Jalen Saunders NFL Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for New York Jets WR

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Jalen Saunders NFL Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for New York Jets WR
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma (HT: 5'8⅞" WT: 163 lbs)

New York Jets

Fourth Round: 104th Pick 

NFL Comparison: Marquise Goodwin, WR, Buffalo Bills

Combine Weigh-In
Height Weight Arms Hands
5087 163 30" 8 7/8"

NFL.com

Combine Workout
40-Yd Dash 10-Yd Split Vertical Broad Jump 3-Cone Drill Shuttle
4.44 1.50 34" 10'2" DNP DNP

NFL.com

Positives

  • Has the explosive speed and agility to make up for his lack of size. 
  • Straight-line speed is among the best in this year's draft class and makes him a legitimate deep threat and a threat to take it the distance every time he has the ball in his hands. 
  • Gets up to full speed quickly which makes cornerbacks respect his ability to get open deep and limits their press coverage, especially when the defensive scheme doesn't provide help over the top.
  • Change-of-direction ability is bordering on elite and will give less athletic defensive backs issues in coverage and in the option field after the catch.
  • Size and speed make him extremely slippery when running through traffic.
  • Demonstrates good field awareness when working against zone coverage.
  • Does a great job tracking the ball over his shoulder and making adjustments downfield.
  • Has experience returning kicks and punts and will be a strong candidate to play a role as a return specialist in the NFL.
  • Remained durable throughout his career.
  • Extremely productive in two different offensive systems and while working with multiple different starting quarterbacks.

 

 

Negatives

  • Vastly undersized, both in terms of height and build, which severely limits his upside. 
  • Despite never suffering any serious injuries in college, his size definitely raises concerns about long-term durability in the NFL.
  • Not the type of receiver who can compete for jump balls and is easily pushed around in 50-50 situations. 
  • Route can be sloppy at times, and he relied heavily on winning with pure speed in college. 
  • Raw talent won't be enough for him to consistently break free at the next level, and he'll need to refine his technique to gain that extra step on defensive backs.
  • Needs to develop the subtle moves within the stem of the route to make up for the fact he won't consistently be able to simply run past defensive backs in the NFL.
  • A liability when relied upon to block—simply too small to slow anyone down other than similarly sized nickel corners.
  • Very small hands, which contributes to his somewhat inconsistent ability to come down with the ball in traffic.
  • Struggles to quickly secure the ball, even when using proper technique and catching with his hands—will lead to continued struggles with contested catches at the next level.
  • Speed is definitely an asset, but he lacks an elite second gear to run away from defenders—was caught from behind more often than you'd expect.

 

Collegiate Statistics
Year Team Rec Yards Yds/Rec TD
2010 Fresno State 30 462 15.4 3
2011 Fresno State 50 1065 21.3 12
2012 Oklahoma 62 829 13.4 3
2013 Oklahoma 61 729 12.0 8

Sports-Reference.com/cfb

 

Personal Notes

  • Transferred from Fresno State to Oklahoma after head coach Pat Hill was fired.
  • First-team All-WAC and led conference in touchdown receptions in 2011; missed first four games of 2012 season at Oklahoma due to transfer rules.
  • Second-team All-Big 12 in 2013.
  • Ran track in high school.
  • Arrested for possession of marijuana in 2012; charges were later dropped, but it's still something teams will ask him about during interview process.

 

Ratings Chart

Chart created at nces.ed.gov

 

Overall

Saunders is an electric athlete, who definitely can play a niche role in an NFL offense. His lack of size may force him to primarily work out of the slot, where he can take short routes and make things happen after the catch.

He isn't the type of receiver who will come in and change the dynamics of a team's passing attack, but he could be a nice luxury pick in the middle rounds for a team looking to add an extra weapon to keep the defense on its toes.

 

Draft Projection: 5th round

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