Marquez North is man of mystery. This profile is as much a collation of data and information-gathering task as it is a scouting report. When an incoming player has no videos on Draft Breakdown, it can be difficult to understand what they can do, how they play the game and where they win on the field. Instead, we turn to the measurables, the production and bring together as much data as we can to form an opinion.
My first experience of North was an extremely positive one. I spent most Saturdays in the 2013 season at home with college football on all day, and was watching the game where North ‘arrived’ on the scene as a true freshman. Tennessee were up against South Carolina, and North stood out with some huge plays. He only had three receptions, but all three were spectacular and displayed his pure strength at the catch point. He used his size and strength for the first, height and leaping ability for the second and topped it off with a display of focus as he hauled his third ball in with one hand as a defender was dragging him down. It’s safe to say I was a fan.
Unfortunately for North, after a freshman season in which he showed real promise with 38 catches for 496 yards and was named freshmen All-SEC, things went south.
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In 2014, he battled injuries and ended the year with 320 yards on 30 receptions in eight games. He missed the end of the year with a torn labrum, and his final year in school was filled with further disappointment. He played in seven games (starting four), but continued to be limited due to more injuries. By the end of his junior year, he’d only recorded six catches for 58 yards.
As there is no ‘game tape’ on YouTube, we can only turn to a highlight reel to see how North looks on the field:
All of the traits I mentioned earlier were displayed in this video. But one thing I did notice was that none of these big plays were a result of North’s catch-and-run ability. He doesn’t appear to possess great long speed, and the times he was in the open field ended up with him being run down from behind. While this obviously isn’t a good thing, it’s not a deal-breaker. There are tons of different ways players win, and if North can utilize his big body and catch the ball in traffic, it’s not essential that he blazes past defenders – and I don’t believe any NFL team will ask him to do that. How does he learn to use his skills? Matt Waldman (of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio) suggested North could look for some private coaching from Calvin Johnson. No doubt, that would be helpful, as if he learn how best to use his frame, he will be dangerous regardless of the level of competition. For me, it’s very important where North ends up and what a team asks him to do. He has the big body and strong catching ability that are impossible to teach, but how will he be used and what will he be taught? I believe there is enough talent there make plays at the next level.
Let’s see how North compares to NFL players in his athleticism:
Man, he shows up well. His top comparison is not favorable, but three of his top five athletic comparables are Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas and Jordan Matthews. All of the things that make North stand out on tape are on show with these measurables, as he has proven his height, weight and speed combination.
How does he look on Player Profiler?
Physically, he shows up great. Again, the comparable is not a pretty one, but his height-adjusted speed score (92nd percentile) is a thing of beauty. Funnily enough, he’s such a stark contrast to the last player I covered, Rashard Higgins, who showed up in dominator and breakout age, but didn’t score above the 16th percentile in any of the workout metrics. I like them both, but they win in completely different ways.
After taking in as much as I could on North, I was impressed. However, I wanted even more, so I took to Twitter. I knew our very own Leo Paciga was a fan of him, and he was more than happy to offer his thoughts on the wideout when asked. Leo had access to some Tennessee games that aren’t available online, and was able to get a closer look at the wideout. Here’s what he had to say:
“North has excellent body control, especially upper body flexibility and creates a much larger target area than you would expect even for a WR of his size. Sure, there are negatives; his routes lack precision and while he demonstrates good burst downfield, he shows sluggish feet at the line of scrimmage and suffers immediately at the snap. There is, however, an eye brow raising level of harmony that exists between his size, strength and quickness once he visually locks in on an approaching pass. North also flashes “goal tending” skills as the ball approaches – solid hand eye coordination, excellent tracking ability, an aggressiveness at the catch point and hands that resemble catcher’s mitts. Yes, North does have work to do in order to refine his game and improve his overall technique, but his WR instincts are clearly evident. He’ll definitely be on my radar in the third round of all my rookie drafts, and he’s a “must draft” for me if he’s still on the board in the fourth round”.
From the smaller sample size I’ve looked at, I agree with everything Leo has to say. He is probably still fairly sluggish and ‘raw’ as a receiver with the lack of game action, but sometimes the raw receivers make immediate impacts if they are simply told to “get open and catch the football”. I definitely like North as a third or fourth round rookie selection. In fact, I was thrilled to select North earlier this week in a 2QB rookie mock draft at the 4.11 spot.
North seems to be gaining some steam with solid Combine and Pro Day performances. Unfortunately, we really don’t know how teams will respond to his lack of college production. Some will see him as a physical specimen, whereas others will cast him aside as he wasn’t able to put it together on the field. I will wait to invest further in him until we see him draft position and team, but I’d be extremely excited if he is high on a team’s board. It was only last year that our own Ryan McDowell was touting North as one of the top devy prospects, and we can’t forget about the talent he possesses. Keep a close eye on North over the next month, as he could be the late round flier who pays off in your league.
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