Randall Cobb is bigger and more physical, but at what cost?
Nothing to dispute here, Cobb is a bigger guy than Beasley. Both are very good route runners. What Beasley had in agility and quickness, Cobb has in physicality and catch radius. Yet with these physical tools, Cobb suffers from occasional butter fingers and lower efficiency.
First thing, Beasley played significantly more than Cobb last season yet had only one drop, a 1.2% drop rate, and a 92.9% true catch rate. Last season Cobb had 4 drops, a 9.8% drop rate and a 88.4% true catch rate.
At the same time, the average cushion the opposing defender gave Cobb was about .51 yards fewer compared to Beasley. Defenders felt the need to give more room to Beasley in order to react to his movements. By playing closer and more physical with Cobb, you can derail him from his path.
That said, Cobb is definitely a good route runner. Beasley won more often by outrunning his defender; Cobb gets separation from defenders because he understands how to use his leverage to beat opposing cornerbacks. (This ties back into the football intelligence I mentioned earlier) This will become more important as Cobb’s career progresses.
Understanding how to get to the right spot while being contested is an important trait. Larry Fitzgerald learned this early in his career and it’s a big reason why he’s dominating in the slot. Cobb’s former teammate Davante Adams is another example. Both of these guys aren’t the fastest on their teams, but they understand how to move really well. In the case of Cobb, he doesn’t get the benefit of a bigger body so he has to be smarter.
Enough with the separation talk, there is something important with Cobb’s size. His ability to make contested catches. He didn’t do it much last season, but Cobb caught 66% of his 6 contested targets. Cobb’s ability to catch the ball within limited space of his defender will be important for the Cowboys as Dak looks to improve throwing against press man coverage.
Fortunately, Cobb will mostly be playing in the slot. He stands at 5’10”. On average, the competition will be his height and probably lighter in weight. If he can be physical at the line, he will burn his defender all game. If he doesn’t get off the line quick enough, well…. he probably won’t get the ball.