Courtland Sutton Declares for 2018 NFL Draft

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 22, 2017

SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton (16) participates in warm-up drills before the start of an NCAA college football game against Central Florida, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)
MIKE STONE/Associated Press

Wide receiver Courtland Sutton is taking his big-play potential to the NFL in 2018. 

The SMU wideout made his intention to declare for the draft official Friday with a post on Instagram. 

"I am absolutely humbled by the opportunity that I have ahead of me, and I couldn't have gotten here without the support and love from my family," Sutton wrote. "My degree from SMU is something I will forever cherish, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me next!"

Despite playing at an under-the-radar football school, Sutton has been a standout offensive playmaker for the past three seasons. He averaged 16.7 yards per reception and had 31 touchdown receptions from 2015-17. 

Sutton's career arc is interesting because he arrived at SMU in 2014 as a defensive back. He wasn't highly coveted coming out of high school as a safety, with 247Sports rating him as a 3-star prospect and the No. 1,169 player overall in his recruiting class. 

Per David Ubben of The Athletic, SMU receivers coach Justin Stepp looked at Sutton's frame in 2015 and determined he was going to be a wide receiver. 

"We can teach a receiver footwork and technique and how to improve their hands and ball skills," Stepp said. "We can't teach them to be that big."

Sutton is listed at 6'4" and 215 pounds by SMU's athletic website. He's translated that size into production at the collegiate level, with NFL scouts anxiously awaiting the opportunity to see what he can do. 

B/R's Matt Miller has Sutton ranked as the No. 2 wide receiver prospect in the 2018 draft class, behind Alabama's Calvin Ridley, and said he has the best potential of any player at the position. 

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah compared Sutton's physical attributes to current Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in his first scouting analysis last July. 

"Sutton has an outstanding build for the position," Jeremiah wrote. "He's tall with a long, muscular frame. He uses his size/strength combination to win a lot of 50/50 balls. Sutton is a matchup nightmare in the red zone. He easily boxes out defenders, times his jump and catches the ball at the highest point."

One potential concern is Sutton's readiness to take on elite competition. He had one catch for zero yards in SMU's biggest game of the season against TCU. 

Some of that may have also been about the team around Sutton, so it's not likely to have a dramatic impact on where he's taken in the draft. 

It's rare to find a wide receiver with the kind of size and power combination that Sutton possesses. He's had no problems transitioning to the offensive side of the ball and will look to continue his evolution as one of the top players in the 2018 NFL draft class.

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