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One of the most polarizing offensive weapons in the 2015 NFL Draft is Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong.  Some people envision him as more of a tight end due to his height and lack of foot speed.  jaelenstOthers see him as a receiver who can dominate jump balls in the middle of the field and use his physicality to force his way into the end zone.  I decided to review nine of his available games against USC, Arizona, Oregon State, Duke, Utah, UCLA, Stanford, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin to get a better idea of what skills he brings to the next level.

WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State 6′ 2″ 217 lbs.

Cons:  The pass catcher is not fleet of foot; it takes several steps for him to get up to full speed due to him being a long strider.  Strong takes a bit of time to break down and change directions.  He allows the ball to get into his body, when making a reception on too many occasions. While Strong can make the occasional one-handed grab, he tries a little too much to make a spectacular play, instead of what the defense gives him.  As a route runner, he is quite inconsistent in technique and effort, along with his ability to concentrate while attempting to bring in the pigskin.  Strong also has a limited catch radius as he can only get to passes thrown waist-high or higher. There were several tosses that got dropped or knocked away at the last second.  It was clear that he was the best offensive weapon for Arizona State and the targets would continue to come his way regardless of his sloppy play.

Pros: Strong is a versatile weapon because he can line up in the backfield, in the slot, but does most of his damage on the outside.  The playmaker runs through the jam on the line of scrimmage and has the upper body strength to toss aside any corner back in his way within five yards.  I love how he is fearless running crossing routes and shields the ball from defenders.  He is one of the best bucket catchers in the game, usually fooling the defender by making receptions on shoulder fades.  This makes him quite dangerous in the red zone; however, there is no area on the field that Strong won’t fight for the catch.

The receiver is effective in the short screen game by running through defenders, never around them and likes to use a stiff-arm to keep them away from his body.  Although Strong seems to make a lot of contested grab with an inability to gain separation, he can make defenses pay when he gets out in the open and turns on the jets.  The playmaker attacks the ball in the air and likes to get to the ball in stride while fully extending to make the catch.  Despite being a long strider, the pass catcher can sell a double move or two to become a deep ball threat.  He has great sideline awareness and has the vision to follow blockers down the field or find the cut back lane to extend the play.  In the running game, Strong is a willing blocker.

Overall thoughts: He is a maddening prospect because of his overall athletic ability and his sloppiness.  There are some plays I get reminded of the Bucs Vincent Jackson with his physicality and toughness.  Then on the next play, Strong looks like he belongs in the arena league.  I’m inclined to selected him in the later part of the first round of rookie drafts to mitigate the risk.

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