From now until the 2023 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 will be profiling Fresno State wide receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper.
#5 Jalen Moreno-Cropper/Fresno State (Senior) 5111 172 LBS
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Jalen Moreno-Cropper||5111, 172||8 7/8||30 1/8||N/A|
|40 Yard Dash||10 Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Great release, he consistently creates separation at the line of scrimmage
— Adjusts well to passes despite not having the biggest frame
— Uses hands well to beat press coverage
— Has a basketball type route running where he sets up defenders to get open
— Good YAC ability, quick player who can get up field and get yards after making the catch
— Can be used in multiple ways, was used in sweep game, and screen game often at Fresno State
— Productive collegiate career 220 receptions, 2,701 yards, 21 receiving touchdowns in four years
— Good field awareness, on tape would often get two feet down in bounds when near sideline, new where sideline was so he could get out of bounds in end of game situations
— Played both outside and in the slot
— Returned punts and kicks in college so he can bring that dimension to a NFL team
— Has ball security issues, fumbled multiple times on tape
— Doesn’t offer too much as a blocker, will get in way of people but that is basically it
— Doesn’t have the sharpest cuts when route running, will sometimes round off his routes
— When not on of the top targets on a play he won’t have the same effort when running his route
— Not going to be a threat in the jump ball game
— 21-years-old, born May 5, 2001
— Fifth All-Time leader in receptions at Fresno State with 220
— Eighth All-Time at Fresno State in receiving touchdowns with 21
— Had 37 games in a row with a catch at one point
— Took snaps at quarterback in high school
— Added Moreno to last name before 2022 season to honor his grandfather
— Used NIL money to hand out backpacks to school kids before the school year in 2022
— Made Second Team All-Mountain West in 2021 when he recored 85 catches for 899 yards and 11 touchdowns
— Made First Team All-Mountain West in 2022 recording 84 catches for 1,093 yards and five touchdowns
— Fresno State’s ninth all-time leader in receiving yards with 2,701
— Eight career 100 yard games
— Recruited by bigger schools like UCLA and Oregon out of high school but chose Fresno State to stay closer to home
— Majored in communications
Jalen Moreno-Cropper, better known as just Jalen Cropper was an electric receiver at Fresno State who has a great release and one through his route running ability to get open. When you watch him you get the feeling that he has a basketball background as he sets up his defender before hitting him with a change in direction or speed. Despite not being one of the bigger wide receivers the draft this year, he has an above average catch radius, being able to adjust to passes that are not the most accurate. While I would not say Cropper plays bigger than his size as he is not a jump ball threat by any means, he can still get to most passes in his general area. Cropper also has really good field awareness. When you throw on his tape he consistently gets his feet down in bounds and knows where the sideline is to get out of bounds in end of half or end of game situations.
But, his best ability is his release and route running ability. I got to see it first hand at the East-West Shrine Bowl where he consistently made defensive backs look silly. On 1v1 below, he easily beats the press coverage and creates cars of space between him and the cornerback. His hand usage get to disengage the press coverage is really nice, not letting the defender alter the route at all.
This though, is in a practice setting. Cropper also gets open in game scenarios too. His ability to use hips to get open in incredible making defenders have no idea where he is going. Although he doesn’t get the ball on the play, watch him put the defensive back covering him in a blender as he has no idea where Cropper is going to be running his route too. Cropper in the inside receiver on the right side.
Standing at only 5’11” Cropper isn’t going to be winning jump balls, but an underrated part of his game is his catch radius. On both game tape and in practices at the Shrine Bowl, Cropper showed great ability to adjust the passes, even mid air at some points. Not only does he get open to help his quarterback out, but also he has no issues adjusting to a bad pass to bail out his quarterback.
Watch this catch at a practice during the Shrine Bowl, Cropper adjusts his body mid-air to catch pass that is behind him. Quarterbacks are going to love this because this is not a good throw at all yet Cropper avoids what could have been a disaster play by adjusting and making a catch a pass that could have worst case scenario been picked off.
And now watch this catch in game action. While the throw isn’t terrible, and it is a catch Cropper should make, it is still behind him and he catches this and fight through contact.
Cropper also has really good field awareness, multiple times on game tape Cropper its two feet down in bounds on the sideline. He has an innate ability to know where he is on the field and that’s something that you can’t teach. Watch here against San Diego State keep his two feet down as he’s falling out of bounds to make this catch.
Another aspect of Cropper’s game that will transition well to the NFL is that he can be used in screens and sweeps. On tape Cropper was used in numerous different ways and his quickness and ability to get up field made him really successful on it. Watch him here on this gadget end around around play against Oregon and see how he gets up field quickly.
Cropper’s ability to be used in multiple ways will definitely be appealing for NFL teams, however he has to work on ball security. Despite never being credited with a fumble I saw him fumbler twice on tape. Luckily it never cost Fresno State, but it is something he will have to clean up because it is a costly yet very avoidable mistake.
Another issue that sometimes pops up on Cropper’s tape is that he doesn’t always have the sharpest cuts. Sometimes he will round off his route, it specifically show up on out routes. While he is a good route runner for sure, he does have to clean this area of his game up. Also in this clip his ball security issues show up again. Luckily he was ruled down by contact before the fumble occurred.
Another issue that I found pop up on Cropper’s tape is effort. On these two plays Cropper runs basically the same route, but on the one he is targeted he shows more effort in his route running that on the play he is not targeted. Cropper is the middle receiver on the left side in the second clip.
Going back to the good on Cropper, he is a quick receiver who know show the get up field. He doesn’t dance around when gets the ball, he just goes and it is one of the reasons that when you combine it with his shiftiness he is often used on screens and sweeps.
Cropper doesn’t break a big play there, but he gets quickly gets up field and gets a first down. You don’t always need a big play, getting extra yards is always a plus.
Jalen Moreno-Cropper is one of my favorite mid-round receivers in this draft class. He has a really good release and gets open more often than not. He also shows a great ability to adjust to passes that aren’t perfect, helping his quarterback out. But, Cropper isn’t without his faults. He has some ball security issues and needs to work a bit on his route running so he doesn’t round off his routes too often. Fixing those two areas will go along way, and the good news is they are very fixable. His versatility is something that will do him wonders. He can play in the slot and outside, has the ability to return kicks and punts, and is sued in the screen and sweep game. He can do almost anything asked of him which will likely help him out when in comes time for the NFL Draft.
My comparison for Cropper would be former Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. While he is certainly smaller than Johnson their route running, set you and crossover technique feels very similar. I’m not sure Cropper will ever be as good as Johnson, but for a stylistic comparison I would say those two are pretty similar.
Given Cropper plays the slot a lot and can kick outside if necessary I can see the Steelers having interests during the draft if they don’t draft a receiver in the first couple of rounds. Cropper told me he met with the Steelers at the Shrine Bowl, so if Cropper is available late Day Two early Day Three I can see Pittsburgh pulling the trigger on him, especially with there still being question marks with wide receiver Calvin Austin III.
Projection: Late Day Two/Early Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 7.5 – 4th Round (Rotational Player)
Games Watched: Shrine Bowl 2023, Oregon 2021, San Diego State 2022, UCLA 2021