For future NFL players there may be no more important window than between their final college game and the oversized chemistry lab known as the NFL Combine.
The grind of the season is over.
Classes are done.
Time to re-focus.
It’s certainly a script Jaelen Strong followed after ASU’s close Sun Bowl win over Duke back in December. The 6’3 wide receiver “went underground” so-to-speak and focused on becoming an improved, faster and more complete player in Indianapolis.
“Fantastic,” NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Thursday morning. “I don’t think it could have gone any better for Jaelen Strong.”
One of the biggest unknowns for the Philadelphia, PA native entering last week was his speed–or apparent lack thereof according to some insiders around the league. Those critics were silenced after the 217-pounder posted 4.51 and 4.4 40-yard dash times. One believes Strong’s skill set resembles New Orleans Saints Marquis Colston.
“He’s not just a big target who bodies people away from the football,” Davis explained to Cesmat. “He’s a guy now you believe with 4.4 speed can find his way to uncover before the ball gets to him.”
Davis said some NFL personnel were concerned Strong would have to make every catch a “contested catch” because the pre-combine whispers of his lack of speed. Those were answered in a resounding way under the bright lights, on the big stage inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I think after running a 4.4,” he said. “Don’t be surprised if you see a whole bunch of first-round mentions for him [because] now he’s not just a basketball player taking the football out of the air. He becomes much more of a receiver.”
Despite a deep, top-heavy draft class featuring Amari Cooper, Kevin White, Devante Parker and others Davis believes Strong’s makeup, paired with his impressive Combine showing make him a first-round pick in late April’s draft.