Dynasty Draft Profile: Jaelen Strong
March 10, 2015 | Chad Scott
* Pro Day times
*MSYD = 5 of Team’s ReceivingYardage
Jaelen Strong stock options skyrocketed after his combine performances – and for good reason. He’s young, strong, tall, fast and coming off back-to-back 1000+ receiving yard seasons in the Pac-12.
In most dynasty circles of trust, his combine performance most likely netted him top five rookie pick status, but I can’t seem to jump on the bandwagon quite yet.
Despite strong market shares/ overall college production and measureables that make tissues a weekly purchase of mine, the combination of what my eyes see and where he’s going in rookie drafts make him a commodity I’m still on the fence about.
College and J-CO
Strong wasn’t heavily recruited as a high school senior. He didn’t receive an offer he liked, so opted to attend Pierce College in California. Strong sat out football in 2011, but returned in 2012 to post over 1,200 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns.
Good enough to receive scholarship offers from many of the big-time schools, Strong opted to join Arizona State.
His first season was successful and his second was even better. Although the final stats are similar, Strong averaged nearly 1.5 more receptions, 17 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game in 2014 (two less games).
Following a solid junior season, Strong elected to forgo his final season at ASU to enter the NFL draft and the rest is history – actually it’s about three months later, so here we are… presently.
As mentioned before, Strong has the size, strength and speed we look for in a top-flight wide receiver. What may be even more impressive is how well he utilizes said size and strength on the football field. Strong has the ability to pluck any jump ball out of the air and made a living off doing so in college. He already understands what his body can and cannot do, which is a huge plus, given his age. Here is just one example (of many) where Strong wins out on this contested throw and catch.
Not only is he strong when going up for the ball, but he also has the ability to contort himself and show great body control at times.
Strong is also fast enough to run away from defenders once in the open field. In a straight line, he doesn’t so much as run as he gallops away from defenses. For an athlete of his size, it’s cheating to be so damn fast.
While he may be one of the fastest players at his position, Strong’s best route (aside from the backyard-throw-it-up-and-catch-it route) may be the drag across the middle of the field. It’s the route he looks most comfortable running and does a veteran-like job of setting it up for his teammate to pick his defender.
Going into these player profiles, no matter who the prospect is, I attempt to magnify their flaws over their strengths. In years past, I didn’t approach this process with as much scrutiny as I have this year and it shows in my evaluations. While I’m still far from any sort of scout, talent evaluator, human-being, etc, honing this process is fun and exciting and everyone should strive to ‘get better’ at doing such. With that said, these are some of the red flags I see with Strong.
I’ve mentioned his physical gifts and how well he uses some of them. Where he does not excel in are short-intermediate routes, especially in press coverage. Here’s an example of Strong trying to run a slant in press:
Strong needs to win this matchup against Anthony Jefferson – a strong safety who is 30lbs lighter. That’s a route any top-shelf receiver runs and wins against much lesser opponents. Strong has a tendency to allow his defender to set course for him and doesn’t quite have the quickness to shake off a decent press.
Here’s an example of Strong letting his defender squeeze him to the sideline, giving his quarterback nowhere to throw except out of bounds:
That defender is Oregon State’s, Steven Nelson (5-foot-10, 197lbs), CBS’ #8 ranked CB in this draft class – so he’s no slouch, but the fact remains Strong shows a tendency to let the defender dictate where he will run his route.
Blocking is a huge concern when I watch Strong. Again, given his size, he should be more than capable of getting in the way of defenders, if not blocking. Time and time again, I saw Strong completely miss on his assignment or get manhandled when engaged. Here’s my favorite – I can almost hear him asking, “Who the **** do I block?” *spins*:
Here’s another on a called screen play…
Lastly, Strong demonstrates lack of burst out of his break. He telegraphs the route and Jefferson smothers him. Looking at his Pro Day agility score (3Cone + 20YSS) of 11.52, it’s easy to see why he has trouble with these types of routes:
In February (pre-combine), Strong’s price tag averages out to the 1.08 pick in rookie drafts, going after fellow red-flaggers Dorial Green-Beckham and Devin Funchess. While he doesn’t have the character concerns DGB has, he certainly has the raw ability of a Funchess, but with actual college production. He’s going to be somewhat of a project and perhaps, easier to obtain via trade once the season is over. There’s no doubt Strong has an abundance of talent and the physical traits we adore in a wide receiver. The keys for Strong are continued development and learning the subtle nuances needed to become a dynasty cornerstone.
Either way, when we’re looking at ceilings versus draft capital, I’d prefer to gamble on the other two at a lower cost once my rookie drafts begin.