Throughout January and February, we’ve been taking an in-depth look at some of the players the Jets have signed to futures deals since the end of the season. We continue today with a look at former Packers wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey.
The 24-year-old Yancey is listed at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, and was a fifth-round pick in 2015 out of Purdue. Yancey has yet to play in an NFL game, having spent his rookie year and part of his second season on the Packers’ practice squad before being signed to the Jets’ practice squad in December.
Yancey was recruited to Purdue having been a three-star recruit out of high school. He made an immediate impact as a freshman with a couple of 100-yard games. His sophomore year was disappointing though, as he was held to just 12 catches.
As a junior, Yancey had a breakout year with career-bests in receptions (48), yards (700) and touchdown receptions (five) and then surpassed those numbers in his senior year by catching 49 passes for 951 yards and 10 scores. He also posted the best yards-per-catch average of his career as a senior (19.1), earning third-team all-Big Ten honors. Purdue only won nine games in his four-year college career, though.
Having played in the East West Shrine Game and performed well at his pro day, Yancey was still a projected undrafted free agent, but the Packers drafted him in the fifth round.
As a rookie, Yancey didn’t make the Packers’ roster, but cleared waivers and spent the entire year on their practice squad. He was also on the practice squad after being released in final cuts last year, but they let him go in October.
The Jets signed Yancey to their practice squad in December and gave him a futures deal at the end of the season.
Let’s move onto some further analysis of what Yancey brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Yancey is listed at 6-foot-1 and 220 but he is actually closer to 6-foot-2 based on his pro day meaurements. He may also be considerably lighter than that too. During training camp in 2018, Yancey told the media he had decided to drop some weight to improve his speed and conditioning and it was reported he had dropped 10-15 pounds to get back to his college playing weight.
His pro day numbers included a 4.48 40-yard dash, a 6.84 three cone drill and 21 bench press reps, which are solid numbers. However, the rest of his numbers were only about average for his position.
Yancey was primarily employed as an outside wide receiver in college as he only had a couple of catches from the slot each year. However, he played both in the slot and on the outside in preseason action with the Packers. He actually had four of his six preseason catches from the slot, generating just 17 yards but two first downs. He had catches of 46 and 15 yards on the outside.
Yancey works well as a deep threat because he has good long speed but lacks initial burst and acceleration. The Packers looked downfield for him on several occasions in preseason action and, although this was the only big play he came up with, it could have been a touchdown with a better throw:
Yancey had a knack for big plays in college too, with seven of his 10 touchdowns in his senior year going for 31 yards or more. He tracks the ball well and has the size and strength to prevent defensive backs from overpowering him at the catch point.
Yancey’s knack of natural quickness - which may be less of an issue since his weight loss - can be detrimental to his ability to get off a jam in press coverage and makes it difficult for him to make sharp breaks to lose his defender. He also lacks fluidity and shows some stiff hipness.
However, he is able to use his size and some active hands to gain some separation at the top of his route stem. On this play, he manages to get deep enough to convert the first down coming back to the ball:
With the defender playing off, he is able to break back to the football and use his body to box out his man. On this play, though, he breaks to the outside for a first down on a timing route:
Pre-draft scouting reports on Yancey point to his low catch rate and note that he has an issue with drops. However, the catch rate is in large part a product of the fact he has a high percentage of downfield targets and while he dropped eight passes as a junior, he was much more reliable in his senior year with only three drops.
In preseason action, there was one play where he failed to come up with a deep ball, although the defender seemed to knock it away from him. He also had this drop, which seemed to be influenced by the fact he was anticipating a hit:
His college highlights show him to be a natural hands catcher who tracks the ball well and is capable of making catches over the shoulder, in a crowd or over by the sideline. His best catch was probably a diving effort on the outside at full extension. His size makes him a good option to just throw it up to a spot for him to go up and get it, as on this play:
Although Yancey scored 20 touchdowns in his career, many of those came on big plays as previously noted. However, he could be a potential weapon on plays like the one above or fade routes.
Yards after the catch
Yancey doesn’t have much elusiveness and struggles to break tackles, although he can often drive for an extra yard or two at the end of a play. Most of his yards per catch in college came from getting behind the defense for big plays.
In preseason action, he lost a fumble as he was fighting for meaningless yardage on 3rd-and-36, although he did recover the ball himself:
Fumbles were not a problem for Yancey in college as he didn’t have any in his college career.
With his size and strength, Yancey can potentially be an asset as a blocker, but hasn’t made many significant contributions in college or preseason action. However, he seemed to give consistent effort and didn’t make any obvious mistakes.
As noted, Yancey has a strong frame which he puts to good use when running routes, blocking or finishing runs. He only had one penalty in his college career and his only preseason penalty was for illegal use of the hands on a punt.
Yancey hasn’t had much special teams experience or production on special teams but did get some preseason reps. With his combination of size and long speed, he actually profiles well as a potential gunner, but only got a couple of snaps in that role with the Packers.
Yancey didn’t get many chances to display his instincts in preseason but has had issues with being blanketed and shut out of some games in the past. He shows good open field running instincts on some of his big plays, though.
On one play in preseason, he ran a crossing route on 3rd-and-2 but left too much space between himself and his teammate’s rub route, leading to him being stopped short of the marker.
Yancey reportedly has good character and is hard-working, never complains and is always looking to improve. When quarterback Aaron Rodgers berated the young receivers on the team for their “piss-poor performance” in training camp, he specifically exempted Yancey from that criticism, saying that he had really progressed since last year.
He has no red flags or off-field issues.
Injuries haven’t been an issue for Yancey, who missed one game in his freshman year due to an injured hamstring, but has otherwise been healthy.
With his sub-par short area quickness, Yancey is more of a downfield threat so that would be his probable role if he made the Jets roster. However, the Packers’ experimentation with him as a big slot receiver was also interesting.
Yancey could be regarded as a somewhat one-dimensional receiver but that could perhaps be to his benefit if the Jets are looking for one of their back-ups to play a role as a downfield target.
He has failed to live up to his fifth round status so far, which was a surprise at the time. Yancey was actually selected ahead of Elijah McGuire two years ago, so while it’s disconcerting that the Packers already gave up on him, there is perhaps some untapped potential there - especially since Rodgers felt he had made good progress and dropping the weight seemed to have helped him.
Yancey could try and make his mark on special teams, although he lacks experience there, but his main route to a roster spot or perhaps another stint on the practice squad will be to make the most of whatever opportunities he gets on offense in preseason.