NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Charleston WR Mike Strachan

From now until the 2021 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.

#7 Mike Strachan / WR University of Charleston – 6’5” 225

The Good

  • Elite size, great build
  • Great acceleration and long speed for a guy his size. Good jumps off the line
  • Unicorn type of receiver. X receiver (projects to be utilized mainly as an X but did line up in the slot at times at the University of Charleston.  Can line up in the slot to create mismatches against smaller DBs.  As he (hopefully) expands his route tree he should be able to be moved around).  Field-stretcher and big-play threat.  Should be able to succeed with a specific set of routes early on at the pro level: go’s, slants, posts, drags, crossers while (hopefully) developing as a technician to improve and refine his footwork, allowing him to expand his release packages and route tree (he shows promise with the ability to drop/shift/swivel his weight crisply at his size.  Breaks are pretty clean, although not fully fleshed out in terms of a variety of routes, as was noted).  Also ran some outs, hitches, quick/tunnel screens, and some double moves, at Charleston (shows promise with those routes).  Most effective when utilizing a speed release, but did show the use of a foot fire release as well as experimenting with other releases (also looked to be working on the incorporation of head fakes)
  • Able to win jump balls and contested catches. Tracks the ball well.  Good leaping ability.  Able to box-out/out position/outmuscle defenders with his big frame.  Elite catch radius
  • RAC (run after catch) ability. Long strider, dangerous with a head of steam
  • YAC (yards after catch) ability. Has some agility and twitch especially for his size.  Shows elusiveness to evade would-be tacklers, strength to break arm tackles
  • Willing, strong blocker. His size, strength, and length make him difficult to move.  Gets good engagement with his hands, drives his feet

The Bad

  • Small school (University of Charleston – Division II). Dominated opposing DBs with his size and athleticism
  • Zero games in 2020
  • Should focus on refining his game when it comes to the nuances of the wide receiver position. Still raw as a route runner, can become more polished.  Won’t be able to solely rely upon his athleticism to win against NFL DBs (while this is in the “bad” section, it can also be viewed as a positive that he has room to improve.  His ceiling is much higher than where he is currently at, which is a scary thought, because he shows great promise.  He also seems to be a hard worker, and a person of good character).  In terms of improvements as a route runner, he can work on his footwork.  Releases will have to be earned at the NFL level.  Improving his footwork will also help him expand his route tree, as well as help him to achieve consistency with his release packages and balance in his breaks.  Can also develop his spatial awareness when working against zone (should be able to with experience at the NFL level).  Takes a little while to accelerate off the line on occasion
  • Wasn’t jammed at the line very often. Will have to see how he reacts to technically sound, professional-level press corners.  Can work to develop his hand usage vs. press
  • Willing blocker, but he can work to refine his technique. Creating consistency in his stance/base in particular
  • Catches with his body at times, alligator arms at time (not even due to pressure). Had some drops

Bio

  • 2019 Stats (11 games): 78 receptions, 1,319 yards, 19 touchdowns
  • 2018 Stats (11 games): 48 receptions, 1,007 yards, 8 touchdowns
  • Pro Day numbers (according to RAS): 4.54 40-yard dash, 35 vert, 10-7 broad, 4.36 short shuttle, 6.96 3-cone, 20 225-lb bench press reps
  • 2018 All-MEC First Team (coaches)
  • 2019 All-MEC First Team (coaches)
  • Track athlete at the University of Charleston. Ran track and played basketball in high school (went to Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Virginia his last three years of high school)
  • Quote from NFL Draft Blitz’ interview with Strachan: “Alex Khvatov: What are your strengths? -Mike Strachan: I bring energy.  I am confident and I am a positive example for everybody.  I am a team player.  I am willing to do whatever for the team and the coaches.  I am a playmaker.  They can come to me in any situation.  I have the ability to make plays.”

Tape Breakdown

If you’re looking for an uber athletic, high ceiling wide receiver dart throw for day three, look no further.  Michael Strachan from the University of Charleston might just be your guy.  Similarly to Jalen Camp (yet to an even higher degree), Strachan has eye-popping measurables/numbers that will have (and already has had) NFL scouts examining him very closely.  Born in The Bahamas, Strachan grew up with aspirations of running track professionally.  He ran track, played basketball, and played football in high school.  At the University of Charleston, Strachan was both a track and football athlete.  He put up consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2018 and 2019, but he did not play any games in 2020.  Still, Strachan may just be one of the most enticing late-round prospects due to his mixture of size, athletic testing numbers, and statistical production (have to take the production with a grain of salt due to the competition he faced).  Let’s get into some clips that show why Mike Strachan’s name has NFL buzz.

