2014 WR Recruits Who Have the Best Run-After-Catch Skills
Wide receivers are taught to run good routes and catch the football. Those are the main duties of their position and solid receivers execute those responsibilities well.
Yet, more must be done to make plays at the receiver position.
After securing the football with a catch, a receiver must have the athleticism, agility, vision, instincts and speed to gain additional yards. This is called the "run-after-catch" phase of a play and possessing the skills to excel in this area is key if a receiver wants to be great.
A player in Louisiana does not play receiver on a full-time basis, but has special traits to excel as a run-after-catch player. A running back in Florida makes a ton of plays by taking handoffs, but also shows great ability to gain yards after catching the football. An athlete in California plays on the perimeter, but turns into a running back after he gets the ball in his hands.
Johnnie Dixon, WR
An explosive receiver prospect, Johnnie Dixon can be a terror after catching the football. He does not waste time getting upfield, has great elusiveness and bursts past defenders.
Dixon, who is 5'10" and 187 pounds, has deceptive strength and can run through a tackler or two. He can run a short route, make a defender miss underneath and force the safeties to challenge him in the open field on his way to the end zone.
Dixon is expected to sign with Miami, according to 247Sports.
Curtis Samuel, RB
New York is known for producing basketball talent, but Curtis Samuel's emergence as a national football recruit is helping change the trend. The Brooklyn native is one of the most dynamic players in the country with the ball in his hands.
Samuel, who is 6'0" and 185 pounds, has some of the best stop-and-start ability in the nation. He can motion out to the perimeter, catch the ball on a slant or smoke-screen and blaze by defenses.
Samuel's darting running style suits him well in the open field, as he can skate by defenders. He has no issues when it comes to quick cuts to elude tacklers and he can be creative with the football.
Ohio State is expected to sign him, according to the experts at 247Sports.
Markell Pack, WR
Markell Pack, who is committed to Florida State, does not get tackled often after catching the football. If a cornerback does not close on him quickly, Pack has enough wiggle to maneuver around a defender and race upfield.
The 6'2", 180-pounder has a skinny frame, but his lack of bulk makes him lighter and faster. Pack can explode upfield in a flash, and he has the ability to split deep safeties after catching the ball on posts and digs.
Budda Baker, ATH
Although he may play defensive back in college, Budda Baker still belongs on this list. His speed, ability to change directions with ease and quickness are all traits of a great run-after-catch player.
Baker could be a great multi-purpose offensive player. Splitting time between running back and receiver could be a better option for him than playing defense. At 5'9" and 174 pounds, the Washington native has light feet, excellent elusiveness and never allows a defender to get a clean hit on him when he has the ball.
Look for Baker to be the next De'Anthony Thomas at Oregon.
Malachi Dupre, WR
It may be a little surprising to see Malachi Dupre on this list, as he is a bigger receiver at 6'2.5" and 187 pounds. However, after watching Dupre run with the ball, it is easy to see he deserves to be mentioned.
Dupre's high school offense does not throw the football often, but when he gets an opportunity, he does not waste it. Dupre uses his strong hands to snatch the ball out of the air, secures it and instinctively creates big plays after the catch.
He has deceptive speed, great elusiveness and shows the strength to carry a defensive back for an extra yard or two as a runner.
The Louisiana native is expected to sign with LSU, according to 247Sports.
Joe Mixon, RB
Joe Mixon is such a terrific receiver out of the backfield that he would still be an elite recruit if he chose to focus solely on playing on the perimeter. Mixon has better receiving skills than running back/receiver prospect Bo Scarbrough.
At 6'2" and 195 pounds, Mixon has soft hands and excellent straight-line speed. He can catch the football on swings, screens, slants, delays and check-downs and shoot upfield in a hurry.
Mixon has adequate elusiveness and his vision as a running back helps him see open areas downfield when running after the catch.
K.D. Cannon, WR
A possession receiver does not catch 102 passes for 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior, so do not label K.D. Cannon in that category. The Texan is an explosive athlete with a knack for making big plays.
Cannon launches upfield immediately after the catch, as he shows a clear understanding that the shortest way to the end zone is directly to it. He has great quickness, agility and is dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Cannon, who is 6'0" and 162 pounds, is a deep threat who can be just as dynamic on underneath routes. He can avoid press-coverage, work his way inside on a slant, snatch the football with his mitts and surge upfield past defenders.
Michiah Quick, WR
Michiah Quick, who can play running back and receiver on offense, has fantastic speed, agility and cutting ability.
Quick, who is 6'0" and 170 pounds, has a long frame with smooth movement skills. He is an excellent run-after-catch player, as he uses his explosiveness, athleticism and vision to make big plays.
Quick is creative with the ball, as he will keep searching for a crease laterally until he finds one to exploit. Once he has a seam, he darts upfield in a hurry and can race by defenders.
Returning punts and kicks is in Quick's collegiate future, as he is outstanding in space with the ball.
Joseph Yearby, RB
Although he has only caught seven passes since 2010, Joseph Yearby still is a player who is among the best at getting yards after the catch.
Yearby's skills in this area show up during camp and seven-on-seven events, as he can be a nightmare for linebackers in coverage. The 5'9", 190-pound running back has exceptional quickness, agility and deceptive strength.
He can elude defenders in tight spaces as well as in the open field. Yearby also displays outstanding explosiveness and he can surge upfield with the football while running bigger than his listed size.
Look for Al Golden to showcase Yearby's skills as a receiver out of the backfield at Miami.
Speedy Noil, WR
Speedy Noil was one of the tougher players to initially evaluate in this class because he is such an exciting player to watch that it's more fun viewing his film as a fan rather than as an evaluator.
Noil, who is 5'10.5" and 176 pounds, is incredibly electric with the ball in his hands. He has amazing speed, as Noil can run like a jet. He forces cornerbacks to close quickly on him, but the Louisiana native also has fantastic quickness and wiggle to easily get around defenders in tight space.
Noil is not a straight-line athlete by any means. His elusiveness, agility, creativity and vision as a runner are remarkable.
In a talented national class of offensive skill position prospects, he may be the one guy you want to get the ball if your team needs a big play late in the game.