In the same vein of yesterday's post on Bud Dupree, I figured it'd be fun to continue to touch base with some further SB Nation collegiate blogs and do some Q&A's on some more potential Browns Draft targets.
Up next is Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong. House of Sparky's Jason Galvin was nice enough to send back his responses for my 6-pack of questions. Check out Jason's answers below, and let us know in the comments your reactions and thoughts!
1. Strong ran a 4.44 forty at the Combine, which seems pretty darn fast, yet some reports don't necessarily call him 'fast.' Is it just long speed over initial burst, or how do you describe his speed?
I think there's a difference between game speed and sprinters speed. But I've always thought Strong was plenty fast enough. Two things to remember here: Arizona State's offense is certainly not built to showcase receiver speed, and Strong is not the type of receiver who needs speed to be successful.
2. He appears to do a lot of things well, and not any one thing exceptionally well; fair assessment?
I tend to disagree with that notion. I believe his ability to go get the ball and take it away from defenders is the best in this class. Strong excels at high-pointing the ball and he has strong hands. He reminds me of Anquan Boldin, and those that remember Q in his first few years in Arizona will remember that he rarely looked like an elite receiver, yet put up elite numbers weekly.
3. Tends to be labeled as a sub-par route runner, and unable to get separation easily. Is that his biggest weakness?
It is. Part of this is Arizona State's limited passing tree. When Michael Bercovici took over at quarterback for a stretch this year, the offense opened up and Strong was finally allowed to run more routes. But the issue with Taylor Kelly, who was an excellent college quarterback, is Kelly's sub-par arm strength limited the passing game, and in turn limited Strong's development as a vertical receiver and a route runner. I don't remember the Sun Devil's ever running deep outs, or zags, or anything that would require the quarterback to step up and drive the ball down field. Is he a great route runner? No. But I'm not sure we really know what his ceiling as a runner is.
4. He attacks the ball in the air and makes difficult catches look routine at times, drawing some Anquan Boldin comparisons. Is that his greatest strength?
Ironic that you bring up the Boldin comparison. I honestly did not read ahead on this. I'm on the record as comparing Strong to Boldin dating back to his first practices with the team in 2013. Strong, more so than any receiver in college football last year, made big plays out of terrible situations. As I eluded to, Taylor Kelly was exceptional at running an offense, but his arm strength was not good and his deep accuracy was poor. This is easily Strong's greatest strength, and it should show early in his NFL career.
5. Football Study Hall has him tagged with 152 targets, but just 82 receptions, a catch rate of just 53.9%. Compared to other top WR prospects, that's much lower. Why do you think that is?
I would blame that solely on the offense. Kelly loved going to Strong on back-shoulder fade routes. But that's also an easy play to defend against if you know it is coming. The Sun Devils run plenty of screens, too, and that's an easy pass to miss if your quarterback lacks accuracy or elite arm strength. The lack of a true number two receiver also hurt Strong, who generally was double and even triple-teamed. Remember, catch rate doesn't equate to drop rate.
6. Ultimately, where do you think he'll be drafted?
I don't think he gets past the Panthers at 25, and he could go as high as the Rams at 10, depending on how teams grade the receiver class behind Amari Cooper and Kevin White. I've said for months that I believe the 49ers at 15 would be his spot, but I'm starting to think Houston at 16, as a replacement for a very similar Andre Johnson makes a lot of sense.
I'll be continuing this series with some further prospects the Browns have either been linked to, or show up frequently in mock drafts. If there's anyone you all think would be interesting to have the collegiate blog's perspective, feel free to shoot me a note, or let us know in the comments!