LSU has put out a significant amount of receivers over the last decade, as Southern Pigskin notes, and some of them have been productive, such as Dwayne Bowe, Early Doucet and Devery Henderson. The newest addition to the list is Rueben Randle.
Randle, who could arguably be better than any of the previously mentioned Bayou Bengals, is a physical receiver that played in a rather simplistic offense that could have done a better job of utilizing his talents. However, a thorough evaluation of Randle’s talents must be done in order to project his impact on the next level.
Randle checked in at nearly 6’3″ and 210 pounds at the Combine, showing off good height for the position. He also had 33″ arms, which is a good length, and they were noticeable on tape when he was plucking the ball at the various locations it was placed by his poor quarterbacks.
There are many talented pass catchers every year that come into the NFL and quickly leave the league because of their inability to master route running. However, Randle is an interesting case because he has a long stride, is a little tight in the hips, and he tends to run with a high pad level.
This makes his route running difficult, and he struggles to sink his hips and cut off his route appropriately to create separation. There were instances in which he did get open, but a significant amount of the time it was during a short to intermediate horizontal route that’s tough for defensive backs to play man coverage against. Vertically, the aforementioned tight hips showed up on his deep comeback routes.
Because of his long striding, hip tightness and pad level, Randle could have issues separating against tight man coverage at the next level. When he created separation with LSU, he was able to because of his strong upper body build by dealing with contact, but it’s something that could be problematic in the NFL.
Furthermore, Randle has showed the ability to get open vertically because of his good speed while also taking advantage of undisciplined defensive backs that lack the physicality to match up with him.
Tracking the Ball
When it comes to tracking the ball, specifically the deep ball, Randle does a good job. He shows the ability to adjust his body to the ball deep and bring it in, whether it be over his shoulder, or a poorly thrown pass behind him.
Randle’s catching is very good, and he consistently proves he can catch the ball at various areas and in two different ways. One way he catches the ball is away from his frame with his hands out, showing the kind of form NFL scouts like. Another way he does a good job of catching the ball is by letting it come into his body and trapping with both of his hands. It is very important that Randle is effective in this aspect of his game, as it’s the main goal of his position.
In watching multiple games of the LSU star wideout, I noticed that he is not tested at the line a significant amount because of the way the college game is played. Defensive backs respect his talents, and he aligned off the line of scrimmage at times while operating as a second receiver (receivers are numbered from the sideline-in).
However, he still did occasionally dealt with contact from defensive backs at the snap of the ball, and this was seen against Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick this past season. When he was tested by Kirkpatrick’s physicality, Randle responded well, showing a strong upper body and keeping his balance while attempting to develop into his route.
Yards After Catch
Yards after the catch are a crucial aspect of today’s game, and Randle is an interesting case in this department because he is not the type of receiver that creates yards after the catch on his own. He doesn’t have great agility or flexibility.
Instead, he is the type that needs the ball thrown in open space and then he can do damage in the open field. He has good speed, but not elite speed, and the vision in the open field to do damage after the catch.
In conclusion, Randle is one of the highest rated players at his position in this month’s draft because of his upside. He possesses the good hands, physicality and size that NFL teams look for, but he still needs to polish his game.
Randle should look to improve his route running to create better separation at the next level and win more one-on-one matchups. He has a lot of upside and can become a quality receiver in the NFL, but his tight hips and long stride may prevent him from becoming one of the league’s best.