It’s May and this is typically the time where news is pretty slow. However, every once in a while there’s a blip we just can’t ignore. Lestar Jean has been on our radar for a bit and he’s starting to make so much noise that we can’t ignore putting something out there to answer a very important question.
Who is Lestar Jean?
Simply put, Jean could be one of this year’s major sleeper candidates. As our own Ken Clein pointed out in his article today, Jean has been working as a starter in practices opposite Kevin Walter while Andre Johnson recovers from injury. While that in of itself isn’t that newsworthy, what he’s showing in practice is.
Before going too far ahead, let’s go back a bit.
Jean is a product of Florida Atlantic, where he was a teammate of Cardinals tight end Rob Housler. In his four year career there, he posted 146 catches, 1,992 yards and fifteen touchdowns. Those aren’t exactly mind boggling statistics, but he did post a nice line of 64/988/8 in his last season at FAU and was named their most improved player in the process. Jean was named to the All-Sun Belt Second Team in 2010 as he led FAU in receptions and yards. He was also fourth in the conference in receptions per game and led the league in yards per game with an average of 82.3 yards per contest.
He was invited to the 2011 NFL Scouting combine and posted the following results:
40 Yrd Dash: 4.61
20 Yrd Dash: 2.63
10 Yrd Dash: 1.62
225 Lb. Bench Reps: 14
Vertical Jump: 37 1/2
Broad Jump: 9’05”
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.43
3-Cone Drill: 7.45
Those numbers weren’t exactly a glowing endorsement of elite talent and he was knocked for his inability to separate, despite his prototypical size. He was also criticized pretty heavily for his route running, which many scouts found to be extremely raw. In fact, many of those same scouts felt he would simply try to muscle his way free at the NFL level and struggle doing so. The FAU routes he ran also were perceived to be far from NFL quality as many of them were simply of the sideline variety. Jean has been quoted as saying he just ran “9” routes since Pee Wee football because nobody could stop him. While that’s great, it also likely stunted his development.
All those concerns led to Jean going undrafted and signing with Houston in late July of last season. Unfortunately, his season was cut short by a shoulder injury. What’s telling is that the Texans didn’t stash him on their practice squad – they likely knew he’d be signed by someone else after he flashed some ability in last year’s camp before getting injured.
Coming in to this season, not much was expected of Jean. After all the Texans spent two high draft choices on receivers DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin. However, it’s been Jean who has been making play after play in practices, earning him the nickname of “Big Play.” At the very least, he should battle those two for third receiver duties left vacant by the departure of Jacoby Jones. In fact, he may get the first shot at the gig.
The ceiling could be higher, though.
The Houston Chronicle has quoted wide receivers Coach Larry Kirksey to say, “The kid has really put time in as far as preparing himself. He has engulfed himself in the offense. He knows all three positions. His attention to detail is excellent. He’s got a ways to go, but so far we like what we see.” He also went on to compare the Andre Johnson and Lestar Jean situation to what he saw with Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice where after a while you couldn’t tell the difference between the two.
Whoa, now. Tap the brakes.
It’s not time to go crazy with Jean thinking he’s the next Terrell Owens or even the next Victor Cruz (though the starts to their NFL careers are eerily similar), but it is time to start thinking about adding Jean to your list of sleepers or even your current roster in a deep league.
We were planning on featuring Jean within a group of sleepers at the end of the month, but news is coming out so fast on him that it’s impossible to wait any longer. While you have to take everything with a grain of salt with news so slow this time of the year and fight yourself against overreacting to different bits of news, it’s time to take note.