April 21, 2011
With the 2010 NFL season in the books, the draft edging ever closer (and a lockout battle now headed to the courts) it's time to turn our eyes to the pre-draft evaluation process. We've already done scouting reports of the top 40 players on our board, and you can read all the details on the first Shutdown 40 here. For the second Shutdown 40, players 41-80, we have the advantage of combine performances and that much more evaluation material.
But we're always going mostly on game tape; the proper evaluation formula seems to be about 80 percent tape, 20 percent Senior Bowl/combine/Pro Day. If you see what you expect in drills, you go back to the tape to confirm. If what you see in drills surprises you in a positive or negative sense, you go back to the tape to catch where the anomalies may be.
We continue the second Shutdown 40 with Boise State wide receiver Titus Young. The three-time First-Team All-WAC offensive weapon averaged more than 15 yards per catch in his career for the Broncos, and he stretches the field as well as anyone in the NCAA. Young also saved some of his best performances for the best competition, eradicating concerns that he was running up his stats against weaker WAC competition — he blew Oregon State's doors off in 2010 with five catches for catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, and five kick returns for 125 yards. Adding his six catches for 129 yards against Nevada's excellent defense, and it's clear that Young is the kind of player that could project as NFL elite over time in the right system. In 42 games for Boise State, Young caught 204 passes for 3,063 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also rushed 44 times for 341 yards and eight touchdowns, returned 55 kicks for 1,435 yards and two touchdowns, and took 11 punts back for 76 yards.
The value of speed burners like Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson(notes), both as a receiver and returner, makes Young a very interesting potential pick. But does Young measure up to that level of explosive production? Let's turn on the tape…
Pros: Gets off the line against press coverage very quickly and can use stutter-steps to help in that regard. Has a great burst and acceleration in his first few steps; makes him a real problem for enemy defenses on receiver screens and other yards after catch opportunities. Gets outside the wide corner on deep routes, establishes outside position nicely, and is fast enough in a straight line against most defensive backs to ease up if need be on underthrows (which you get used to when your quarterback is Kellen Moore). Will probably develop into an even better deep receiver if/when paired with an NFL quarterback with a better feel for long passes. As a return man, possesses great straight-line and cut speed, and a tremendous eye for gaps.
Cons: Not an especially physical receiver; at 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds, may not be rugged enough for slot play even though he's built more like that type of receiver. Inconsistent hands catcher who looks upfield before securing the ball. Height makes him a liability with jump balls; Young has to win the speed battle deep. Surprisingly tethered near the ground for such an athlete. Presents very little threat to bail and establish further yards after first contact. Can be distracted by physical corner play and doesn't always read deflections well. Doesn't get the separation you'd expect, though this may be a function of having to adjust to throws. Has a pronounced belief in his own ability that can get in his way at times.
Conclusion: It's tough to know what to think of Titus Young. In the abstract, it's easy to see that he has great functional football speed, and that he can get open in ways that you'd think would transfer to the NFL. What I don't know is whether his raw speed is something that will allow him to beat the smaller passing windows in the pros, and whether his body will hold up to the rigors of a more physical league. I'm willing to give him a pass on the speed/separation issue, because I've seen other fast receivers robbed of their ability to get as vertical as they really could by noodle-armed quarterbacks. In the end, I think he'll be a nice end/slot hybrid guy with some return value, but I'm not seeing a #1 receiver here. The DeSean Jackson comparison is handy, but I don't think it sticks … at least, not yet.
More Second Shutdown 40
#41 — Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia | #42 — Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple | #43 — Aaron Williams, DB, Texas | #44 — Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech | #45 — Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA | #46 — Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois | #47 — D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas | #48 -- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina | #49 — Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy | #50 — Jabbal Sheard, DE, Pitt | #51 — Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa | #52 — Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona | #53 — Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky | #54 -- Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada | #55 — Sam Acho, OLB/DE, Texas | #56 -- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU | #57 — Davon House, CB, New Mexico State | #58 -- Jon Baldwin, WR, Pitt | #59 — Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU | #60 — Drake Nevis, DT, LSU | #61-- Quan Sturdivant, LB, North Carolina | #62 — Orlando Franklin, OT, Miami
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