Sixth Round: 171st Pick
There are lots of reasons that players can be late bloomers, and for Corey Fuller, a track career and transfer from Kansas accounted for his lack of production until his senior season. He was able to make a big downfield impact in a so-so passing game, and he doesn't look like a track star who wandered onto the football field. See why Fuller could be taken earlier than anyone expects.
Fuller has legitimate deep-separation speed and exceptional ball tracking skills to reel in the big catch. He has smooth hips, and Fuller is a fluid athlete with precise routes and a knack for getting inside of his man when he is working the middle of the field. His hands are reliable, and Fuller seems to have a high football IQ for a player with limited big-time college football experience.
Fuller isn't much of a blocker, and he's not creative after the catch. He lacks the physicality to be more than a No. 2 receiver, and he needs time to get up to top speed. His inexperience may make the learning curve in the NFL a little steeper.
As an accomplished track athlete, Fuller's 4.43 40-yard dash time at the combine shouldn't surprise, but his ability to make it translate in pads was unexpected. He's 6'2", 204 pounds with 33 1/4" arms, and he uses that frame along with ball skills to make a nice-sized catch radius for a speed receiver. Fuller isn't particularly strong (12 reps) or explosive (31.5" vertical).
Corey's brother Vincent is a former NFL defensive back, his other brother Kyle starts at corner for the Hokies and the other Fuller brother Kendall is one of the best cornerback prospects in the country, so you know he has good bloodlines. He is raw with only two career catches entering the 2012 season, but Fuller has natural receiving ability and the ability to get open.
Fuller was mostly an outside, vertical receiver in the run-heavy Virginia Tech offense.
It's a good thing Fuller's deep speed is a threat, because it often afforded him a nice cushion to work with in college. In the pros, he'll have to defeat press coverage more often. He doesn't burst out of his stance and does need room to get up to speed.
For a player that has only a little over a half of a season starting at wide receiver, Fuller demonstrates a lot of good qualities as a route-runner. He has the foot quickness and size to get and establish inside position on crosses and slants. He instinctively finds dead spots in zone coverage and comes back to the quarterback when the play is extended. The breaks in Fuller's routes are smooth, not abrupt, and the cornerback is often a beat late to react because of this.
Once Fuller creates separation downfield, he has the speed to maintain it, and he is good at selling the double move to pull away from coverage. Even though Fuller isn't really that rugged, he will battle in a route and keep a defender enough at bay to create a window for the quarterback in the red zone.
Fuller is a natural hands catcher with big (9 1/2") and strong enough mitts to make contested catches. He has soft hands at full extension and outstanding concentration on deflected or bobbled balls. His hand-eye coordination appears to be very advanced.
Fuller's combination of deep speed and over-the-shoulder ball tracking is almost ideal. He gracefully follows the ball in flight and confidently brings it in without hesitation. He will win balls that he has to compete for in traffic, and Fuller is excellent when it comes time to adjust to the poorly thrown ball.
Run After Catch
Mostly straight-linish, Fuller is not going to be a major factor after the catch. He will attempt to put a move on a tackler in the open field, but most of his run-after-catch yardage is created by his routes, burst and ability to adjust to the ball and still stay in stride.
Fuller generally gives minimal effort in this area and has a minimal effect. He will sometimes tie up the defensive back on him when the run comes to his side of the field, but offenses should not run plays that depend on his block to spring a ball-carrier or receiver. Fuller rarely hits or pushes his man back as a blocker and can completely whiff.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Fuller is going to be best as a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver that stretches the field in single coverage. His ability to create and find space in the defense will work in a West Coast offense, but he also obviously fits in a vertical passing offense.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!