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2016 NFL Draft Prospect: Texas Tech WR Jakeem Grant, the Next John Brown?

The 2015 college football bowl season is underway. On Tuesday, December 29, we will see the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, which features Louisiana State (8-3) and Texas Tech (7-5). While both teams have a number of intriguing players who will eventually play in the NFL, the one player who really intrigues me in this matchup is Tech redshirt senior wide receiver Jakeem Grant.

Grant is flying entirely under the draft radar — some redshirt sophomores are on the 2016 RotoViz Scouting Index, while Grant is absent — but, like previous smaller Texas Tech wide receivers Wes Welker and Danny Amendola, Grant (I believe) has the potential to be in the NFL.

The Production

Ever since Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury was Tech’s quarterback under then-HC Mike Leach, Tech has run a fast-paced high-scoring spread offense that results in the inflated statistics of wide receivers. For instance, here is a fairly comprehensive list of TTU campaigns by receivers who were probably not as good as their raw numbers suggested:

Player Year Class G Rec ReYd ReTD Att RuYd RuTD Ret TD
Nehemiah Glover 2002 SO 14 52 673 10 2 16 0 0
Carlos Francis 2003 SR 13 75 1177 9 8 42 0 0
Nehemiah Glover 2003 JR 13 77 1081 9 4 14 0 0
Mickey Peters 2003 SR 13 78 975 12 0 0 0 0
Jarrett Hicks 2004 SO 12 76 1177 13 2 20 0 0
Joel Filani 2005 JR 12 65 1007 8 6 54 0 0
Jarrett Hicks 2005 JR 11 65 850 10 0 0 0 0
Joel Filani 2006 SR 13 91 1300 13 4 34 0 0
Robert Johnson 2006 rSR 12 89 871 11 0 0 0 0
Michael Crabtree 2007 rFR 13 134 1962 22 0 0 0 0
Danny Amendola 2007 SR 13 109 1245 6 0 0 0 0
Michael Crabtree 2008 rSO 13 97 1165 19 2 1 0 0
Lyle Leong 2010 SR 13 74 926 19 0 0 0 0
Eric Ward 2011 rSO 12 84 800 11 0 0 0 0
Darrin Moore 2012 rSR 12 92 1032 13 0 0 0 0
Eric Ward 2012 rJR 12 82 1053 12 2 6 0 0
Jace Amaro 2013 JR 13 106 1352 7 0 0 0 0
Bradley Marquez 2014 SR 12 65 821 10 0 0 0 0

On the other hand, Welker as an NFL player has lived up to his college production:

Year Class G Rec ReYd ReTD Att RuYd RuTD Ret TD
2003 SR 13 97 1099 9 27 146 1 2
2002 JR 14 86 1054 7 31 244 0 3

Now, it is admittedly beneficial for my argument to isolate Welker from his cohort of TTU receivers. I do, however, believe that as a college player Welker distinguished himself from them based on his versatility. Out of all the TTU wide receivers, Welker by far was the most productive as a runner and returner — and he by far has had the best NFL career.

I bring all of this up because, although it might be easy (and fair) to dismiss Grant as “just another Tech receiver,” the TTU wideout to whom he is most comparable is unquestionably Welker.

Here are the numbers for Grant’s four collegiate seasons:

Year Class G Rec ReYd ReTD Att RuYd RuTD Ret TD
2015 rSR 12 80 1143 7 8 68 2 2
2014 rJR 12 67 938 7 5 35 0 0
2013 rSO 11 65 796 7 12 77 0 0
2012 rFR 13 32 284 3 8 19 0 2

Grant is not quite at Welker’s level, but he has outproduced any other notable TTU receiver of the last 15 years as both a runner and a return man. He has been one of the best do-it-all offensive players in college football this season, even completing his one pass attempt for a 72-yard touchdown. And, most importantly, he is still a good pass catcher, having led the Red Raiders in receptions and yards receiving each of the last two years.

He doesn’t have the sheer receiving numbers that top-tier prospects have, but with his overall productivity and versatility Grant has the potential to contribute in the NFL.

The Physical Profile

Grant is also comparable to Welker in size. TTU lists Grant at five feet seven inches and 168 pounds — so Welker in fact is actually bigger than Grant.

Because of his versatility, I think it’s possible that even if he does not display great athleticism at the combine (versatility all-stars Welker and Antonio Brown had subpar pre-draft workouts), Grant could still be an NFL contributor.

At the same time, as a college recruit in 2011 Grant was attributed with a 4.25-second 40-yard-dash at 160 pounds. Full disclosure: As a rule, I doubt that any player is that fast until we actually have his speed verified in pre-draft workouts. So, “officially,” I doubt that Grant actually is that fast.

Having said that, I think it’s important to know that it’s possible (though not certain) that Grant as an athlete is more similar to DeSean Jackson and J.J. Nelson than to Welker.

If Grant has a sub-4.40-second 40 time, that will change a lot the type of player he could be in the NFL.

The Takeaway

OK — I’m putting all of my cards on the table.

I was the first RotoViz guy last year (before the combine) to say that Tyler Lockett was special. I was on John Brown the previous year (again, before the combine). And even though Tavon Austin’s volatility is annoying I also believed entering this season that he still could be an all-around and undervalued fantasy asset. And I am MISTER T.Y. Hilton. Basically, I “specialize” in small versatile receivers, the types of guys whom Bruce Arians seems to draft every other year.

Even if Grant isn’t as fast as he “should” be for a guy his size, I think that he’s probably an “Arians receiver.” Arians might not draft Grant, but (as long as he’s not incredibly unathletic) somebody will.

———

Matthew Freedman is a football writer for RotoViz, Pro Football Focus Fantasy, Fantasy Insiders, and DraftKings Playbook. He is (not) the inspiration for the character in The League who shares his name. He hosts the various RotoViz podcasts and PFF Radio’s College Daily Slant. He is the creator of the Workhorse Metric. You can follow him on Twitter @MattFtheOracle — but I don’t know why you would.

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