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2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Parris Campbell, Ohio State

2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Parris Campbell, Ohio State
Davis Mattek February 25, 2019 12:57PM EDT

Parris Campbell NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report Profile

More than maybe any other wide receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft class, the NFL Draft Combine is going to be massively important to Ohio State’s Parris Campbell. Mock drafts around the football industry have him anywhere from a sixth-round draft pick all the way up to one of the first picks in the second round! That sort of wide disparity in projection for a player is generally found in players exactly like Parris Campbell. Ohio State players (much like Alabama players) often don’t get full playing time until their final season of college and as such, the amount of good tape is smaller and the production numbers are dwarfed by their draft counterparts.

Receiving & Rushing Table
Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2015 Ohio State Big Ten FR WR 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2016 Ohio State Big Ten SO WR 12 13 121 9.3 0 4 54 13.5 1 17 175 10.3 1
*2017 Ohio State Big Ten JR WR 13 40 584 14.6 3 10 132 13.2 1 50 716 14.3 4
*2018 Ohio State Big Ten SR WR 14 90 1063 11.8 12 9 24 2.7 0 99 1087 11.0 12
Career Ohio State 143 1768 12.4 15 23 210 9.1 2 166 1978 11.9 17
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/25/2019.

Parris Campbell at Ohio State

As you can see from his college stats table, Campbell barely played his freshmen and sophomore years. The 2016 Ohio State Buckeyes team had future NFL players Curtis Samuel and Noah Brown far ahead of Campbell in the passing game so we can semi-excuse the lack of an early breakout. As we discussed in the Lil’Jordan Humphrey profile and as Anthony Amico has recorded in his WR Projection pieces, breakout age is important and Campbell does not seem to have him.

His junior season was very solid on a per-play basis. He scored four touchdowns on only 50 touches and averaged 14.3 yards per play and it is worth noting that his 584 yards actually led the Buckeyes in receiving yards that season. Traditionally speaking, Ohio State spreads the ball around an insane amount.

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Current NFL Superstar Michael Thomas played at Ohio State and never topped 56 receptions or 799 receiving yards in three seasons, though he did score 18 combined touchdowns his sophomore and junior seasons. What this means is that Campbell actually had a better final season at Ohio State than Thomas did. It is also worth noting that as a sophomore and a junior, Campbell was one of the primary kick returners for Ohio State. These special teams contributions generally get overlooked when evaluating NFL Draft prospects but there has been research conducted at several outlets that have shown a positive future correlation between All-Purpose yards and NFL success. Campbell had 30 kick returns for 913 yards (30.4 yards per return) in his career at Ohio State.

Parris Campbell’s final season at Ohio State is why NFL teams are warming up to drafting him and why several draft analysts have him projected as one of the 10 best wide receivers in the class. He upped his production across the board, with 90 receptions, 1,063 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Campbell is the only Ohio State player with more than 1,000 receiving yards in the 2010’s and Urban Meyer’s first 1,000-yard receiver since, oddly enough, Paris Warren at Utah University in 2004!

Given the propensity of the Ohio State offense to spread the ball around and to evenly distribute production, I find it fairly impressive that Parris Campbell was able to generate a 1,000-yard season and tied for the team lead in touchdowns with primary running back J.K Dobbins. Campbell was no doubt helped by the presence of future first-round NFL draft Dwayne Haskins in a way that former Ohio State wide receivers were not but the film reveals that Campbell did a lot of his own work. He had three catch and runs off screen passes (against Tulane and Indiana in particular) that seemed almost Alvin Kamara-esque.

The thing that you’ll notice watching Campbell is that he does play like a running back. Part of it is probably being tricked by the #21 displayed on his jersey but he does a large part of his damage after the catch point. For example, in the game against Michigan State, Campbell runs in left motion from left to right, takes the forward lateral and cuts upfield in a way that very few wide receivers can to score on a 3rd and goal. One of the most impressive plays he made wasn’t a touchdown but rather a screen pass conversion against the University of Michigan where he changed direction twice and broke three tackles to gain 30 yards on a 2nd and 15. He is the real deal with the ball in his hands and is above-average behind the line of scrimmage, on screens or on deep balls.

Parris Campbell Final Verdict

Parris Campbell finished his senior season with a 22% Dominator Rating (total percentage of his teams receiving yards and receiving touchdowns) he led the Big Ten in yards per route run, per Pro Football Focus. The thing that Campbell really has going for him is that he already possesses skills that are valuable to NFL coordinators right now. He can play in the slot, outside WR or even out of the backfield. He is equally comfortable running nine routes as he is in jet motion or running wheel routes out of the backfield. My projection for him would be a Taylor Gabriel Lite sort of role where he has special plays and packages designed to get him the ball in space.

Kyle Crabs of the Draft Network gave Campbell a Cordarelle Patterson comparison which fits stylistically but not in terms of size. Campbell is smaller and shorter than Patterson but will likely be even faster than Patterson was at the combine. Bruce Feldman reported that Campbell is expected to run a sub-4.4 40-yard dash time and per Rotoworld “Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy called Ohio State WR Parris Campbell a top-10 athlete in the 2019 NFL Draft.” All of that information has me fairly bullish on Campbell despite the fact that he will turn 23 during his rookie season.

Parris Campbell is the exact sort of player that NFL teams need now. His route-running needs some serious work and I am not convinced that he will ever be a top-level technician or a consistent contested-catch receiver but he likely won’t need to be. The New Orleans Saints could take another step on offense with Campbell playing instead of Ted Ginn or Keith Kirkwood. The Dallas Cowboys tried to get a version of what Campbell puts on the field with Tavon Austin and will need a replacement slot wide receiver if Cole Beasley departs (which is looking likely). My favorite destination for Parris Campbell would be the Green Bay Packers who will likely be trying to fill Randall Cobb’s playing time and have a cadre of wide receivers who no one is sure can play after Davante Adams.

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Lind

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