Draft Daily: Leonte Carroo, the Rutgers Receiver
Between now and the draft, we’ll zero in on one prospect a day with an Eagles slant. We’ve already covered more than a dozen players, including Carson Wentz, Kenneth Dixon, Kolby Listenbee, Braxton Miller and Pharoh Cooper. If you have a player you think should be covered, shoot us an email ([email protected]).
THE BACK STORY
Leonte Carroo has good hands, that much we know. It’s also clear he has great ball skills and can generate big plays. But what is in question, which is something that could play a big role in where he’s drafted, is if he’ll cause problems off of the field in the NFL.
Last September, Carroo was charged with assaulting a woman, who alleged that he picked her up and slammed her against a concrete surface. Soon thereafter, former Rutgers coach Kyle Flood indefinitely suspended Carroo.
In October, a judge dismissed the charge after the alleged victim said she didn’t want to pursue the case, and Carroo was reinstated to the football team. Carroo was ordered to attend six hours of anger management classes, and he left the court room without commenting on the case.
At the NFL Combine, however, the media asked him about how he could convince teams that he didn’t have any character issues.
“Just telling what type of leader I am. Being that I’ve had one issue in the past, that I got to clear up here, me speaking to them and teams seeing what type of character I do have and my personality,” Carroo said. “This gives them an opportunity to put the attitude and the name with a face. Just me speaking with them, being open and truthful about the situation, it gives them an opportunity to see that I am a high character guy that loves football and will not give them any problems off the field.”
If NFL teams look into Carroo’s past and are confident he won’t create any problems in the future, they’ll find there’s a lot to like on the field. In eight games last season, Carroo accumulated 809 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns. He was an honorable mention all-conference selection by league coaches, and a third-team pick by the media.
Carroo, whom the Eagles reportedly met with at the NFL Combine and privately worked out, is projected to be a second- or third-round pick by ESPN, while CBS Sports expects him to be a third- or fourth-round pick.
None of Carroo’s measurables are that impressive, but Reggie Wayne is one of his closest comparisons, according to Mock Draftable.
When asked at the NFL Combine who he would compare himself to, Carroo mentioned a different former Colts receiver.
“I would say I have the body type like Anquan Boldin, but my favorite wide receiver of all time is Marvin Harrison,” Carroo said. “We don’t have the same body, but I like to compare our games. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him drop a pass. He has great hands, and that’s what I try to do — just catch every ball thrown to me.”
Carroo has the most important part of being a receiver down pat: catching the ball. Both ESPN’s Scouts Inc. and NFL.com referenced Carroo’s “reliable hands” in their evaluations of him, while also noting his ability to catch the ball away from his body.
One of his most impressive receptions was this 24-yard grab against Maryland.
Carroo’s Senior Day against the Terrapins was one of his best games of the season, as he totaled seven catches for 183 yards and one touchdown.
He also showed his ability to create separation, including on this 50-yard catch when he used a stutter step to quickly get past the cornerback.
Carroo explained at the NFL Combine how he typically creates separation.
“Just being physical with your hands. Guys are going to try to put their hands on you at the next level, so you’ve got to always be prepared to be physical,” he said. “Over the last couple years, wide receivers have this thing about us that people think we’re not physical and tough. Now you’ve got to go out there and show ’em that we are, and play hard.”
Scouts also praise Carroo for his ability to adjust to throws in the air. ESPN rated his ball skills as “exceptional,” while NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein called Carroo a “strong ball tracker who can adjust to off-target deep balls and run under them.”
Against Norfolk State, one pass was under-thrown so Carroo had to come back for the ball to score a 55-yard touchdown.
If you look at Carroo’s spider chart, one part that sticks out is his hand size. He ranks in the 68th percentile, and while the measurement doesn’t get nearly as much attention for receivers as it does for quarterbacks, it may be one reason people praise his “hand strength.”
Against Ohio State in 2014, Carroo took the ball from a defensive back and turned an interception into a 40-yard completion that set up a touchdown.
“The strength of Carroo’s game is really the strength of his hands,” McShay said on the broadcast. “Going up, attacking the football. That’s an interception; he’s on defense at that point. He just winds up ripping it out and getting a big gain.”
According to Pro Football Focus’ draft guide, Carroo leads all receivers in this year’s draft class with 4.11 yards per route run. He was also given the “best hands” superlative and dropped just two of the 96 catchable passes thrown his way in the last two seasons.
On the flip side, here’s what Zierlein had to say about Carroo’s weaknesses:
His gaudy yards per catch numbers are a function of Rutgers play-action passing attack more than his speed deep. Rarely outruns cornerbacks and struggles to get over the top and stack them. Is a little too upright into his routes and hip stiffness limits ability to run sharp out-breaking and in-breaking routes. Has had his struggles against physical, press-man cover men with length. Was completely ineffective and nearly shut out in 2014 against Michigan States Trae Waynes. Scouts have concerns regarding Carroo’s personal character and reliability. Suspended two games for his role in a simple assault charge involving a domestic dispute and missed the first half of the first game after being suspended for missing curfew.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The biggest decision the Eagles have to make with Carroo is how much validity there was to the assault charge, and if he’ll cause problems away from the field. Obviously, this type of red flag is one that could make him drop a lot on Philadelphia’s board, if he’s even still on it.
However, if the Eagles aren’t concerned about Carroo’s past issues, he could be a steal in the third round. I’d take him over Braxton Miller and Pharoh Cooper if those are the available options at receiver, and be happy I added another weapon for the quarterback I just picked at No. 2 overall.