clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Draft on tape: WR Terry McLaurin’s separation quickness perfect for Seahawks

New, comments
NCAA Football: Senior Bowl John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Terry McLaurin would help the Seattle Seahawks immensely. The former Ohio State Buckeye is exactly what Seattle looks for in a receiver.

Two weeks ago, I dared to dream about the Seahawks landing a dynamic, run-after-catch threat in the 2019 NFL Draft. I hypothesized that Deebo Samuel could be the guy but acknowledged it would be “grossly irresponsible” for Seattle to spend a high pick on a wide receiver, given their more pressing needs.

McLaurin as a pick feels more realistic. Testing will have a large say on where he goes, and the 2019 combine invitee could run fast (more on this later), but he’s likely to be a third-rounder. The strength of this receiver group is in day 2. While the depth of the class is limited, and the top end has question marks, day 2 contains several fun guys.

For the Seahawks, McLaurin is the pick of the bunch. In college, he was the type of explosive playmaker that Pete Carroll salivates over:

In a loaded offensive arsenal, McLaurin averaged 20 yards per catch and recorded 11 receiving touchdowns.

Senior Bowl

At the Senior Bowl, McLaurin alerted all evaluators to his talents, soaring to be the most impressive wideout behind Samuel. He demonstrated a deep comprehension of separation creation. His sudden, aggressive cuts drew gasps from onlookers. All the traits he flashed on tape dominated defenders. He proved that he’s a receiver that wins through route running ability and not just athleticism.

At the end of the week, McLaurin had impressed some of the most respected evaluators:

In the game, he earned three “Jon Gruden Raiders stickers,” took an end-around 20 yards and played through contact at the catchpoint:

Here is my real-time reaction from the press box:

The weigh-ins also confirmed McLaurin’s ability to play both inside and out at the NFL level, where he measured in at 6ft 1, 205lbs.

Toughness

What helps McLaurin is his toughness. He will fight through impact when trying to haul in the football and maintains his concentration. One of his best catches is adjusting to a ball thrown behind him. He will vertically leap, contort his body and secure the catch.

I severely dislike comparisons for prospects, BUT McLaurin’s back-shoulder catching style reminds me of Golden Tate coming into the league. McLaurin is a body catcher who relies on trying to clasp the ball into his chest, even when leaping for the football. He would benefit from extending his hands away from his frame and making use of his full catching radius.

Back to McLaurin’s physicality, where his ability to deal with tight press coverage benefits too:

Beating press

When dealing with press coverage, the main way McLaurin beats defenders is via his footspeed. He makes them dance a merry jig with slippery lateral ability and quick, dicey feet.

You will always get those saying this kind of release needs to be cleaned up at the next level, but for the purposes of the one-on-one drills it was awesome. Enjoy two angles of one of his best reps:

McLaurin’s skill in moving suddenly in short areas leads to easy separation. His shimmies and head fakes were brutal for corners in Mobile:

Deception

McLaurin’s footspeed and violence when running routes showed up in college. He was not a lazy route runner, instead attacking the break point each time:

McLaurin showed the complete mismatch of putting him against Texas safety Kris Boyd. Exploiting a lunging jam with a quick swipe, McLaurin beat Boyd deep and stacked the defensive back. Combined with McLaurin’s head and eye fake to look for the ball, Boyd thought he was beat on the go route. Instead, McLaurin then used his ++ positioning to sink his hips and break outwards for the catch.

There are a few added steps and footwork issues in McLaurin’s route-running that can be fixed with sound coaching, but overall he manipulates defenders beautifully.

Speed

John Schneider has only ever taken two wide receivers who ran slower than the 4.4s—Chris Harper in the 2013 fourth and Kenny Lawler in the 2016 seventh. The Seahawks’ general manager has never taken a slow day 2 prospect.

On tape, McLaurin appears quicker than fast. He appeared to have rapid first and second gears but didn’t seem to possess burner qualities higher up the stick shift. However; just look at the Zebra tracking numbers from the Senior Bowl:

Unsurprisingly, this showed up in one-on-ones, particularly once he had avoided any kind of jam:

As Brad Kelly described, McLaurin has a “slow motion” effect on the other 21 players:

Perhaps, then, McLaurin’s altering of his route speed to manipulate defenders and get in optimal position for the football is what influenced my non-burner opinions pre-Senior Bowl. In Mobile, while I was munching on numerous Reese’s pieces, McLaurin looked like the fastest man on the field.

Coming out of high school, McLaurin reportedly ran a 4.40 forty-yard dash at “The SPARQ Opening” in 2013. He expects to run a 4.35 forty at the NFL combine. He’s certainly running in the 4.4s, making him 1) a mightily appealing prospect and 2) “eligible” for Schneider’s consideration.

Ball carrier

What makes McLaurin so exciting is what he can do with the ball in his hands. His strong lower legs give him excellent contact balance for the position and a robustness that makes him tricky to bring down. As a ballcarrier, he is always looking to punish with a nasty off-hand stiff arm. Furthermore, he transitions from receiver to runner near-instantly. This myriad of positive traits gets even better due to McLaurin’s prescient open-field vision. As a result, McLaurin represents true housing potential with his COD skills and burst.

Blocking and special teams

The high effort of McLaurin warrants serious praise. It was beyond question as a stalk blocker at Ohio State, where he was always looking to sink low and deliver a firm, well-aimed hand strike. While he lacked stickiness and drive—which could be an Ohio State-coached thing—he was willing.

Such eagerness to “do his job” extended to special teams, where McLaurin was a capable gunner on punt and kickoff coverage. In Mobile, when most watchers bemoaned the special teams drills, McLaurin hurtled downfield as a gunner and always met the returner with a tap.

Draft

Parris Campbell (who turned down the Senior Bowl) has so far received more attention than McLaurin, but I’d rank McLaurin over his former teammate. As stated, the athleticism plus the quick-separation skills make for a deadly wide receiver #2 type who can physically transition into an open-field threat.

That makes McLaurin perfect for the offense of Brian Schottenheimer. As I wrote in the Samuel edition of Draft on tape, “Seattle’s receiver group was weak last year, with Lockett the only consistent threat after Doug Baldwin played the year hurt.” Meanwhile, David Moore appears to be viewed as the Jermaine Kearse-type, that of a possession receiver.

Moore regressed, after he had issues controlling his body and getting two feet in bounds, but McLaurin would fill a different role, playing in the slot and outside. Think Golden Tate. McLaurin meeting this need could remedy 2018’s disappointing yards-after-catch numbers. Additionally, he would get open on the intermediate crossers and over routes that Schottenheimer adores.

The Seahawks are almost certain to move down in the draft, probably twice from their initial position at #21. That should net them enough picks to justify spending a third on McLaurin, assuming he doesn’t run stupid fast (4.3s). What we know now is this: Terry McLaurin is exactly what the Seattle Seahawks look for in a receiver.