Dec 31, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) makes a reception for a touchdown against Clemson Tigers defensive back Garry Peters (26) during the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown – Jarvis Landry, WR LSU


LSU has a frustrating track record in recent years with wide receivers but with a renewed focus on developing the quarterback position and the hiring of Cam Cameron, the hope is that they are turning a corner and will not be a running team that makes their fans hold their breath whenever they drop back to pass in a big situation.  As a result, the receiver talent they have should be a focal point of the offense rather than an underutilized weapon.

Jarvis Landry has the mentality of a tight end as a blocker, a running back as a ball carrier, and the makings of a good receiver prospect as he enters his junior year.  He was productive as a sophomore with 56 catches for 573 yards and 5 touchdowns along with the fact LSU cannot seem to find enough ways to use him.  Although Landry has some nuances of the position that he needs to continue improving, his mentality on the field is something that coaches will love and his production is good and should only get better.  Landry’s got the ability to be a big riser this year and while he only looks like a top 100 pick now, it would not be shocking for him to improve dramatically.  Landry is not easy to categorize because while he does not have ideal measurables and size, he is going to win coaches over with everything he brings to the football field as a general weapon and fantastic utility player with star potential and could be a player who goes much earlier than people expect, whenever he ultimately declares.

Vitals & Build

Landry is listed at 6’1” 195lbs with a good build for a wide receiver at his size, especially as he was only a sophomore this past year.  He has a nice, strong build that resembles a running back but is able to play on the outside.  Landry has good speed, tremendous body control, and quickness.  Combining all of that with terrific functional strength and an attitude he plays with that seems to make play even just that much stronger, he is a terrific athlete.  Landry could probably continue to fill out a little bit more as long as it does not impact his quickness and athleticism, which would make him that much more impressive.  It would not be surprising to see him get to around 205lbs in the NFL.

Route Running & Technique

In terms of his stance, Landry does a pretty good job.  He only has a small amount of bounce as he has his motion going forward and displays a good first step.  Landry has good footwork and incredible body control, which enables him to be a good route runner.  The fact he is a great blocker gives him one more added element of quickness because opponents have to make sure he is not blocking and then switch to coverage.

Landry does a good job of selling routes, making the defender respect that he could go in any direction at a given time and then using that to work out from underneath coverage.  He has the body control to plant and change directions quickly and easily to create separation.  He will occasionally round off routes too much but overall he shows a tremendous amount of effort and technique in how he runs his routes and should only continue to improve with more experience.  One last thing he does that he can get away with because of how effective he is as a blocker is that he can fake blocks on opponents and release into routes.  In other words, he can either run directly at the opponent and show a block before releasing further down the field and perhaps catching them flat footed.  The other side of this is that he can also hit them and then release to one of the sides, creating separation, which is a useful skill in short yardage and goal line situations.

Landry needs to continue to improve against zone defenses and settling in holes in the zone.  He and his quarterback also need to be on the same page when it comes to him finding space and making catches in space.  Some of this improve with experience and feel, but chemistry is something that needs to be practiced as well.

Hands

Landry’s hands are a work in progress.  For the most part he catches the ball well and can snag the ball out of the air with his hands.  His catching radius is average for the most part but he will show some flare for the dramatic with some incredible, circus catches.  The problem is that from play to play, he is not able to reach out and make too many catches yet and will drop balls on occasion that he simply should not.  They appear to be a simple matter of trying to run before he has caught it, but it is a drop and something that needs to be to corrected going forward.

The average size of his catch radius is problematic from the standpoint that he is not overly tall, so as long as that remains the case, it causes the quarterback to really have to put the ball on him at times.  To Landry’s credit, this was something that appeared to improve as the season went on, so if he continues in that direction, he could be quite good by the time he gets to the draft.

The area where he does really excel is body control and positioning himself to make catches.  And this is where he tends to make up for his average catch radius because he is able to put himself in position to make some difficult plays look easier than most can.  Some of this can come on practice and reps but much of it comes down to a natural instinct Landry seems to have and an innate ability to get himself in the best position to make catches and using his body to create space and box out opponents.  The better he gets at this, the less of a concern his size becomes on the outside.

Run After Catch

Landry is a threat to run with the ball after the catch but he is not as good as he can be in that aspect of his game.  As a runner, he plays like a running back with natural ability and moves that make him a pain to deal with after he has the ball in his hands.  He is not afraid to make quick moves, make guys miss in space, use a spin move and take advantage of his natural strength which makes him a real asset.  Landry needs to continue working on the positions he tends to end up in when he is catching the ball or when he is going to run after the catch.

Part of this is on LSU for how their plays are designed but Landry tends to catch too many passes in bad positions to make moves after he catches the ball.  He has to reset too much after catching and he cannot get started before he is getting tackled.  If he is catching the ball for positive yardage, it is not a big problem, but it becomes noticeable on screens and other plays that are specifically designed to get him going with the ball in his hands.

That said, when he catches the ball in stride, he does a great job of continuing with his momentum and running after the catch.  On short crosses and drag type routes, he can be a terror and create a lot of extra yardage because he is not afraid to be aggressive with the ball in his hands.  If Landry can continue to improve and anticipate how he is going to catch the ball better so he can make moves with quickness after catching the ball and make plays, he becomes that much better.  That could be a big stride he makes this year, but if he goes to the NFL and is paired with a really accurate quarterback, he could really take off in that area of his game.  Landry has ability and he seems to be just scratching the surface in that respect.

