Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide
Statistical Profile: Two seasons as a starter saw Jeudy go over 1,100 yards twice and score 24 touchdowns on 145 catches in an offense with a host of other top-tier NFL talents.
Where he wins: If you can separate with speed and technique in the NFL, you’ve just accomplished the first step to becoming an elite wide receiver in the big leagues. This is where Jeudy absolutely thrives, thanks to lightning quick feet and stop-start ability that constantly throws defenders off-balance.
His acceleration is immediate, allowing him to stack and then run away from cornerbacks down the field. Tua Tagovailoa threw him a ton of deep balls at Alabama, and it hardly ever felt like anyone stayed close to him in vertical coverage.
Jeudy is simply a master at creating space and throwing windows, and he does a wonderful job adjusting within those windows to finish on the football. When opposing defenders tried to press him to throw off his patterns, Jeudy was simply untouchable off the line of scrimmage.
Two things you shouldn’t sleep on with Jeudy: he’s extremely elusive in the open field and he is a very willing blocker who plays with an edge. Alabama didn’t give him a ton of manufactured touches to create with underneath, but Jeudy has flashed a deadly juke move and more strength than you’d think to break tackles in the open field. For a slight-framed guy, he plays with a nasty edge too, lowering his shoulder to take on defenders or getting after opponents as a blocker down the field.
Where he may struggle: The concerns with Jeudy aren’t overwhelming, but they should be acknowledged as with all players. The junior has not had many contested catch opportunities on tape, and he doesn’t always high-point and pluck in the few examples that do exist. He has great concentration to track the ball through and around the flailing arms of defenders at the catch point, but he isn’t the type to box out and win a bunch of contested catches. Of course, when you can separate like Jeudy can, that’s not really a major concern.
There will be a handful of drops here and there as well, usually when Jeudy is looking to run before securing the rock. His weigh-in at the Combine will be worth keeping an eye on, especially if a team envisions him playing heavily on the outside in the NFL. Jeudy played inside and out at Alabama, but was mainly a slot receiver this past season, so there will be some adjustment against better and more consistent press cornerbacks at the next level.
Bucs Fit: Schematically, Jeudy is the perfect missing ingredient for the Bucs offense, a pure speed threat who can dominate with the way he can tilt off coverage from the slot, or provide an elite vertical weapon from the outside. Don’t worry about his size compared to Chris Godwin or Mike Evans, as Bruce Arians has been completely comfortable with receivers of all builds over the course of his career, and has prioritized speed over size several times in the draft.
While Jeudy may be a perfect fit to create a dream trio of wide receivers that would boost any quarterback’s impact, clearly the Bucs will have more pressing needs, even if Breshad Perriman moves on in free agency.
I won’t argue with anyone who thinks a scenario of them drafting Jeudy is a pipe dream, but it’s absolutely possible that he’s on the board at No. 14 and it’s also true that WR3 (and even WR4) are vital roles in an Arians’ offense. I’m a firm believer the team is likely to take an offensive tackle at No. 14, but if three or four of the top ones come off the board before they pick and Javon Kinlaw is also gone, the team could do a lot worse than Jeudy as a fall back option.
It isn’t going to happen, but it’s fun to dream about an offense with that firepower.
Grade: Round 1