Scouting: Tony Lippett – WR, Michigan State
Year: Senior (RS)
HT/WT: 6’2 ½” / 192 lbs.
Expected draft pick: Third round
Tony Lippett is an interesting prospect. He is a quality wide out, and a quality cornerback. Good enough at playing CB that Michigan State Head Coach, Mark Dantonio, placed Lippett on his defense against the high powered passing attack of Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. A game in which Sparty won 42-41, while Lippett was targeted eight times, allowed a mere 13 yards, and defensed three passes.
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Though given the opportunity, to play corner, Lippett is still primarily a WR. The versatility is intriguing. Should he be able to play corner at the next level, standing near 6’3” would give him an advantage against many wideouts. The Seahawks are making a statement with their big DBs, and the Ravens have one of their own in Jimmy Smith (6’2”).
In his senior season, Lippett caught 65 balls for 1,198 yards and 11 scores. His season high was an 11 reception game early on against Oregon. In addition to the 11 catches, he went for 133 yards and a TD. For part of the day, Lippett squared off with one of the better CBs in the upcoming draft, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
Lippett is not a track star by any means, unofficially timed at 4.48 in the 40-yard dash. But he doesn’t need to be. This is without a doubt, the best route runner I’ve watched this offseason, and it’s that quality that allows him to separate from defenders. He isn’t a home run threat, but a reliable chain mover. With that in mind, here are some clips of Lippett’s ability
Lippett with the stutter step has his guy shaken up off the snap. When he breaks off the route to the outside, the CB Harris had no chance. Nice chemistry built by Lippett and his QB Connor Cook as he wound up to throw before Lippett was looking. He knew he would be there.
Here, Lippett is facing press coverage. I said he wasn’t a track star, but he is quick in a phone booth. The stutter step again rocks the CB, allows him inside position, and it’s a lot of green in front of him. The key here is that Cook is looking at Lippett the entire way. He has to beat the press, and he does just that with his quickness in small spaces. Not a big fan of the bobble, but he hauled it in. Hands aren’t an issue for Lippett.
This might be my favorite play of the bunch. Fantastic job all around. Lippett sells the CB on the deep ball, squares his hips in that direction, then puts on the brakes. The CB takes the bait that Lippett is going deep, and then he is on ice skates trying to recover to cover the hitch. Notice Lippett’s placement of the route. He comes back right to the first down marker. Many young players, even veterans, forget where the sticks are and run this route a yard short. A few of these a game gets the DBs to cheat up, which is when you can send him deep since he lacks the ability to win on pure speed.
In this matchup against Purdue, Lippet posted his season high in yardage against a conference foe with 138 on seven catches and a TD (167 yards against Jacksonville State). This is another example of his ability to make contested catches and fight through to the whistle. He gains about seven more yards with the extra effort. A nice job of high pointing the ball.
Another example of quickness in short bursts, and ability to beat press coverage, putting the DB on ice skates. Takes the route right to the marker. I like how he gets handsy to gain leverage early, but not enough to where he is pushing off, causing offensive pass interference. It keeps the defender from getting his hands on him and disrupting the timing of the route.
Here are couple of red flags I might worry about when it comes to Lippett
Is he afraid of going over the middle? Here he gets popped (not really all that hard either) and can’t secure the catch (play ruled incomplete). On the very next play he makes the grab, and curls up. I get that the ball was a little low, the game was out of reach. I hope he wasn’t rattled.
I gave praise to him above with his awareness to find the sticks. Maybe that was blind luck. Here is an extreme lack of awareness. The route is run a yard short, and you have to have to have to know where the sideline is. In fact, earlier in the game he had a nice deep ball for a TD, he tiptoed to get two feet in, except he had about five feet to spare. No need to tip toe. Chris Carter was the master of getting two feet down. He said he knew exactly how many steps he had on every route from every position to the sideline, and would count them while in route. Lippett should at least know the distance from the numbers to the sideline.
– Route running
– Short burst speed
– Beats press coverage
– Creates separation
– Understands defensive rules/DB tendencies
– Physical in the open field
– Wins contested catches
– Lacks elite speed
– Home run play threat
– Desire over the middle
– Awareness at times
Overall: This draft is most definitely not very deep at receiver. I feel like the top receivers will be long gone before the Ravens select. Those being Amari Cooper, Jaelen Strong, DaVante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Kevin White. The next crop of talent doesn’t do much for me outside of Sammie Coats, and this guy, Tony Lippett. Devin Funchess, Nelson Agholor, Phillip Dorsett, Josh Harper, Tyler Lockett…meh. Just don’t see enough good things that really grab my attention. Lippett didn’t have a great showing at the Senior Bowl which is what has made his draft stock start to slip from 2nd to 3rd rounder, or worse by some mocks. But there is still a combine, and if he can run a 40-time closer to 4.4 than 4.5, he may see his stock rise again.
I feel like the Ravens can indeed go defense with the first pick (DB) and Lippett could be available late in day two, and he could be a steal. He has the size to play in the NFL, and he has experience playing cornerback. That means he knows what he needs to do to sell the opposing DB on his route. He knows how to attack the opposing DB in order to create separation. Most importantly, he knows how to win at the line of scrimmage and doesn’t need the elite top speed to be successful. I could see him quickly establishing timing, chemistry, and trust with his quarterback.