14 Aug 2020

Home of the NFL Offseason

American Conference Preview: Wide Receivers (Part I)

A preview of two American Conference receivers poised to break out in their respective senior seasons

While not one of the Power-5 conferences, the AAC still produces a decent amount of NFL talent. Today I will be covering two intriguing prospects out of the American Conference in wide receivers Damonte Coxie out of Memphis, and Reggie Roberson Jr. out of SMU. The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and that sentiment rings true when it comes to prospects as well. We still have a full season ahead of us, so things can change drastically for these prospects by the time the 2021 draft comes around. These are just very early previews on what you can expect based on what I’ve seen so far and not actual scouting reports. With that being said, let’s get right into it starting with Memphis wide receiver Damonte Coxie.

Damonte Coxie, Memphis

Ever since Anthony Miller left for the NFL after the 2017 season, Damonte Coxie stepped in and has become the number one target on the outside for the Memphis Tigers. Coming out of high-school, Coxie was a three-star recruit but had offers from 7 schools including Alabama, Florida, and LSU.

Damonte Coxie was a sophomore in 2018, and that was his first year starting. He became a number one option early, amassing 1174 yards on 72 receptions to go along with 7 touchdowns. The 72 receptions was good for 4th in the AAC, while the 1174 yards were #2.

Last year as a junior, Coxie recorded career highs in every statistical category. Coxie caught 76 receptions for 1276 yards (#8 in the NCAA) and 9 touchdowns.

Coxie has good size and actually looks bigger than what he is listed as, at 6’2 and 197 pounds. I’d like to see him make more contested catches as well as more grabs at the highpoint because of this, but he does show the willingness to get physical. This shows up in his blocking ability, which is as good as it gets for a wide receiver.

Strengths:

  • Physical through press
  • Soft hands
  • Knows how to win out of his release despite lacking ideal quickness or speed
  • Body Adjustment/Ball tracking
  • Run blocking
  • Good size

Things to improve on:

  • Route running
  • Fighting for the ball at the catch point
  • Making catches in traffic
  • Footwork

What to watch for: While Coxie is physical when it comes to beating press and run blocking, he needs to get more aggressive at the catch point. When covered tightly by a corner that plays the ball he usually loses the battle. Look for him to use his size and fight for the ball in traffic. His route running is also something to pay attention to. His breaks are not crisp and he tends to round out his cuts. Look for him to run his routes more sharply especially on short and intermediate routes.

Way too early prediction: If Coxie can get more aggressive and polish his route running he may emerge as a day 2 wide receiver. Coxie has a good chance to lead the American conference in receptions and yards if he continues to produce the way he has in years previous.

Reggie Roberson, WR, SMU

Reggie Roberson is a 5’11, 200-pound receiver from DeSoto, Texas. Roberson started his college career at West Virginia in 2017 and saw action in all 12 games in a depth role. He transferred to SMU the following year, seeing action in 10 games while starting in 7 of those. Roberson was second in receiving behind the now Baltimore Raven James Proche, amassing 802 yards on 52 receptions to go along with 6 touchdowns.

As a junior last season, Roberson caught fewer passes (43) but had one more yard than he did in 2018 (803). His touchdown count was the same at 6. This is depite only playing 8 games before sustaining a season ending foot injury.

Strengths:

  • Longspeed
  • Route-running
  • Quick feet
  • Release
  • Vertical threat

Things to improve on:

  • Hands
  • Needs to get more physical at the catch-point
  • Beating bigger, physical corners out of his release
  • Ability on the underneath

What to watch for: Roberson has already shown that he excels as a downfield receiver. His route running on both deep and intermediate routes is solid. However, he has not shown much on the underneath, and he hasn’t shown much in terms of after the catch ability.

In 2018, Roberson had a case of the drops. Whether or not he can clean that up and gain confidence in his hands is a question mark.

Roberson tends to get knocked off balance when being covered by bigger, stronger corners in press and he receives a jab. He needs to gain strength and be more physical in his overall game, not just to beat press but to help him haul in catches in traffic.

With 7 games missed due to injury in his career, whether or not he can stay healthy for a full season is another thing to look out for.

Way too early prediction: Roberson will most definitely be the number one target for SMU and should be expected to get the first 1,000-yard season of his career. If he can clean up some of his issues and stay healthy, I see Roberson getting drafted earlier than James Proche did last year (6th round) as I believe he is the superior talent despite his production not being as high. I predict both Roberson and the aforementioned Damonte Coxie will earn 1st-team American Conference honors.

Part II will be on receivers Marquez Stevenson (Houston), Jadan Blue (Temple), & Keylon Stokes (Tulsa), so look out for that.

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