Will Fuller 2016 NFL Draft Profile

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Overview
Position: Wide Receiver
Height: 6’0’’
Weight: 184 lbs.
School: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Combine Performance Data

40-yard dash: 4.32 seconds (fastest among all receivers)
Bench press (225 pounds): 10 reps
Vertical jump: 33.5 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 6 inches
Three-cone drill: 6.93 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.27 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 11.44 seconds

Will Fuller 2016 NFL Draft Profile

Midway through the 2015 season, Will Fuller announced that he would be returning to Notre Dame for his senior year. Just two days after passing the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season in Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State, the second team AP All-American announced that he had changed his mind and would forgo his senior season in South Bend. It’s tough to blame Fuller considering that he ranks second in Notre Dame history with 30 touchdown receptions, trailing only Michael Floyd. Add that he was able to accomplish this feat in just 29 career starts and that he was named 2015 team MVP by the Fighting Irish coaching staff, and it is easy to see why Fuller’s draft stock has sky-rocketed in recent months. The Philadelphia native is widely considered to be the top deep threat in this class having averaged just over 20 yards per catch in 2015, though there are a handful of scouts who feel that Fuller would have been better served by staying in college for another year and developing his skills. The number of people doubting Fuller certainly shrunk this past weekend following his impressive showing at the NFL combine, where he ran the fastest 40-yard dash of all receivers. With that, here are a few things that make Fuller a top prospect, as well as some things that he might be missing heading into April’s draft.

Strengths

  • Elite acceleration, breakneck vertical speed. Has a second gear that most defenders cannot match.
  • Was used heavily in screens at Notre Dame. Patiently follows his blockers before reaching full speed and blowing past pursuing defenders.
  • Excellent deep route runner – his footwork, hip movements, and quick cuts throw off defenders playing press coverage.
  • Understands how and when to change speeds and use hesitation to trick defenders. Can change direction quickly without slowing down.
  • Highpoints the ball, times his jumps exceptionally well. Continuously fights for positioning while the ball is in the air. Rarely misjudges the trajectory of downfield throws.
  • Was used as both a slot and outside receiver at Notre Dame, has a good feel for where he is on the field in relation to the sidelines.
  • Willing to block, doesn’t give up on any plays.

Weaknesses

  • His smaller frame means he probably won’t be running across the middle very often. Should be used primarily as a deep threat on the outside.
  • Though he is not scared to go against a bigger defender, Fuller is currently too small to be an effective blocker at the next level.
  • Can easily be thrown off his route by bigger, stronger defenders.
  • The ultimate deep threat, his ability to create open space while running short and intermediate routes needs some work.
  • Whether it is because of a lack of focus or hand strength, Fuller catches with his body too often. He has been known to let passes above his head slip directly through his hands, and to drop balls upon hitting the ground. He dropped 9 passes in each of his final two seasons.

NFL Comparison: Ted Ginn Jr.

Teams With Need at Position: Las Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles

Projection: Late first or early second round pick.

Bottom Line

Although his small build might scare some teams, Fuller’s uncanny ability to track down the deep ball is special and outweighs his negatives. His issues with concentration and dropping passes are easy fixes for whichever team drafts him. Fuller’s speed must be accounted for on every play, so if nothing else, his presence frees up his teammates running underneath routes. Fans of the team that chooses him will likely be frustrated by his lack of consistent weekly production, but rest assured that he will make an impact with his knack to make big plays. Ultimately, Fuller will need to fine-tune his game in order to overcome his small size, but that is no reason to doubt him. After all, not many thought he would make it to this point when he arrived at Notre Dame three years ago.

 

Main Photo: SOUTH BEND, IN – AUGUST 30:  Will Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish breaks away from Juluis White III # 7 of the Rice Owls for a 75 yard touchdown play at Notre Dame Stadium, on August 30, 2014 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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