One of the most underrated programs in the Big Ten college football conference in terms of NFL prospects is Indiana. Players like Greg Heban and Ted Bolser with likely be late round steals, but the most sought after prospect will likely be junior, wide receiver, Cody Latimer.
He was easily the second best wide receiver in the Big Ten behind Allen Robinson, and Latimer in an already crowded wide receiver class could stick out as one of the best when it’s all said and done. So let’s breakdown some of Latimer’s game and see what round he could be taken in the 2014 NFL draft.
Latimer is listed at 6-2, 215 pounds with a 4.5 forty yard dash. Solid stats for a wide receiver his size, but he could turn some heads if he can bring that 4.5 to a 4.45. On tape he looks the part of a 4.45-4.5 receiver and has nice size as well compared to his competition. He’s a long and linear athlete with decent build on his frame.
The variety of route releases he shows at the beginning of his routes are nice, but there are a few things he should consider cleaning up. Latimer tends to tip-off some of his routes by his feet and body language at the top of his routes, but it seems more of a consistency issue. He sets up his releases, gets good depth and finds the soft areas of zone well. However, I think he can improve his routes at the top where he sometimes doesn’t have enough suddenness to throw off cornerbacks and safeties. Overall, Latimer’s routes are very good, but he will need some time to perfect them at the next level.
Latimer’s hands are very good. He consistently makes receptions on catchable passes, whether in traffic, tight coverage or after contact. And can make some very difficult receptions with cornerbacks breathing on his neck. His hands were one of the areas where I gave Latimer a perfect score when grading him. So there is no reason to think they will be an issue at the next level.Overall, he is one of the best in this class in terms of concentration on 50-50 balls.
Footwork and speed are the main ways Latimer gets separation on a consistent basis. I haven’t seen Latimer use his hands to get off press enough to feel comfortable about giving him credit for that on his grade. However, I believe he has the footwork and variety of releases to still get separation while he works on perfecting using his hands more to get off press.
The only aspect of Latimer’s game that I was a little disappointed with is his elusiveness. He has some moves and jukes to freeze defenders in space, but he’s more interested in cutting up field and getting as many yards as possible. There’s nothing wrong with that and is actually a compliment, because some teams want their wide receivers getting North or South in a hurry. And Latimer is good at avoiding direct shots to his body, which will help to keep him healthy. Some will be disappointed by Latimer’s elusiveness, but I think you need to appreciate how subtle he is at freezing defenders for extra yards.
Understanding of blocking assignments and cut blocks are positives about Latimer’s game. But I wouldn’t say his hand placement, punch or mirroring of defenders is always consistent. I think he can refine those areas of his game to perfection and with his size, can be one of the better blockers in this class.
Latimer’s vision by far is one of the best aspects of his game with his hands. His open field runs and decision-making is top-notch. He sees the field very well and helped rattle off big plays largely from yards after the catch, because he saw the holes in zone well. This vision would also make Latimer a potential contributor on special teams if a team wants to use him as a returner.
I’ve seen more power out of Latimer than a lot of wide receivers in this class. He has the leg power to break tackles coupled with decent pad level after the catch and solid second effort runs. Latimer is always moving and falling forward. A testament to his power and some of his power has yet to be unlocked.
He has solid overall balance after direct contact and when making his cuts. I haven’t seen special balance, or the balance to be able to get hit from behind or at angle while maintaining footing. However, his balance is solid for the position.
Projection: Day 3, but possibly Day 2
This is a very deep wide receiver class. There are superstars at the very top and intriguing potential superstars at the bottom. Followed by Cody Latimer close to a potential superstar and the other wide receivers below him. I think Latimer is a very good wide receiver with the potential to be a very productive wide receiver at the next level. With some special qualities to his game, but it’s hard to see him go Day 2 with all of the competition.
However, if he has a crazy combine and gets his forty time to 4.45 or lower, lights in the minds of scouts will go off. He has the physical stats to be considered over a lot of less physically gifted wide receivers. That could be his ticket to the third-round. But early Day 3 is close to where I see him going realistically, which will make him a bargain. With that said, I wish Cody Latimer the best of luck as he gets ready for the 2014 NFL draft process, and I hope he gets to play football at its highest level wherever he ends up being drafted.
James Cobern is the lead writer for All Pro Football Source and can be contacted at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @Jmcobern1