Scouting: Jaelen Strong – WR, Arizona St.
Year: Junior (RS)
HT/WT: 6’2”/217 lbs.
Expected draft pick: Middle first round
As the Ravens dabble in free agency, it is becoming more apparent where the major needs will be on draft day. Running back was addressed by re-signing Justin Forsett. Safety has been address by signing Kendrick Lewis from the Houston Texans. For the time being, WR is still a need with the loss of Torrey Smith.
Fact is, Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger, Marlon Brown lost playing time last year, Kamar Aiken showed flashes but has never been a real contributor in his three previous years in the league, and Michael Campanaro is coming off an injury laden rookie season. There is some promise in the young guys and Steve Smith exceeded expectations in his first year in Baltimore. But I wouldn’t be in the business of hoping for the best. The Ravens are in the business of making the team the best it can be, and drafting a highly rated WR could do just that.
Discuss your thoughts on this potential Ravens draft target on our message board.
So we take a look at Jaelen Strong of Arizona State. Strong was the Scouting Combine winner at the position with a 4.44 40-time, 42 inch vertical, and hands like glue in the catching drills. If he is drafted by the Ravens in the first round, he would be the third Sun Devil taken in the first round by them. (Todd Heap – 2001, Terrell Suggs – 2003)
The junior was a late bloomer, only receiving one D-I scholarship offer in high school, from Eastern Michigan. But after redshirting as a freshman then earning playing time at Pierce College in LA, he became the most sought after JUCO transfer available. In his two years at ASU he amassed 157 catches, 2,287 yards (14.57 YPC) and 17 TDs. Strong earned second team All-Pac 12 in 2013, and first team All-Pac 12 honors in 2014.
CBS Sports compares Jaelen Strong to Marques Colston based on his size and athleticism. Let’s go to the tape and see for ourselves, starting with the one play that everyone likely remembers Strong for last season. This hail mary game winner over USC.
Against Utah, Strong does a nice job beating the press coverage off the line, gaining just enough separation to catch and run. A nice cut at the end to elude a few defenders and pick up a few more yards.
Strong with nice ups, and plucking the ball out of the air. Doesn’t need to use his body to secure possession.
Here against Duke in the Sun Bowl, is another example of Strong plucking the ball from the air. He doesn’t have to be open to make plays.
When Jaelen Strong went up against Steven Nelson of Oregon St. (CB, projected day two pick), he didn’t have his best day.
Nelson delivers a nice hit to ensure Strong wouldn’t secure the grab.
This was really good defense by Nelson here. But given Strong’s ability to snatch balls from the air, could he have grabbed this? Nelson was actually flagged for interference here, but I don’t see it. The contact was just after the ball arrived.
Again, Strong shows great leaping ability, but again, the hands. Hold on tight. On the other hand, we may have realized the Steven Nelson could be a steal at CB on day two.
– Good speed
– Leaping ability
– Hands catcher
– Wins at jumps balls
– Basketball background
– Smooth, controlled movements
– Catching in traffic
– Not a good showing against better CBs
– Potentially maturity (Academically ineligible for D-I scholarship)
– Catch radius
Summary: If I we’re to make a comparison to Jaelen Strong, it would be more Anquan Boldin than Marques Colston. Joe Flacco would often throw in Boldin’s direction, even when he wasn’t open. He didn’t have the speed to separate, but he would adjust in ways to make the tough grabs, even with a defender all over him. Think of the 3rd and inches throw in SB47. Strong has the ability to make those tough grabs. He also looks like Boldin in the fact that he runs most of his routes at intermediate depth. He can go deep, but it’s not his primary skill.
I’m a little worried about Strong given his performance against Steven Nelson, who will be a day two pick in the draft. It’s the closest to NFL talent he’s faced, and he was physically at a disadvantage against him. So I worry if his physicality will carry over to the next level. If the physicality drops off a bit, do the tough catches in traffic then go away? What do you have then?
I thought previously that Jaelen Strong would be off the board long before the Ravens pick. That could still be the case, however a late first round pick seems more fitting. You have the Rams who lack a big receiver, the Browns without Josh Gordon, the Dolphins move Mike Wallace and lose Brian Hartline, the 49ers could lose Crabtree, Houston loses Andre Johnson, and the Chiefs could lose Dwayne Bowe. All of which picking ahead of Baltimore. It’ll be interesting to see how teams value Jaelen Strong. I think the mid round projection he’s getting is a bit high. If the Ravens value him high, they have some extra picks from the Haloti Ngata trade to move up with.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]