We have already run the rule over the marquee names in this draft class, and though the players we are about to look at are far more flawed than that, each brings something significant to the table and could be worth a serious look in the NFL.
So let’s take a look at a group of players that each have something to work with, even if they each have black marks against them too.
Vince Mayle, Washington State
There is a lot to like about the Washington State Cougar Vince Mayle. In Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense in the Pacific Northwest, Mayle saw 163 targets, catching 106 of them for 1,483 yards and nine scores. He’s a big, rangy receiver with plenty of speed and quickness, and he tied with Amari Cooper for the most missed tackles forced among receivers in the FBS. He is very useful after the catch and dangerous at any time.
So what’s his problem? Drops. Mayle dropped 19 passes on the season including one that needs Benny Hill music running when viewing it. That number was the most in the FBS, by a clear seven drops. The frustrating thing is Mayle can make excellent grabs, so he has the ability, but he just can’t eliminate the bad drops from his game and it is right on the borderline of being bad enough that you can’t live with it.
Signature Stat: 19 dropped passes led all receivers in FBS and was 158% the next-worst figure. Only two other draft eligible receivers notched double-digit drops.
Philip Dorsett, Miami
You can’t teach speed. The NFL loves a track star and has since the days of Bullet Bob Hayes. There is simply no substitute for being able to run the hell right past the guy who is supposed to be covering you. Dorsett has that kind of blistering pace, and the speed that can turn minor mistakes into touchdowns in an instant. He scored 10 touchdowns this season despite only 67 targets after being criminally underused by the Miami Hurricanes and should definitely have a place in an NFL offense given his electrifying pace.
The downside to his play is being very weak when it comes to blocking and dealing with physicality. At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, he is routinely just run right through by guys he is trying to block or bumped clean off the field if they get a hold of him on his release.
Signature Stat: Averaged 24.2 yards per reception and gained an average of 10 yards per catch after the catch.
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Sometimes you have to take the measurables and throw them out of the window because the small guy plays bigger than he is. There was only really one receiver this season that graded comparably to Amari Cooper in the FBS. Want to guess who it was? Tyler Lockett, despite standing just 5-foot-10 and weighing 182 pounds, just made plays left and right, running smooth routes, making tough grabs and generally looking like a guy who should be drafted at the sharp end of the names called. In fact, there is very little to dislike about Lockett, even when watching the tape, with the only real knock being his size. If Lockett was four inches taller and 25 pounds heavier he would be a Top 10 pick.
Signature Stat: Gained 3.64 yards per route run. Only Amari Cooper and Tony Lippett had better figures among draft eligible receivers.
Tony Lippett, Michigan State
The NFL loves a textbook technique. Coaches spend hours trying to get players to do things exactly the way they are supposed to, but often it’s the guys who tear the textbook up and do it their own way who have real success. For every Peyton Manning and his perfect fundamentals there is a Brett Favre flying by the seat of his pants and just getting it done. Tony Lippett has some of that Favre about him.
Much of what he does will drive scouts and coaches nuts, but it consistently works. Only Amari Cooper gained more yards per route run this season in the FBS. He has a quirky way of running routes that defensive backs seem to struggle to read and often gets open despite making a mess of the route early on, but fixing it in a way that breaks him into space. It may not look pretty, and his measurables won’t wow, but Tony Lippett finds a way to make it work.
Signature Stat: Dropped just two passes all season for a drop rate of just 2.99%, third in the FBS and better than any of the top-tier prospects.
Ty Montgomery, Stanford
Ty Montgomery is a poor receiver. You don’t want him playing wide out for your team. His hands are poor, featuring some extremely ugly drops over the year. His routes are labored, and he doesn’t seem comfortable with what he is doing at all. So what is there to work with? I think he’s a running back, and a pretty good one, masquerading at receiver. The other bonus with Montgomery is he will be a very useful return man into the bargain.
I have seen him compared to Cordarrelle Patterson, and while I think that’s a pretty good fit, the difference between the two is body type. Patterson is 6-foot-2 and is built and runs like a receiver, so any backfield carries he is given will be occasional. Montgomery is 6-foot at best and 220 pounds. He is built like a runner and does his best work with the ball in his hands, even running between the tackles.
Only four receivers notched more missed tackles forced than Montgomery’s 17, and the lowest number of receptions amongst them had 45 more than the Stanford Cardinal. He may not be viable as a receiver, but hand him the ball as a running back and you might just have something.
Signature Stat: Averaged 12.4 yards per carry on wide receiver runs (end arounds etc), but a respectable 4.8 yards per carry on conventional running back carries.
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