From now until the 2022 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling a wide receiver with an appealing skill set molded especially for a modern-day NFL offense.
#11 Dontario Drummond, WR, Ole Miss, (R-Sr.) – 6017, 215 lbs.
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Dontario Drummond||6017/215||9 1/4||31 1/2||76 3/8|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Good size and build
— Solid speed, good acceleration/burst and change of direction, slippery (will be very intrigued to see his testing numbers – I think he’ll score better in acceleration/explosion and COD than straight-line speed)
— Potential for a complete route tree in the NFL seems to be there. Most commonly ran routes: slants, hitches, drags, posts, go’s/fades/seams/crossers. Some outs, corners
— Capable of lining up outside (X or Z) or in the slot. Lined up in the backfield at H-back on occasion
— Great RAC (run after catch) and YAC (yards after catch) receiver
— Great balance and body control. Very smooth athlete. Great hip sink and head snap in his breaks, good mechanics with footwork and arm/hand usage
— Strong, fairly tough runner. Can take a hit
— Has shown the ability to use tempo variation in his releases and stems
— Good hands/hand-eye coordination (mostly a hands catcher), good catch radius and hops
— Anticipates throw-timing well. Able to build up speed in throwing lanes so that he can transition from catch to run on the fly. Able to find open space in zone
— Has the frame and examples on tape that suggest he can be/become an above average blocker
— Could likely carve out a role as a returner based on his attributes (did spend some–albeit not much–time at punt returner his senior year)
— Lack of remarkable production until his redshirt senior season. Only one season with over 30 receptions and 500 receiving yards
— Age: born August 22, 1997 (24 years old)
— Needs to develop as a separator (technique and exposure) so that he can run a complete route tree. A sizeable chunk of his production was schemed open. Would have liked to see him win deep more when only able to rely on his route running
— Appears to get lost or stick to one spot a moment too long when trying to open up against off or zone (won’t have the advantage of so much schemed open for him at the NFL level – will have to see how he’s able to process defenses without scheme help)
— Need to see more out of his release packages. What he has shown is solid (Senior Bowl being taken into consideration) but not much there on tape against hard press (does have the size, strength, and quickness required to beat press-jam corners though)
— Not an elite speed guy as a deep threat. Good acceleration but seems to lack top-end burner speed to take the top off the defense (need to see his testing numbers – pure speed isn’t the end all be all for becoming/being a viable deep threat)
— Looks a bit sluggish/uninspired running his routes on occasion. Releases a tad slow off the snap at times, not all that sudden and purposeful on every release. Would like to see a more consistent sense of urgency
— Some drops on tape
— Would like to see more engagement as a blocker effort wise (recurring on tape – not fully committed at all times – on the other hand he had some good reps and has the frame to block well consistently)
— 2021 Stats (12 games): 76 receptions, 1,028 yards, 8 touchdowns. 6 rushing attempts, 40 yards, 1 touchdown
— 2020 Stats (9 games): 25 receptions, 417 yards, 7 touchdowns / 2019 Stats (6 games): 13 receptions, 188 yards
— According to PFF: 11 TDs in the red zone since 2020 (most amongst active SEC WRs)
— Signed with Ole Miss after spending two years at East Mississippi Community College (JUCO)
— 1,568 receiving yards (4th in the state) and 17 touchdowns in his 2016 senior season of high school
— Played baseball, basketball, and football in high school. Won state championships with both his football and basketball teams
Given the expected news of legendary Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement after the 2021 NFL season, I tried to prepare mentally via immersing myself in games of the 2022 NFL Draft quarterback prospects that had captured my attention (and still have–until draft day), in order to hope for a bright future. Matt Corral and Kenny Pickett were atop my list, so naturally I tried to catch as many Ole Miss and Pitt games as possible. In doing so, I came to form a strong interest in Ole Miss wide receiver Dontario Drummond, who had a rock-solid 2021 season for the Rebels.
