McMillan drafted in third round, what others are saying?

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – One night after Central High alum Xavier Worthy was drafted in the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs, another wide receiver from the Central Valley, San Joaquin Memorial product Jalen McMillan, was taken in the third round Friday night by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

McMillan was a headliner for some great Memorial teams. He caught 54 touchdowns in 50 career games for the Panthers in high school, finishing his high school career with 260 receptions and 5,234 receiving yards.

As a prep sophomore and junior in 2017 and 2018, the Panthers won back-to-back Division III Central Section titles, and in 2018, they also finished as the Division 2-A state runner-up. The next year, McMillan’s senior year, the Panthers won a third straight Central Section title, as they captured the the Division II championship.

McMillan followed that up with 17 receiving touchdowns in four seasons at the University of Washington, highlighted by 1,098 receiving yards in 2022.

This past season, he was voted a preseason second-team All-American by Athlon Sports, and despite missing four games with injuries, and being limited in several others, he caught 45 passes for 559 yards and five touchdowns, in helping lead the Huskies all the way to the CFP national championship game.

For a taller receiver (6-foot-1), McMillan ran well at the NFL combine on March 2, running the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds. He also posted a 37-inch vertical leap.

After the combine, Jalen’s high school head coach at San Joaquin Memorial, Anthony Goston, told Sports Central in a text, “this is a deep receiver draft, and he is one of the best receivers in the draft. I see Jalen getting drafted in the second or third round. He is one of the best route runners in the draft, and teams that have reached out to me really like his ability and upside.”

Here are some more thoughts from one of McMillan’s former high school teammates, and some Draft analysts, about Jalen’s pro prospects.

Alec Trujillo (former San Joaquin Memorial Quarterback – Jalen’s high school teammate in 2017 and 2018)

“Talking to him today during his Draft day, I was definitely proud. He deserves it. I know it’s cliche, but he’s worked hard, and it was just a bittersweet moment because it’s something we’ve talked about since high school football. I just remembered, when he was a freshman and nervous to play his first game on varsity against Edison, to where he’s at now. Tampa Bay is a great fit for him. They have a system that I think he’ll fit perfectly into. They have a balanced look, and Jalen can definitely block, but also, they can throw it with Baker there, and he’ll get to learn from guys like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, being able to move in the slot or outside.”

Mel Kiper (ESPN Draft Experton Friday’s broadcast)

“One of my more underrated players, 6-foot-1, 197, huge hands, ran better than I thought (at the combine), thought he’d be 4.55, ran 4.47 (in the 40-yard dash). Let’s talk about his 37 (inch) vertical. We’re talking about a guy who gets easy separation, because he’s such a precise route runner, he tracks the ball well, catches the ball away from his body. Now, let’s talk about this year, wasn’t quite as sure-handed as I hoped he would be. He missed four games with the injury, came back from that, had to work his way back. Ja’Lynn Polk, kind of stole the show there, with Rome Odunze there, being the elite receiver that he is. Jalen McMillan to me, look at the 10-yard time, 1.53. Rome Odunze’s was 1.52. He broad jumped better than Rome. Jalen McMillan, route-runner, hands, tested well. Yes, he was injured this year, came back from it. Ja’Lynn Polk became the guy. Had Jalen McMillan done this year what he did last year, he would have been a higher pick, love this pick for Tampa Bay at 92.”

Booger McFarland (ESPN Football Analyst – on Friday’s broadcast)

“Tampa adds him to a wide receiver room with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer, just signed Mike Evans back. Now you have a guy (McMillan) that you can bring in, learn under Mike Evans, he doesn’t have to be the guy right now”

Louis Riddick (ESPN Football Analyst – on Friday’s broadcast)

“It’s the run after the catch for me. In the slot, wide receiver screens, seam routes, seam posts from the slot, He is a big playmaker. Him and Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Yeah, Baker’s got some guys to throw it to.”

Matt (Post-Draft)

The No. 91 overall player on my board heard his name called at No. 92. That’s what we call value. Tampa Bay is set at wide receiver with veterans Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and Trey Palmer looked great in his rookie season, but finding future starters is still key. McMillan, like Palmer, has really good vertical ability and will stretch the field from the slot for Baker Mayfield. 

Daniel Jeremiah – NFL Network Draft Analyst – on Friday’s broadcast

“That’s the fifth offensive (Washington) Husky we’ve seen go in the first three rounds. This is their slot receiver in McMillan. This is a feel player. In the slot, you talk about quickness, but almost as important as the quickness is the feel. When you work in zones, can you feel that spatial awareness? He has that. Understands how to set up defenders, open up those windows for Penix. Tracks the ball really well down the field. They got him a lot of bubbles too (at Washington), so he could get the ball quickly and run after the catch. They’ll even line him up in the backfield as well, so that was a heck of a trio of receives they had at Washington, all three of them off the board here through three rounds.”

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