This week, we’re going to take a look at Dylan Cantrell’s draft profile. If you missed the other two previews, you can look at them below.
|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
Cantrell was the highest rated Texas Tech offensive commit that made it to campus according to 247sports in the 2013 class, Kingsbury’s first class. In fact, he actually committed under Tommy Tuberville and Kingsbury talked to him to keep him committed.
The Whitehouse product didn’t do much his first season, as he was behind players such as Eric Ward, Jace Amaro, Bradley Marquez and Jakeem Grant. However, he showed flash his sophomore year when he caught 312 yards and two touchdowns, and made two of the better catches of the season.
After a promising year, Cantrell had a set back with a back injury and redshirted in 2015. In his final two seasons, we saw what potential Cantrell had. He became a reliable option for Mahomes and Shimonek on third down plays and was a great red zone target.
He caught 129 yards for 1,491 yards and 16 total touchdowns. Around Red Raiders Nation, he was known has a guy with clutch hands who has very underrated athleticism. Cantrell became a fan favorite around Lubbock.
His best two games were against Baylor his junior year when he caught nine passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns, and against Arizona State his senior year when he caught eight passes for 160 yards and three total touchdowns. Cantrell tended to show up in big games, but perhaps his worst performance was two catches for 12 yards against Texas his final season.
If I had to compare Cantrell to a player, my best bet is Chris Hogan. Both were guys who killed their respective combine and have some of the sneakiest athletic ability in their class.
Hogan went undrafted and worked his way up to become a valuable member of a good team. Cantrell will likely be drafted late or undrafted as well and will have to work his way up the depth chart. But he has a chance to make a major impact on a squad if given the opportunity.
Here’s how Cantrell did at the 2018 NFL Combine:
|40 Yard Dash
|20 Yard Shuttle
|60 Yard Shuttle
|18 reps (7th)
What favors Cantrell: We mentioned this phrase called combine warrior a couple weeks ago, and we can absolutely use that phrase here. He finished top five in five (5!!!) categories at the combine and opened some guys. It got a bunch of analysts to call him their “sleeper pick”, for whatever that’s worth.
Cantrell rarely drops the ball, has a huge frame for a wide receiver and is a smart player who is aware of his surroundings. Not only that, but Cantrell is one of the best blocking receivers in this class and fights for extra yards. Hopefully a smart coach will notice that and have him higher on his big board because of it.
What hurts Cantrell: The dumbest thing to look at, but everyone’s favorite combine event: the 40 yard dash! Like everyone will always be running go routes and has to outrun a defender. This is the same reason the Oakland Raiders stupidly drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree in 2008.
Not only that, but Cantrell didn’t make a huge impact until his last two seasons, and the fact he never caught 1,000 yards in a pass happy offense may hurt him. NFL.com says he lacks route speed, gets press coverage because of his lack of speed and has to catch a lot of contested balls.
Best / Worst Case Scenario: With the success of Texas Tech receivers in the NFL and the outbreak of players like Cooper Kupp last year, everybody is trying to find the next sleeper player.
I could see him going in the fifth round, similar to Grant. He would go to a team that needs a red zone threat and/or another good blocker, but already has a steady core of receivers as their helm. The fact he is a different model receiver than most may help him.
There is also a decent chance Cantrell goes undrafted and has to prove himself like the Welker’s and the Amendola’s, who both turned out with good NFL careers to say the least. He has a draft grade of 5.24, which is an NFL back-up or a special teams player.
Teams that may pick him: Cantrell’s biggest strengths are his size, vertical and hands. So I looked up teams that didn’t do well in the red zone who may need that type of receiver to go to in a fade or short yardage situation.
The team that pops out to me the most is Kansas City. Most of their receivers are smaller, shifty guys, and they were 29th in red zone touchdown percentage. Plus his chemistry with Mahomes may help like when the Colts drafted Colby Fleener and Andrew Luck in 2012.
Another team is the Los Angeles Chargers or San Francisco 49ers. Both teams have pretty good quarterbacks at the helm in 2017 and didn’t score much in the red zone. And Chargers aren’t likely to draft another tight end after taking Hunter Henry a couple years ago.
(First video has NSFW music)
By the way, Peter Schrager is one of my favorite people to listen to about football, and he just RAVES about Cantrell. I’m sure a lot of y’all have seen the third video before. If he does make it big, credit that guy.
There’s also a TON of videos on Cantrell catching balls doing backflips, bench pressing, jumping tires, dunking and doing crazy athletic stuff. Way too many videos to post. Here’s some of them in this video (also with Schrager)