The 2016 NFL Draft is filled with play makers of all kinds of receivers: tall, fast, and limber, short, quick, and powerful, or different combinations of those traits. Former Buckeye wide out Jalin Marshall is one of the most versatile offensive weapons in his class and to most is an afterthought. There are plenty of question marks about this young man with his limited playing time, so I reviewed his games against Michigan, Michigan State, and Western Michigan to get a better feel for what skills and attributes he will bring to the next level. These are my thoughts:
WR-Jalin Marshall, Ohio State, 5’10” 200 lbs.
Cons: The wide out is very raw with only two years of college football. He played a combination of running back/receiver/punt returner/kickoff returner, which did not allow him time to learn the crafts of any of those positions. When Marshall did play, he touched the ball a maximum of a hundred times in a season and was the third or fourth option a defense had to focus themselves on. To clarify on his “rawness”, the former Buckeye did not run crisp routes, possesses a small catch radius, and lacks the physicality to come down with 50/50 balls. His 4.6 40-yard dash was also a bit more sluggish that many of us expected.
Pros: The wide out got blessed with explosion off the line with a great initial burst getting to full speed immediately. It’s easy to see why he was an excellent option quarterback in high school with his ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces with his loose hips and excellent vision. His impressive 4.13 20 yard shuttle demonstrates his foot frequency and smoothness in and out of breaks (aka more quick than fast). Marshall reminds me quite a bit of Percy Harvin who also didn’t have a true offensive position, but was extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands gaining plenty of yards after the catch. He has amazing body control, gets separation by selling head fakes, spins, stutter steps, and double/triple moves. The receiver turns on a second gear to get behind the defense, tracks the ball well in the air, times his leaps well to catch the pigskin at its highest point; all the while grabbing the ball away from his body, never breaking stride. Marshall does not shy from contact working over the middle, and is willing to take punishment while concentrating on making the reception.
Overall impressions: Maybe Marshall came out a year too early, leaving teams to speculate how good he could be in a few years. He is very raw for his position, but is already a dangerous punt returner with upside. Timed speed can be overrated, but his excellent quickness might make up for it. I would target Marshall in any league that treated return yardage with the same weight as rushing or receiving yardage. It might take him a few years to be successful, but I could see Julian Edelman upside on the right team.
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