This is the one we’ve all been waiting for. We don’t see a whole lot of football players leave early for the pros, but when they do, they often get drafted high in the NFL draft. Before we discuss Coutee, here’s what we’ve done so far.
|NFL Draft Preview|
|March 29th – The Combine Snubs||April 5th – Nic Shimonek||April 12th – Dylan Cantrell||April 19th – Keke Coutee||April 26 – 2018 NFL Draft Open Thread|
Keke Coutee was a high rated three-star recruit out of high school, but only had four or five offers (perhaps due to grades). Those teams were Texas and Oklahoma, along with his final two in Louisville or Texas Tech. So no matter where he went, he had an NFL quarterback throwing him the football in Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes. Luckily for us, he choose the good guys.
He didn’t do a whole lot his freshman season with receivers like Jakeem Grant, Devin Lauderdale, Ian Sadler and Reggie Davis in front of him, but he was able to catch 11 passes for 105 yards.
Coutee arrived on the scene his sophomore year, becoming a second option behind Giles for the future 10th overall pick in Mahomes. He caught 55 passes for 890 yards and seven touchdowns, which includes big games against Oklahoma (10 catches, 179 yards and a TD) and a glimpse of the future against Baylor (eight catches for 221 yards and two TDs).
With Giles transferring in the offseason, Coutee was given a chance to have a monster year. And he did so, leading the team in catches (93, 22 more than second), yards (1,429, 613 more than second) and touchdown (10, three more than second).
During his junior year, his best games were against Arizona State when he caught 12 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, against Kansas State when he caught 12 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns, and against South Florida, when he caught 11 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown.
He worst two performances were against Baylor and TCU, where he combined for four catches for 48 yards. Unfortunately, those performances likely cost him Big 12 first team honors, but I’m still not sure how Allen Lazard had a better year than him (Spoiler: He didn’t).
He had some comparisons to Antonio Brown during the season for various reasons. Both were stat fillers in high flying offenses, but were expected to go in the latter half of the draft. They also have a similar frame (both around 5’11”, 180 lbs),are similar types of players and are great returners. I’m not saying that he’s anyway near as good as Brown, but that is interesting.
Coutee reminds me a lot of Eli Rogers of the Steelers. Rogers didn’t do great last season, but Rogers can run short routes in the slot or head downfield, using his speed to make various catches for Pittsburgh. NFL.com says that Coutee’s comparison is John Brown, which is appropriate. Brown is also shorter slot guy with sneaky speed who can burn you for a long touchdown as any moment.
Here’s what Coutee did at the NFL combine:
|Height||Weight||40 Yard Dash||Bench Press||Vertical||Broad Jump|
|5’11”||180 lbs||4.43 (T-6th)||14 (T-17th)||34.5 (T-14th)||113″ (T-31st)|
What favors Coutee: Coutee is a speedy and explosive receiver, which will catch the eye of scouts automatically from the start. He was incredibly productive in college and got better every year he was there. Coutee also has the ability to transform a simple screen or crossing pattern into a touchdown at any moment.
Not only that, but his returning skills will make him stick out a little more compared to other players. Very few teams have a game changing returner, so teams are always willing to pick a receiver if he has returning skills as well.
What hurts Coutee: His size could make him drop some. The ones that go high typically have huge frames and are stronger, while Keke is below six feet and did not do well in the bench press. That also makes it harder to gain yards after contact.
NFL.com says the system he plays in could hurt him. We discussed how Tech is starting to shed the system persona, but it’s not completely gone yet. They also said he is below average on contested balls, which is important when you’re in the slot.
Best/Worst Case Scenario: I could see him go as high as the late second of third round if someone falls in love with him. I highly doubt we see that, but if one team loves his production and the speed he can bring to their team, they may take a shot at him that early.
Realistically, he should go in the earlier half in the third day of the NFL draft. When a team with an already established (or mostly established) receiving core needs an inside receiver and a kick returner. Jakeem went in the sixth round two years ago, and Keke should go a round or two higher because he’s a little taller.
The worst case is being picked in the last round or undrafted. It seems almost ridiculous to say he may go undrafted, but guys that were supposed to go around when Coutee is supposed to go have gone undrafted before. Hopefully that won’t happen.
Teams that could pick him: We’re looking at teams that love speed and are in need of some sort of inside receiver and aren’t likely to take one too early.
So which teams lost slot receivers recently or need one in their scheme. Arizona just lost John Brown and will need a receiver to team with Larry Fitzgerald and fellow slot type receiver JJ Nelson. Teams also like picking receivers along with a quarterback, and the Cardinals will be looking for one.
Another team I could see drafting Coutee are Bills, who don’t really have any receivers besides big Kelvin Benjamin. Or perhaps a team like the Packers or Broncos could draft Coutee for when Randall Cobb and Emmanuel Sanders become free agents or get cut soon due to their large salaries.