There are no guarantees in the NFL. That’s especially true for rookie undrafted free agent and former USC standout WR Steven Mitchell.
Mitchell seems to have everything you’d want in a wide receiver. He’s got solid hands, quick step off the line of scrimmage, makes sharp cuts on his routes, and has good speed—all for a decent price.
But there is a reason why Mitchell fell out of the draft.
According to NFL.com, an unnamed NFC West scout said despite Mitchell’s talent, he could not see the former Trojan getting drafted because “he’s always hurt.” At USC, Mitchell had two of his seasons ended early due to knee injuries and had issues with his ankle on top of that.
During the years he was able to stay healthy, he was not a full-time starter. His final year at USC as a redshirt senior saw him start seven of his 10 games.
At one time not too long ago, the Los Angeles Rams’ wide receiving group was the worst in football. Now, it’s one of the top units in the league. It’s as talented as it is deep which of course poses trouble for Mitchell.
Guys like Cooper Kupp, Pharoh Cooper, Robert Woods and first-year Ram Brandin Cooks will have starting spots secured without a doubt. Mike Thomas and Josh Reynolds will have a step ahead of the competition for depth roles, as both have been with the team for at least a year and understand the offense.
Health aside, Mitchell should have a decent shot at making the team beyond a practice squad role. He is arguably the best UDFA wide receiver LA brought in, and is coming off a senior year at USC when he recorded career-bests in catches (41) and receiving yards (644).
If he makes the final roster, he could contribute to special teams or see time as a slot-receiver.
Chances at making the final roster (4/10)
Mitchell has plenty of potential. He was a former Top 150 national recruit and made the most of time on the field when he got the playing time.
However, two knee injuries in four years is a big concern. Two major knee injuries in four years does not paint a long and healthy career. Mitchell is a solid receiver, and if his health is taken out of the equation, he could stand a decent chance of making this team.
While the position is stacked, the biggest hurdle that can hurt Mitchell’s chances of making the team is Mitchell getting hurt himself.