Yahoo Sports' top 2020 NFL draft prospects, No. 14: Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy

·8 min read
Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports
Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports

14. Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy

6-foot-1, 193 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 6.17 — possible immediate starter

TL;DR scouting report: A smooth operator who already runs routes better than some pros, Jeudy should overcome a few physical shortcomings to be great in the NFL.

The skinny: A 5-star Rivals recruit (and top 20 nationally), Jeudy had two dozen offers but picked the Crimson Tide over the field. He enrolled early at Alabama and carved out a role as a reserve receiver for the 2017 national champs. His clutch 20-yard catch with six minutes remaining against Georgia helped force overtime and eventually lead Alabama to a win in OT.

Jeudy was named the Biletnikoff Award winner in 2018 as a sophomore, catching 68 passes for 1,315 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns (third-most in FBS) in 15 games.

As a junior in 2019, Jeudy’s overall production dipped, but his per-game numbers were mostly up. He led Alabama with 77 catches for 1,163 yards and 10 TDs in 13 games, earning first-team all-conference again.

Jeudy, who turns 21 years old on Day 2 of the 2020 NFL draft, declared early. He attended the combine and competed in most of the athletic testing drills and on-field work.

Upside: Elite college route runner. Rare craftsmanship — already more advanced than some multi-year pros. Speed cuts are lethal. Reads and sets up DBs extremely well (and quickly) — knows just when to keep it simple and when to throw a lot at them. Beats press in different ways. Put on a clinic during the positional work at the combine.

Displays great body lean and subtle head-and-shoulder fakes. Nuanced route tree and technician both from the slot and outside. Probably can run any route you draw up.

Outstanding inside receiver — slot-fade assassin. Works two-way goes with ease and creates instant separation for the short passing game. Loose hips allow him to explode into his breaks. Sharp, violent cuts in the open field — there might not be a better gear shifter in this entire class.

Great body control and balance. Ran a solid 40-yard dash, but most importantly, he plays fast. Even better, it’s almost always under control. Underrated deep threat. Has displayed borderline elite ball-tracking ability since early in his college career.

Here’s Jeudy during his more productive 2018 season, roasting Clemson S Tanner Muse on the post-corner in the national championship game a little more than a year ago:

Watch Jeudy roast a safety (Tanner Muse) who ran a 4.41 40 this year.
Watch Jeudy roast a safety (Tanner Muse) who ran a 4.41 40 this year.

Nasty post-catch. Will put DBs into a blender with his suddenness and creativity. Bursts of acceleration and hesitation moves are hard to stick with. Taxes man coverage but also seems to find soft spots in zone too. Maxes out his yards after the catch. First-down machine — moved the sticks on 71.7 percent of his college catches.

Do not sleep on his toughness — he just doesn’t opt to go out of bounds. Jeudy made far more impressive catches than this one last season against Auburn, but there are no business decisions to be made here — three defenders in his way and the sideline at his disposal, and in a big game Jeudy delivers a message with his physicality:

Jeudy isn't going to just tiptoe out of bounds.
Jeudy isn't going to just tiptoe out of bounds.

Similar idea here against South Carolina, except Jeudy forgoes the sideline with guile over physicality, picking up almost another dozen yards with his post-catch craftiness:

Watch Jeudy cut back inside and tack on at least 10 more yards.
Watch Jeudy cut back inside and tack on at least 10 more yards.

Also a very willing blocker. Known as a craftsman who works on his trade tirelessly. Highly competitive and mentally engaged. Winner who comes from demanding program. Experience in high-pressure settings and operated in pro-style offense with NFL terminology and concepts. Battle-tested and ready to be a pro now.

Downside: Doesn’t possess elite physical traits. Frame is on the lean side, likely with little room for significant gains. Length is merely average (76-inch wingspan). Weight has dipped below the 190-pound mark during the season.

Didn’t test in the 3-cone drill or bench press at the combine. Vertical jump (35 inches), broad jump (10 feet) and 10-yard split (1.56 seconds) numbers all merely average. His 20-yard shuttle time (4.53) is considered bottom-5th percentile — shockingly low.

