Each week I’ll be looking at a group of draft-eligible NFL prospects under certain parameters. I just don’t currently have the time to watch every prospect, so coming out with a top 10 list would be disingenuous. Instead, this allows me to focus on a few players with the goal of finding where they might impact the game.
Four point plays are important. They win games and the teams with a high rate of conversion are able to sustain success. By that I mean teams who can convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns rather than settling for field goals. These situations are vital.
For that reason, let’s take a look at college football pass catchers with the most touchdowns in the red zone. It needs to be said that tall does not equal good in the red zone. It’s also important to reiterate that short receivers also win in the red zone.
West Virginia’s David Sills (6’3/203) 9 red zone touchdowns
Sills has completely transformed his game in a short amount of time, progressing from a Lane Kiffin quarterback recruit to the most productive red zone receiver in all of college football. West Virginia uses plenty of three and four-plus receiver sets, creating spacing even near the goal line. What’s possibly special about Sills in these tight quarters is his ability to create separation on breaking routes or win by boxing out, tracking the football and hauling it in at the catch point.
From the corner’s perspective, the matchup can appear to be a no-win situation. Allow a release at the line to position yourself for the contested catch? Sills wins off the line on a slant. Press and cut off the inside move? Sills wins the body positioning and size on a good throw in a contested situation.
Sills even won on a whip route at 6-foot-3. That is uncommon. In closing, if Sills wins off the line he can sustain that dominant position with his size. He also wins with body control, size and catch radius on post up throws. Even outside of the redzone Sills has been an impressive player, turning catches in stride into long gains by making the first tackler miss.
Memphis’ Anthony Miller (5’11/190) 6 red zone touchdowns
I’m always on the lookout for sub-6-foot receivers who can win big. Miller is one. His body control in one on one situations is very impressive and useful. Miller dominates on back shoulder targets, squaring up, timing and adjusting at the apex of the throw to bring it down in a position that is difficult for corners.
Miller will receive the “technician” label. Nothing wows about his game on first glance, but he rarely wastes movement and consistently puts defensive backs on their heels and in catch up situations.
New Mexico State’s Jaleel Scott (6’5/215) 5 red zone touchdowns
Scott is an acrobat. Twisting, twirling, one-handed catches. He produces a highlight at least once per game.
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) October 26, 2017
Scott is a rebounder in the end zone. Post up, box out, high point, secure the catch. This is the area he shines, so the bigger question is if Scott can be useful in the other 80 yards of the field.
Buffalo’s Anthony Johnson (6’1/196) 5 red zone touchdowns
There’s little flash to Johnson’s game. Creating separation with quickness is not his thing. Johnson consistently finds himself in contested situations and tight coverages. He wins them in college, but it is fair to wonder if his style can find equal success in the NFL.
Nevada’s Wyatt Demps (6’3/200) 5 red zone touchdowns
Another big body who wins in isolation. I know this one is brief, but I honestly could not find all of Demps’ five red zone touchdowns.