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin does a phenomenal job of scheming his playmakers open for his QB in their systematic yet explosively designed offense, but Drummond displayed both ability and traits that can translate to the NFL level. So, in my eyes it wasn’t just scheme that allowed Drummond to produce in 2021 (a good chunk of his production was schemed open, however). At 6’0 217 lbs, Drummond has more than adequate physical stature, and he glides naturally with the ball in his hands. He is capable of eluding or running through tackle attempts after-the-catch, as he was often schemed manufactured touches to give him the opportunity to make a play with the football, due to his sheer athleticism and strength. It will be important to see his testing numbers, because while I don’t believe he will test off the charts, I think his numbers should suffice and justify his eventual draft range of rounds 4-5 (or serve to enhance his raw appeal).
Even more importantly, Drummond is also a promising route runner. With great balance and body control that is evident with and without the football, Drummond is a smooth player that has a solid foundation for his ability to create separation. He is not currently elite, but his potential is enticing. Add in his solid hands, catch radius and leaping ability, along with the fact that his smarts and feel allows him to pick the best line of sight for his QB on his routes, and there is a lot to like with Drummond’s eval.
Now let’s get into the clips.
This first clip shows Drummond’s YAC prowess from his time at Ole Miss. It comes from their 2020 Outback Bowl game against Indiana. Drummond is off the line at the bottom of the screen. Post-snap, he jogs into a hitch to serve as QB Matt Corral’s safety valve. Corral eventually turns his direction after going through his reads and slings him a pass.
After calmly collecting it, Drummond curves around the nearest closing defender. He then gets square upfield and looks to reach the first down marker where he sees contact awaiting him. He gives the next awaiting defender a stiff-arm and puts his head down to squeeze out however many extra yards he can. Drummond stays on his feet (illustrating his contact balance) as another defender helps his teammate take Drummond out of bounds, Drummond carries them for a little. Drummond makes picking up YAC effortless here, which is something he especially displayed in his 2021 season.
Speaking of his 2021 season, here’s another YAC (RAC as well here) clip from Ole Miss’ season opener against Louisville. This is his bread and butter, exhibited (we’ll see more of the same throughout this report). Drummond is in the slot boundary side. He delays his release off the line, and the defenders in his area get caught looking at the candy (run-action threat of the RPO).
So, Drummond finds an open lane to accelerate into, keeping his eyes on QB Corral and awaiting the throw. Corral puts it on him in-stride then it’s off to the races for Drummond, who dodges a few tackles then carries a sea of red for a bit more yardage at the end of the play. Elusiveness and strength on display again.
Same game in this clip, and also a similar result. The middle defenders near Drummond (slot boundary side) get sucked in due to the run threat of the fake-handoff action (PA) and the look of a pulling lineman, so they think run, but the linemen block to give Corral time to throw, and by then it’s too late for the defenders. As for Drummond, he hesitates off the line which makes it look like he’s about to block, then he accelerates into a throwing lane with his head looking at Corral. Corral gets the ball past the two defenders and Drummond secures it then looks to get vertical. With defenders in front of him, he changes course toward the sideline and hops past a defender, then meanders his way further upfield and eventually out of bounds.
These are as easy of receptions as you’ll find, but this clip specifically is why I made the comp to Brandon Aiyuk for Drummond (which I’ll get more into later in the article). The inside route and RAC is very reminiscent of an Aiyuk-type receiver, both utilization and ability wise. These types of plays are the paradigm for what Drummond will be able to immediately provide to an NFL offense, while working to expand other facets of his game.
Here’s another clip from later on in the Louisville game. Drummond is in the slot boundary side. His entire route isn’t shown, but the two boundary receivers run a switch where Drummond runs a wheel route, curving his route around the defender in his path then continuing vertically.
What stands out about this clip is the ball placement from QB Matt Corral, as well as the sensational concentration from Drummond to turn this into a completed play. Drummond contorts his body to be able to pluck the pass with his fingertips, then he ensures that he gets his feet inbounds. If that wasn’t already impressive enough, Drummond also then takes a shove but has the necessary grip strength to secure the football with one hand as he goes to the ground out of bounds.
