Justin Hunter | Wide Reciever | Tennessee | 6'4'', 200 pounds |
2012 Stats: 73 catches, 1,083 yards, 9 touchdowns
Everything changed for Justin Hunter on Sept. 17, 2011. On that afternoon, in a game against Florida, the Tennessee wide receiver tore his ACL, ending his sophomore season.
Since the injury, Hunter hasn't quite been the same player. He's less explosive, more tentative, and struggled through most of his junior season with the Volunteers.
Despite a season that fell short of high expectations, Hunter declared for the 2013 NFL Draft. He falls short of being a top tier option in this year's crop of wide receivers but should intrigue some teams on the draft's second day.
Pros: Justin Hunter has a rare combination of size and speed. At 6-feet-4-inches tall, Hunter is blessed with ideal length for a wide receiver. He moves well for his size, using long strides to get up the field in a hurry. He sets up his routes well with solid acceleration, which has declined a bit since his knee surgery but is still solid.
Hunter uses his height to his advantage, and his leaping ability allows him to high-point the football with ease. Through his route running and speed, Hunter is able to get separation from defenders quite often. He also manages to use his size to make life difficult on cornerbacks trying to get good position on him.
Cons: Hunter is a rare athlete at wide receiver, but his game is far from refined. His explosiveness hasn't been the same since tearing his ACL, and his game has also lacked physicality and a killer instinct since the injury. For as big as he is, Hunter is skinny and plays the game without an edge. While he knows how to use his size to get advantageous position, he does not have the strength or drive to do it often enough. Cornerbacks have success jamming him at the line of scrimmage due to that same lack of strength.
Hunter has also shown an alarming lack of focus this season. He drops way too many passes, and it's not entirely a result of bad hands. Hunter simply loses focus, turns up field to quickly or allows the ball to come into his body on far too many plays. He's still working on becoming a more natural hands catcher, and this season proved that he still has a ways to go in that area.
These two aspects of Hunter's game make him a very raw player. He will have a hard time living up to the hype until he is willing to get his hands dirty and put in the work to refine his pass catching. Early in the season, former Vols coach Derek Dooley called Hunter out on his attitude and work ethic, saying he wasn't living up to the hype. That will concern some NFL teams. There's no denying Hunter's upside, but he is far from refined.
Conclusion: Justin Hunter has a world of upside. With the physical talent he possesses, Hunter could become one of the ten best wide receivers in the league. However, his lack of aggression and focus is a big concern. Does he have the drive to refine the parts of his game that need work? We'll find out.
Pro Comparison: Kenny Britt - Justin Hunter may have the measurables of Randy moss or A.J. Green but he is not on that level. In fact, Hunter isn't anywhere close. If he refines his game and plays with a bit more physicality, he has a chance to develop into the type of receiver Kenny Britt has become.
Video from Draftbreakdown.com: