In 2017, the Ravens trotted out a receiving corps which certainly lacked in the department of size and red zone ability. In the signing of Michael Crabtree, the Ravens found a possession receiver who was a dynamic red zone threat. Though Crabtree alone isn’t going to be enough for the Ravens to see improvement from a year ago. To bolster both the size and hands of the Ravens receiving, Ozzie Newsome should turn to Bloomington, Indiana.
The Indiana Hoosiers produced a 6’4” wide receiver named Simmie Cobbs Jr, a player who is widely viewed to be a second or third round pick. Cobbs broke out in 2017 as Indiana opened up the college football season on a national stage against Ohio State.
“[T]he first thing that obviously stands out about him is his size,” Jake Thomer, the Indiana football reporter for the Indiana Daily Student told me. “At times last season, it just felt like all one of IU’s quarterbacks had to do was throw the ball in Cobbs’ general vicinity and he would come down with it, especially in the red zone. He rarely found a defensive back that could match his size or physical strength, and at times even cooked NFL-caliber cornerbacks like those on Ohio State. His hands, though inconsistent at times, also showed flashes of brilliance.
Where Cobbs lacks most right now is probably in his speed and separation ability. He ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, which is not that good of a time for a wide receiver (the top 15 receivers at the 40-yard dash this year all ran a 4.50 or better). At the end of the day, his red zone prowess is unquestioned and will likely be the biggest reason why a team falls in love with him, but he’ll have to show that he can find space against NFL cornerbacks outside of the final 20 yards of the field.”
I’ve picked a total of four plays from the Indiana vs Ohio State game which showcase Cobbs’ skills and what he could bring to Baltimore should the Ravens select him.
It wouldn’t have been a catch in the NFL, as Cobbs only got one foot down, but this incredible effort from Cobbs really kickstarted Indiana’s offense which stayed with Ohio State for the first half of this game. Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow launches a deep ball down the sideline towards Cobbs, who is being covered by Kendall Sheffield. Cobbs does have a size advantage over Sheffield, and he certainly takes advantage of it. The Hoosiers’ receiver is able to adjust to the throw that is trailing towards the sideline, and makes an incredible one handed catch with Sheffield draped all over him. On this play, Cobbs is able showcase his ability to win a 50-50 ball and his knowledge of how to use his size,.
The above video has two plays in it. The catch on the first play is a fairly routine one, though what’s impressive about this effort is Cobbs after the catch. Cobbs is able to break free from Sheffield, who’s only grip on Cobbs is his jersey. If not for two Ohio State defenders coming over to make the tackle, Cobbs’ strength would have won out, and he would have fully broken the tackle of Sheffield, and likely scored a touchdown.
The second play is another example of Cobbs being able to adjust to the ball. Cobbs has to turn around in order to make a play on the ball, which doesn’t have as much air under it as the throw in the first video. Again, with Sheffield covering him, Cobbs is able to make an incredible one handed catch, and hold onto it despite being hit by Sheffield.
Though Sheffield wasn’t the only Buckeyes corner Cobbs got the best of in this game. Inside of the 10 yard line, Cobbs was matched up against projected top 10 pick, Denzel Ward. Again, Cobbs knows he has a size advantage, and he knows how to take advantage of it. Cobbs basically posts up Ward, leaps over him, and makes the contested catch, scoring a touchdown for Indiana. On this play, Cobbs again shows his strength, his 50-50 ball ability, and his adjustment ability.
Though while Cobbs size and physicality are impressive, he does come with some flaws, as Thomer mentioned. According to his draft profile on NFL.com, Cobbs has a drop rate of 11.4 percent. Two plays before his touchdown catch against Denzel Ward, Cobbs had an easy touchdown catch go through his hands. His film shows either incredible catches or frustrating drops. Though often times, as Lance Zierlein also noted in his draft profile, Cobbs got lazy with his technique. If Cobbs can remain focused on the ball more, he’ll make more plays like the ones seen in the above footage.
In addition, Cobbs certainly isn’t the fastest wide receiver. At the Combine, Cobbs posted a 40 time of 4.64 seconds. He isn’t able to separate from corner, and thus if often put in a contested catch situation. Fortunately, he can win those balls, but that won’t happen every time.
Though the Ravens wouldn’t ask Cobbs to be burning corners down the field. Cobbs isn’t going to be asked to be the Ravens number one wide receiver either, that will be Crabtree’s job. Cobbs will be used most often in the red zone. The Ravens will work with him to improve his focus, and hopefully reduce his drop rate. If he can do that, Cobbs will work up the Ravens depth chart, and possibly become a star wide receiver. He certainly has the build to do it.