Every year one of the April NFL Draft conversation I look forward to most is with Matt Waldman of The Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you’re not familiar with Waldman, you should be. No one studies skill position players the way Waldman does, or offers the depth of insight into these players.
During an appearance on this week’s ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast, Waldman dropped knowledge on the pass catchers the New York Giants could potentially select at No. 11, his thoughts on Kenny Golladay, his thoughts on receivers who could be value on the second or third day of the draft and more.
It was during a discussion about Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell, though, that Waldman dropped his best line. Atwell, mind you, is drawing some late-Round 1 buzz despite being 5-foot-9, 155 pounds. Why? Because he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash.
“You value his speed and the NFL tends to value speed sometimes to the point that it’s overkill .. the NFL’s cleavage is speed,” Waldman said. “The player with speed is like ‘look me in the eye for my route-running.’
“I kinda feel like that’s what happens when it comes to speed, the NFL just goes overboard. Speed is their cleavage, it’s a complete weakness in terms of their ability to see clearly and carry on a conversation and think critically and all those things.”
Before we move on to some of the other things Waldman and I discussed, here is his take on Atwell:
“The combination of him being short and light, you know 155 pounds. Yeah, he can get behind a defense, that’s great. Give him open field or give him light traffic with some blocking he can navigate that way, that’s great. But, the wind will blow this guy over … he’s either gonna get blown over or if his jersey’s untucked he might just take off and fly out of the stadium like a kite,” Waldman said.
“Drafting him the first three rounds? That idea to me is kind of ludicrous.”
On the receiver(s) he would bang the table for at No. 11 ...
“If you’re going to say this player he’s so good I know that we’re just drafting a top talent and the fact that he fell to us we’ve gotta take him, I would put [Ja’Marr] Chase and [Jaylen] Waddle both in that situation,” Waldman said.
“I could see Waddle in terms of appeal but in terms of just overall fit I think Ja’Marr Chase would be that guy that you would have to say if he falls you’ve got to seriously consider him.”
“He can play all three positions in the slot or outside, he’s explosive, he posts up well so you can use him both as a deep route artist, a guy who runs the timing routes but also someone who that on third down you can let him get his back to the defender and face the quarterback and he plays tough in those situations. He’s excellent after the catch,” Waldman said.
On Florida tight end Kyle Pitts ...
“If you get him then you’re basically saying [Evan] Engram is on a short leash, that his time is coming to an end with the Giants,” Waldman said.
“If you’re the Giants if you’re drafting him you’re probably thinking of using him away from the formation like a Jimmy Graham or like a big wide receiver.”
On DeVonta Smith ...
“I think he’s capable of becoming a very good pro because of the route-running, the ability to win the ball at the catch point, he’s a smart player, he uses his hands well,” Waldman said. “The big issue with him, and it’s always going to be an issue with any player his size, is can he avoid being re-routed? Can he develop a plan so that he’s not basically pinned to the sideline by physical cornerbacks?”
On Rondale Moore ...
The 5-foot-7 Purdue wide receiver ran a 4.29 40-yard dash. His size, though, has made him a somewhat divisive prospect.
“I see him as a player who could contribute right away. I don’t think he’s the next Steve Smith (Panthers),” Waldman said.
Waldman added that Moore is “blindingly sudden” and would be good value late in Round 2 or in Round 3.
“I see him more as what people hoped Tavon Austin would be as opposed to being the next Steve Smith,” Waldman said.
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