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