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Jerry Jeudy is the kind of receiver the Denver Broncos are lucky to have

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Retired defensive end Stephen White believes Jerry Jeudy can put up even bigger numbers in Denver than he did at Alabama — and that’s saying something.

Artwork of NFL WR prospect Jerry Jeudy carrying the ball at Alabama, superimposed on an aqua background with “scouting” and “X’s and O’s in neon green letters
Jerry Jeudy is one of the top WR prospects in a draft class loaded at the position.

The Denver Broncos selected Jerry Jeudy with the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s what Stephen White had to say about Jeudy ahead of the draft.

After watching his tape, the first word that comes to mind when I think about Jerry Jeudy is “polished.”

He already looks like a professional in the way he operates on the field. Jeudy also has all the athletic traits you could possibly ask for from a wide receiver with his speed, quickness, strength to get off the jam, and hand-eye coordination to track the football in the air. More than just his physical ability, what jumped off the screen to me was that he understands how to actually play the position.

Just about every team in the league could use a receiver like Jeudy. He ran a complete route tree at Alabama, and was sharp and fluid getting in and out of his breaks. He also was excellent beating press coverage at the line of scrimmage.

Yeah, if you miss a jam on Jeudy, you might as well go ahead and fake that pulled hammy.

In college, Jeudy was able to showcase the full breadth of his talents — and there really isn’t much this kid can’t do on a football field. Alabama featured him in a multitude of ways in the four games that I watched, and no matter where Jeudy lined up, he still found a way to flourish.

What Jeudy does well: Embracing contact

He was mostly in the slot in those four games but also spent time as an outside receiver, and it was apparent he could more than hold his own there. At 6’1 and 193 pounds, Jeudy isn’t exactly a “big” wide receiver in this era of supersized wideouts we are living in, but he definitely isn’t short and at times plays a lot bigger than his size.

That was especially true when he was catching balls in traffic. Not only does Jeudy not mind a little contact, he actively sought it out in the tape I watched.

That was another thing that stood out to me: Jeudy loved to finish the play off strong when he had the ball in his hands. Part of that was his ability to accelerate after the catch, which was jaw-dropping at times. Jeudy would already be running his route fast, but when he secured the catch with green grass in front of him, he would really open up that V12 he has under the hood.

On top of his wheels, however, Jeudy would lower his shoulder on contact so he could get an extra yard or three by delivering a blow instead of just taking one at the end of his receptions. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but extra yards tend to add up, and they can make all the difference in a tight contest. That’s how you keep moving the chains even when you can’t shake the coverage.

I won’t go overboard and say Jeudy has Deebo Samuel’s level of physicality as a runner, but extra yards are extra yards, and I believe Jeudy’s run-after-catch style will continue to reap benefits at the next level.

What Jeudy does well: Going deep

While Samuel is certainly an exciting player, he wasn’t quite the deep threat in college that Jeudy was.

If Jeudy were only able to work the underneath routes, he would still easily be a top prospect on that part of his game alone. That he also has an extra gear most guys don’t possess is what pushes him right up into elite wide receiver prospect status.

I will note that in picking these four games at random, I ended up watching two games with Alabama’s normal starting quarterback, and probable top-five pick, Tua Tagovailoa. The other two games were with backup Mac Jones. I could have tried to make sure all four games were when Jeudy had Tagovailoa throwing to him, but that would defeat the purpose of choosing them at random. It also would have denied me the ability to see if Jeudy could still find a way to make an impact with a backup quarterback leading the offense.

That is important to me, because we all know that not every top draft prospect ends up going to a good situation. No matter where he is picked, there is a chance that Jeudy will be drafted by a team without a “good” starting quarterback. Nobody wants to hear excuses if a wide receiver is taken high, though. They expect him to perform no matter who is at quarterback, so watching Jeudy with Jones was an opportunity to see how that might play out.

Judging by how he roasted the Michigan secondary in the bowl game with Jones under center, I’m gonna go ahead and say I’d be comfortable as hell drafting Jeudy into any quarterback situation.

