Small-school wide receivers that put up numbers as big as Brandon Kaufman's 2012 season will always get attention from NFL scouts. The ability to find a diamond in the rough who was overlooked because of his level of competition can pay big dividends down the line. Will Kaufman's game translate to the next level?
Kaufman is a big receiver with enough speed to create some deep separation and ball skills and catch radius to come down with the more tightly contested passes. He's tall, but plays with some strength and sturdiness. Kaufman does not shy away from contact and is willing and able to work the middle of the field. He has a solid stop-start move in the open field and should be a weapon in the red zone.
Even though he isn't a poor athlete, Kaufman's quickness and speed are average or adequate at best among big NFL receivers. He isn't particularly agile, flexible, or explosive and won't regularly get behind NFL secondaries. The level of play and lack of complexity in Kaufman's duties makes his ability to make in the NFL a larger unknown.
Kaufman is 6'5", 216 pounds with 32 1/4" arms, presenting a big target for his quarterback. Even though he only timed 4.68 in the 40, Kaufman was able to consistently challenge and often pull away from defensive backs, although they were FCS-level players.
Kaufman possesses build-up speed, so he doesn't accelerate instantly off the line. His vertical of 33 1/2" doesn't seem impressive, but combined with Kaufman's long frame, accurate leap timing and soft hands, it puts many balls in play that would not be viable targets for other receivers.
Kaufman tore his ACL before his senior year of high school, so bigger football programs lost interest in him. He ended up at Eastern Washington and dominated FCS play in 2010, winning the MVP of the FCS playoffs on the shoulders of a two-touchdown performance in their national championship win.
He was an Academic All-American and has no known character issues.
Kaufman played outside and was used to stretch the defense and make plays in the vertical passing game.
Kaufman needs some time to get up to top speed, but he can threaten a cornerback deep once he gets even with them. He was given respect and a big cushion at the FCS level, so he is not seasoned at defeating press coverage.
Since he was such an effective vertical threat, Kaufman did not run the whole route tree at Eastern Washington. He does execute moves to get across the face of the cornerback and gain inside position very well, and Kaufman also makes subtle movements in his deep routes to cause the corner to hesitate and gain separation over the top.
Kaufman understands how to find the dead spots in zone coverage over the middle, and he is not afraid to take big hits to secure the completion.
Usually a natural hands catcher, Kaufman is able to adjust well to high passes and passes thrown behind him. He has a little trouble on low passes as a tall receiver, but overall, this is an area of strength for a player that has soft hands at full extension and in traffic.
Kaufman is excellent at timing his leaps to high point the ball, and he also tracks the ball over his shoulder very well. He can contort his body to get balls thrown late on crossing patterns, and he also has terrific sideline awareness on deep routes.
Kaufman adjusts to underthrown deep balls, and his ability to make good bids on 50/50 balls should carry over to Sundays.
Run After Catch
Even though his height/weight suggests a lanky build, Kaufman has some good fight and strength in his run after catch skill set. He's not sudden or elusive, but Kaufman does employ an effective stop/start move and knows when to cut back against overaggressive pursuit.
He will combat or try to elude most tacklers and generally has a plan as soon as he comes down with the ball. Kaufman will also put his head down and churn out an extra yard or two at the end of receptions just like a running back.
Kaufman sometimes gets in the way or scraps with his man, but he'll also show little to no effort in other instances. He won't be much of a factor as a downfield blocker in the run game.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Kaufman probably won't ascend to a starting position because of his limited game, but he definitely fits as a big target in the red zone and on third downs in multi-wide receiver sets. He could also work as a deep threat on play action passes.