I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.To read more about the 2016 NFL Draft Project, Click Here.
There is no more important trick in today's NFL than the ability to make any play into 7 points. Defenses are getting better and better at making sure you can drive 12 plays down the field on them, so the pendulum always swings back to the guys who represent "instant offense".
This can make itself evident in a number of ways, but the easiest is just the simple idea of a weapon who "takes the top off the defense" and can run the "Go" all the way to the house. You just have to throw it as far as you can and he is so athletic and explosive that you cannot overthrow him. If you get it out there, he will go and get it. Well, there is no player in this draft that has done that repeatedly at the major college level than Will Fuller from Notre Dame. Fuller, another true junior, is blazing fast and no matter how far off your coverage is and no matter how fast you think your cornerback is (as USC's Adoree Jackson showed us) he can run right past him and off into the open field.
You want players high in the draft that have elite talents at certain things every team needs. Well, Fuller definitely has that, so now are his flaws such that he is one of the best few wide receivers in this draft? Further, knowing how many teams need deep threats and weapons at wide receiver, there are few spots on the field where we see such a high number of players from one position pushed into the Top 50 as we do with these guys. So, I used the USC, Stanford, Boston College, and Texas games to give Fuller a proper examination to see what he has in his big-play skill-set.
What I liked:Well, that is the easy part. He is responsible for so many high-profile plays that changed games in the last two years with a number of different QBs that there is no question that he is a big play receiver. Either you put a safety over the top of Fuller or he is going to destroy you. He also is pretty strong on all of his routes and the best part I really like is he seems strong on his ability to adjust and keep plays alive on the 2nd phase where he must improvise and uncover for a QB who is on the run. His whole route tree is worthy of getting excited about and I do think, that while it is true he had some quiet games, he will personally win some games for his team by exploding for a jaw-dropping play when you need it most. On the short Bubble screens, he is a terror because if you give him a small crease, he is gone. He really has a rare extra gear that is going to push him high in this draft. He is also fantastic at goading defensive backs into pass interference by using his body position to entice contact. It is quite an art form when done right, and he is very good at it.
What I did not like:There is a major concern about Fuller that the other Wide Receivers in his class are not dealing with as much. That major concern is the caliber of his hands. He has the rep as a body catcher who does not catch consistently with his hands and then fights drops from time to time. The hand measurement at the combine might reveal some things on this front, but overall, the tape shows drops and double-catches which both raise flags about the ultimate ceiling of a receiver. He is also not the biggest guy so running between the numbers might not be an ideal fit over the long term. Although I don't think he lacks toughness or courage at all. I think he is the type of player that is better in space.
Summary and Potential Fit For the Cowboys: Well, the summary is going to be as follows: you can't teach speed, but can you teach catching technique this late in the game? And if you were to mess with the way he brings in catches, would it ultimately do more harm than good? Will Fuller is an exceptional play maker who does seem to have a flaw that might be a non-starter for a fair number of teams who want fundamentally perfect performers at the high spots in the draft.
That said, how can anyone ignore the number of clips on his highlight tape? The clips included in this report are just scratching the surface of the number of plays he has made. In an offense that is not anywhere close to as prolific as Baylor's, he has basically matched Corey Coleman play for play, touchdown for touchdown, and catch for catch in the last 2 seasons. That is some significant production to say the least.
How would he fit with the Cowboys if he sits there at #34? Well, the idea of having a better version of Terrance Williams across from Dez Bryant is awfully tempting in the last year of Williams' rookie deal. Someone is going to get the safety and that leaves the other to torch the man coverage they are seeing. Or, you are working against light boxes in the running game all day. He definitely will help you tilt the field in your favor. He definitely is a body-catcher, but he has done very well with that on his resume.