Rueben Randle: Julio Jones, Or Just A Ripoff?

Rueben Randle Highlights 2011 [HD] (via PraqticuL)

Rueben Randle was supposed to be Julio Jones.

Like Julio, Randle was a highly sought-after recruit. Like Julio, Randle was an amazing physical specimen, standing at a massive 6-3 and 210 pounds, and running at about the same speed. Heavily recruited by many major programs, the five-star was widely expected to accept the scholarship offered by Alabama. Like Julio, Randle was expected to be the major key cog in the Alabama machine, the physical run-blocking deep threat in the power offense of Alabama.

But Randle decided not to be like Julio. He decided to go to LSU.

So this is where we pick up, three years later. Randle is coming off a combine that seemed to be somewhat disappointing to me; he ran a middling 4.55 40 and his vertical jump, normally the test for the explosiveness players like Julio possess, was unimpressive. With this combine, it is very difficult to find what to make out of Randle... Is he the powerful, fast, explosive deep threat in the mold of Julio Jones, Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens? Or, is he the big possession receiver, an Anquan Boldin of sorts who is big and tough, but is not the highlight machine that the explosive players are?

College tape is certainly not the best place to start. Hindered by having Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee as his two quarterbacks, Randle was never given the opportunity to produce that Julio had. Despite being a top-caliber team, LSU's quarterbacks were apocalyptically bad. Jefferson, invited to the combine practically by default, was ranked 315 out of the 315 players invited, citing bad mechanics, poor pocket presence, and overrated scrambling ability as a few of his many key traits. Jarrett "Pick-Six" Lee was even worse; supposedly a pocket quarterback, Lee still managed to crumble under pressure and was hurt by a mediocre arm and worse accuracy.

So, we are left to go to the high school tapes, and scouting reports, and notes, to find out what Randle can really be.

And it is beautiful.

Per "Despite being hobbled by a hamstring injury, Randle showed why he is the No. 1 ranked prospect on "Man. Rueben is big, physical and he is smooth with his routes," Harris said. "He was the only one that caught a touchdown on me today."

Per "BEST ATHLETE... 1. Rueben Randle, Bastrop (La.) High Not only is Randle the top wide receiver prospect, but he also could be a quarterback at the next level. His combination of size and speed makes it hard to tackle him. Even after playing quarterback this season, he didn't look rusty catching passes at U.S. Army practices."

Per "The nation's No. 1 receiver has barely begun to scratch the surface of his vast potential, Randle played quarterback much of his senior season. He is a natural adjusting to the ball in the air when he's at wide receiver and has a change of direction that exceeds most of the receivers considerably smaller than him. Randle has everything you want in a receiver with size, speed, smarts, and good hands. Scott Kennedy,"

Let's revisit the highlight video, shall we? Even the college highlights are spectacular, and look at how many plays were on poorly thrown balls. Check the catch at 0:30 for a prime example... Hit him in that in route in stride, and it's an easy touchdown. Same at many other places, notably 0:15, 1:15, 2:19, 2:26, and 2:52.

Randle is projected to go in the second round. Should we pursue him? I say yes, yes, a thousand times yes. It solves a need, it gives us what we need (a tall, physical receiver), it gives us a guy with a ton of upside, and it gives us a playmaker Sanchez can trust.

He may not be Julio Jones, but (pardon my Southern English) dang if he ain't good.

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