Didn’t face a lot of contested-catch situations. Not going to win as a high-point specialist — very few acrobatic grabs in a crowd or on the sideline. Catching in traffic appears average. Hand strength size (9 1/2 inches) merely average. Prone to concentration drops at times — three big ones in loss to LSU. Also had two against New Mexico State — they seem to come in bunches. (Is it a self-confidence issue? Hard to know.) They also tended to come over the middle of the field.

Against LSU, Jeudy alligator-armed one early for a drop with S Grant Delpit bearing down on him; then Jeudy let two potential touchdowns slip through his hands.

Here’s the first, as he destroys JaCoby Stevens on the post route but just can’t haul it in:

This drop might haunt Jeudy for a while.
This drop might haunt Jeudy for a while.

And the second, where Jeudy runs a pretty slant and beats the DB cleanly but just can’t haul in the diving catch he normally makes:

And this one might hurt even more.
And this one might hurt even more.

Can get a little revved up — flagged for multiple holding penalties as a blocker and facemasks. Blocking effectiveness is hit or miss. Some consider him primarily a slot receiver. Didn’t produce a lot on the outside — 53 of his 77 catches last season were from the slot.

Saw favorable matchups amid the most talented college WR quartet in many years, if not ever. Hard to know how he’ll fare vs. some of the best press-coverage technicians in the NFL. Isn’t going to power through as many tackle attempts in the league.

Operated in pristine conditions at Bama, with elite skill-position talent, high-level blocking and top-tier QB play more often than not. Wasn’t used terribly creatively on offense. Had four special-teams snaps in 2019 opener vs. Duke, and none in other three seasons combined.

Best-suited destination: Jeudy profiles as an inside-outside threat, and he has the template to become a quarterback’s best friend. He’s a diverse and sophisticated route runner who should be as ready-made for the NFL as any wideout in this class, able to pad passing totals with his good hands, YAC skill and toughness.

Among the teams we believe could be interested in his services include the Las Vegas Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers.

Did you know: Jeudy and Calvin Ridley were not only teammates at Alabama for a year, but they also played together in high school at Deerfield Beach High. Ridley was a 20-year-old high-school senior, so he was not able to play football most of his final season, so instead he served as an extra coach for Jeudy.

“Great player, works really hard and deserves everything coming his way,” Ridley said in December of 2018. “We played high school together and grew up together a little bit. Just seeing him grow and becoming the player he is — that’s the most exciting thing.”

They said it: “I need to work on my strength and getting stronger, in this league they got bigger opponents, bigger defenders, I need to be able to get off the jam and make the blocks I need to make.”

— Jeudy at the combine, on what areas he most needs to improve

Player comp: Stefon Diggs

Expected draft range: Top-15 pick

Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. DT Justin Madubuike | 49. CB Damon Arnette | 48. OT Ezra Cleveland | 47. WR KJ Hamler | 46. CB A.J. Terrell | 45. RB Cam Akers | 44. DL Ross Blacklock | 43. OT Josh Jones | 42. DT Jordan Elliott | 41. C Cesar Ruiz | 40. S Kyle Dugger | 39. EDGE Terrell Lewis | 38. WR Laviska Shenault Jr. | 37. S Grant Delpit | 36. Jonathan Taylor | 35. WR Brandon Aiyuk | 34. EDGE Zack Baun | 33. EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos | 32. CB Jeff Gladney | 31. QB Jordan Love | 30. CB Trevon Diggs | 29. EDGE A.J. Epenesa | 28. RB JK Dobbins | 27. WR Justin Jefferson | 26. WR Tee Higgins | 25. S Xavier McKinney | 24. WR Jalen Reagor | 23. CB Kristian Fulton | 22. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire | 21. WR Denzel Mims | 20. LB Kenneth Murray | 19. RB D’Andre Swift | 18. QB Justin Herbert | 17. LB Patrick Queen | 16. WR Henry Ruggs III | 15. EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson | 14. WR Jerry Jeudy | 13. OT Mekhi Becton | 12. DT Javon Kinlaw | 11. OT Andrew Thomas | 10. OT Tristan Wirfs | 9. WR CeeDee Lamb | 8. OT Jedrick Wills Jr. | 7. CB CJ Henderson | 6. LB-S Isaiah Simmons | 5. DT Derrick Brown | 4. QB Tua Tagovailoa | 3. CB Jeffrey Okudah | 2. QB Joe Burrow | 1. Chase Young

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