This clip comes from Ole Miss’ 2021 game vs. Indiana. It displays a deeper route from Drummond, one in which I was impressed to see. Drummond is lined up out wide field side. With the defender in off-bail coverage post-snap, Drummond has free space to work with on 2nd and 8. He initially keeps his vertical route stem uniform to the first down marker, then after he passes it, he sinks inside to give the impression of a post before working his way outside on a true break.
Without having the luxury of All-22 for this rep, it appears as though Drummond runs what is called a “blaze out.” The camera then pans to him having gained a step on the DB. Corral places his throw so that Drummond can continue toward the sideline with the defender behind him, first down reception. I would have liked to see much more of these types of deeper routes from Drummond, especially in situations where he would have had to rely upon his route running to get him open and not route combos/other scheme. It was obviously difficult to track every route he ran without All-22, but this will definitely be the area he will have to focus on the most if he wants a full-time WR role in the NFL.
This next clip comes from Ole Miss’ 2021 matchup with Alabama. Ole Miss struggled as a whole, and Drummond finished the day with just 43 yards on 4 catches.
However, this rep was one I noted (he also had a nice jet sweep that was called back due to a holding penalty). Here, Drummond (slot bottom of the screen) runs a slant. He gives the underneath defender a hard plant to the outside since the defender has inside leverage. As he swipes past him, he gets his head back to the QB and anticipates a pass. He scoops it into his chest then takes a shot to his left side thigh/abdomen. He tanks the hit however and maintains his balance to pass the first down marker, then giving a scrap more of a fight to the Alabama defenders that converge on him.
Drummond’s contact and route running balance consistently stand out, and I would argue that his overall body control is his best physical tool. Also, another example of a MOF route (in-breaker here) on an RPO.
Here’s a clip from Ole Miss’ 2021 game vs. Tennessee. What’d ya know? Another Drummond MOF RAC/YAC opportunity. Pre-snap, Drummond is out wide boundary side. He takes off up the seam post-snap. Following the play-action fake and a pump-fake, Corral is able to get Drummond the football as he angles inside, seeing that he needed to uncover. Upon receiving the pass, Drummond side-steps the first defender to attempt a tackle, then he slips and evades some more on his way upfield, as he eventually reaches the sideline and finishes the catch and run with a stiff-arm before being hit out.
Now I have some Senior Bowl practice clips. While they are just one-on-ones, these clips provide a glimpse into what I want to see more from Drummond if he is to expand his ceiling for NFL play. First, this clip shows a pretty release from Drummond to beat the DB in press coverage, with an inside shade. Since Drummond is trying to run a slant to the inside, he knows he has to move the DB off that inside spot so that he can cross his face without the DB being able to stick to his hip pocket.
So, Drummond slides outside post-snap with hesitation into a stutter foot fire and synchronized arm pumps. Then, Drummond gives a hard plant with his left foot and drags his right, basically imitating the movement of a crossover in basketball–as you can see his body and arms rapidly shift from right to left as if crossing the ball over to drive right.
As I have touched upon in previous draft profiles, basketball and football have some translatable movements when it comes to the art of getting open. As Drummond carries vertically, he sells his true inside break by glancing his head outside to keep the DB from trying to fully recover inside, then he breaks on the slant. He does stumble, but he keeps his balance and reels in the pass.
Second, this clip is my favorite from what I’ve seen of Drummond at the Senior Bowl. Again working vs. press with the DB aligned slightly inside of him. Drummond hops so to come to platform with near-parallel footing. He then gives another crossover-type move with the use of a head shimmy and arm shift from left to right. With the DB still in-line as he puts his head down up the sideline, Drummond swipes at the DB’s attempts to get hands on in order to keep himself free.
Once he reaches the 27-26, Drummond suddenly snaps down as if sitting in a chair, sinking his hips, and violently thrusting his arms. He stays compact, keeping his feet tight and chest over his toes, seemingly angry at the ground as he purposefully and urgently breaks down for the comeback route. To finish the play, he snags the pass with both feet inbounds by the sideline.
Finally for the Senior Bowl, this third clip is a red zone fade. Drummond has a clear path to open space on the fade, but he ensures that it is set up nicely by attacking the space between him and the defender instead of just immediately taking off to open end zone area. He uses momentum very well here by skipping with hesitation off the line, then upping his tempo after a left-footed jab that propels him on a vertical angle toward the open space he knew he had.
