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Jaelen Strong, the underclassman wide receiver from the Arizona State Sundevils, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after a productive two-year stint in the Pac-12. Strong transferred from the JUCO ranks and immediately made an impact for ASU in 2013 with 75 receptons, 1,122 yards and 7 TDS. He topped those numbers in 2014 with 82 receptions, 1,165 yards and 10 TDs. His 82 catches was good for the third-best single season total in school history. Strong was named First Team All-Pac 12 in 2014 and was chosen as an All-American by several outlets. In 2013, he was selected as a Second Team All-Pac 12 performer. Physically, Strong is a well-built and big receiver. He looks thicker and more muscular than his weight would indicate. He has long arms and presents as an appealing target because of the size of his catch radius. Athletically, Strong is not the fastest or quickest receiver, but he uses his body well to create separation/get open. He’s not a two-stepper, as it takes some time before he reaches full speed. He’ll struggle to gain consistent deep ball separation from a speed standpoint against NFL corners. He’s a little tight, too, as he generally has to gear down before changing directions. That said, his size and overall body composition makes up for some of his athletic shortcomings. Strong is a generally sound route runner who uses good head/shoulder fakes and strong footwork to sell the defender on his route. He’s the kind of target who is open even when he’s covered. He is a good jumper and high points the ball well. As a pass catcher, he has average hands. There are times when he bobbles balls that he shouldn’t and others when he lets the ball get to his body. Strong competes in the run game and has plus blocking skills for a wideout.
BOTTOM LINE: Jaelen Strong is another big-bodied pass catcher who has dominated the college football landscape for the better part of two seasons. However, his lacking quick-twitch skill set has me concerned about his ability to consistently separate or get open in the NFL. His size and potential role as a red zone target are appealing and will likely lead to a Day 2 selection, but he should be drafted with the understanding that it’s unlikely he will become a true No. 1 in the NFL. Strong would be the ideal complement for a team that already has a more explosive big-play threat on the roster.
GRADE: 7.3 (High-3rd Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)