Seventh Round: 238th Pick
Last year, a small-school wide receiver with a big frame surprised some as the first pick of the second day of the draft. This year's top small-school pass-catcher, Elon's Aaron Mellette, won't be taken as high as St. Louis Ram Brian Quick, but he has shown enough to get a draftable grade.
Could Mellette approach Quick's lofty 2012 draft slot of No. 33?
Mellette is a long-limbed receiver with good feet, flexibility and agility for his body type. He is excellent at tracking the ball over his shoulder and adjusting to the ball in flight. Mellette squares and presents a big target on short passes and can be elusive with an aggressive mindset after the catch. He also has enough speed to be a downfield threat in the NFL and runs his routes well for a receiver that played at the FCS level. Mellette dominated at a small-school level the way an NFL prospect should.
Mellette isn't a physical wide receiver, and he can be pushed around or otherwise nullified by aggressive corners. His tendency to get re-routed and otherwise have his timing thrown off won't translate well to the NFL. Mellette doesn't really play or run hot. He generally lacks suddenness or burst in his routes and after the catch. His performances against FBS teams were uneven.
At 6'2", 217 pounds, Mellette is smaller than his previously listed height of 6'4", but his 33.13" arms and 9.63" hands are good measures. He only benched 225 pounds nine times, and his 33.5" vertical shows average explosion at best. Mellette did run a 4.54, which is not a bad time for a receiver with good size.
With a basketball background, Mellette started playing football at the relatively late point of his sophomore year of high school. He is considered a high-character player and had an MVP-type presence on his team. He has no off-the-field incidents and showed well next to BCS-level players at the Senior Bowl.
Mellette played in a pass-happy offense as an outside receiver, one that probably overstated his production a bit.
He doesn't have strength or hand-fighting skills to combat an NFL jam (yet), but Mellette exhibits good footwork and quickness to get outside of press coverage and take off down the sideline. He isn't going to explode off the line, but Mellette runs well enough to get into his routes on time.
Mellette has the ability to make quick, sharp breaks in his routes, although he doesn't run them with conviction and can be pushed off his path too easily. Mellette does have good sideline awareness on the out, but he is going to have to develop more fight in his route-running.
Although he is usually a good, natural hands-catcher who can catch the ball well outside of his frame, you will see Mellette drop some easy targets and get knocked off of balls while in flight. Still, some of his best hands-catches come on contested balls, and this area is generally a strength for him.
Mellette presents a big target and catch radius and understands how to box out and get between the defender and ball in flight. He is fluid enough to make a smooth turn for the back-shoulder ball and generally moves well when he is making a play on the ball.
Run After Catch
He's not a burner and he won't break ankles in the open field, but Mellette is aggressive and productive after the catch. He will occasionally make a tackler miss or flash a stiff arm. While not a threat to break a big play, Mellette will notch his share of yards after the catch.
Mellette doesn't have the functional strength or body type to be an excellent blocker, but he does put effort into the endeavor. He will attempt to locate a target and get his hands into their chest. If he does face a timid opponent, Mellette will push them around. He's not a great asset or liability in this area.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
If Mellette can bring more strength and physical edge to his game, he might make it as a starter on Sundays, but his size and ball skills should at least win him a role as a big possession receiver in the red zone and on third downs in three and four-wide sets.