“The Outlaw”. “The Road Dogg”. Can the Ravens draft him just because of the cool nicknames that go along with being named Jesse James?
James sticks out to me because of one thing. Size. 6’7” will play at the next level. Jimmy Graham is 6’7”, Rob Gronkowski is 6’6”. Maryland Terps fans might remember Jesse James well, as he caught a TD pass against one of the Terps tallest cornerbacks, Sean Davis (6’1”). James does a beautiful job of going over the DB, and using his strong hands to secure the grab, and the all-important “complete the process”. Hard to tell from the video if he got two feet in, necessary by NFL rules. But a nice grab and a TD on this day nonetheless.
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Sticking with the Maryland theme, James is entering the draft a year early, like Teprs standout receiver, Stefon Diggs. Also like Diggs, the experts feel like James hurt his draft stock by coming out early, and could have vaulted up draft boards in 2016 with one stronger collegiate showing. CBS Sports lists James as their 3rd best TE prospect, but as a 3rd round selection in a very shallow TE class. Walter Football lists him as a 5th round selection. Mike Mayock of NFL.com, did not list Jesse James in his top five tight ends.
Statistically, James numbers won’t astound you, but it’s widely because he was under-utilized in Happy Valley. He caught 38 balls for 396 yards with three scores last season. What he lacked in receiving opportunities, you would think he would make for in the run heavy aspect of the Penn State game. Hard to tell if he’s at fault, but as a team the Nittany Lions rushed for 2.9 yards per carry.
Let’s look at some more tape, and analyze the big tight end.
James makes a nice play, going up the seam first, then breaks off a flag route. Nice catch in stride, and outruns a LB on his way to the endzone. Good ball security as well.
Here against UCF, James shows a flash of toughness. Way to hang on to the football after getting hammered.
That was a great play, but on the very next one, what happened? Did James hear footsteps? Was he shaken a bit. Here are where the negative plays come in. The ball was a shade behind him, but you gotta catch those.
James doesn’t run a very crisp route here. He gains zero separation from a linebacker, and doesn’t look for the ball. Could be a case of late game, blowout, loss of focus. But not good either way.
- Standout at the combine
- Nicknames (I’m reaching here)
- Small hands
- Average blocker
- Smaller catching radius despite his size
- Not a crisp route runner
- Not a factor against better competition (Ohio State, Michigan State)
- In game speed
Summary: Not hard to tell how I feel about this prospect. Ozzie Newsome stressed the importance of this being a “tight end friendly offense” in the “State of the Ravens” presser a few days back. They are in wait and see mode with Dennis Pitta, and honestly, no stock should be put into his return. They should proceed as if they will not have Pitta, and if he makes it back, consider it a bonus. I feel very certain that the Ravens will be taking a tight end in this draft. I can almost guarantee you that. How serious they are about upgrading the position, depends, on if a serviceable Owen Daniels is re-signed, and how they feel about the development of Crockett Gillmore. Also if they address the position in free agency. If they feel confident in how the position looks, I could see the Ravens, or another team, snagging up James if he tumbles down the draft board. 5th round seems about right to roll the dice with a guy who is a physical mismatch, and that’s about it. To be fair, Christian Hackenberg isn’t a good quarterback. Maybe a better QB will make a better player out of James.
However, with the prospects out there, if they really want an upgrade, they will target the position earlier in the draft. The next Jimmy Graham, “Outlaw” is not.