NFL Draft: Looking Back at Jerry Jeudy's Recruiting Rise

Jerry Jeudy won’t have to wait long when the NFL Draft begins.

It’s not a spoiler alert or breaking any kind of news considering he is arguably the top wide receiver option available, but there is some news value there for those of us who have been able to see some of these top prospects in action over the last half-decade or so.

While pure play-making ability, production and certainly recruiting outlet rankings were always in the south Floridians’ favor, his ascent while at Alabama — where he helped the program to a national title, won the Biletnikoff Award in 2018 and followed it up with another 1,000-yard, double-digit touchdown season as a junior — was evidence of his buy-in to the program.

Jerry Jeudy may be the prospect I saw in action most among projected first round NFL Draft picks this year.

Just in person, there are a half-dozen showings that immediately come to mind in looking back at the Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School standout from the class of 2017. There were key takeaways each example the electric route-runner set.

The first time I recall seeing Jeudy in competitive action was the south Florida regional for The Opening’s camp series. Then a 6-foot-1, 175-pound pass catcher, there were no-brainer strengths to his game. That footwork off of the line of scrimmage and ability to manipulate leverage against a defender was there from the outset. It made for crisp routes at that level, against good competition no less.

But there wasn’t a lot of pure separation, even in that camp setting. This is one of the areas in which Jeudy made monster strides while at Alabama, culminating with big plays down the field and of course a 4.45-second 40-yard dash time, all while playing nearly 20 pounds heavier than he did in high school.

Where things went to a different stratosphere with Jeudy was in the dead of summer.

After helping fellow Alabama commitment Tua Tagovailioa win Elite 11 MVP by shredding defenses at The Opening Finals, it was on to some team camps, most notably at Florida. On hand that day there was a palpable buzz before each 1-on-1 rep Jeudy took at that Friday Night Lights event until he made what is still probably his best known football play before getting to Alabama (above).

Facing a future Florida State Seminole in Akeem Dent, the ability to make defensive backs look silly shined brightest on Jeudy’s out and up win. Yes, it was elongated and isn’t something that is play-caller friendly given the time it takes to accomplish, but in the camp setting and all eyes on this rep, there haven’t been many more ‘ohh’ and ‘ahh’ moments in a prep offseason.

Where things went to a different stratosphere with Jeudy was in the dead of summer.

After helping fellow Alabama commitment Tua Tagovailioa win Elite 11 MVP by shredding defenses at The Opening Finals, it was on to some team camps, most notably at Florida. On hand that day there was a palpable buzz before each 1-on-1 rep Jeudy took at that Friday Night Lights event until he made what is still probably his best known football play before getting to Alabama (above).

Facing a future Florida State Seminole in Akeem Dent, the ability to make defensive backs look silly shined brightest on Jeudy’s out and up win. Yes, it was elongated and isn’t something that is play-caller friendly given the time it takes to accomplish, but in the camp setting and all eyes on this rep, there haven’t been many more ‘ohh’ and ‘ahh’ moments in a prep offseason.

But of course Jeudy wasn’t just a camp guy, if anything he was better in 11 on 11 football on Friday nights, especially when the stakes became higher and higher.

Before he completed his prep football career as an Under Armour All-America Game selection like many elite Alabama wide receivers before him, from Julio Jones to Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley, he dominated as a senior at Deerfield Beach. My live game look of Jeudy came on a night where he was manufactured touches for like a running back would be.

Against Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely High in September, it was the Jeudy show on a humid south Florida evening. He would finish with 131 yards on the night and that wasn’t including at least one long score called back by penalty.

In addition to several hitches substituting as extensions of the run game, Jeudy really shined in the intermediate game thanks to that signature route-running. He would flip a defender’s hips before the ball left the passer’s hands and wouldn’t look back. 

After the catch, we really began to see literal strides from Jeudy and his overall play-making ability. His ‘dead leg’ and/or start-stop ability combined with great vision and instincts with the ball in his hands and it was another long day for the defense. That ability to decelerate on a moment’s notice is something that only Jeudy can do mid-route and after the catch with similar effectiveness. 

Filed under