Prospect: Jayden Ballard
Status: SI All-American Candidate
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 170 pounds
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Massillon (Ohio) Washington
Committed to: Ohio State
Projected Position: Wide Receiver
Frame: Lean frame with decent length. Narrow torso and midsection with good definition in thighs and calves. Body will likely add a substantial amount of mass in college.
Athleticism: Has been timed at 4.08 in the short shuttle and has posted a 33-inch vertical jump. Displays solid release quickness off the line versus off coverage. Has very good play speed and can easily climb to toes of cornerbacks. Good stride with above-average length in gait and has enough long speed to stack when entering third level.
Instincts: Works with urgency in route phase and flashes awareness to manipulate hips of coverage. Excellent ball awareness, judgment and concentration. Has good ball skills and presents good body control to adjust to throws while on the move. Solid strike zone and mitts appear to have good strength through catch points when plucking. Aware to create and find open space in scramble drill.
Polish: Mainly operates off-ball on perimeter in both the boundary and to the field, with some work out of the slot and in motion. Current route tree is mainly gos, skinny posts, slants and speed outs, with occasional shallow and deep crosses. Will need to develop a release plan at the line, as well as add strength to escape press coverage. Also will need to continue improving his ability to sink at breakpoints and learn how to tempo his routes.
Bottom Line: Ballard is a big-play receiver with good length and speed. He has good concentration and ball judgment, evidenced by his great ability to adjust to throws to win at catch points. While he needs to add strength and continue developing in the nuances of the receiver position, his speed must be respected by back-end defenders. Ballard projects as a WR2 and deep threat in a college offense’s passing game.