 

This first clip is from the University of Charleston’s first game of their 2019 season.  They are playing Fairmont State University.  Strachan is on the left side of the field (bottom of the screen).  Strachan eats the cushion up at the snap to get on the DB’s toes.  Then, when in the face of the defender, he utilizes a throw-by technique while cutting inside on the slant.  Now with inside positioning, Strachan is able to secure the pass despite a desperation jersey tug (which results in a penalty flag) from the beaten DB.

 

This next clip is from the same 2019 game vs. Fairmont State.  Strachan is at the top of the screen and runs right by the DB, who utilizes a press bail technique.  As Strachan continues vertically on a 9 route, the DB tries to get hands on him, but with a built-up head of steam, there’s no stopping the freight train that is Strachan on his path to the end zone.  At 6’5” and 225 lbs, Strachan ran a reported 4.46 40-yard dash at his Pro Day.  RAS has him pegged as running a 4.54.  Either way, very good time for a WR his size.  Strachan ran track at the University of Charleston, so it’s apparent that he has long speed in his arsenal.  With a background as a track athlete, Strachan can stretch the field.

 

This clip is also from the same 2019 game against Fairmont State.  Here, we can see Strachan’s potential as a route runner.  Lined up in the slot field side, Strachan has a free release and runs an out route.  Look at the cut he makes by putting on the breaks with some rapid, short steps, then sinking his hips and swiveling his body towards the sideline.  While it isn’t the quickest or cleanest break in the world, the potential for growth is there.  The fact that he’s able to drop his weight that well for a guy his size is impressive.  He also does a good job getting his head back to the football, but he doesn’t make it to the throw.  Strachan has potential as a route runner.

 

This is another clip from the 2019 game against Fairmont State.  Lined up boundary side, Strachan begins his route with a mixture of some hesitation and foot fire, then he continues vertically until he suddenly drops his weight and cuts to the inside.  He finds some room behind and in front of two defenders, then makes the catch.  After making the catch, he immediately tries to make the closing defender miss.  Strachan has some twitch and agility that aids both his route running (the ability to drop/shift his weight with ease) and elusiveness with the ball in his hands (he can make defenders miss).  He’s also strong enough to run through arm tackles.

 

This clip is from the University of Charleston’s 2019 matchup with West Virginia Wesleyan College.  Strachan is lined up boundary side and runs a drag route.  He shows good acceleration to bolt across the width of the field, catching the pass on the run with built up momentum.  Strachan’s acceleration/speed can also be used to his advantage if he’s sent in motion pre-snap.  Due to his size, a bigger defender will likely be needed to guard him in man, and they may struggle sticking with him sideline to sideline if he’s sent in motion before going out on a route.

 

This clip is from the same 2019 matchup with West Virginia Wesleyan College.  Strachan (boundary side) sinks his weight, ever so slightly, on the jab to the outside that sells the vertical route to the DB.  The DB reacts to the jab by opening his hips in preparation of a foot race, to which Strachan is able to break inside on a silky-smooth cut with the DB having his back to him.  Strachan locates the pass while cutting on the in-breaker, then he secures it and finishes through contact with two defenders.

 

This is another clip from the same 2019 matchup with West Virginia Wesleyan College.  Strachan is boundary side.  He goes vertical.  After accelerating off the line and closing the space between him and the defender, Strachan runs right through the DB’s hands with built up momentum.  He leaves the DB in the dust, all that’s left for him to do is track then secure the pass for the TD.  Even though he stumbles after catching the pass, Strachan has enough built up momentum to carry him to the end zone, he keeps his balance and scores.

 

This clip is from the University of Charleston’s 2019 matchup with Notre Dame College.  It depicts a 75-yard touchdown completion to Strachan.  Strachan is boundary side and races vertically post-snap.  He smoothly slips inside on the post route and is able to outrun the DB to the goal post.  Speed, speed, speed on display yet again.

 

This clip is from the University of Charleston’s 2019 game vs. Glenville State College.  Another race to the goal post.  Strachan’s in the slot field side.  At the snap, he gains momentum then utilizes a head fake to sell the outside release before cutting to the inside.  The DB is unable to flip his hips in time to match Strachan (the DB also falls down trying to keep up) so Strachan catches the pass in stride then waltz’ into the end zone.

