The 2020 NFL Draft’s wide receiver class is being heralded as one of the best and deepest in recent memory. And considering the ever-growing importance of the passing game in offensive football, that could be a very good thing for the NFL over the next couple years.
It is unlikely that the New York Giants will be selecting a receiver at fourth overall, but what if they move back slightly in the first round? That could bring Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy into play. Jeudy is one of two or three receivers commonly cited as the best receiver in this talented draft class. But what does he do so well as to be at the top of the receiving depth chart?
Prospect: Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
Games watched: vs. Clemson (2018 Championship Game), vs. South Carolina (2019), vs. LSU (2019), vs. Auburn (2019)
Red flags: none
Games played (starts): 36
Yards (YPC): 2,742 (17.2)
Total touchdowns: 26
Games played (starts): 13
Yards (YPC): 1,163 (15.1)
Total touchdowns: 10
Best: Route running, ball skills, separation, run after catch, football IQ
Worst: Contested catches
Projection: A starting receiver with alignment and scheme versatility
Jeudy has good size with better than average athleticism and advanced technical polish for an NFL receiving prospect. Jeudy lined up across the Alabama offensive formation, taking snaps as an “X” receiver, flanker, slot, and out of the backfield. He was also frequently sent in motion to create uncertainty and force the defense to reveal its intentions.
Jeudy shows an efficient release, with instant acceleration off the line of scrimmage against off coverage as well as crisp footwork against man coverage. He is an advanced route runner with an understanding of route tempo and sharp, precise breaks for creating separation. Jeudy is effective on double moves, mixing rounded fakes with sharp breaks to create yards of separation down the field. He is a natural hands catcher with great concentration and the ability to locate the ball, adjust, extend, and make catches well outside of his frame.
Jeudy is also effective with the ball in his hands. Jeudy’s understanding of coverage schemes translates into good field vision and an ability to maximize yards after the catch. He has quick feet to make tacklers miss, enough play strength to fight for extra yardage, and enough of a burst to exploit small windows.
Jeudy was frequently used as a blocker for Alabama’s running game and showed good willingness and competitive toughness. He looks for work in the open field and is willing to engage with defensive backs on the perimeter.
Contested catches seem to be Jeudy’s main weakness. He does not face them often, and when he does he can be disrupted at the catch point. And while he is athletic and a threat to create big plays, he doesn’t have true “breakaway” speed.
Jeudy projects as a starting wide receiver with true alignment and scheme diversity. He has the ability to step on the field and start as an “X” receiver Day 1 in the NFL, however his ability will likely be maximized by moving him around the offensive formation.
Jeudy has the ability to run a full route tree from anywhere in the offensive formation, and Alabama frequently took advantage by playing him out of the slot. While he doesn’t need to be protected from aggressive man coverage, putting Jeudy in a position which makes him even more difficult to jam is a decided advantage for the offense. It likely matches him up against a lesser corner or forces the defense’s top cornerback into a position at which he is likely less comfortable.
Jeudy is already a polished route runner who shows impressive planning and strategy in running his routes. He routinely thinks several moves ahead, setting up defensive backs. On double-moves he will round off his initial break, allowing the DB to fully commit before sharply breaking a second time, often creating yards of separation.
Jeudy’s only major weakness is that he isn’t dominant at the catch point in contested situations. He has great hands but doesn’t seem to have the “my ball” mentality when fighting against tight coverage. Perhaps that will develop with more play strength from an NFL strength and conditioning program and more experience against better corners at the NFL level.