Blocking

Landry is a terrific blocker who takes pride in it and it shows.  He gives everything he has, gets in position and uses good technique.  Landry is also fearless and will take on anyone as a blocker.  And just because he is going up against someone bigger does not mean he automatically goes low on them.  He is the type of player that opponents do not look forward to seeing because he is so annoying in how hard he works.  If opponents are not paying attention, he has the ability to level them and has more than a few pancakes to his credit with a few linebackers on his resume.

Although he is a wide receiver by name and with his size, he blocks like a tight end and becomes a weapon in the running game.  He can line up out wide but it becomes difficult to resist the urge to put him in the slot because of the difference he can make in the running game.  Landry has an added advantage because he is faster than most everyone else, so he has the range to get after players on the other side of the field and will be a high effort player helping out down the field.

Not only does he put in effort and win on natural ability, but he is smart about using angles and taking away the opponent’s shoulder to force him to try to beat the block by going the long way around.  Landry is not satisfied to just get in the way, but continues to work to finish blocks and send a message by driving his opponent into the ground.

The added advantage is that because he is such a weapon as a blocker, they have to respect it and put themselves in position to absorb a hit and not get knocked out of the play.  The result is when the defender does that, it opens up a lane for when Landry is actually running a route.  This is an added element that makes being an effective blocker help the player as a pass catcher.  He is unpredictable and defenses have to account for him wherever he is on the field or they can give up running plays to his side as well as having players get ear holed by a devastating block they do not see coming.

Special Teams

Not surprisingly, Landry has experience as a kick returner.  He has returned punts, which is the far more useful skill, especially with what he already brings to the table.  Landry is the type of player that could go make tackles on kickoff and lay people out if a team wants him to do it.  He seems to shine wherever he ends up on the field.

System Fit

The most natural fit for Landry is as a bigger than normal slot receiver.  He has the toughness and strength to hold up there, adds an element by being a great blocker, and if he can continue developing, can be a terrific weapon after the catch.  If Landry can tap into his full potential, he could end up as an outside receiver who kicks inside whenever there is a situation he can, be it in three receiver sets or for teams who want to put twins on one side or the other.  While he obviously has value in that he can line up opposite a tight end and create a balanced running formation, he can line up on the same side of the tight end kicked out to the slot and have a double tight end set without it feeling so cramped.  It can be a legitimate running as well as passing set up should a team want to run it.

2013 Schedule

Sat, August 31 vs. TCU
Sat, Sept. 7 vs. UAB
Sat, Sept. 14 vs. Kent State
Sat, Sept. 21 vs. Auburn
Sat, Sept. 28 at Georgia
Sat, Oct. 5 at Mississippi State
Sat, Oct. 12 vs. Florida
Sat, Oct. 19 at Ole Miss
Sat. Oct. 26 vs. Furman
Sat, Nov. 9 at Alabama
Sat, Nov. 23 vs. Texas A&M
Fri, Nov. 29 vs. Arkansas

Notable Games

It depends entirely on where they have him lined up and where the defense wants to play their guys, but the start of the season against TCU has the potential to be a great matchup between Landry and Jason Verrett.  Verrett may not follow him inside to the slot but he could be covering him on the outside which would be a good test for both parties.  Florida is always a game that features a ton of NFL prospects but this year in particular is interesting because LSU has a few talented, receivers and the Gators have a couple talented, young corners.  There should be a good amount of opportunities for Landry to go up against Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson and they are corners who have been putrid against the run, so it may be a matchup LSU wants as Landry can overpower them.  Alabama is never short on talent in the secondary and they will move guys inside to the slot if they like the matchup.  Landry went up against Dee Milliner at times last year and the Bama corners are not as good as they were last year, so it will be interesting to see if Landry and the Tiger offense can take advantage.

NFL Comparison

While they took completely different paths to get where they are, in many ways, Landry is reminiscent of Josh Cribbs.  Cribbs has always played the game all out and just does not seem to know another way.  Landry has a far better understanding of the position and should be a more successful wide receiver but in terms of his attitude, playing style, and how he runs with the ball in his hands, he is similar to Cribbs.  And like Cribbs, teams could be looking for any way to get him on the field to allow him to make plays.  The key difference between the two and what could enable Landry to be far more successful is that has an obvious position he can play and additional options.  With Cribbs, wide receiver never took, so he ended up being more of an athlete than anything else.

Draft Projection

Jarvis Landry is still developing as a player but his attitude, determination and work ethic combined with his athleticism make him warrant a top 100 pick based on what he brings to the table now.  If he can continue to polish his game, he could really move up draft boards in addition to becoming a bigger factor for the Bayou Bengals this upcoming season.  Landry is a player who can be used as a weapon in the running game, passing game, special teams, and give teams some added options as a player.  In addition, his style of play is one that will make coaches go to bat for him and fight to get him on their team.  It looks like it will be an incredibly difficult receiver class but Landry’s uniqueness and ability to contribute in so many ways, he could end up surprising some with how high he goes.

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