Photo of Justin Hunter
Grade
81.8 ?
  • 4.44 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 39.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 136.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 4.33 SEC
    Top Performer
Blue Star  =  Top Performer
  • 6'4" Height
  • 33 1/4" Arm Length
  • 196LBS. Weight
  • 9 3/8" Hands

Overview

Hunter’s height, striding speed, explosive leaping ability, and easy hands make him an exceptional vertical threat able to take the top off of any defense –- but only when he’s on the field. The Volunteers looked like they were on their way to a prolific 2011 season after putting up more than 40 points in each of their first two games. But their initial first down against Florida in week three proved fatal to the team’s chances of securing a bowl win, as Hunter tore his left ACL during a 12-yard catch on third down – and the team’s offense scored just 92 points in eight conference games without him (and with quarterback Tyler Bray also not himself throughout most of the season). The Vols' struggles continued in 2012, and even though Hunter started the entire season, his setbacks weren't as much physical as they were mental.



The Virginia high school All-American and winner of the high jump competition at the 2010 USA Junior Championships combined with fellow sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray for big yardage against Montana (six catches, 146 yards, touchdown) and Cincinnati (10-156, TD) before the injury. This was no surprise given the flashes of playmaking brilliance he showed while making the SEC coaches’ all-freshman squad in 2010. Hunter played in all 13 games, starting twice, in his first year on campus; his 16 catches covered 415 yards (a stout 25.9 yards per reception) and seven touchdowns. After returning from injury in 2012, Hunter started all 12 games opposite fellow junior Cordarrelle Patterson, hauling in 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns on 73 catches. That total could have been much higher, as Hunter's usually reliable hands seemed to fail him the entire season.

Analysis

Strengths

Prototypical height for an outside NFL receiver, though he will line up in the slot to test defenses over the middle. Straight-line speed appears more than sufficient for his size, can burst past corners down the sideline, and long strides that make it difficult for cornerbacks to recover once beaten. Varies his speed in routes to put defenses off balance, can accelerate with good foot quickness after a lull to create separation on digs and seam routes. Despite his size, possesses enough of a shimmy off the line to lose cornerbacks. Soft hands make him able to snatch throws in front of his frame or over either shoulder; will be threat on jump balls with his height and leaping ability.

Weaknesses

Has a limited number of snaps under his belt, needs to prove his hands are consistent when tested in a full season as a starter. Missed most of his second season with a torn left ACL. Must continue to get stronger throughout his frame to win battles at the line of scrimmage and break away from NFL tacklers. Blocking on run plays is inconsistent at best, shows little physicality in that realm.

NFL Comparison

Roy Williams

Bottom Line

Tennessee’s tall strider looked to be on his way to a breakout year (17 catches, 314 yards, two touchdowns in just over two games) in 2011 before tearing his left ACL. He missed no time in 2012, but Hunter apparently lost his reliable hands that were a staple of his game prior to the knee injury. It was confusing to watch, since many of the junior's mistakes were mental rather than physical limitations. Still, Hunter's ability to separate with smooth routes will likely land him on the second day of April's draft.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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