The Miami Dolphins’ biggest splash in this year’s NFL Draft may have come in the second round, when they selected LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry with the 63rd overall pick. Though they had two wideouts who neared 1,000-yard seasons each in Brian Hartline (1,016 yards) and Mike Wallace (930 yards) as well as tight end Charles Clay (769 yards), the Dolphins felt the need to add another weapon to their passing game and could benefit immediately from that decision.
Landry, a standout at LSU, caught 77 passes for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns in his junior season with the Tigers. He was an elite wideout who formed a lethal duo with Giants first-round pick Odell Beckham and helped create a potent passing attack for LSU in a feisty SEC Conference.
Landry is well built with a solid frame and good height for an NFL wide receiver. He’s not particularly explosive off the line of scrimmage but build ups speed as he moves farther up the field. He does show great quickness, and he is able to make sharp, succinct cuts in and out of his routes.
His hands are his greatest asset and he was among this year’s draft class’ best in that department. He is a reliable target in the passing game with the ability to get open across the middle of the field and make a difficult grab with the safety bearing down on him for the big hit.
He has no issue catching the football in traffic and continuing up field. While he may not possess the potential to break open a 90-yard touchdown scamper on any given down, he does have a penchant for the big play when his team needs it most.
On top of his offerings in the passing game, Landry is a willing run blocker. That can be tough to come by from a wide receiver of his caliber, but the 6-foot-tall pass-catcher is not afraid to engage and open up a hole in the running game.
As was already touched on, it takes time for Landry to build up to top speed, which isn’t always a good thing when matched up against physical defenders, CBS Sports notes in their scouting report on him. He’s not a major playmaker like his teammate Odell Beckham was and that’s why Beckham went in the first round despite less impressive numbers during their time together at LSU.
Because of his lack of speed, there are concerns about his ability to gain separation, but there is minimal evidence of that in his college film.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
Not exactly an elite speed receiver, Landry is your prototypical possession receiver with reliable hands and great awareness to find an open space in the defense and make a play. Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell had this to say about the LSU wideout in his scouting report:
Landry is a good possession receiver for the middle of the field. He is a plus route-runner and is very skilled at making contested catches over defensive backs. Landry is tough and physical with good hands. Part of the reason for contested catches is Landry doesn’t always generate separation, and that could be an issue in the NFL against faster defensive backs.
Landry isn’t big, and he isn’t fast. He is a gritty receiver and happened to be a very good college player, but this observer believes he’s just a No. 2 or 3 receiver in the NFL. If he has some stud receivers next to him, Landry could be a nice complement to move the chains with defenses focused on the star, similar to his role in college when he worked with Beckham.
The Dolphins’ rookie has received comparisons to Michael Crabtree by Bleacher Report’s Ryan McCrystal and Eric Decker by CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler.
COMPARES TO: Eric Decker, Denver Broncos – Landry is more reliable with his hands and isn’t quite as tall, but he projects similar to Decker with their movements, body control and toughness after the catch.
Because of his size and abilities, Landry is the type of receiver who can excel whether lined up outside or in the slot. As of now, it appears the Dolphins are set on using him in the slot and he has a good chance to win the starting job over Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews this summer.
Like first-round pick Ju’Wuan James, the Dolphins picked Landry with the intention of using him from day one. Landry has the skill set to be successful from the get-go, especially with Hartline, Wallace and Clay sure to garner most of the attention of opposing defenses.
If put in the right situation, Landry can be a viable second or third passing option for many years in the NFL. He may never be lauded as one of the league’s best, but he certainly has the potential to be one of the most reliable receivers which could lead to quietly strong production much in the same way Amani Toomer was able to do for 13 seasons with the Giants.