NFL Draft

2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Tennessee WR Josh Malone

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Josh Malone/WR Tennessee – 6’2/6 208

The Good

– Impressive triangle numbers, classic height/weight/speed type player
– Vertical threat, long strider and build-up speed type but shows an impressive top speed
– Big play threat and numbers reflect it
– Finds the football vertically and capable of adjusting to the arc of the ball during his route
– Size makes it difficult for him to be brought down by smaller defensive backs, fights hard for extra yardage
– Shows adequate ability to drop hips and break down underneath
– High effort guy as a blocker, throws his weight around, and appears to take pride in that aspect of the game
– Upside and game is far from refined, plenty of room to grow, only a junior
– Strong final season, put up impressive stats

The Bad

– Struggles vs press coverage, seems indecisive and doesn’t use hands well enough to beat press, too much wasted time and motion
– Generally a one trick pony, will disappear from games when he can’t get involved vertically
– Didn’t always dominate the way his tools would suggest
– Struggles to sell vertically on underneath routes, turns his head before breaking down and gives away route with his eyes, making it easy for CBs to read and react to the ball
– Route running is unrefined and primarily a vertical threat, doesn’t see a lot of success on routes outside of those
– Only one year of serious production

Bio

– Junior, declared for NFL early
– Ran a 4.4 flat at the NFL Combine
– 2016: 50 receptions, 972 yards (19.4 YPC) 11 TDs
– 2014-2015: 54 receptions, 636 yards 3 TDs
– Four star prospect out of high school, ranked the #6 WR in the nation by ESPN, best prospect in Tennessee
– Named Tennessee’s Mr. Football in 2013
– Averaged 19.8 YPC senior year of HS, 19 receiving TDs, 31 total

Tape Breakdown

Coming off the Combine, Josh Malone was one of the guys I wanted circle back to after an impressive workout. Unfortunately, the tape doesn’t get me as excited as those numbers.

There’s no doubt Malone is a vertical threat. He’s a build-up speed receiver who has a high top end. The numbers and tape suggest a guy who can fly. Was quiet for most of the game against Nebraska until he busted out for a 60 yard touchdown on this skinny post.

He has size and some YAC ability at his size, especially once he gets up to speed. Able to run through arm tackles and smaller defensive backs. And he’s young, just a junior, and his game definitely isn’t refined. You have to know what you’re getting; he’s not a Day one guy. He’s a project through and through.

What makes him that? His route tree isn’t well rounded. You don’t have to run every route great, only a few receivers can do that, especially bigger and typically stiffer guys, but Malone is basically strictly a vertical threat.

He can break down underneath a little better than I expected but his technique leaves a lot to be desired. Watch him tip off this curl early, turning his head before he starts to chop his feet.

Malone can win vs off coverage because of his ability to build up speed but he struggles to get off the line versus press. Needs to use his hands better and have a plan to get off the line. Lot of steps and wasted time/motion.

When he didn’t create the big play over the top, he was quiet, and uninvolved in the Vols’ offense. Other receivers were more impactful on a down-to-down basis than Malone. That’s a concern.

Like I wrote, you have to understand who this guy is and how he wins. Can’t expect much of a contribution in Year One. There is some intrigue just because not every big guy can run fast but I left the evaluation feeling a little disappointed from what I’d hope to find.

Projection: Mid Day Three (5th-6th Round)

Games Watched: vs Alabama, vs Tennessee Tech, at South Carolina, vs Nebraska

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun Watson Haason Reddick Marshon Lattimore Corey Clement Tim Williams
Jourdan Lewis Takkarist McKinley Brad Kaaya Nathan Peterman O.J. Howard
Charles Harris Alvin Kamara Tyus Bowser David Njoku DeMarcus Walker
Chidobe Awuzie DeShone Kizer Marlon Mack Cameron Sutton Zach Cunningham
Corey Davis Carl Lawson Patrick Mahomes Kareem Hunt Evan Engram
Derek Rivers Ryan Anderson Joshua Dobbs Jordan Leggett Samaje Perine
Corn Elder Bucky Hodges James Conner Cooper Kupp Stanley Williams
Fred Ross Jamaal Williams George Kittle Ejuan Price Chris Wormley
Jeremy McNichols Joe Mathis Derek Barnett Amba Etta-Tawo Gareon Conley
Taco Charlton  Elijah McGuire Ryan Switzer Tanoh Kpassagnon Tre’Davious White
Brian Hill Matthew Dayes Donnel Pumphrey Josh Reynolds Nazair Jones
De’Veon Smith Davis Webb Obi Melifonwu TJ Watt John Ross
Jerod Evans Vince Biegel Josh Carraway
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