Ever think about how you’ve changed over the years? What did the “old you” think, say, and do versus the “new you?” This is something I think about all the time when I’m studying football players.
I remember the first time I saw Terrell Owens as a rookie. He wasn’t the rocked-up, raging force of productivity and insecurity that he became, but the quickness, balance, and power was all there. He caught a hitch in the left flat, gave a little shake to avoid the corner, spun of a linebacker’s hit, stiff-armed a safety, and carried two more defenders for the first down.
It only took one play and I was sold.
That was the old me–a fan, not a football writer. I’d see something spine-tingling from a player and I’d allow that feeling to wash over me and permeate my entire take. Now, I’m more circumspect about what immediately impresses me.
However, it’s not always a good thing. We allow our experiences to filter out too much of what’s wondrous and joyful about the world. Sometimes those inexperienced takes get to the core truth in ways that more experienced viewpoints can over analyze and discard. There’s something to maintaining (or maybe the more accurate word is “re-cultivating”) a certain amount of innocence to your internal viewfinder.
Nebraska wide receiver Quincy Enunwa inspires this kind of reflection on my end. When I first watched the Cornhusker wideout tear through a secondary with the ball in his hands, I saw flashes of Terrell Owens. Then I saw Enunwa catch–and drop–the ball with hands techniques that need enough work to have concerns about his game and the ambivalence returns.
Although my RSP ranking of Enunwa reflects more of my ambivalence about his NFL potential, this Boiler Room post encapsulates the receiver’s upside with a 35-yard gain through the Purdue Boilermakers’ defense in 2013.
When I witness moments like these, I imagine if I was working for an NFL organization creating cut-ups for a personnel director would I include this play as part of a cut-up of highlights? The Boiler Room Series is focused on prospects that I expect to be drafted, and often before the fourth round.
With the depth of this wide receiver class, Enunwa is a player I expect to go after the fourth round. However, I know there are fans of his potential and today I’m going to show you a play that you won’t find on a highlight reel on the Internet.
He gained 35 on a 3rd and 5 pass with 2:37 in the half from a 2×2 receiver 10 personnel shotgun set. He was the outside right receiver running a stop route, but he spotted the opening behind the shallow defender and drifted the inside. Enunwa caught the ball over his back shoulder with his hands close to his body just outside the right hash. Good adjustment and catch with his hands. The rest is pure viewing candy (click the enlarge arrow at the bottom right of the video to see this at full size).
Enunwa packs enough athleticism and skill as a ball carrier on a run across the width of the field to evoke memories of a young Terrell Owens or Dez Bryant: burst, jukes, a hurdle, a spin, power, balance, and a couple of stiff arms. It’s a play you don’t easily forget.
If anything, it’s a play that is very difficult to balance with Enunwa’s flaws:
Enunwa doesn’t catch the ball with his fingertips. But man, you saw him tear through Purdue, right?
Enunwa isn’t sharp enough with his turns. Dude, just get him the ball and he’ll wreak havoc just like that catch over the middle at Purdue
Enunwa has difficulty tracking short passes. Screw the verticals, just feed him the ball with a running start in the shallow zone and he’s money!
The innocent football fan in me says Enunwa will be a good NFL starter. The experienced football writer says Enunwa might be a good NFL starter if he improves his overall game, but it’s far from a guarantee. The older–and maybe wiser–analyst says Enunwa can help a team immediately as part of a starting rotation, but if he’s going to reach his potential as player difficult to stop on every down he has a lot of work ahead.
But Matt, did you see Enunwa . . .
For analysis of skill players in this year’s draft class, download the 2014 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the 56-page Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2014 RSPs at no additional charge and available for download within a week after the NFL Draft. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.