Building the Perfect SEC Wide Receiver
The SEC has the best wide receiver in college football this season in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy. Without a single weakness in his game, you’d think a better WR prospect couldn’t be created in a laboratory. We’ll try to do just that, by looking at six specific traits crucial to any pass catcher – speed, size, route running, hands, jump ball ability, and running after the catch – and pairing them up with the best of the best in the SEC.
Bryan Edwards, South Carolina
In the past decade or so, it’s become more and more true that size just does not matter in the NFL as much as it used to. However, there’s no harm in our WR Frankenstein standing at 6’3” tall and weighing in at 216 pounds. Edwards has always used his size well on the football field, simply overpowering smaller defensive backs.
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
This is the one category where Jerry Jeudy wasn’t in consideration. Although his speed is above average, he doesn’t possess the track star speed that Jaylen Waddle brings to an offense.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Waddle’s speed is his acceleration. He reaches top speed almost immediately and is one of the best when it comes to getting upfield as quickly as possible. His elite speed can be used to stretch the field, in the screen game, or on designed runs. However, Nick Sagan plans to utilize him this season, the one certainty is that no one is going to catch Waddle from behind.
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Rumor has it, Henry Ruggs III wasn’t born with two hands, but vacuums on the ends of his arms. Ruggs would easily be the #1 wideout on nearly every other SEC offense, but lining up opposite of Jeudy has given him a huge opportunity as defenses key in on his running mate.
Whether it’s making an adjustment on a poor throw, winning a jump ball, or catching the ball in traffic, Ruggs III has elite ability to come down with the catch.
Jump Ball Ability
Marquez Callaway, Tennessee
Speaking of making phenomenal catches, Marquez Callaway does so routinely. He is the lifeblood of this Tennessee offense, and should take his game to all new heights this season.
Last season, Callaway made up for lackluster quarterback play with his ability to win tough catches. It seemed like one of Tennessee’s favorite plays to call was “throw it up to Callaway”. He consistently made jump ball catches on back shoulder fades, and showed how consistently great he is at timing his jump to catch the ball at his highest point.
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
To give due credit to Jeudy, he could have been the pick in route running, body, jump ball ability, and running after the catch. However, a player can only be used once and to truly make this laboratory WR as great as possible, Jeudy’s route running is value choice.
This is for two reasons, the first being that Jeudy is one of the best college route runners of the past decade. It’s rare for a college wideout to have a full route tree, but it’s almost unheard of to see an amateur have such proficiency in every route like Jeudy does.
In addition to this, the rest of the SEC group hasn’t shown an advanced route running ability. There is more separation between Jeudy and everyone else in route running than in any other category, which makes this the most valuable skill Jeudy can bring to our build-a-WR.
Run After Catch (RAC) Ability
Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky
Calling Lynn Bowden Jr. a wide receiver may not give him due justice, as he is much, much more than that for the Wildcats. Sure, he lines up at wide receiver, but he also returns punts, kickoffs, and even carries the ball for Kentucky from time to time. Why does Kentucky involve him so much? Because Bowden Jr. is one of the most underrated players in the country when he has the ball in his hands. Every time he catches the ball or fields a punt, he is a threat to make a defender look foolish. He has the wiggle and balance to fight through tight spaces, along with the shiftiness to beat a defender one on one in the open field. All around, Bowden Jr. is the definition of an offensive weapon, and getting the ball in his hands will be a focus for Kentucky this season.
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