Scouting Profile: Wide Receiver Courtland Sutton
Courtland Sutton, Southern Methodist
Weight: 218 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds
Vertical: 35.5 inches
Broad Jump: 10’4″
If you’re looking for the wide receiver who has the prototypical No. 1 wide receiver body, you’ve clicked on the right scouting profile. He’s a massive wide receiver whose best attribute might be high-pointing the football and using his height to his advantage. There are some warning signs about his potential ceiling, but his size and speed are not the issue.
He was a bit inconsistent in his time at Southern Methodist, totaling 100 yards in six different games, but less than 50 yards in 5-of-13 games. In fact, he wasn’t even the lead receiver on his own team. Trey Quinn totaled 46 more receptions and 151 yards more than Sutton did, and even scored one more receiving touchdown. Granted, they’re different players, but Quinn isn’t projected to be drafted.
Size/Versatility: 4.5 out of 5 stars
You aren’t going to find many negatives on his size, as he’s not too big to the point where it’s affects his fluidity. He’s pretty much exactly what you look for in a perimeter wide receiver at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, but the knock he gets in this territory is that you won’t see him line-up in the slot very often on the next level. Some will say that most big wide receivers don’t, but that’s where elite talents show their versatility. Sutton will be a perimeter wide receiver 90-plus percent of the time. His size also allows him to be a better-than-average run blocker.
Route Running/Ability to Separate: 3.0 out of 5 stars
This is a mixed bag for me, as Sutton showed the ability to separate, but not because of phenomenal route-running. His speed was simply too much for opposing defensive backs, who were not of the same talent level. Going to a school like Southern Methodist is going to absolutely make him look better, but we have to decide whether or not he can continue to do what he did against better competition. His super-long strides will prevent him from every being a dominant route runner, as he’s unable to make those sharp cuts that short-striders do. He wins more with his body than anything, as he’s got solid speed for his size. The way he runs reminds me of Calvin Johnson‘s long strides, but Johnson made cornerbacks respect his low 4.3-second 40-time, giving him a cushion to operate underneath. Sutton is big, but not that big. He’s fast, but not that fast. The ability to get over the top of a defense does mean something, but he won’t be known for his route-running.
Speed: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Back to his ability to separate, Sutton does have solid speed for a receiver as big as he is. His 40-time of 4.54 seconds is nothing spectacular, but we’ve seen wide receivers with his speed make it work if they have multiple gears to their game. It’s odd to say that his speed is deceptive, but it appears that many cornerbacks just underestimated how fast he was on the field. While I’m curious to see him on the field with some top-tier perimeter cornerbacks, we must judge him on the speed we saw while at SMU. Sutton’s speed was one of the best attributes to his game.
Hands: 2.0 out of 5 stars
This is the most disappointing part of Sutton’s game, as he’s simply not a natural catcher of the football. From failing to get his hands together as the ball approaches, to having mental lapses at times, Sutton is going to have some issues dropping the ball. When talking about a wide receiver that should build his game around deep-ball and jump-ball situations, not having great hands could severely limit his potential. When going up for a ball, wide receivers are supposed to have their hands in a diamond as their thumbs and index fingers meet. Sutton often has his hands almost a foot apart, trying to clap the football in between them. If he can’t fix these issues, he’s not going to be utilized where he needs to be.
Awareness: 4.5 out of 5 stars
There were some fun parts to watching Sutton, like the way he would be running a go-route running stride for stride with the cornerback, only to wait until the last second, undercut him and catch a severely underthrown football. It’s a move that not all wide receivers can do, but Sutton knows not to give away the ball’s position. He had to do this all too often, as the quarterback play was far from ideal at SMU. His body control is also extremely solid, as he knows where he is on the sidelines and will attempt to tap his toes if he knows it’ll be close.
After the Catch: 2.5 out of 5 stars
We’ve judged Sutton’s speed and route-running based on his size, so we have to do the same for his ability after the catch, which is just average for a player his size. You’d see SMU try to use Sutton on screen plays, but they often didn’t amount to much, as he’s not someone who’s going to break a whole lot of tackles. That’s why it’s such a concern about his hands, because he’s not ever going to be a possession receiver like Brandon Marshall who broke a bunch of tackles underneath. He’s got solid vision in the open field with his gazelle-like strides that’ll allow some big plays, but his lack of power with the ball in his hands is upsetting.
Potential Landing Spot
Now that we know Sutton has some room to grow and that he should be a big red zone target, we have to think about that when projecting his landing spot. The Colts, Cardinals, and Panthers should all be on the list of interested teams, though a dark horse candidate is the Broncos. Not only is Demaryius Thomas nearing the end of a great career, but so is Emmanuel Sanders. The interesting tidbit is that Thomas carries a $17.5 million cap hit in 2019, likely making this his last season with the team without an extension. Sanders’ number sits at $12.9 million in 2019, so it’s very well his last year with the Broncos as well. They would have a year to allow Sutton to grow as a player.
He’s a tough one to compare, simply because a lot of analysts want to compare him to the elite players because of his size. He reminds me of a mix of Kenny Britt and Andre Holmes, who have both flashed at times, but never became the player most expected them to be. Let’s be clear – Sutton is not a walk-on-the-team-and-be-a-stud-right-away type player. His build is better than those two, as he’s got more upper body strength than they do. But they’re long striders who haven’t flashed the greatest hands throughout their careers. While there is clearly a ceiling for Sutton, there’s also a lower floor than most would like to admit.
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