There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot going on in the football world this time of year. But while players and coaches are taking time off to prepare mentally and physically for training camps, scouting departments around the NFL are hard at work.
Scouts around the NFL are taking the opportunity to get familiar with the likely prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft. The New York Giants likely have more work to do if they’re going to take steps forward in 2023 and beyond, and the draft should be the foundation of their future teams.
So we’re going to take the time before the college and NFL seasons get started to get familiar with some of the most likely prospects for next year’s draft. These won’t be as in-depth as full scouting reports, and should be considered primers as we anticipate the upcoming college season.
We’re starting with LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte. Boutte was on his way to becoming a breakout star in a down 2021 season for LSU before an ankle injury cut his season short. He isn’t the top receiver on early draft boards, but a return to form under could make him the first receiver off the board next April.
Kayshon Boutte (WR, LSU)
Games Played: 6
Yards: 509 (13.4)
- Smart, savvy route runner.
- Variety of release strategies.
- Good footwork at the top of his routes.
- Very good body control and play strength.
- Capable runner with the ball in his hands.
- Good competitive toughness. Fights through tackles, gives effort as a blocker.
- Suffered a broken ankle in October of 2021. The injury has required two surgeries to repair.
- Slight tendency to double-catch the ball.
- Long speed is a question.
Why could he be a top prospect?
LSU’s Kayshon Boutte (pronounced “Boo-Tay”) is a young, talented, and tough wide receiver prospect.
Boutte won’t turn 21 until after the 2023 NFL Draft, however he already has a 300-yard game and two three-touchdown games under his belt. Boutte is a versatile receiving prospect who lines up at the X, flanker, and slot positions and has executed well from all three.
He already has a variety of release strategies and wastes little time or motion getting into his routes. He uses sudden acceleration against off or zone coverage as well as quick footwork against tighter man coverage. Boutte is savvy beyond his years through every phase of his routes. He does a good job of using quick fakes early in timing routes to force corners to flip their hips early and give up separation. He also presses his stem vertically before sharply cutting to get breaks out of his cuts.
Boutte has very good field awareness along the sideline, to maximize separation in route concepts, and to find open space against zone coverages or in scramble drills. Likewise, he has excellent body control to contort and haul in poorly placed passes or to maximize his catch radius.
Finally, Boutte is a capable runner after the catch. He has great competitive toughness to fight through tackle attempts and runs hard to pick up every yard he can. That toughness shows up as a run blocker as well, though it would be a stretch to say he excels as a blocker.
What can he improve for 2022?
The big question surrounding Boutte going into the 2022 season is health. He suffered a fractured ankle in October of 2021, which has thus far required two surgeries to repair. The second of those surgeries came in late March of 2022 and he has yet to practice with the team, at least as of this writing.
Considering Boutte’s lengthy recovery from the injury, it’s fair to wonder how quickly, or even if, he’ll be able to return to the form he showed as a freshman and sophomore. Boutte’s injury could also complicate any questions regarding his long speed. While he certainly has adequate athleticism, he doesn’t appear to play the game at a different speed from the players around him nor does he obviously run away from defenders down the field.
Boutte also had a slight issue with double-catching the ball. He appears to have big, strong hands, but there are occasions where he won’t secure passes cleanly. That’s due, in part, to wildly inconsistent quarterback play often putting him in poor position to catch the ball. However, he will need to show improvement in his catch consistency as a junior.
Boutte was regarded as a potential Biletnikoff Award candidate prior to his injury in 2021. His ability to produce despite the many problems on LSU’s offense was exciting, and Boutte has high potential. His draft stock – should he declare for the 2023 draft – is uncertain, but he could be among the first receivers drafted if he realizes his potential under new head coach Brian Kelly.
One game to watch
If you’re going to circle one game on LSU’s schedule, it pretty much has to be their Nov. 5 meeting with Alabama. The Crimson Tide are a long-time rival of LSU and Nick Saban’s squad once again projects to be loaded on the defensive side of the ball. This should be a great chance to see Boutte in action against top competition playing a style of defense that’s similar to what he’ll see in the NFL.