…I give the nod to Wan’Dale, as he’ll likely be drafted to go into that ‘weapon’ role. Whereas Heyward will probably get moved to RB/H-back and see some passing game work from it, but Wan’Dale will be planned for it.

I had considered Treylon Burks as one of the two for this college prospect play-in, in part because everyone is running around calling him a Deebo-like player. I don’t see it. Not at the Pro level. Wan’Dale and Heyward were much more diverse in college, and have a chance to be that right away in the Pros.

WINNER = Wan’Dale Robinson…going to face the Arizona Cardinals’ representative tomorrow. The winner of that matchup will face the SEA-LAR winner in the Sweet 16.

Photo credit: PeakDill