Wide Receiver Sketches

Brief sketches of a handful of other receivers in this year’s draft class:

Calvin Austin III, Memphis (5’8”, 170, 4.32)

Tiny slot receiver who has been really productive the past two seasons. Played both inside and outside in college but will be a Z at the next level. Shows some creativity with his  releases at the line. Has a track background which carries over into his play speed; timed a bit faster than expected, but still shows the ability to run away from defenders on crosses/over routes. Shows a good feel for making adjustments against zone coverage, moving himself into soft spots for easy completions. A lot of his production comes on shorter throws and manufactured touches, as he can be dangerous with the ball in his hands. Shows some ability to track/bring in throws away from his frame. Needs to work with a cushion, as he gets swallowed up by physicality at/near the line; routes can be disrupted when defenders get their hands on him. Would like to see him snap off his routes a little bit more consistently. Drops a ton of passes, although he was somewhat more reliable this past season. Shies away from contact as a blocker and lacks the frame/strength to make a big impact there in any case. Has experience returning punts as well and shows the suddenness and explosiveness to potentially make an impact there.

Danny Gray, Southern Methodist (6’0”, 186, 4.33)

Two-year starter after transferring from community college; was never a volume receiver, but production escalated this past year. Has adequate size for a boundary receiver; took snaps both on and off the line of scrimmage, typically to the right side of the offense. Would have liked to see him working more from the left side. Go-to trait is his speed; can stack defenders in his hip pocket, opening up throws downfield on deep posts and go routes, where he shows pretty good tracking over his shoulder. Also shows impressive flexibility and pretty  good body control, providing his quarterback with a bigger target than his size would suggest. Shows good competitiveness at the catch point. Can be a weapon on back-shoulder throws. Plays with some physicality through his routes and as a blocker. Still needs to work on attention to detail as a route-runner, and had a pretty simple tree in college. Would like to see him flatten out patterns over the middle to shield opponents more consistently. Ends some of his routes covered instead of trying to improvise and create windows. Had issues with dropped passes last year.

Skyy Moore, Western Michigan* (5’10”, 195, 4.41)

Has started all three seasons at Western Michigan and broke out this past year with a massive line. Smaller receiver who played both inside and outside, but definitely looks like more of a slot at the next level. Tree contained a lot of slants and screens, but there were deeper routes and outside releases as well (production was not entirely manufactured.) One of the more polished, detail-oriented receivers in the class. Efficient with his footwork and hands when getting off the line; doesn’t try to do too much. Plays fast and sudden. Nice snap and explosiveness through the route stem to generate separation, although tree wasn’t the most complex. Looks good with the ball in his hands and was given plenty of chances to work in space via screens, etc. Doesn’t provide the biggest target but looks reliable within his radius. Works to maintain inside positioning but can’t always shield defenders from the ball when working over the middle. Can get crowded by bigger, more physical receivers near the sidelines and when working outside releases; struggles to stack defenders against physical man coverage. Gives good effort as a blocker but lack of ideal size limits his upside.

Kyle Phillips, UCLA* (5’11”, 189, 4.58)

Has been pretty productive over the past three seasons; during the games reviewed, was virtually always working out of the slot, where he also projects best at the next level. Physical tools are just adequate but gets up to speed fast and shows impressive quickness. Could do a better job of sinking his hips into route stems but does a pretty good job of snapping off his patterns and getting through them without gearing down too much to create windows under the defense. Flattens out slants and other breaking routes to prevent routes from getting undercut. Shows a good feel for finding soft spots in zone coverage to create easy completions. Ran a lot of patterns within ten yards of the line of scrimmage and didn’t look particularly threatening down the seams. May struggle to create separation against man coverage, especially down the field. Was more reliable in the past, but had some issues with drops this past year. Works hard to sustain blocks through the whistle, with plenty of competitiveness. Has additional value as a punt returner.

Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky* (5’8”, 178, 4.44)

Spent two seasons at Nebraska, then eclipsed his combined totals in a monster first season at Kentucky before declaring. Significantly undersized slot/gadget receiver who’s one of the most dynamic weapons in the class. Lines up tight, in the slot, and as a flanker. Changes speeds and knows how to lull defenders into a false sense of security when coming off the line. Makes sharp cuts and doesn’t need to gear down much into the route stem. Has enough speed to get separation down the field; lots of nice inside releases from the slot. Looks pretty good at tracking/adjusting to throws. Solid flexibility and impressive body control. Dangerous with the ball in his hands (was a running back in high school) and can do damage on manufactured touches such as screens and sweeps. Against press, some of his releases seem a little bit too long. Doesn’t present quarterbacks with a big target and dropped his fair share of passes last season as well. Chippy as a blocker but doesn’t have excellent technique or much ability to significantly disrupt opposing defensive backs. Would fit best on a team with an accurate quarterback and which likes their slot receivers to run deeper patterns.

Christian Watson, North Dakota St. (6’4”, 208, 4.36)

Redshirt senior who was never a volume target in school but put together a solid 2021season. Very tall, lanky split end up who lines up on both sides of the formation. Has plenty of speed and explosiveness to eat up cushions and uncover downfield; averaged over twenty yards per catch over his college career. Threat of the deep ball creates opportunities for him to work underneath the defense, but most of his patterns take him down the field. Overall route tree at this point is still relatively simple, and worked against a lot of off-coverage; might need to get stronger to release against press in the pros, but footwork at the line looks pretty good. Can glide through routes, relying on his superior athleticism. Able to track the ball over his shoulder and make adjustments. Has a wide radius, with an impressive combination of length, leaping ability, and body control. However, commits more focus drops and double-catches than is typical for a high-end receiver prospect. Competitive after the catch, with some physicality to fight for additional yardage. May not have the frame to work too much over the middle of the field. Gives pretty good effort as a stalk blocker; lacks power but works to finish.

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