FanPost

J. Michael Sturdivant draft profile

Rookie Review

In the 2023 draft, these were the WRs who were "my guys" in the sense that I liked them and their value relative to how they were ranked on draft boards (PFF grades are listed for players who have played regularly on offense):

Zay Flowers (22nd overall selection) 58-613-2, 1 drop, 7.7 yards per target, 74.9 PFF, 19 SIS points (16th best WR.) The Rams play the Ravens next and will see him.

Jordan Addison (23rd overall) 54-686-7, 3 drops, 8.4 ypt, 69.5 PFF

Marvin Mims (bottom of 2nd rd) 16-287-1, leads the NFL in punt return average at 17.7 yards.

Josh Downs (3rd rd) 51-580-2, 3 drops, 7.4 ypt, 72.4 PFF, 17 SIS points (18th best WR. Cooper Kupp is tied for 21st among WRs in SIS points.)

Cedric Tillman (3rd rd) 9-85. He's on the Browns and we just played them.

Michael Wilson (3rd rd) 28-435-2, 0 drops, 11.2 ypt, 70.0 PFF, 14 SIS points (tied for 25th. He has as many pts as Chris Olave.)

Charlie Jones (4th rd) only has 1 catch for 6 yards, coming vs the Rams. He's 4th in the NFL in punt return average with 14.2 yards.

These were some WRs that I felt were overrated vs where draft boards ranked them:

Quentin Johnston (21st overall) 26-242-1, 1 drop, 5.5 ypt, 57.8 PFF

Jonathan Mingo (2nd rd) 34-355, 4 drops, 5.3 ypt, 56.1 PFF

Jalin Hyatt (3rd rd) 17-330, 1 drop, 11.8 ypt, 66.1 PFF. I had a 3rd rd grade on him, so he ended up being taken where I had him pegged. I thought he was overrated when he was being mocked as a top 15 overall type guy, but he wasn't picked that early.

Tre Palmer (6th rd) 27-239-2, 4 drops, 5.0 ypt, 53.0 PFF. Some mocks had him as a Day 2 selection, but he ended up being a late rd pick.

How about Puka's numbers?

Puka Nacua (last pick in 5th rd) 77-1,029-4, 7 drops, 8.7 ypt, 86.7 PFF (11th best WR), 27 SIS points (tied for 7th best WR). Okay, the drops aren't so great and his YPT isn't spectacular, but overall his metrics are about top 10 for his position. A shockingly good rookie year. By the end of the season, Puka likely will have put together a better season than DK Metcalf has ever had in his NFL career. Pretty wild.

Background

Name: J. Michael Sturdivant. Turns 22 years old in September of 2024. Redshirt sophomore. The "J" stands for junior.

School: UCLA. Transferred from Cal. Sociology major.

Size: Listed 6'3'', 205 pounds. He says he hit 23 mph in offseason workouts.

4 star recruit from TX. Dad played WR for Virginia Tech. Mom was a track star for Bradley and is in the school's HOF. Has 2 sisters. Was a sprinter and jumper in track in HS. He ran a wind aided 10.39 second 100 meters in HS. Nephew of former Broncos RB, Floyd Little.

Cal isn't a football powerhouse, so it was a big deal when they signed him. Played special teams in 2021 and redshirted. Hand injury, wore a cast on hand in early part of 2021 season.

2022 (12 starts) 65-755-7. Was 2nd in receiving yards on Cal's 4-8 team, then transferred to UCLA. Jeremiah Hunter (a late rd prospect who probably will stay in school) led Cal in receiving. Jack Plummer was the team's QB.

2023 (12 games, 10 starts): 32-455-3. 2nd in receiving yards on team. Logan Loya, a small slot WR who probably would be an UDFA if he enters the draft, was the leading receiver.

Personable, appropriate answers to interview questions, conversational style and something of a carefree attitude.

PFF 98th overall, 16th WR. His 61.2 PFF grade ranked 697th in the nation and is one of the lowest grades among the WRs on PFF's draft board.

PFN 171st overall (5th rd), 26th ranked WR, their 3 analysts rank him UDFA, 121st (4th rd), UDFA

NFLMDD 165th (5th rd), 24th WR

Shane Hallam mock draft 171st (late 5th rd)

Steve Shoup 370th (UDFA)

Ian Valentino (PFN) mock draft 107th (4th rd)

BuffaloFambase 157th (5th rd)

Drafttek 138th (5th rd), 19th WR

Strengths

Played on bad teams. UCLA was a comedy routine on offense in 2023, they were so horrible. Atrocious offensive line, terrible QB play, mediocre skill position players, poor play calling and play design. In the games I watched, the only exciting moments were when Collin Schlee, the 3rd string QB, came into the game and ran the ball. Ethan Garbers started the season, then got benched for Dante Moore, who was the 3rd ranked recruit in the country, but Moore played poorly and got benched as they went back to Garbers. Moore only completed 53.5% of his passes, had nearly as many INTs as TDs and entered the transfer portal. Garbers completed 66.4% of his passes. As the offense struggled, Sturdivant pulled a disappearing act the last couple months of the season and had limited production.

