Following a slow start to his college career and a red-shirted junior season, Dylan Cantrell posted two impressive seasons to put himself in a position to hear his name called on the draft’s final day. Cantrell averaged 64.5 receptions, 745.5 yards and 7.5 touchdowns per season in his final two years at Texas Tech.
Cantrell is an interesting evaluation. He excelled playing on the outside for the Red Raiders and would project there in the pros, however he lacks the athletic traits of a successful outside receiver in the NFL. He tested really well at the Scouting Combine and combined with his nearly 6-3 and 226-pound frame, his profile looks the part. But Cantrell’s play speed leaves something to be desired and he’ll have to prove his value as a special teamer if he’s to stick on a 53-man roster as a rookie.
Cantrell’s athletic ability limits his route tree to the short and intermediate areas of the field. He doesn’t have the play speed to pose a threat on deep routes. At the top of his route, Cantrell is physical, creating separation with subtle contact. After the catch, he looks to get up-field.
heads past the marker and puts his shoulder into the DB pic.twitter.com/O4JHFAkthM— Alistair's Cut-ups (@alistairscutups) March 31, 2018
At 6-3 and 212 pounds, Cantrell displayed a good understanding of his frame in boxing out defenders on short routes. Defenders had the luxury of staying tight in coverage due to Cantrell’s lack of speed, but his ability to get in front of defenders helped him bring in contested catches.
Cantrell has a solid catch radius, able to snatch balls off the turf and away from his body as well as high pointing the football. He possesses strong hands and good focus, able to pluck the ball out of the air with it rarely getting knocked loose after getting his hands on it.
This is Cantrell’s biggest weakness. His play speed is slow and as a deep threat his routes take too long to develop — defensive backs can stay on top of him with ease. Cantrell’s combine results were legitimately stunning: His change of direction and movements skills were not reflected on the football field at all.
never going to beat defenders over the top pic.twitter.com/MtCGj4GBIt— Alistair's Cut-ups (@alistairscutups) March 31, 2018
Cantrell does a good job turning his body around and finding the football while keeping the defender out of his frame. As a potential fourth or fifth receiver on a team’s roster, Cantrell could bring some value as a red zone threat. If you’re able to isolate him one-on-one inside the opponent’s 10-yard line, there’s a good chance he’ll come down with the football.
little shimmy at the los, touch of contact at the top then boxes out the defender. easy teeder pic.twitter.com/KNlpqYCvlt— Alistair's Cut-ups (@alistairscutups) March 31, 2018
In both the running game and on wide receiver screens, Cantrell is a relentless blocker.
i get the feeling Dylan Cantrell loves blocking pic.twitter.com/gmNMYB0oSF— Alistair's Cut-ups (@alistairscutups) March 30, 2018
He’s technically sound, keeping defenders engaged and has the strength to finish his blocks.
finishing his block! pic.twitter.com/aQ9DIVOg1j— Alistair's Cut-ups (@alistairscutups) March 31, 2018
Overall, Cantrell is a physically limited wide receiver who will have to bring value on special teams if he’s going to make a team’s active roster. Although he tested extremely well at the Scouting Combine, his athletic ability and functional speed is yet to translate to the football field. Without adding a dynamic ability to his game, it’s hard to envision Cantrell as anything more than a fourth or fifth receiver in the NFL.