The first time I heard the name Charone Peake, I thought he was a villain on the show Renegade. Instead, he was a wide receiver on the Clemson team, battling all the talent for a chance to shine. It is easy to forget Peake was considered a top 100 prospect out of high school and many expected big things from him. However, when you battle injuries and the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, and Mike Williams (among others) during your career, it can be hard to stand out.
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Peake was playing as a true freshman, but did little of note buried on the depth chart. He managed just four receptions (for 71 yards) and had an additional two kickoff returns. Peake did have a pair of starts his sophomore year, one resulting from a Watkins suspension, but was an afterthought with Hopkins going HAM in 2012. His overall line improved, but he was used mostly as a short route option (just 6.9 yards per catch on 25 receptions). A redshirt occurred in year three as Peake tore his ACL just two games into the season, which opened the door for Martavis to contribute. It took Peake a while to return, managing seven games (four starts) in his redshirt junior year but was playing catchup with Williams and Artavis Scott. After all this, Peake finally caught a break in 2015, getting extending playing time with Williams out and Deon Cain just a freshman. He managed 50 receptions on 77 targets (65% catch rate) while flashing his deep ball ability (25% of his catches went for 20+ yards). His 716 receiving yards were second behind Scott (who had 93 receptions), and he had six catches for 99 yards in the title game against Alabama.
Just looking at him, Peake has the build of a top receiver. The size and speed are apparent, but injuries (two major knee surgeries) remain the biggest red flag. Let’s take a look at his metrics and film to see if some of the recent hype is warranted.
Metric spider chart for Charone Peake courtesy of MockDraftable.com:
Peake has the height (6’2”, 61st percentile) and weight (209 lbs, 66th) that is preferred by many NFL scouts and coaches. Two contrasting measurements that stick out are the length of his arms (34 inches, 93rd) and his hands (9 ¼ inches, 37th). The arm length shows another physical trait that has helped Peake on those deep passes and jump balls, two areas where he is praised. That said, an area of concern has been the drops. While I do not put much stock in drop statistics, the smaller hand size will surely be noted by NFL observers who do not share my opinion.
The deep speed showed up with Peake clocking a 4.45 forty yard dash (72nd percentile), which was a 4.37 at his pro day just to make sure scouts know he is fast. The agility based drills, which we will cover more in a moment, were disappointing. His 20 yard shuttle (6th percentile) confirmed the negative connotation some scouts have when referring to Peake as a “long strider”.
Unsurprisingly, Peake’s college dominator and breakout age are impacted by the injuries and crowded receiver depth chart at Clemson. This is an instance where context is important to understand sub-par (or missing) numbers. Again, Peake’s speed is shown, especially when adjusting for height (86th percentile). That agility we spoke about earlier? That is well displayed in the agility score (11.42, 21st percentile) as a reminder of his limits.
One component that was not mentioned before but speaks to Peake’s abilities is the catch radius. Remembering his arm length (94th) and height, while adding broad jump (61st) and vertical (47th) percentiles, we see how Peake is able to create a nice radius for a quarterback throwing his way. Again, as a player who can operate down the field, this number becomes important given a quarterback’s diminished accuracy as the throw becomes longer.
The deep speed being pounded into your brain is shown right away in the Clemson game against Syracuse, perhaps Peake’s best game of the year. That film is below:
One reason I chose the game: it is the only one available. Besides that, however, he flashes plenty of other skills in addition to that speed. Take a look at the pretty touchdown catch he makes over his back shoulder on a fade route. The ability to deal with press coverage and make the adjustment are questions remaining but there is reason for optimism. Add in his willingness to play underneath and meet contact after the catch, something that is not always found with a deep threat like Peake. This tells me he is capable on multiple levels of the field.
There are still some questions that this game does not help answer. First, Peake can struggle to locate the ball when turning around, something you see here on the interception. Also, Peake is largely given a cushion in which to operate. While that is out of respect for his speed, how does Peake react to the NFL where press coverage is consistent and tiresome? Last, Peake usually is executing a route during run plays, so we have not seen enough of his run blocking. He has the frame to be a good blocker, but will it happen?
Overall, Peake has the build and the speed of a top receiver along with the advanced route running to be a contributor at all levels of the field. What has held Peake back has been the injuries and lack of playing time because of them (along with the bloated Clemson roster). The skills are there, it is just the experience that is lacking.
It is rare to say a receiver being drafted in the middle of round three in rookie drafts has traits of a wide receiver one. Peake is one of those players. Currently mocked around pick 40, Peake has value even in the face of those who value age highly (will be 24 on October 16th). As for the NFL draft, Peake looks to be in the round four conversations with wiggle room to move up or down a round. He has rocketed up some teams’ boards throughout the draft process. Don’t be surprised if the same happens in dynasty rookie drafts.