For many college football players, the annual NFL Combine is a chance to boost one’s stock and make a name for themselves. For others, it’s an opportunity for NFL scouts to judge you by how you work out and perform drills that have little translation or relation to football.
Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon has received a coveted invite to the combine. On one hand, it’s validation for a solid career at Michigan. On the other, it’s one more chance for NFL Scouts to raise one eyebrow and judge Gallon based on his size, just as scouts have done his entire career.
Despite the 40 time he runs, the number of reps he benches, how fast he runs the cones or how many passes he drops, there is nothing Gallon can do to change the only numbers many scouts are going to focus on: 5-8, 187 lbs. That’s too bad.
That fact of the matter is that despite is size, Gallon is still one of the most effective receivers in the country. Most guys his size get tucked away in the slot and are relagated to safety net or gimmick duty. Over the last half of his career, Gallon emerged at the go-to receiver on a Michigan team with a shortage of go-to players. He did a good chunk of his damage from the traditional No. 1 or No. 2 wide receiver spots.
Gallon’s best performances of the 2013 season arguably came against teams with legit NFL talent in their secondaries. Against Notre Dame, Penn State and Ohio State, he racked up 24 catches for 454 yards and 5 scores — proving he can hang with and perform against the most physical of defenses. He’s also capable of putting up gaudy, video game-like numbers if need be. That was exactly what happened in Michigan’s 63-47 shootout win over Indiana where Gallon caught 14 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns.
Size was never an issue for Gallon in the Big Ten and it likely won’t be an issue for him in the NFL. On most downs, he will be plugged in as the slot guy, but his versatility will come in handy in four and five-wide sets. Whatever team drafts him can count on him being able to run any route needed from any position in the formation and do so effectively.
Speaking of versatility, Gallon also returns kicks and punts. Though not a game breaker, he consistently made smart decisions as a returner in terms of knowing when to catch and run, when to fair catch and when to let a kick go. Couple those attributes with his dependable hands and you have the kind of guy who NFL coaches can feel good about returning kicks and punts in close games.
If you are looking for a projection or gauge as to how Gallon is going to perform and be used at the next level, I’d point to New England’s Julian Edelman and Kansas City’s Dexter McCluster. Both are undersized guys who play bigger than they are, can play every skill position on the field and chip in on special teams. I’m not sure Gallon will ever be as explosive in the return game as McCluster is, but I have no doubt that with a few seasons under his belt to get his feet under him, he can develop into the same type of receiver that Edelman has.
Not many are predicting Gallon to be drafted, but if I’m a G.M. in rounds five, six or seven looking for a versatile guy who is going to show up every Sunday and compete at a high level, I’m pulling the trigger on Jeremy Gallon and not losing sleep about it. Alot of guys are going to run faster, jump higher and put up more reps on the bench in Indianapolis, but it’s a much smaller number when talking about how many guys are going to show up and provide the same sort of contribution every Sunday that I believe Gallon will for the better part of the next decade.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON JANUARY 29, 2014
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