In a year where the elite talent isn’t generally thought to be there, the 2018 wide receiver class has a fair amount of depth to it. There are plenty of players in the late second to fourth round of rookie drafts who could really shine on Sundays, and Jordan Lasley falls in that group. If you haven’t heard of him before, now’s a great time to get caught up. Let’s check out Josh Rosen’s go-to target.
After what was essentially a redshirt freshman season, Lasley started to come into form his sophomore season as a role player for the UCLA Bruins. Featured all over the field, Lasley grew alongside Rosen as one of his primary playmakers throughout his college career.
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
Despite only playing in nine games his final season, Lasley managed to put up a big statistical season, especially when you consider it on a per game basis. In his sophomore and junior seasons respectively, he managed to post a 15% and 20.5% reception share as well as a 17.5% and 28.2% yardage share. It’s definitely a plus to see his yardage share higher than his reception share, indicating he was more efficient with his catches than other Bruins players.
Not only were his season totals impressive, but Lasley’s game to game consistency was remarkable throughout his final season. In his nine games, he only failed to reach 100 yards receiving twice, the same amount of times he also eclipsed 200 yards. Additionally, he caught four or more passes in every game and hauled in ten or more catches on three occasions. Talk about being a dominant, every week player.
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Lasley, #2 on the Bruins, stands out when you watch the film as an electric playmaker capable of a big play every time he’s thrown the ball. He lines up all over the field: in the slot, outside left, outside right, and in motion coming through the backfield. UCLA and Josh Rosen looked to get the ball in his hands frequently. Here’s some game tape against USC this past season, one of the better teams in the country.
One of the main traits that stands out for Jordan Lasley is his ability to adjust and catch the deep ball, something enhanced by Josh Rosen’s ability to throw a great one. He’s got the speed on tape to burn by defenders and is shifty enough to shake them at the line of scrimmage. Whenever he gets a step, defenders either grab him an forfeit the holding penalty or Rosen takes a shot.
The 50-yard bomb isn’t Lasley’s only strength, though. His YAC (yards after catch) ability is clear looking at any of his games this past season. He can catch the ball near the line of scrimmage, make a move, and get seven or eight yards downfield with ease, occasionally even breaking one for seven points. The NFL isn’t just about going long, so this combination of skillsets will really help Lasley stay on the field.
His game is certainly not perfect; I don’t want to make it seem like it is. He will definitely drop his fair share of targets, and he’s not particularly good at being his QB’s best friend under pressure. What I mean by that is he’s very good at running his routes, but his awareness to adjust to a quick or unexpected throw by his QB after pressure is lacking. This can lead to interceptions, and certainly does, but it’s something that he can work on hopefully building a rapport with his next QB.
Lasley had a pretty disappointing combine, in my opinion – especially in the agility section where I thought he would excel in. Coming in at an overall 33rd-percentile SPARQ athlete, Lasley certainly didn’t do anything to improve his stock heading into the NFL draft in late April. Here’s his Mock Draftable profile:
Aside from having above average hands, arm length, and wingspan, there’s not much that stands out in his profile. His 40-yard dash time checks the box, but his spider graph isn’t particularly impressive. This certainly doesn’t mean he can’t succeed, but it raises questions about how his production could translate athletically to the NFL.
Personally, as an evaluator, I take film into consideration more heavily than the Combine, but this does raise valid concerns. Coming in at 6’1” and a little over 200 pounds, Lasley does bring a solid size and frame to play on the inside or outside in the NFL. Given what he’s shown on tape, I believe he’ll be able to best utilize his average measurables.
Lasley’s rookie profile and dynasty valuation would not be complete without mention of his off the field issues. In short, Lasley dealt with police for possession of alcohol while underage as well as using a fake ID at a club. Additionally, he served a three-game suspension in his final year for violating UCLA team policy, reported to have stemmed from Lasley’s use of social media and just generally trying the patience of coaches with more than occasional immaturity.
Taking all of this into account, dynasty owners valued Lasley in February as the 39th rookie off the board, equating to an early fourth round pick. Whether it be a general lack of awareness or simply that drafters don’t believe his skill set translates to the NFL, Lasley is pretty much an afterthought in the dynasty community. Even now, his April Rookie ADP is 42 overall.
In terms of NFL draft value, Lasley has a massive range of outcomes. Some analysts, even ESPN lead draft analyst Mel Kiper, have at one point said that Lasley has potential to go in the first round of the NFL draft. I don’t think this is likely, but it’s a testament to his ability. His aforementioned combine numbers as well as character concerns may push him to the end of day two or perhaps even day three of the draft. His draft stock will be a major point in his profile.
I really like what Jordan Lasley can bring to the table for an NFL offense. He has played all over the field in his years at UCLA, and his chemistry with Josh Rosen, a top tier NFL QB prospect, is reassuring. His ability to track and play the deep ball combined with his natural YAC ability reminds me a lot of Jarvis Landry during his time at LSU. Landry did also not test as an elite athlete (in fact, quite the opposite) at the combine but has proven to overcome that during his time in the NFL.
Lasley’s character concerns will surely come up throughout rookie draft season as a reason to push him down draft boards. For me, these concerns are much more Ezekiel Elliott-like than Joe Mixon-like. He just makes some boneheaded decisions. As a college student, I know how many 19 and 20-year-olds use fake IDs on a regular basis, and I’m certainly not condoning that, but there are far worse things that would be more concerning.
Overall, Lasley is a player I’m heavily targeting right now in the third rounds of rookie drafts. On game tape and talent alone, I believe he’s a top ten wideout in this year’s class. His Combine and suspension issues push him down slightly, but he’s fallen too far in the dynasty community. In a month from now, I would not be shocked whatsoever if he’s a mid-late second round consensus rookie pick. You’ll be the first one in your league to know his name.
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