When preparing for the NFL Draft each year, sometimes it is easy to discount small school players. If an athlete had talent surely someone would have found them in high school or plucked them by their junior season, but that wasn’t the case with former Southeast Missouri State’s own wide out Paul McRoberts. He got a very important Senior Bowl invite which allowed him to show off his skills and abilities to all 32 teams. I took into consideration his Senior Bowl week (game and practices) along with his game against Murray State and several highlight reels when evaluating the receivers chances to excel at the next level. Here are my thoughts:
WR- Paul McRoberts, Southeast Missouri State 6’1″ 202 lbs.
Cons: Playing in the Ohio Valley Conference did not allow the senior wide out the ability to test his skills against the highest competition. He got exposed with raw routes and poor timing on his first day in Mobile, but gradually improved. It appears that the receiver did not have much coaching and relies almost solely on his athleticism. McRoberts does not do anything with consistency (huge effort on one play and gives minimum effort the next). He is more quick than fast and doesn’t come back to the ball when his quarterback is in trouble. It is somewhat concerning that the wide out did not receive a NFL Combine invitation. The senior play maker missed five games in his junior year due to a Lisfranc injury as well.
Pros: This senior wide out got blessed with a lot of athleticism, looking like a poor man’s Alshon Jeffery at times (one-handed touchdown catches in the back of the end zone). Coming from a basketball background, he boxes out defenders well, high points the ball with amazing leaping ability, and uses his hands/hips to create separation. McRoberts has explosive burst that helps him get off the line of scrimmage cleanly, tracking the pigskin well in the air, catches the ball in stride, sometimes contorting himself to make the difficult reception while getting behind the defense. The receiver has soft hands and good balance. He is quite effective on bubble screens when the wide out uses spins, stiff-arms, and/or simply runs over smaller defenders. When throwing to this wide out downfield, defenses will need to worry about his ability to make sideline rainbow style bucket catches despite good coverage. McRoberts had a rocked-up physique at the Senior Bowl weigh-ins and excelled at using that power to block downfield.
Overall thoughts: There is a lot to like about McRoberts, but I don’t expect him to be a major contributor in year one (might punt return). He needs to learn more route concepts, getting in and out of breaks, and becoming more consistent with his efforts. The athleticism is there, but I would need to have a taxi squad to stash him if I were to draft him in my rookie draft. The wide out has eookie top ten receiving talent, but is only worth a top twenty rookie wide out selection.
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