The New York Jets signed wide receiver Lance McCutcheon to their practice squad back in October, and they have retained him despite the fact that he has yet to make his debut with them. Today we’re going to break McCutcheon down in detail.
The 24-year old Lance McCutcheon is listed at 6’3” and 202 pounds. He was undrafted out of Montana State last season. After a strong preseason, he made the Los Angeles Rams roster as a rookie, but didn’t register a catch in 10 games.
McCutcheon wasn’t a highly sought-after recruit out of high school, but he headed to Montana State, where he showed some big play capabilities with 128 yards and a touchdown on just three catches in his freshman season.
He started the first seven games of his career as a sophomore and caught 15 passes, then caught 13 in his junior year. McCutcheon entered his senior year with just 31 career catches and four touchdowns.
After the 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic, McCutcheon had a breakout 2021 senior campaign with 62 catches for 1,219 yards and nine touchdowns. He was named an all-Big Sky Conference first-teamer and invited to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where he caught three passes for 49 yards.
McCutcheon wasn’t drafted, but the Rams signed him as an undrafted free agent, only to then release him in May. However, they re-signed him a few days later and he ended up turning some heads in training camp. McCutcheon led the NFL in receiving yards in preseason and made the Rams’ roster.
As a rookie, he played 10 games and even started one, but he did not catch a pass. In 2023 McCutcheon had a disappointing preseason and was released. After spending time on the Houston Texans’ practice squad, he was released by them in October and picked up by the Jets. The Jets have yet to elevate him to the main roster.
Now let’s take a look at what McCutcheon brings to the table, divided into categories.
McCutcheon’s size, wingspan and strength is probably his best asset, although he’s not renowned for his speed. His pro day numbers were pretty solid across the board for his size, though, including a 4.57 in the 40-yard dash, 19 bench press reps and solid explosiveness and agility numbers.
McCutcheon has primarily operated as an outside receiver, but he also lined up in the slot, as an H-back or in the backfield in college and has played both as an X and a Z-receiver.
He rushed three times for 13 yards and a score on end arounds in college and was a ball-hawking defensive back in addition to a wide receiver in high school.
McCutcheon set school records for yards per catch in a single season and over the course of his career at MSU, as they threw downfield to him on a regular basis.
He’s not the type of player who will get behind the defense with pure speed, but he locates the ball early and can come up with jump balls and contested catches.
McCutcheon ran a limited route tree in college and isn’t the kind of player who creates a lot of separation, as he takes a while to accelerate up to full speed and his movements can be somewhat stiff at times.
He impressed on this preseason rep against Texans stud cornerback Derek Stingley, though.
McCutcheon’s hands have been inconsistent throughout his career. Even in his breakout senior campaign, his catch rate was below 55 percent and he had 10 drops.
In fact, after his terrific rookie preseason, McCutcheon has caught just three passes on 14 targets in preseason and regular season action, albeit with only one drop on a diving catch attempt on a slant route.
He’s a player who can go up to get it and make catches in a crowd or with a defensive back draped all over him, but he can be a body catcher rather than a hands catcher.
He lost one fumble in preseason action.
Although 13 touchdowns in four college seasons is perhaps less than you’d ideally like to see from a receiver with McCutcheon’s size and skill set, he has shown to be a capable target close to the end zone.
In preseason action, he had a red zone touchdown and also caught a two-point conversion in the end zone.
After the catch
McCutcheon has good strength and is tough to bring down, but not particularly elusive. He’s not the kind of player you’d throw a receiver screen to, and he hasn’t had success on such plays in college or at the pro level.
He showed some tackle-breaking ability in college but this likely wouldn’t translate to the NFL level, where he would be facing better athletes with more size and strength.
McCutcheon hasn’t been a dominant blocker at any level, but he executes his assignment from time to time and displays good effort, albeit not great technique.
He had a few plays where he let his man get off his block in regular season action, but he has never been flagged for holding in college or the pros.
McCutcheon’s physicality is one of his best traits, as he is strong at the catchpoint on contested catches.
On this impressive play, he shows good physicality twice. Once as he smartly locks the defensive back on his hip as soon as he gains a leverage advantage and the other to break free after the catch.
Despite such physical play, he’s drawn multiple penalties but never had one called on him at the pro or collegiate level.
McCutcheon didn’t play much special teams in college and scouting reports indicated his lack of speed didn’t make him an ideal candidate for special teams work. He did score on a blocked punt in college though.
With the Rams, he saw plenty of reps on special teams and made two tackles in kick coverage. He operated in punt protection rather than as a gunner on punts, though.
Instincts and Intelligence
Having played at a lower level, you might expect McCutcheon to have a bit of a learning curve to learn an NFL system. However, he played a versatile role in college.
While not considered someone who will make mistakes, there was an interception on this play where he wasn’t on the same page with his quarterback in college.
He doesn’t have any pre-snap penalties in his career at any level.
McCutcheon is a hard worker, who believes he got picked up by the Rams due to his work ethic and attitude. On the field he goes after the ball hungrily and competes well.
He has been involved in spreading mental health awareness having lost a friend to suicide when he was younger.
As noted, his on-field discipline is excellent, with no penalties on offense or special teams since high school.
McCutcheon stayed mostly injury-free in college, but missed a couple of games with a shoulder injury in his rookie year with the Rams. This was apparently an AC-joint sprain.
McCutcheon profiles similarly to Jason Brownlee, with his main strength being his ability to make contested catches. That gives him a good foundation if he can improve his route running skills and be more consistent with his hands to play more of a role than just a downfield or red zone threat.
He has been a teammate of current Jets Brett Rypien, Austin Deculus and Bruce Hector while with the Rams and Texans.
It looks unlikely that McCutcheon will make it onto the active roster this year, but the fact the Jets have kept him all season perhaps means he’s shown them enough to sign a futures deal and return for training camp in 2024. Even if he did play this year, it probably would only have been on special teams.
McCutcheon will enter next year as a long-shot, and he needs to produce like he did in his rookie season to restore his reputation and convince the Jets he can be a contributor for them.