Just how set are the New York Giants at the receiver positions. We should be able to expect that Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton will be Giants for the long haul, with Slayton just being drafted last year and Shepard signing his contract extension.
But what about the rest of the depth chart? Golden Tate could be a cap casualty next year, or potentially even this year, and the rest of the depth chart could be lost to free agency. And there probably should be questions asked about Shepard’s long-term health after his struggles with concussions in 2019.
SMU wide receiver James Proche is somewhat under the radar — though perhaps not any more after making waves for himself at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl — and could slide down draft boards after measuring smaller than expected. But the Giants might also be in a place where they can’t turn away talent at a value, even if it doesn’t fit their archetypes.
Prospect: James Proche, WR, SMU
Games Watched: vs. Tulane (2018), vs. Cincinnati (2018), vs. Temple (2019), vs. Memphis (2019)
Red Flags: None
Games Played: 49 (39 starts)
Receptions (ypc): 301 receptions, (13.1 yards per catch)
2019 stats: 111 receptions, 1,225 yards (11.0 per catch), 15 touchdowns
Best: Quickness, agility, athleticism, route running, ball skills
Worst: Size, play strength
Projection: A starting slot receiver in a scheme that uses west coast and vertical concepts in 11-personnel groupings.
SMU receiver James Proche has very good quickness, agility, and athleticism which allow him to overcome his size limitations. Proche primarily lined up in the slot for SMU’s offense, working both as a receiver and blocker, as well as an occasional ball carrier. Proche has very good reactions and a good get-off at the snap of the ball. He is consistently quick into his routes with little wasted motion, and shows a good release against off and zone coverage. Proche also shows an efficient release against man coverage, which allows him to defeat man coverage more effectively than his frame would suggest. He does a good job of varying his tempo to disrupt defenders’ timing, as well as pressing his route stems vertically to draw pass interference penalties. Proche makes good use of his quickness, agility, and low center of gravity to make crisp, sharp breaks at the top of his routes. He also has a good sense of defensive concepts and has the ability to find voids in zone coverage. Proche runs a diverse route tree and has the ability to win in the short and intermediate area of the field as well as use his long speed to threaten defenses vertically.
Proche has good ball skills, with the ability to track and adjust to the ball downfield. He routinely adjusts to off-target passes, extending to maximize his catch radius and pluck the ball out of the air.
SMU also frequently uses Proche as a blocker on bubble screens and off-tackle runs. He shows good competitive toughness in fighting to sustain his blocks through the whistle and doesn’t back down from bigger defenders.
Proche’s primary limitation will be his size. At 5-foot-10 (and ⅝ inches), 196 pounds, and with 30-inch arms, he can be bullied by bigger defenders if they are able to get their hands on him. He could slide down the draft boards of teams looking for pure outside or simply bigger receivers.
Overall Grade: 6.1 - A receiver with several above average traits and some physical limitations. A good value in the early-middle rounds. [Grading Scale]
James Proche projects as a starting slot receiver at the NFL level. He has very good quickness, agility, explosiveness, which make him difficult for defenders to match up with in off coverage, and enough long speed to be a threat down the field as well. While he can be disrupted by bigger defenders, he presents a small target for press man and his quickness combined with efficient release make disrupting him easier said than done. Proche has very good hands, with good awareness and body control to give him a surprisingly big catch radius.
Proche projects well to any offense which routinely uses 11-personnel and makes frequent use of the slot receiver. He has the speed to be a threat in vertical concepts while his quickness and route running make him a reliable target in West Coast concepts as well. Proche also has some upside as a ball carrier after the catch and on sweep or end around plays thanks to that same quickness and speed. He is a physical runner who is willing to challenge tacklers in run after catch situations and can create chunk yardage if the opportunity arises. Proche also has special teams upside as a punt returner and has returned 37 punts for just under 9.0 yards per return.