The Denver Broncos snagging Jerry Jeudy with their first-round pick in the 2020 Draft wasn’t just outstanding value, it was also the single best thing that could have happened to the prospects of Drew Lock at quarterback. Any time you add weaponry to a young passer, it’s a good thing. But this goes doubly so for a player like Jeudy, whose calling card is route running and separating — the single most important trait for receivers in today’s NFL.
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For a receiver to be taken high in the draft, he needs to have a special trait that makes him succeed at the NFL level. For Henry Ruggs III, taken as the first receiver in this draft, that trait is obvious — speed and athleticism. For Jeudy, it’s technical route-running. Jeudy is the most sophisticated route-runner to come out of the college game since PFF has been grading college (2014). Interestingly, two of the other players who are at the top of that conversation also came out of Alabama (Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley).
Ridley came to mind while watching Jeudy’s tape because I was a huge fan of Ridley’s route-running prowess coming out of college, as well — to the point I wrote about it here. And when I watched Jeudy's tape, he reminded me of Ridley if his tape were being run at 120% speed. He did much of the same technical work to break leverage and attack a defensive back’s weak spot — he just did it faster. I know that Ridley’s athletic testing numbers were better than Jeudy’s, but I think that’s a case of the measurables just not capturing what Jeudy does well. He plays at a far quicker rate than any drill was able to indicate.