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Josh Morgan: Where Will His Career Take Him?

As the lockout drags on, any time I come across an interesting new football resource that can provide story ideas, it's safe to say I am likely to become hooked pretty quickly. Well, Football Outsiders players pages officially have me hooked. I realize the comparisons have their weaknesses given the stats used and the processes involved. Nonetheless it can raise some interesting discussion points about various players. Unfortunately it can't make comparisons for offensive linemen, so we'll have to live with that.

Yesterday I took a look at Vernon Davis' performance the last two seasons and some of the comparable players in NFL history (or at least the last thirty years). Today I thought we could take a look at 49ers wide receiver Josh Morgan and some of his comparable players. Morgan is entering his fourth year in the NFL and he could be as necessary a piece to this offense as any of the current crop of wide receivers. In three seasons he's had his ups and downs as tries to develop some level of consistency.

Expectations surrounding shot up when he seemed set to grab a starting job his rookie season but then illness and injury stopped him in his tracks. He has increased his yards every season he's been in the league but there just seem to be some questions as his career has developed. Will he ever break out into a solid number two? Although Michael Crabtree has not emerged into a bona fide number one wide receiver quite yet, the team has Vernon Davis as a big time playmaker. That leaves room for Morgan to become a solid complementary receiver.

I took a look through the list of comparable three-year stretches and here's what FO provided:

Most Similar Players for 2008-2010
Rank Player Year Sim
1 Hines Ward 1998-2000 857
2 Brandon Lloyd 2003-2005 839
3 Chris Calloway 1992-1994 834
4 Nate Lewis 1990-1992 832
5 Brett Perriman 1989-1991 828
6 Jacquez Green 1998-2000 821
7 Charlie Jones 1996-1998 821
8 Alvin Harper 1991-1993 820
9 Patrick Crayton 2005-2007 819
10 David Terrell 2002-2004 814

Josh Morgan has a long way to go towards becoming the next Hines Ward, so I'm not going to even begin to say that's where his career trajectory will take him. However, I do think he could develop into a solid complementary wide receiver in this offense. Given that he was a sixth round pick, I think most of us could live with that.

Where do people see Morgan developing this year and in the coming years? Although he and Crabtree are two separate players, does your evaluation of Morgan's performance depend at all on whether Crabtree develops into a more viable 1/1A option? What kind of numbers or what kind of general performances from Morgan would satisfy you?

In 2010 he had 80 passes thrown his way and caught 44 of them. In 2009 he had 81 passes thrown his way and caught 52 of them. In 2008 he had 43 passes thrown his way and caught 20 of them. I suppose I could say I'd be satisfied if he was a consistent 55-60 catch guy, but it's hard to say that with no context around the numbers. If he only caught 45 balls but had a huge YAC, that would be valuable. Part of it depends on the context of his own numbers, and part of it depends on how well Crabtree, Davis and others perform.

The table above comes from Josh Morgan's player page at Football Outsiders. You can get this and other premium content via their premium accounts.