One of the biggest wide receiver risers in this year’s class is former Indiana Hoosier Cody Latimer. The hype train is growing each day with this prospect. He reportedly was running 40 times in the 4.60s before his pro day perhaps due to an ankle injury. Now it’s a few weeks later and one of the biggest reasons that he is climbing up the draft charts is that he clocked in at a humming 4.40 40 time at his pro day workout. Anyone can get a hometown stopwatch discount, is the excitement warranted?
I re-watched three of his 2013 college games: Michigan, Michigan State, and Bowling Green to get a better idea of the skill set he brings to a potential NFL team. In trying to be balanced, I will show my bias against the rookie receiver as I was born in Ann Arbor, received my undergraduate degree from Bowling Green, and my second favorite Big Ten school (I was raised in Ohio) is the Spartans.
Big Ten offensive skill players need to jump off the screen to stand out versus the SEC, Pac-12, and the ACC players they will face in the NFL. When I originally watched these games, the young wide receiver did not stand out to me. After my second viewing of Latimer, he seemed a bit clumsy like his body was a bit too big for him. The turf came out and grabbed him a few times without him being touched. His balance or lack thereof will not get him a spot on an NFL roster. The receiver seems to have issues timing his jumps as he came down with a few tough catches high pointing the ball, but then also jumped when he did not need to and ended up catching the pass with his belly button. This lackluster effort continued as Latimer was not very consistent getting off the line of scrimmage when he faced press coverage.
The young receiver lined up on the outside and in the slot. Latimer has built-up straight line speed, but lacks in regards to lateral agility and quickness that are necessary to play the position in the NFL. The receiver is a bit stiff in the hips and tended to round out his passing routes. He is a long strider who builds up his speed. A receiver must be explosive off the ball if they are expected to be a WR1 or slot receiver. It is also concerning with the way that he seems to cradle the football on most of his catches. The receiver needs to be plucking the ball out of the air and not waiting for it to come to him.
Latimer blocks well in the run game as he squares up against a defender and chops his feet moving the opposing player out-of-the-way. His physicality doesn’t end there as he makes mostly contested catches with a defensive back on his hip. He does a good job of shielding the ball from the defender to bring down the pass. Latimer kept future first rounder Darqueze Dennard (the Michigan State corner back) off of him for a red zone touchdown during their game. The receiver regularly fights off double coverage and tracks the ball well in the air while working to get underneath the pigskin.
As far as a comparable skill level, he reminds me of a slightly less talented Allen Robinson, the Penn State wide out. The receiver has a big catch radius as he can get to hard to reach passes whether they are quite high or they are worm burners. He sells routes with double and triple moves to gain separation. But the receiver got the majority of his yardage when teams played him with off coverage. This gave him a free release with a chance to catch the ball in stride. Chances are in the NFL, he won’t see that kind of coverage.
When he was used on bubble screens, Latimer was very effective as he could find a seam, and ran well behind his blockers. I don’t project him any higher than a WR3 in the NFL, but if he lands on a pass heavy team like the Lions, he might be a draft-worthy player. I have him just inside my top 20 receivers, but at least he is on our collective radars.
If you have any questions or comments about this article or any others, you can reach me at @AndrewMiley or @Dynasty_Blitz on Twitter.