Nick is a big, strong, long-legged receiver who has good hands and will fight for the ball in the air. He is smart enough to know how to protect himself going over the middle to make the tough catches and move the chains. He knows the route tree and does a solid job running routes and getting open. Nick can work in the slot as well as work on the outside. In the red zone, Nick should become a quarterback's favorite target and score a lot of touchdowns. He looks like an excellent teammate with a very good work ethic and you can see on the field that he has the respect of his teammates and coaches alike. Nick still has a lot of potential and upside to his game and, in the right system, could become a fan favorite and a core player for the team that drafts him.
Nick is not that fast or that quick getting off the line. He does a solid job running routes but telegraphs his route in the way he runs it. If he comes off the line fast, that means he is going for a double move or a deep pattern. If he comes off slow, it's a short pattern -- about five or ten yards off the line. Nick will also turn his head and slow down more than most receivers do. It's natural to slow down a bit, but Nick has a habit of almost coming to a stop on intermediate routes. He is the type of receiver, when used on the outside, needs to be in motion to gain an advantage off the line. Nick is not much of a run-after-the-catch type of guy when he is in traffic because of his long legs and lack of quickness to make players miss tackles. This makes Nick a good fit for a play action/vertical style of offense.
Nick just needs to understand his flaws when running routes. After he figures that out, he needs to learn how to turn those flaws to his advantage when running routes in the future like Larry Fitzgerald (WR, Arizona Cardinals) has done. Nick is the type of receiver that will get better because he has to get better. He will never have great speed, but his speed is good enough. He will not get much quicker, but can learn to set up corners, out-think them and use double moves to became dangerous. He has to learn to run his intermediate routes better so he can use those routes to set up corners for double moves to get himself free deep. Nick is very mechanical in the way he runs his routes right now. He has to learn to get a better feel for the game in general, reading blitzes to cut routes off, understand situational football and where first downs markers are on every down, not just third down. He improved a lot this year with a better QB and I suspect once he gets into the NFL, in one offensive system and with one QB, he will improve in this area as well. Nevertheless, the key for Nick to improve will coincide with his ability to think like a quarterback and not just as a receiver. As I said before, Nick is not going to get faster or quicker, but I do think that he can improve and become an intricate part of some team's passing offense.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart March /12