 

This clip is from the University of Charleston’s 2019 game vs. Concord University.  Strachan is at the top of the screen in the red zone.  His QB lobs a fade jump-ball, to which Strachan uses his strength to knock the DB down in order to secure the pass for six.  Strachan makes the catch even though the defensive back’s coverage earned a penalty for the defense.  Touchdown stands.

 

This clip from the University of Charleston’s 2019 game against Fairmont State University displays Strachan blocking for a wide receiver screen boundary side.  Strachan can be utilized as a capable blocker to either anchor play side runs or help in the screen game.  The main thing I think Strachan needs to improve as a blocker is maintaining a consistent base.  While blocking, a consistent base will allow him to keep leverage and ensure he’s able to move his feet with the defender, rather than keeping his feet narrow and limiting his mobility to match/stick with the defender/block.  On this play specifically, Strachan gets good engagement with his hands and showcases his strength again, this time to drive the defender backwards.  Strachan has great potential as a blocker as well as a receiver.

 

This clip is from the University of Charleston’s 2019 game against West Virginia Wesleyan College.  Lined up boundary side, Strachan bursts off the line post-snap then sells a fantastic sluggo (slant + go – double move) route by smoothly shifting and dropping his weight while maintaining speed, then he fades into the corner of the end zone, but… he isn’t able to secure the pass.  It’s a beautifully ran route and he tracks the over-the-shoulder throw well, he just has to finish the play by holding onto the football (it has to be noted that it’s hard to tell from this view whether or not the defender had an impact on the catch.  Can’t be sure if it’s a true drop or not).

 

In this clip from the University of Charleston’s 2019 game vs. Urbana University, Strachan drops another pass.  Lined up close to the offensive line on the left side of the offensive formation, Strachan runs up the seam, then cuts into a post on a 3rd and long situation.  The pass hits him in the hands but he does not secure it.  As is evident from the last two clips, Strachan did have some drops/contested catches he wasn’t able to come away with in the games I watched.  He also caught passes with his body and didn’t fully extend his arms at times.  He should be able to work on these issues with NFL coaching to (hopefully) quickly remove them from his game.

 

This clip from the same 2019 game against Urbana University illustrates that Strachan is still raw as a route runner (his footwork specifically).  Strachan is lined up on the numbers boundary side and runs a stop route.  As he is backtracking, he stumbles and loses his balance, interrupting his concentration and resulting in another dropped pass (that he tries to trap with his body).  While this is a play in the negative column, the earlier clips have shown how much potential Strachan has as a route runner.  The fact that he’s nowhere near his ceiling as a technician is a scary thought, especially when considering what he has already been able to show at the University of Charleston.  Moving forward, the sky is the limit for Strachan.

Mike Strachan oozes potential.  You aren’t going to find any wide receiver prospects in this year’s draft class with the same combination of size and athleticism that Strachan has (however, there are a bunch of day three prospects with really good measurables and potential), and while he should be viewed as a project, after watching his 2019 season extensively, I do expect him to be drafted at some point in the 2021 NFL Draft.  There just aren’t many prospects with the type of ceiling that Strachan has in terms of career outlook best-case scenarios.  Strachan could be one of the prized late-round gems in this 2021 NFL Draft class.  Time will tell how NFL franchises view his draft value.  If the Pittsburgh Steelers were to draft him late, I’d be pretty happy about it.  His measurables and tape make him worth a draft pick, and as Steelers’ fans know, Pittsburgh has become something of a wide receiver factory over the years.

This link is to the University of Charleston’s 2019 game against Wheeling University.  The link takes you to the Mountain East Conference’s TV website, where Strachan’s other games can also be found.  This specific play is at 22:37.  Strachan (boundary side) fights through the defender’s hands vertically, then climbs the ladder to snatch the pass out of the air over the defender.  If that’s not enough, Strachan holds onto the catch despite taking a hit from the safety that came screaming down to lay a shot on him.  Great catch.

Projection: Mid-Day Three

Games Watched: University of Findlay (2018), Fairmont State University (2019), Urbana University (2019), West Virginia Wesleyan College (2019), Wheeling University (2019), Notre Dame College (2019), Frostburg State University (2019), Glenville State College (2019), West Virginia State University (2019), Concord University (2019)

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