Saturday, 3 April 2010

Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson

By Kyle Rota

Name: Jacoby Ford
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Clemson
Height: 5088 V
Weight: 186 V
40 Time: 4.28 V

Athleticism: Ford is small, but he is an exceptional athlete. He is one of the quickest players I have seen off the ball, capable of eating up cushion in the blink of an eye. Very quick changing speeds in his routes, decelerating and accelerating very nicely. While his top end speed and change of direction skills are only well above average, his exceptional quickness makes me feel comfortable with a high grade. 7.0

Hands: Ford has reliable hands, but suffers from his small size and lack of reach. Uses his hands to catch the ball most of the time, though he does let the ball into his chest occasionally. Good catch radius for a small player. Strictly off the numbers, Ford caught 14/19 passes I felt he could’ve caught, a very solid number. Three of the missed passes sailed over Ford’s head, but I felt a taller receiver (6’0) would’ve been able to reach those passes. One was dropped, and another was thrown low enough into the dirt that it could’ve been marked as uncatchable, but I felt some WRs would come down with it. While reliable, I don’t feel Ford has extraordinary hands in any sense. 6.0

Run After Catch: While Ford has exceptional quickness without the ball, he does slow up a bit with the ball in his hands. He is still quite fast and capable of outrunning many NFL corners, but he isn’t the 4.2 runner that he is without the ball. Ford’s quickness will create quite a bit of RAC, but he isn’t a terrible tough runner to tackle if you’re not eating his dust. Will set up his blocks on screens/reverses, and has some wiggle, but not a great YAC threat unless he is out in space. 6.0

Initial Quicks: 7.5 Incredible burst, especially off the ball.

Clean Release: 6.5 Great burst off the ball when unchallenged at the LOS. Not challenged much at all in college. Good strength and smarts should help.

Release vs Jam: 6.0 Rarely challenged here, but I don’t think he will have problems due to great burst (most corners are going to be reluctant to press) and underrated strength.

Routes: 6.0 Crisp route-runner against man-to-man coverage. I think this could develop into a big strength, but I didn’t see an excellent feel for zone coverage. Wouldn’t surprise me if this changes to 7.0 in the next couple of years.

Tough Catches: 5.5
Not strong enough to compete on jump balls (low vertical as well) or any play that requires him to outmuscle the CB for the ball, but hangs onto the ball while getting drilled.

Deep Speed: 6.5 Ford is so quick that he is a weapon on post routes, and he is still fast enough to beat corners in a footrace, but he has more burst than pure speed.

Blocking: 5.5 Low ceiling as a blocker, but Ford gives good effort and usually interferes with a defender, even attempting to block linebackers when the play requires it. I love the effort, but there is only so much he can do at his size.

Errors: 6.5 Looks to be a smart player without fumble or drop issues.

Character/Effort: 6.5 Doesn’t appear to suffer from lapses in concentration or any character faults. Gives good effort on the field.

Summary: Ford was a pleasant surprise, as he is truly a football player with track speed. I was very impressed with his ability to get open against man coverage (ran good routes) despite his small size, and his ability to eat up cushion and get into his routes is extraordinary. As a deep threat, Cornerbacks have to respect Ford’s athleticism and a false step by the cornerback can lead to six points. The biggest downside to Ford is that he is a small receiver who is not truly dynamic with the ball in his hands and he doesn’t have the strength that most successful small receivers possess, so it is hard for me to see him developing into anything more than a #2 target at best. Though he has great deep speed, Ford is really an underneath guy who could thrive in a timing offense, not the deep threat you’d expect given his athletic tools. Ford seems to be coming into stride as a receiver and looks to be a hard worker who should only benefit from a full-time devotion to football (has been a track star at Clemson as well). I think Ford can be a starter in this league, but it will take a flexible coaching staff that recognizes Ford’s strengths and weaknesses.

Final Grade: 6.1

Games Graded: Kentucky, Wake Forest, Florida State, Georgia Tech, NC State


Kyle Rota said...

I didn't want to put this in the actual report, but I think Ford would probably be a little redundant for Seattle. Deon Butler is a similar player (though, I think I like Ford a little more), and truthfully Branch isn't that different either (I see Branch as what Ford could develop into). I think Ford will become a nice player and I'd welcome him to the team, but I don't think it will or even should happen.

Donald Duck said...

Which round do you think Ford will be taken in?

Who do you think will take him?

Bruce M. said...

I watched a clp of Spiller highlights recently. On one long run, he had Ford as an escort. Ford looked in another league, speed wise. Spiller, fully healthy or not, is fast. Ford looked much faster, even discounting for the fact he wasn't running with a ball.

A-R-N-F said...

Ha I saw that too Bruce. Ford threw a block, recovered and then just breezed by Spiller like it was nothing. If he were to fall I wouldn't mind taking him as a 4th receiver/return guy.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't he return K/Ps also? I thot he did and may make a good return man on ST. The Seahawks just signed a WR that is 34 years, named Morey for just ST. Would it be hard to imagine them signing Ford to return K/Ps and an occasional WR?

Kyle Rota said...

Donald - I'd take him in the third, but since we don't have that if he somehow made it to the fourth I'd take him there. I think he is likely to go early in the third, but it's hard to tell with these undersized speed threats - some years there is a run and these guys go early, some years nobody wants to touch them and they drop.

Anon - I generally skip returns, as it's my philosophy that starters shouldn't return (I think Hester shows us why not, the snaps on offense have limited his effectiveness as a return man) unless there are no options available. There will also be plenty of chances to grab return men late in the draft, especially if you're willing to give a little guy a shot (Brandon James, Trindon Holliday come to mind).