Editor's note: NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at college football's top players for 2017. This is the 13th in a series of scouting reports that will run throughout the offseason.
College football is loaded with talent for the upcoming season. We've spent a bunch of time dissecting the play and potential of the top quarterbacks and running backs, but there is another skill position loaded with talent and depth -- wide receiver. Guys like Alabama's Calvin Ridley and Texas A&M's Christian Kirk are well known to the average college football fan, but the top wideout in the country might play for SMU. Here's my scouting report for Courtland Sutton.
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Courtland Sutton, junior wide receiver, SMU
Height, weight: 6-foot-4, 218 pounds (school measurements)
2016 statistics: 76 catches for 1,246 yards (16.4 average), 10 TDs.
Game tape watched: Houston (Oct. 22, 2016), USF (Nov. 19, 2016), Navy (Nov. 26, 2016)
What I liked: Sutton has an outstanding build for the position. He's tall with a long, muscular frame. He uses his size/strength combination to win a lot of 50/50 balls. Sutton is a matchup nightmare in the red zone. He easily boxes out defenders, times his jump and catches the ball at the highest point.
He has had success outside as well as in the slot. He understands how to set up routes and create leverage from the slot. Sutton has build-up speed on the outside and he generates a lot of explosive plays in this offense. He's very competitor and physical after the catch. He's also a feisty blocker. His production is outstanding.
Where he needs to improve: Sutton has build-up speed, but his speed isn't immediate. He doesn't "wow" you with his burst in his release. He can also clean up some of his technique as a route runner. He has a tendency to drift at the top of his route when he works back to the quarterback. Sutton doesn't run the entire route tree in this system and he'll need time to adjust to a more pro-style system at the next level.
Biggest takeaway: Sutton is a fun player to study. I love his tenacity when the ball is in the air. I see some similarities to Mike Evans when he was at Texas A&M. Both guys have a great feel for timing their jump and adjusting to the flight of the ball. Sutton has tremendous upside and I believe he is in the running to be considered the best wideout in the country this fall.
I can't wait to see him play ... TCU on Sept. 16. That is the first big test for Sutton and the Mustangs this fall. A big game on the road against the Horned Frogs would make a strong statement about Sutton's standing among the elite receivers in the country. TCU has led the nation in defense five times under Gary Patterson, and it will be interesting to see how Sutton fares against the guru.