SMU's Courtland Sutton could be first WR drafted in 2018, NFL GM says

Having built on tremendous production over the past two seasons with a solid junior year, SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton could be on the rise when it comes to his 2018 NFL Draft stock.

While the Mustangs struggled at times in 2017, Sutton, who will forgo his senior season next year and enter the draft, continued to piece together a resume that puts him among the best receivers in the country.

One NFL general manager, who spoke to Sporting News about a variety of topics, raved about the prospect whose frame and skills have led to Julio Jones comparisons.

“I think Sutton is the most underrated player in this draft,” the GM said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. (NFL GMs are not allowed to comment publicly on current college players.) “He’s got some flaws but you watch him on film and you see some things that translate well on Sundays.

“There’s a chance he’s the first wide receiver off the board.”

Sutton in the 2017 regular season recorded 62 catches for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns, bringing his college career total to 189 catches for 3,152 yards and 31 touchdowns.

Beyond his production, Sutton’s size is impressive to NFL scouts.

“His build stands out,” the GM said. “He’s a bit thicker than last season. You project him after a year or two of strength and conditioning and you could really see the potential. I think he can add some more size, his frame can handle it.

“I like him with the ball in his hands. He runs well in space and is elusive. Get him over the middle and he can be impossible to take down.”

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The one thing the GM does not like about Sutton is his struggling to high-point the football, something the GM says can be fixed.

“What’s interesting about (Sutton) is that he is a big wide receiver and I like the way he uses his body,” he said, “but what I noticed is that when he needs to rise straight up — like vertical — he doesn’t get the ball very high. It kind of comes in to him. Is that correctable? Is it a bad habit? I think you can correct it.”

Added the GM about Sutton’s catching ability otherwise: “(He) doesn’t body-catch; gets the ball out there and without breaking stride. Don’t see that in many college receivers coming out. Can’t tell you how many guys come into workouts, into rookie camps, and they body catch everything. He does well getting open and he adjusts well with his body for balls behind him and difficult to catch. His hands are quick, I like that a lot. When he adjusts, he doesn’t alter his stride much. That accounts for his YAC.

“I think he’s raw. You can work on some of the technique. I think he won’t have as much space in the league; things are tighter. But he does some things well that translate.”

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