USC WR Jordan Addison is considered one of the best wide receivers in the 2023 Draft class… if not the best. While the Pittsburgh Steelers’ may not have WR as the top positional need on the roster, Addison has been linked to the Steelers for obvious reasons, having played with current Steelers QB Kenny Pickett at Pitt before he got drafted and completed his transfer out west.
Addison spoke about the potential of reuniting with Pickett in Pittsburgh next season in my interview with him at the NFL Combine, telling the team to come get him if they really want him. Still, many are skeptical of Addison and his potential in the NFL giving his stature and questionable long speed. I asked Addison about his lack of overall size and how he believes he can beat physical cover corners in press coverage and win combative catches at the next level.
“Just looking in the league right now, there’s a lot of guys that are my size and their succeeding just looking at DaVonta Smith,” Addison responded. “So, I feel like just being me, be confident and do what I did that got me here.”
Addison was listed in college at 6’0, 175lb, but standing next to him at the Combine and sharing the same flight down here to Indianapolis, I wouldn’t be surprised if he came in smaller than that. The 180lb mark is often the benchmark for WRs in the league to hit to be durable and win against more physical cover corners in the league. Addison will likely fall short of that benchmark, but he has shown the ability to when at the catch point during his time at Pitt and USC, comparing himself to another slender WR in the Eagles’ DeVonta Smith who has been nicknamed “The Slim Reaper” thanks to his nasty route running and contested catch ability despite his lack of size.
I then asked Addison on his speed as several people who have broken down Addison’s game, including our own Alex Kozora in his pre-draft profile, have stated that Addison only has average long speed and lacks that juice to pull away from defenders after the catch or blow the doors off coverage as a deep threat.
“I’m going to prove that tomorrow,” Addison said with a smirk. “Ya’ll ain’t got to wait too much longer. Tomorrow dat day.”
Kozora mentions in his draft profile on Addison that he shows quickness and impressive second gear to burst at top of route to create space and stack defenders vertically. This lines up with the tape as Addison shouldn’t likely test with the same 40 time as Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt or Cincinnati’s Tyler Scott, but his speed translates well to the game. He is a nuanced route runner that is quicker than fast, being able to manipulate his routes and stress defensive backs to get a step of separation where he will burst from there. He compared his game to Calvin Ridley and Stefon Diggs, two players that tested in the 4.4’s, but play that speed all the time thanks to the focus and detail they put into their routes.
Addison appears to be that next craftsman making the transition from the college game to the pros. These talented route runners have had a lot of success in the league in recent seasons, and Addison looks to be the next one that may not wow scouts with a 220lb+ frame of a 4.3 40 time, but rather always play to his full speed and make plays at his size that many wouldn’t expect him to make. Should he run well on Saturday, Addison will likely solidify his place as a first round pick, meaning the Steelers may have to select him at 17 overall to bring him back to Pittsburgh and give his former QB another talented weapon.