Matt Waldman’s RSP shares its 2018 pre-NFL Draft scouting report on Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle, a second-year option who has made impressive progress during the offseason and he’s impressing the team this summer.
Byron Pringle, Kansas State (6-1, 203)
Depth of Talent Score: 83.65 = Rotational Starter: Executes at a starter level in a role that plays to his strengths.
In contrast to Jordan Lasley’s off-field behavior, Pringle’s past transgressions are more serious. As a teen, Pringle served four years of probation and 100 hours of community service for burglary, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and grand theft.
After fulfilling his requirements, Pringle signed with Youngstown State in 2012, but he was charged with robbery by sudden snatching and lost his chance to play there. He eventually earned an opportunity at Butler Community College, stayed out of trouble, and received a scholarship offer from Kansas State with the stipulation that any criminal behavior would be an instant deal-breaker.
If you know anything about Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, you know that he’s a no-nonsense guy who gets the most out of his players and doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Former NFL running back Bryce Brown was a massively talented prospect that allegedly got in an argument about a directive from a member of the Tennessee coaching staff and told the coach that he got paid more than the coach, so he didn’t have to comply. When Brown transferred to K-State and tried his act on Snyder, he got kicked off the football team.
While Pringle’s off-field behavior is far more serious than Lasley’s, his track record for the past 4-5 years has been more professional than the UCLA receiver. If he’s truly on the straight and narrow, the bigger concern most will have with Pringle isn’t his criminal background but his age.
The data crowd isn’t fond of prospects older than 23 and Pringle is 24. However, receivers tend to be effective through their early 30s and first contracts are typically 3 years in length. If Pringle earns a second deal with a team, that team won’t be forced to negotiate a shorter deal to avoid terms that it fears will extend past a receiver’s prime compared to receivers negotiating a third deal.
Pringle is a smooth receiver who plays on the left and right sides of the formation. His short-area quickness is sudden and he uses his feet and hands well to release from the line of scrimmage.
In addition to a good rocker step, rip, chop, and swipe, Pringle uses an effective variation of three- and four-step moves to release from the line. He’ll cut the move short half-way through to freeze defenders and then continue with a second flurry of the footwork. He’ll also use good arm drumming as a layer of distraction to his separation techniques.
Pringle uses his eyes to sell opponents on the thought he’s working deep. It helps that he maintains straight stems and has deep speed. He’s especially adept at using head fakes—sometimes multiple fakes on the same route—to turn opponents around and earn separation deep.
His pad level remains low for much of his stems and he eats the cushion of off-coverage defenders, getting deep into their space (known as stepping on their toes) to set up a sharp stick (jab of one leg) at the top of his stem. He’ll also vary the pace of his stems to set up opponents.
When he executes hard breaks, Pringle comes back to the ball with a good attack. When his route isn’t targeted against zone coverage, he’ll work to an open area.
Although Pringle will catch the ball with the active overhand technique when the target absolutely dictates, he prefers to use the underhand passive position—even on targets where active technique is best. He allows too many targets into his body and when they arrive into his body, he’ll lower his pads over his chest to secure the pass and lose his balance through his breaks.
Although this technique helps him ensure he’s caught the ball, it neutralizes whatever speed and separation he’s earned—if he regains his balance. The most common types of targets I saw Pringle drop were low throws. I also didn’t see him display any notable skill setting up fade routes. His work against contact offers mixed results.
A dangerous return specialist, Pringle has quick-twitch burst in tight spaces. He’ll spin, stutter, juke, stick, or stop-start to avoid pursuit.
He reads blocks well enough to set them up patiently and then hit creases confidently. He also has an effective straight-arm to swat away the reach of defenders.
When he encounters pursuit he can’t avoid, Pringle will drop the pads. He’s strong enough to push through a defensive back’s wrap. He also gets under hits.
When carrying the ball, Pringle covers up with both arms in traffic. In the open field, he’ll use the arm away from the pursuit. His technique is tight to his frame.
Pringle is good at setting up angles as a blocker. He earns position to seal defenders, moving with the opponent and using his hands to maintain position.
He can improve his blocking by developing a punch and not overextending into the collision so he maintains his balance. Defenders can shed Pringle quickly.
Pringle reminds me of Quincy Morgan, another Kansas State receiver with strong special teams skill, NFL-caliber athletic ability, and work to do as a hands catcher. I think Pringle is a better route runner and has more upside.
RSP Twitter Moments: WR Byron Pringle
Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice: Pringle is likely a second or third-day NFL selection. I was impressed with his performance at the Senior Bowl where he routinely earned separation and made good catches. Because he can catch the ball away from his frame when he needs to, his hand position flaws are likely correctable. I’d consider him in the fourth round or later at this point.
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