Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio shares his pre-draft NFL scouting report on Ravens wide receiver Jordan Lasley, who is showing skill beyond his draft status in training camp.
10. Jordan Lasley, UCLA (6-1, 203)
Depth of Talent Score: 83.7 = Rotational Starter: Executes at a starter level in a role that plays to his strengths.
There’s a perception that Lasley is an immature individual who could hold his own development back. He was suspended during his UCLA career and, based on conversations with those connected to the program; the school paper speculated that Lasley violated a policy on social media.
The publication also interviewed Lasley’s high school coach who described Lasley as an intelligent, bighearted guy with emotional lapses that weren’t major red flags. The L.A. Times detailed Lasley’s behavior in a more clinical manner:
“But Lasley also was suspended for four games this season for unspecified reasons and engaged in a variety of transgressions over his four years on campus. He scuffled with a teammate during spring practice in 2015 and missed a team bus before a game against Arizona in 2016, leading to his suspension against the Wildcats. Lasley was also arrested twice in 2016, according to the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.
The first arrest was for possession of alcohol as a minor; the second was for presenting a fake ID at a Hollywood club. Lasley satisfied all obligations in the former matter through a diversion program and no charges were filed in the latter incident. Lasley recently acknowledged the need for self-improvement. He’ll have to make the next strides outside of Westwood.”
There’s also what was easy to see from the broadcasts of games. In one game, I watched Lasley score his second touchdown of the contest, get in the face of the cornerback, and call the defender a “bitch” his face, incurring a personal foul. As this was happening, Josh Rosen also smiled and looked at the defender as Lasley talked his trash. It’s classless and immature, but this behavior is reasonably common in the NFL.
Although there are far more sophisticated and infinitely wiser ways to gauge a player’s ability to handle this kind of talk (if the NFL bothered to get its head out of its hind parts, stop thinking that no one outside the league will ever truly understand what they do, and actually consult entities that engage in industrial psychology), it’s why teams ask players if they like men and if their moms are hookers. The league knows how the league is and it wants emotionally-stable players who won’t fly off the handle.
I’m not concerned about the trash talk, the fight during practice, or even the alcohol possession and fake ID. I have former classmates who behaved this way (and worse) in high school and college and grew up to become productive members of society. However, I am slightly concerned about the behaviors when grouped together as a pattern of immaturity. As my friend Ryan
Riddle told me about his experiences with four different NFL teams, one of the biggest sins a professional can commit is being late to a meeting or practice. According to Riddle, it was pretty well known among players around the league that Bill Belichick got rid of Randy Moss for being late to a team meeting because of a snowstorm. The Patriots expected its players to be prepared professionals and it included checking the weather and planning accordingly.
While some teams will bench a player for those types of infractions, it’s almost universally the end of a player’s tenure with a team if he misses a flight. It won’t matter if Lasley flashes brilliance in the preseason or as a rookie during the regular season, if he pulls this kind of behavior in the NFL, he’ll be a distant memory in the eyes of his soon-to-be former team.
If Lasley falls to the third day of the NFL Draft or winds up a free agent, there will be initial shock from those not familiar with his behavior or haven’t grasped the gravity of it when viewing through the lens of the NFL. If Lasley has convinced a team that he’s well beyond this behavior, his on-field play is on par with a Day 2 pick. On the field, he’s one of my favorite receivers in this class.
Lasley played inside and both perimeter spots in the UCLA offense. He was occasionally moved around the formation to generate mismatches. He has a promising arsenal of moves to release from the line of scrimmage, but I haven’t seen him combine the upper and lower body work on one play. In addition to reducing his shoulder from contact at the line, Lasley has a shake, rip, swipe, swim, arm-over, and a chop.
I’ve even seen him use the rip, swipe, and chop in succession on one route. His rip move is quick and his most successful move. His footwork includes a quick hesitation step, a rocker-step, and a three-step pattern. All three are effective.
If not jammed, Lasley is quick enough to earn consistent separation within the first 3-5 yards of the line of scrimmage and the deep speed to win the go, the post, and the deep cross. The post and cross are his best vertical patterns. The go is ideal for him within 25-35 yards of the end zone. Lasley works well in tight quarters on the slant. He also bends well on the pivot route to earn separation against opponents playing him tight. He knows how to widen the position of zone defenders with his stem. I didn’t see him work back to the quarterback when his initial route wasn’t targeted.
Although he has a higher drop rate than desired for a player of his promise, Lasley makes a lot of good catches. He can track the ball in stride over his shoulder on vertical routes. On short and intermediate routes breaking inside or outside, Lasley displays strong burst to the ball through the catch point. It makes him a compelling option on digs, slants, crossers, skinny posts, and seam routes where he’s led into open space.
Lasley high-points the ball with appropriate hands and tight technique; both hands strike the nose of the ball. He uses the appropriate high and low techniques based on the location of the target. He’s a boundary-aware receiver who can get both feet inbounds, chopping the length of his steps to touch green grass.
As mentioned earlier, Lasley does good work across the middle of the defense, and his acceleration through the catch point often leads to him splitting defenders for extra yards. He makes plays in traffic and bounces off contact as well as makes full extensions near the boundary. His after-the-catch game is strong. Lasley is quick enough to turn away from a safety only a yard away over top and beat the man downfield for another 7- 10 yards. This is the skill that James Washington needs to hone.
Lasley also runs through wraps to his lower legs and bounces off collisions with defensive backs. If wrapped above the chest, he’ll also pull through it. He’ll even push some smaller outside linebackers downfield when he drops the pads into them. His stiff-arm is strong, quick, and active. He consistently wards off reaches and knocks defenders to the ground with it.
Not just an after-contact runner, Lasley controls his stride length to set up blocks. He makes the first man miss and he has the acceleration to pull away from pursuit.
When Lasley catches the ball, he’ll secure it away from the pursuit and protect it with a high carriage. The elbow can get a little too loose from his frame, especially when changing direction. He’ll switch the ball to the opposite arm when the angle of pursuit dictates. While it may not be fair to link the two, Lasley’s talk isn’t empty. He’s willing to close the gap on defensive backs and strike them with force as a blocker. His strikes are consistently violent, and he plays to the whistle.
However, like his mouth, there needs to be more maturity with his blocking behavior. He uses the oldfashioned, double-forearm strikes that lack the control of an uppercut punch. Lasley could get slightly better as a cut blocker by keeping his head up and shooting though the target with greater depth. It isn’t an egregiously bad technique—he earns good height and shoots through the body—but it’s a suggestion for how he can improve.
Lasley’s skills remind me of a mix of DeAndre Hopkins and Stevie Johnson. His hands aren’t nearly as consistent as Hopkins, but he’s a physical player with a lot of promising technical skills and flashes the tight coverage prowess that Hopkins elevates to an All-Pro level. Johnson is a closer fit, He’s a rugged player after the catch who often bedeviled good cover corners.
Unfortunately for Lasley, he has too many drops to blame God for his behavior like Stevie once did.
Jordan Lasley Highlights
Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice: Although I’m critical of Lasley’s immaturity, I love his game. If a team feels the same way as I do and he lands somewhere with a clear path to a contributing role, he’s a mid-to-late option I’ll be targeting.
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