Lined up on both left and right side, both outside and in the slot. Size to offer position versatility.

Straight line speed to run past CBs and stack them. Made some nice over the shoulder catches.

Tracks and adjusts to the ball well downfield.

Size and length for blocking duties. Flashes some aggression.

Has a good attitude, seems like a nice guy.

Weaknesses

Doesn't get open. Rudimentary route runner, doesn't have a strong grasp of how to try to get open. Zero nuance or creativity in his route running. Bland, boring, can't separate. Some plays, he literally just runs in a straight line down the field. Or, he'll run to a designated spot and turn around.

Doesn't attack the leverage of CBs. Segmented turns on very basic routes. Poor route contributed to long pick 6.

Boring release moves, limited understanding of how to create space and leverage.

Critical 3rd down, late in 4th quarter, his team has to have it. WR runs a horrible and lazy route, then when the QB gets flushed from the pocket, WR drifts aimlessly downfield instead of working back towards the QB to try to make himself available for the throw.

Defense in Cover 3 Buzz, WR doesn't appear to read the coverage correctly coming off the LOS, failing to come out of his break on comeback route at the proper angle.

Unable to explode in and out of breaks. Decelerates and takes extra steps on pivot routes, doesn't have sudden COD.

Not explosive or strong with the ball after the catch. Doesn't always tuck the ball away securely and in proper hand after catch.

Inconsistent hands, bobbled and dropped a catch, awkward grab on a reception.

Very poor judgment on rub route to crash into defender and draw a silly penalty.

Lunged on block instead of sliding feet and mirroring. Lackadaisical blocker, occasionally relaxes and lets defenders slip off of blocks and by him.

Invisible for long stretches. Did he leave the field to get a hot dog from the concession stand? Not an impact player or difference maker, doesn't step up in key moments of the game. He's just a random, average, college player. But for his name being on draft boards, you wouldn't have guessed that he was an NFL draft prospect if you just casually watched the game, because he looks like a nobody. In 2023, he only had one game where he had more than 60 receiving yards and it was against Coastal Carolina. He only has 2 career games with at least 100 yards. Has never been the top WR on his own team, and the guys who had more yards might not end up getting drafted.

Mediocre career production. In 24 games, Sturdivant has 97 catches for 1,210 yards and 10 TDs. In 21 games at BYU, Puka Nacua had 91-1,430-11 receiving, plus 357 rushing and 5 rushing TDs (he was very good at jet sweeps in college.) So, Sturdivant's stats are even lower than Puka's relatively unimpressive BYU stats.

Draft Grade

UDFA grade.

Sturdivant is only a redshirt sophomore. He is only 3 years out of HS. I think he'd be best served remaining in school and not entering the 2024 draft. Use that time to work on his game, get more playing experience and try to improve his draft stock. If he did make the jump, my bet is he'd take a redshirt season, either on the PS or as an inactive player for most games.

It is difficult for me to justify drafting him in any round, because let's say that Sturdivant had been in Rams camp in 2023. I don't think he makes the regular roster, I think he would have been cut. If you invest a pick in him, but then waive him, you could end up just wasting that pick.

In the 2020 and 2021 drafts, there was a combined total of 24 WRs drafted. Some notable names include Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Marquez Stevenson, Jalen Camp, Dazz Newsome, Joe Reed, Tyler Johnson, Collin Johnson, Quintez Cephus, Darnell Mooney, KJ Osborn, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Quez Watkins, James Proche and Isaiah Hodgins. From that group of 24, only 3 players (Mooney, Osborn and Peoples-Jones) have had at least 1,500 career receiving yards (for the 2021 class, that would be only 500 yards per season, for 2020 it would be less than 400 yards per year.) Peoples-Jones is a backup for the Lions. So, the "success rate" if we are looking for a starting WR is only 2 out of 24, or 1 out of 12 from those 2 drafts for rounds 5 to 6. Most of the other WRs drafted were zeros, they are either out of the NFL, ST players, on the PS or just a back of the roster types. Marquez Stevenson, for example, is a street FA. He didn't have a single catch in the NFL, only used as a return specialist.

Those are the odds Puka Nakua beat. The Rams could draft a WR in that draft range every single year for about 15 years and not have another hit. NFL teams own 5th and 6th round picks, so they might as well use them, but as a practical matter, do they have much value? If you even get a 5th string WR who stays on the roster for the full 4 years, you are likely beating the average result.

What Les Snead has done in the 5th and 6th rounds in recent years has been pretty good, finding players like Jordan Fuller, David Edwards, SJD, obo, Kyren and Puka. Yes, he's had a bunch of picks in that range and has had many misses as well, but he's squeezed many quality games started out of those picks, which isn't easy to achieve.