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- Position: Wide receiver (WR)
- Class: Junior (redshirt)
- College: Arizona State
- Ht/Wt: 6'2", 217 pounds
Jaelen Strong is going to impress you at first glance because of his good size, his strong hands, and the highlight-reel catches he can make. Due to some fundamental weak points in his game, however, he'll probably end up stringing together a long career as a No. 2 receiver.
Strong doesn't process the play very quickly, in my opinion. He has to turn his head very early to locate the ball on deep passes, and it tips off a corner when the pass is coming. Strong has inconsistent explosion off the line, and he never tries to sell the deep route when running a shorter pattern. He's above-average as an athlete, but he doesn't run his routes well enough to get easy separation.
His hands are inconsistent, a byproduct of his slow vision. When he knows a pass is coming and is comfortable with the route, he snatches the ball out of the air. If he's less confident, he short-arms it. Strong has excellent body control on catches when he has confidence, and his back-shoulder fade catches are phenomenal work. Despite his size, Strong is not a good run blocker right now.
In every draft class, there are going to be players that I rate higher or lower than the consensus, but that's how you show that you're worth your salt as a draftnik. I'm not a Strong fan. He wins at the catch point, but that's only one phase of receiving. Right now, his route running needs a lot of work to be able to win against pro cornerbacks consistently. More importantly, it looks like he thinks too much on the field. When he tracks the ball, when he blocks, how he launches off the snap; there's a little hesitation in all of it. In the NFL, that will lead to an adjustment period. I know he has the work ethic to improve, but how long will it take? In my mind, I'd wait until the third round to draft him.