Rueben Randle WR, LSU. 6'4" 208 lbs.
In the latest mock draft by SB Nation the Baltimore Ravens are projected to draft wide receiver Rueben Randle. The front office has come out and stated that they will be looking to upgrade at the receiver position but is Randle worth the first round pick?
Here is what SB Nations Ryan Van Bibber has to say about Randle and why the Ravens should draft him:
Randle is a late addition to the top of the receiver rankings, but the talent has always been there ... just hidden behind awful quarterback play. Randle has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, and looks to be faster and more explosive than Alshon Jeffery or Mohamed Sanu. Baltimore's offense needs another weapon to keep threatening for the AFC Championship.
Before this article I did not know much about Rueben Randle and I was definitely not aware that he was considered a first round wide out talent. After some searching around the best info. I found was on cbssports.com. Here is what they have to say about Randle:
Randle signed with LSU as one of the most highly regarded prep prospects at any position in 2008. Proving well worth the hype Randle started four of LSU's final five games -- including the Capital One Bowl against Penn State -- as a true freshman and played in 13 games, overall, catching 11 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
Randle quickly ascended as a playmaker in 2010 leading the Tigers with a 16.5 yard per catch average. He enjoyed a bit of a breakout performance against Alabama catching three passes for 125 yards and a touchdown but due to LSU's focus on the running game his season totals (33 catches for 544 yards and three touchdowns) weren't eye-popping despite the fact that he was LSU's second-leading receiver.
With SEC defenses sucked in close to the line of scrimmage to defend an LSU rushing attack that averaged 202.5 yards a game on the ground, Randle took his game to another level in 2011. He earned All-SEC accolades in catching 50 passes for 908 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging a gaudy 18.1 yards per reception. He showed improved concentration as a route-runner and receiver and developed into a more reliable blocker, as well.
Considering that he stood out immediately in the SEC, improved each year while at LSU and enters the draft just three years removed from high school, there should be plenty of interest in Randle as early as the bottom half of the first round.
Release: Good strength to push the cornerback onto his heels in tight coverage and has the burst to step back, space and snatch the quick out. Smooth accelerator who can get behind the defense with good playing speed but needs to do a better job of using his hands to gain separation when pressed.
Hands: Strong hands. Can snatch the ball from the air but does allow passes into his chest. Good strength and effort facing physical coverage and has the long arms and big hands to win the contested ball. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder. Good body control to contort in space. Possesses very long arms and has good flexibility to extend and pluck outside of his frame.
Route running: Possesses good athleticism for a receiver of his size and is able to get free of coverage due to his savviness as a route runner. Shows some feel for setting up the defender. Will use a shoulder fake to get the defender turning and accelerate smoothly on angle routes. Has the speed to beat defenders deep and is able to gain separation on short routes despite being a bit stiff in turning back to the ball. Alert receiver. Recognizes when his quarterback is in trouble and adjusts his route accordingly.
After the catch: Possesses very good size and good strength to threaten as a big play target. Fights for additional yardage and can break tackles in doing so. Isn't elusive enough to juke defenders in tight quarters but has good vision and enough burst to take advantage after breaking a tackle. Coordinated athlete who glides for his size but may lack the top-end speed to run away from NFL corner backs.
Blocking: Takes pride in his role as a blocker, showing significant improvement in this area in 2011 from 2010. Possesses very good size as well as good strength and effort to contain his target. Looks to get involved down field to spring one of his teammates.
Intangibles: Highly touted athlete who drew interest in the Major League Baseball draft and could have signed with virtually any college team in the country as a prep receiver. Has been characterized as a very hard worker who is willing to put in the time on and off the field to improve. On the "hands" team for LSU and caught the on-side kick attempt by Oregon to essentially end the game in the 2011 season opener.
What do you think? Is Randle worth our first round pick?