Where Jeudy can improve: Drops

As for any knocks on the kid, he had three drops in the games I watched, which is a little concerning. One of them was just a concentration drop; he tried to run before he had actually secured the catch. That one didn’t concern me all that much.

The other two were both dropped touchdowns against LSU, however. Mind you, neither was an easy catch attempt, but they were the kind of catches I would expect a first-round prospect to make. Especially in a big game like that.

One would’ve gone for 49 yards at a time when Alabama was down early and really needed that spark. Instead, it slipped right through his outstretched hands and the moment was lost. It was a deep ball that hung in the air for a long time and was thrown out in front of him, but it’s still one I’d have liked to see him make.

I bet Nick Saban concurs.

The other drop was on a quick slant from the slot later in the game near the goal line. Alabama was trying to stage an improbable comeback, down 39-27, and it was third-and-2 from the LSU 5-yard line. The defender undercut the route and swiped at the ball as it went by, likely obscuring Jeudy’s view for a moment.

The route itself was outstanding, but the ball, again, appeared to go right through his hands.

To his credit, Jeudy dusted himself off and ran another great route on the next play. He broke outside for a nice touchdown catch on the sideline, pulling the Crimson Tide to within one score against the eventual national champions.

What makes me more accepting of those drops is all the other balls I did see him catch. In particular, there were several times where Jeudy was able to catch balls that were thrown below his waist, on the run, without breaking stride. That is a lot harder than it looks, and it shows me that he has a lot of confidence in his hands because he didn’t have to slow down or stop to make those catches. He just snatched the ball out of the air like it was nothing.

So I think I can live with those three drops, as long as it wasn’t a habit the rest of the season.

While I didn’t see Jeudy get any opportunities on 50-50 jump balls, I also don’t care very much about that. I saw him catch the ball with defenders bearing down on him, and I saw him maintain possession through contact enough times to be confident in his ability to make contested catches.

Also, there won’t be many guys in the league who can keep up with him on a go route in the first place. If my quarterback can’t throw the ball far enough for Jeudy to go get it while running away from his defender, then dammit, I need a new quarterback!

Jeudy’s NFL future: Immediate starter

In the four games I watched, Jeudy had almost half as many catches that went for 20+ yards (seven) as he had catches that went for fewer than 20 yards (16). I have to say, what hurt his production more than anything was playing at Alabama.

After watching his tape, it’s impossible to ignore just how much talent the Crimson Tide had on offense, particularly at the skill positions. My goodness, I don’t know if I have seen a faster set of wide receivers on one squad in my life, and they rolled deep. It’s hard to complain about how few targets Jeudy was getting when the other guys, including the running backs, were tearing it up too.

At the same time, the way the CBA and the salary cap is set up, Jeudy will never have to worry about having to share the ball with that many talented wide receivers once he gets to the NFL. Most teams only have four or five active on gameday, and one or two of those are usually special teamers. With more targets, you should see a lot more production from Jeudy in the NFL. And that’s saying something, considering he won the Biletnikoff Award as college football’s top wide receiver two years ago as a sophomore.

I am writing this before the combine starts, so I have no idea what Jeudy will run in a 40-yard dash, but I do know what my eyes tell me watching his tape — this guy has that “if he’s even, he’s leaving” type of speed. I would make any corner in the league prove they can run with him before I’d even considering trying to throw him any back-shoulder fades, anyway.

But that’s just me.

Jeudy is a player who is ready to start right away and be whatever his offense needs him to be. I suspect how high he goes in the first round will be contingent on how he performs in the pre-draft workouts. But no matter where he gets drafted and no matter which team takes him, barring injury, Jeudy is going to put up numbers right off the bat.

He’s the first wide receiver I’ve broken down this season, but I can’t imagine there will be many, if any, better than him. If a team needs a difference maker at wide receiver, it could certainly do a lot worse than drafting Jeudy this spring.

For the purposes of this breakdown, I watched Jeudy play against South Carolina, LSU, Auburn, and Michigan (Citrus Bowl).