Then, Drummond does a good job of tracking the lobbed throw, and he high points it despite the defender getting his hand in at the catch point. To cap off the play, he finishes the catch with the awareness to drag his feet so that both land inbounds, before he takes a step out.
Good set of reps illustrated by Drummond.
These last clips get into some of the bad. Here, these first two depict a couple of the drops I noted from Drummond’s game tape.
First, from the 2020 Indiana game, Drummond is out wide field side and lets the pass slip through his hands on the in-breaker. Just like Steelers fans have seen with Diontae Johnson in his young career, this looks to be a case of the concentration drops. Most likely as a result of closing defenders, therefore anticipating a hit, or already thinking of what to do after the catch before even securing the football.
Second one is from the Tennessee, 2021 game. Drummond is off the line field side. He runs somewhat of a pivot route, and he pops the pass up into the air, unable to secure it. He’s lucky this play didn’t result in an interception. Corral did put some juice on the throw, but still a drop.
Moving on, here’s another recurring issue (more so than the drops) I noted for some clips when watching Drummond’s game tape: blocking. While he has the necessary frame and some good reps on tape, Drummond lacked consistent motivation when asked to block. This was odd to me because he was used at H-back on occasion and was a key component of certain runs.
So, clearly his coaching staff had confidence in him, and he rewarded them for their faith at times, but the “want-to” wasn’t always there. This clip is from the 2020 Indiana game. Drummond is at the bottom of the screen field side. Post-snap, instead of engaging with a man, he kind of just floats around confused as to who he should attempt to block. This results in two defenders that he eyed getting to the ballcarrier. Lack of urgency here.
Finally, this clip is from the 2021 Alabama game. Drummond is the middle receiver in the trips set field side. Ole Miss is trying to set up a motion screen swing pass, but Drummond is blown up on his half-effort block attempt. He doesn’t extend at the point of attack when he attempts to get hands on, and his momentum takes him backwards for some reason, so the defender makes him pay as he manhandles Drummond even further backwards and into the ballcarrier.
Luckily for Ole Miss, this didn’t result in a negative or no gain play, but it did lead to a 4th and 1 that they ultimately did not convert, playing a massive role in the momentum of the game and the eventual outcome. Football is a team game of inches, one in which every detail matters.
Due to Ole Miss’ heavy utilization of RPOs and play-action, in addition to their philosophy of getting the ball in the hands of their playmakers (whom they scheme open at an elite rate), a comparison between Drummond and Brandon Aiyuk is what imprinted on my mind–with Drummond being bulkier and slightly less explosive. A team fit with an offense akin to the 49ers or Green Bay Packers would make sense for Drummond’s skillset, but I also think he could have a role on the Steelers, specifically filling in for JuJu Smith-Schuster if he is to walk in free agency. Then, the Steelers would be able to primarily utilize Drummond out of the slot, in tandem with extremely promising tight end, Pat Freiermuth. However, the manner in which they target JuJu’s former role must be vastly improved, or they would be limiting the future potential of a wide receiver like Drummond.
Overall, Drummond’s age and lack of significant production until his senior year will be what weighs down his draft grade (also pending testing numbers). At this point in the evaluation process, he will likely slot early-mid day three. I view Drummond as an upper-middle round value as a result. He can be had at a discount because of the previously stated factors, as well as the WRs this year that will send him down the pecking order. Ergo, I do believe he will prove to be worth the investment in the round 4-5 range, so long as the team that selects him is able to put him in a position where his strengths are amplified (as is the case with any prospect).
If Drummond further improves his route running technique and gets comfortable with more route exposure, to the point where he becomes a consistent separator in the deeper portions of the field (and shows he can handle a full route tree against NFL competition as a result), he will provide even greater capabilities than the already expected short to intermediate production.
Projection: Early Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 7.5 – Raw Traits/Upside Prospect (4th Round)
Games Watched: vs. Indiana (2020), vs. Louisville (2021), @ Alabama (2021), vs. Arkansas (2021), @ Tennessee (2021), @ Mississippi State (2021)