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Tajae Sharpe has fantasy potential beyond 2016

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Leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, each day NFL Fantasy will profile a prospect (or two) who could make a splash in fantasy next season. Today's subject is former Massachusetts wide receiver Tajae Sharpe.

This year's wide receiver draft class features plenty of intriguing names at the top like Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman. It's rare that you hear Tajae Sharpe's name mentioned among that group. I took a deeper look at the former UMass standout to see if he should be getting more love from the fantasy community.

Full 2016 "Prospect a Day" list

Sharpe's NFL.com draft profile

2016 NFL DRAFT

Draft coverage:

Strengths


» Excellent hands
» Above-average route runner
» Quick, easy acceleration

It doesn't take very long to notice that Sharpe is a technician at the receiver position. He consistently ran quality routes, using his ability to make sharp cuts to gain separation from opposing defenders. The upside is that Sharpe didn't need a ton of separation to get his hands on the football. Over the course of the 2015 season, catches that looked to be difficult started to become routine. Some of that was necessitated by a quarterback that struggled to accurately deliver the football.

Nonetheless, Sharpe showed that he could be the centerpiece of an offense. He caught 111 passes last season -- 78 more than his next closest teammate. With an ability to run short and intermediate routes, he projects to work well within the short passing game of nearly any NFL team.

Weaknesses


» Below average top-end speed
» Will need to get stronger
» Lacks overall explosiveness

Certainly combine measurables aren't everything and plenty of players have had success in the NFL without posting eye-popping workout numbers. But Sharpe certainly didn't do anything in Indianapolis that was going to put him in the same conversation with the upper echelon wideouts in this draft class. Some of that was evident on tape as well. While Sharpe was able to take advantage of coverage mistakes to get downfield for longer throws, he didn't often run past defenders with blazing speed.

It would also do Sharpe some good to spend some quality time in the weight room. His bench press numbers at the combine were lacking, but more importantly, Sharpe could use the functional strength to be able to shed defenders at the line of scrimmage. He didn't see a ton of press coverage in college, but when he did it often disrupted his routes.

Ideal fantasy fits


» Atlanta Falcons
» Carolina Panthers
» New England Patriots
» Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sharpe will need to land with a team that can feature him as a short passing option in three wide receiver sets -- preferably as an option from the slot. If he were to land in the Falcons' nest, his success could be contingent upon Atlanta finding another outside receiver to replace Roddy White. That could potentially be Justin Hardy, which would give Sharpe the chance to work as a slot option.

Both Carolina and Tampa Bay pose interesting options as each have a pair of big receivers on the outside but could still use an underneath receiver as a chain-mover on third downs. Sharpe could provide that option. Heading to New England would not only keep him in Massachusetts, but he seems like the exact type of player Tom Brady has been building into success stories for years.

Early fantasy draft projection


Sharpe's name isn't likely to be called in the NFL Draft until the third day and there's an even greater likelihood that he won't have his name called at all in fantasy re-drafts. However if you're feeling saucy, Sharpe might be worth a look near the end of dynasty drafts. He does have potential as a quality slot receiver somewhere in the NFL. You'll just need to wait to find that value.

Why wait? CLICK HERE to get your 2016 NFL Fantasy season started.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.

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