Academic Standout Sunday: Josh Imatorbhebhe, WR, Illinois

It is with great pleasure that the DraftRite team brings you another edition of Academic Standout Sunday. Every Sunday, DraftRite writer Mike O’Brien brings you a prospect breakdown for players who not only excel on the field but also in the classroom.

“Why?” one might ask. “Who cares about grades?”

To put it simply, players who excel in their academic endeavors deserve to be commended for being outstanding players, students, and people. Some of the NFL’s most dominant football players are well read and versed off the field. The star examples of this would be Andrew Luck, Richard Sherman, and Ryan Fitzpatrick who all found success in the league that can partially be attributed to their mental prowess.

This week we dive into Illinois Wide Receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, who earned his degree in Business Administration at the University of Southern California. Imatorbhebhe went as a grad transfer to the University of Illinois, where he enrolled in their strategic brand communication master’s program. Imatorbhebhe appeared on the Academic All-Big Ten list in 2020 and graduated a semester early in high school.

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WHAT IMATORBHEBHE BRINGS TO THE TABLE:

Hops

If there is one aspect of Imatorbhebhe’s game that JUMPS out, its the ability to go up and grab the ball from the top shelf. We saw these skills at The Opening in 2015 when the USC commit logged a vertical of nearly 47″. We often talk about intangibles and traits – this stands out amongst other natural abilities. This guy has serious bounce and this trait alone provides a unique element of his game that gives him an opportunity to have a role at the next level.

Ball Skills

While the ability to jump out of the gym is impressive, it would mean nothing without the ball skills to match. Imatorbhebhe has the coordination and body control to make some pretty incredible plays. His adjustments help to make plays on different types of errant passes. Sure, its optimal to have him work towards the rim and highpoint the ball but he can make plays in other ways as well.

Early Explosiveness

Rarely do you find a wide receiver who can explode off of the line of scrimmage that has size, length, and athleticism. It’s interesting because he can beat guys to the punch immediately but sometimes the ability to change direction fades later in the route. The tools are there to become a good X receiver at the next level.

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WHAT NEEDS TO IMPROVE:

The routes need to improve quite a bit in order to have a sustained NFL career. There is plenty of room to grow with such a great athletic profile but at the same time he needs to hone in those skills. He doesn’t sit at the top of his routes and really needs to work on sinking the hips, creating separation in other ways than beating defenders off the line of scrimmage and over their heads.

Projection:

One trick ponies do not survive in the league with the exception of burners. Does Imatorbhebhe have the elite top end speed to build a career around? While he is fast, I’m not sure if he is that fast. The athleticism is undeniable and there is plenty of room to refine his game. I think Imatorbhebhe is a day 3 pick with some serious upside given his frame, ball skills, and flat out natural ability. The tools are very attractive, especially in rounds 4-7.

You can find Mike O’Brien @MOBrienNFL on Twitter and Instagram.

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