Name: Dede Westbrook
Position fit: “Z” receiver who can also win from the slot
Stats to know: Averaged 4.08 yards per route run last season, second among receivers with over 100 targets.
What he does best:
- Very fast. He has straightaway deep speed and can just run right past a defender. Acceleration may be second-to-none, can get up to full speed within a few steps.
- Explosive out of his breaks and cuts. Keeps hips low and doesn’t give away routes. There are no routes that he can’t run effectively.
- Top-notch after-the-catch ability, sees the field well with the ball in his hands and can make guys miss. Forced 20 missed tackles last season.
- Sets up routes well with both head and feet fakes (such as post-corner routes, out-and-ups, etc).
- Strong hands, doesn’t drop many passes (just four on 84 catchable throws in 2016), even in contested situations or when he’s hit by a defender.
- Great body control, works well on sidelines and can stay on his feet after hits.
- Plays bigger than he is, doesn’t shy away from contact and will lower his shoulder and try to run through players if he thinks it necessary.
- Won’t win a lot of jump balls, can get bodied at catch point by defenders.
- Doesn’t have a lot of experience against press coverage, and what experience he does have hasn’t been overly successful. Often needs to be moving at the snap to beat press coverage.
- Size poses durability questions, doesn’t have a lot of muscle on him and could affect him against bigger NFL defenders.
- May be limited to a slot receiver early on in the league.
Player comparison: Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis Colts
This is simply a comparison of the two players’ styles. Coming out of college, Harrison’s scouting report was almost identical to Westbrook. Both players had slim builds with questions about whether they could hold up in the league. Like Westbrook, Harrison possessed great deep speed and incredible quickness in and out of his cuts. He also had very strong hands and was a legitimate deep threat despite his size. Harrison was able to shore up his weaknesses and turn into one of the greatest receivers in NFL history. It is unlikely that Westbrook can ever reach that level, but there are eerie similarities between the two entering the NFL.
Bottom line: Westbrook is a receiver that may be overlooked due to his size but probably shouldn’t be. Westbrook possesses all the necessary tools to be an excellent NFL receiver. He can run every route, he’s both incredibly fast and incredibly quick, and has great hands. His after-the-catch ability is among the best in the entire class, and he’s not afraid to get hit. Because of his size and inexperience with press coverage, he may be limited to a slot role early on. But he has so many tools to work with and very few football weaknesses. If he can get a bit stronger, he has the potential to be a great outside receiver in the NFL.