Courtland Sutton is considered by some as the best wide receiver in the 2018 NFL draft class. They are enamored with his size and athleticism. However, others acknowledge his potential but question if he will ever fulfill it. They are also cautious of his small-school background. Which side do you fall on?
AS A RECRUIT
Sutton attended Brenham High School in Brenham, Texas and was not a highly-ranked prospect. According to 247 Sports, he was a three-star recruit who was ranked as the 103rd Safety and the 1169th overall prospect coming out of High School.
He was recruited as a safety and received multiple offers from Division I schools (including SMU, Colorado, and BYU), but none from any of the top colleges. However, his perseverance and determination helped him develop into one of the best receivers in college football.
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Not many people know Sutton played basketball at SMU under coach Larry Brown. He was actually recruited by SMU to play safety. His ability to play multiple sports and multiple positions is one of my favorite attributes of Sutton’s game. It portrays his versatility as an athlete and is something he can use to his advantage in the NFL.
Once Sutton redshirted his freshman season and transitioned to a full-time receiver, he immediately produced at a high level. He scored two touchdowns in his first game and five in his first four. He had a monster game against Tulsa later in the year and finished his redshirt freshman season with 49 receptions for 862 yards and nine touchdowns.
Sutton took a step forward in his sophomore season, amassing 76 receptions for 1246 yards and ten touchdowns. After contemplating a jump to the NFL, he decided to return to SMU for his junior season. Although his statistics took a dip this season, at least some of that can be attributed to defenses placing a priority on stopping him by sending extra defenders his way. After all, it is not like his statistics took a major drop. He still caught 62 passes for 1017 yards and 12 touchdowns. His consistency is another attribute I like. I am leery of players who break-out in their final year of college, but Sutton is definitely not one of them.
Sutton oozes with athleticism. He is 6’4’’, weighs 218 pounds, and is a very fluid runner. He is not blazing fast, but he does possess enough speed to separate from defenders and generate yards after the catch. His subtle head and shoulder fakes also help him get open down the field.
Coming out of high school, he ran a 4.75 40-yard dash and had a 29.9” vertical jump. These numbers leave a lot to be desired, but I believe he will post much better numbers at the NFL combine after years of training and conditioning at the college level.
I have seen recent mock drafts projecting Sutton to be selected anywhere from the beginning to the end of the first round. With so many quarterback-needy teams at the top of the draft, the Chicago Bears are a trendy pick to be the first team to select a wide receiver in the 2018 draft. Even if the Bears do select a receiver, other players like Calvin Ridley and James Washington could end up being selected instead of Sutton.
Similar to last year, the 2018 combine and rest of the pre-draft process could very likely be a key factor in determining the receiver selected first. I am anxious to see which team Sutton lands with because landing spots can be a huge factor in determining a player’s dynasty value, especially for wide receivers.
As for dynasty drafts, I have seen Sutton ranked second or third in a lot of people’s current rookie rankings. Of course, a lot can change once landing spots are determined, but I feel confident Sutton will be an early selection in most dynasty rookie drafts.
No matter how much I acknowledge questions about whether or not Sutton will realize his potential, I seem to always be drawn back in by the upside he flashes. I like Ridley and Washington as prospects, but I do not believe either have the profile of an alpha-receiver like Sutton does. He possesses ‘wide receiver one’ size and enough speed to make big plays. In addition, he plays very physically and does a great job of winning at the catch point.
While Sutton is still a raw talent, he does run a more advanced route tree than some of the other receivers in the 2018 class I watched on tape.
However, landing spot is going to be a big determining factor in my evaluation of Sutton. I would like to see him land on a team in need of a true number-one receiver. Teams like the Bears and 49ers immediately come to mind. They both have young, promising quarterbacks but are searching for a leading receiver. The 49ers will probably need to trade back in the first round to make that scenario a possibility for them. However, it could happen come draft day.
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