2020 NFL Draft Scouting Prospect Profile: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
We have been hearing for YEARS how talented the wide receiver class of 2020 is; no one who said that was lying. This class is chock-full of five-star recruits, uber athletes and 1,000-yard seasons. Depending on who you ask, Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb are generally considered the best wide receivers of the class and near-locks to go in the first round. Tee Higgins is going to have to test out of his mind to get in the same conversation, though as we have previously touched on, he is an impressive player. Jeudy is currently my top prospect for dynasty fantasy football purposes; let us dig into why that is.
Jerry Jeudy And The Tricky Question Of Talented Teammates
First things first: Jeudy was basically a legend before he ever got on the field at Alabama. He was a five-star recruit who got offers from pretty much every major football school across the entire country. He chose Alabama and played right away, as a true freshman! True freshmen who play at Alabama are almost unheard of. In his first season at Bama, he played in only eight games but caught 14 passes (which was hilariously tied for third on the team with four other Crimson Tide players). His 2018 season is really what put him on the map from an NFL perspective; scouts and hardcore NFL draftniks knew about his pedigree but his team-leading 68 receptions, 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns while playing tough SEC defenses is what got the alarm bells ringing.
Where Jeudy turns into a Rorschach test is with his junior season. Jeudy played in the slot far more often to accommodate outsized roles for Henry Ruggs and Devonta Smith. Long-time readers of my work will known that market share (both of yards and touchdowns) is one of the best ways to evaluate college wide receivers. Do they dominate in college offenses to the point that we should ostensibly view them as pro-ready? Well, Jeudy did and he didn’t. He posted two straight 1,000+ yard seasons at Alabama in the toughest conference. However, in his final season at Bama, he was SIXTH on the team in yards per reception, scored only 20% of Bama’s passing touchdowns and was outgained in the air by Devonta Smith.
We have seen this conundrum just last season with Dawson Knox, D.K Metcalf, A.J Brown and to a lesser extent, DeMarkus Lodge (a practice squad NFL player now). Using the gift of hindsight, we can see that dinging Metcalf for his injury problems and mediocre market share numbers was pretty #bad analysis. So does that fact that Jeudy never had a Dominator Rating (market share of targets + touchdowns divided by two) mean that he isn’t a first-round draft pick or not the best possible fantasy asset?
The context of this cuts two ways. First, Devonta Smith, Henry Ruggs and Jaylen Waddle are all likely to be top-100 NFL draft selections. Not fringe NFL picks but full-on, draft-capital spent NFL caliber players. Ruggs might be the fastest player at the combine this year and Smith/Waddle will have another year to tear up the SEC and make their draft stock rise even higher. That for sure matters. Playing with other NFL players should not be a penalty.
Second, as it pertains to market share, Alabama blows everyone out. They had 15 total players with a reception and seven players with 11 or more receptions. Alabama won seven of their games by over 30 points and even that doesn’t really do justice to how dominant they can be. So we are in this (admittedly) semi mind-melting scenario where Alabama often takes it easy in the second halves of games and can more comfortably get a variety of players touches.
Now does any of this guarantee that Jeudy will be a dominant player? Of course not; he still needs to test well at the combine but he has many things going for him. From a “tape grinding” perspective, WalterFootball.com defines Jeudy’s game like this “Jeudy shows pretty good technique as a receiver as well. He tracks the ball well and has late hands to reel in passes even with defenders close. While Jeudy is not a pure size mismatch, he has good enough height and shows an ability to make contested catches over defensive backs. There are times when Jeudy body catches when he could use his hands, but that is a minor issue overall. Jeudy has good feel and instincts showing an ability to break off his routes to get open for his quarterback when plays break down.” From my perspective, Jeudy looked every bit like the DJ Moore/Juju Smith-Shuster style player that we want him to be when he played at Bama.
Projecting Jerry Jeudy To The NFL
This is what we know about Jerry Jeudy for sure: he is the perfect size of the modern-day NFL wide receiver. Alabama lists him at 6’1, 192 pounds but I would be willing to wager that is closer to 200 pounds by the combine. It was also reported that Jeudy ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at Alabama’s Junior Day; again, this is a hugely positive sign. A 6’1, 200-pound wide receiver who runs a 4.4 flat is exactly the sort of wide receiver you would build in a lab to be the X wide receiver of a high-flying Air Raid offense.
We also know that people who make decisions for NFL teams are (rightly, in my opinion) high on Jeudy and his pedigree. He is a prototypical-sized wide receiver from a school that gave us Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, Irv Smith Jr., OJ Howard, and countless running backs. Rightly or wrongly, Alabama players are often drafted higher than consensus projects them. Admittedly, there is a good bit of projection that goes into evaluating Jeudy but given how successful he was when on the field, how athletic we expected him to test and how highly we expect him to be drafted, I feel comfortable ranking him as the best wide receiver in the 2020 NFL draft class.