The 2021 NFL Draft Bible Publication

The 2021 NFL Draft Bible Publication

NFL Draft Profile: Jalen Catalon, Safety, Arkansas Razorbacks

NFL draft profile scouting report for Arkansas safety, Jalen Catalon
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arkansas razorbacks

#1
Pos: DS
Ht: 5100
Wt: 198
DOB: 3/15/01
Eligible: 2022
Mansfield, TX
Mansfield Legacy High School

Jalen Catalon
Arkansas Razorbacks


Pros: 

Bogan: High-effort player who plays with a continuous motor, never giving up on plays and understanding that as a safety he is the last line of defense. Twitchy athlete with fluid hips, exhibits short-area quickness to be able to stick in man-to-man coverage against slot receivers on a consistent basis. Very good when used as an underneath defender, provides physical reroutes on receivers and understands spacing to leverage routes properly while reading the quarterback. Excellent closing burst on ball carriers when running the alley, showing a willingness to play the run and slip blocks with his quickness. An efficient tackler who throws his bodies into ball carriers without any thought, love his aggression to play all out.

Pun: Jalen Catalon is an elite athlete and playmaker at the safety position who can turn the tide of games with his prowess for creating turnovers and negative plays. He excels in Zone Coverage as the free safety in single-high shells, displaying near numbers-to-numbers range and reading QB’s eyes like a book, breaking on deep crossers and possessing the ball skills to high-point and steal the ball. Catalon has elite route combination recognition no matter his assignment in Zone, pairing that with elite AA allows him to be in two places at once and bait QBs into dangerous throws - this is especially apparent in the condensed red zone. Catalon is occasionally asked to cover slot WRs in Man Coverage and his smooth backpedal+low stance and hip fluidity leads to sticky coverage. He has an efficient speed turn when covering double moves like post-corners and also has quick click-close ability to trigger downhill on short+intermediate crossing routes. There aren’t many players in the world who fly towards the ball faster than Catalon, he’s the type of guy to run a 4.4 40 at the combine, but also lives up to that speed on the field. The pure aggression he plays with shows up as a big hitter, forcing WRs to think twice when they have to cross the middle of the field. Catalon is uber-willing in run support and takes accurate angles to the ball when the RB bursts past the second level between the hashes. In addition, he embraces contact and shows elite physical toughness for the position when stacking and shedding blocks from TEs+WRs. His processing on option plays is also astute, understanding his role as the outside contain and forcing plays inside towards his teammates.

Cons: 

Bogan: Undersized safety who will probably see a move to the nickel at the next level due to him having only average range on the back end as a two-high safety. Does not play with enough depth when he has to play two-high or a one-high role, is in too much of a hurry to drive a route which causes him to take bad angles on vertical throws. Has the athleticism to cover ground on the backend if he can clean up his reads. An all-or-nothing tackler who does not wrap up on contact, will struggle to tackle bigger backs at the next level if he continues to practice bad tackling habits.

Pun: Catalon is an extremely exciting player with high highs, but his lows are quite noisy mistakes. While he takes precise pursuit angles when going North-South between the hashes, Catalon lacks judgment when pursuing East-West. If a run breaks contain to the edge, Catalon regularly misjudges his angle and is overly aggressive instead of being conservative to prevent a big play - this is especially worrying when he’s the last line of defense as the single-high safety. Furthermore, improving his tackling technique will go a long way to his overall impact. Catalon is always playing at 100mph - sometimes looking out of control - thus he struggles to throttle down and track the inside hip of ball carriers, often diving at players’ feet and struggling to wrap up.

Summary: 

Bogan: High-energy player who is aggressive in the run game closing on ball carriers, may best project to the nickel at the next level. Shows the athletic abilities to be good covering man to man against slot receivers at the next level while providing great feel as an underneath defender from the slot. Not as comfortable in coverage when he is aligned as a two-high or one-high safety, does not play with enough depth. Needs to improve his technique as a tackler and wrap up on contact if he wants to succeed tackling bigger backs at the next level. Potentially a high-end starting nickel at the next level, has good versatility potential if he can show better feel for playing as a two-high safety. 

Pun: An elite athlete and playmaker with a nose for the ball, Jalen Catalon excels in Zone coverage as a free safety due to range, route combination recognition and ball skills. He’s aggressive and willing in run support, imposing his will when stacking+shedding blocks and lowering his shoulder into ball carriers. He can clean up his pursuit angles when working East-West and refine his tackling technique to become more dependable. Catalon projects as a day 1 starter who has Pro-Bowl potential if he harnesses his natural gifts and becomes more consistent.

Background: 

Jalen Catalon was raised in Mansfield, Texas and his inner competitor was always brought out due to growing up dueling with his brother, Kendall Catalon, who is a wide receiver for the Razorbacks. Jalen attended Mansfield Legacy High School where he unfortunately only played in 1 game as a senior due to a major knee injury that required surgery but tallied an impressive 101 tackles, 6 TFLs, 3 INTs, 6 FFs and 6 FRs as a junior. Catalon’s elite athleticism and talent has always been on display as he was also a QB who threw for 1,122 yards, 15 TDs and rushed for 1,063 yards and 13 TDs. Furthermore, Catalon was a four-year varsity letter winner in football, but also lettered in baseball and basketball. Catalon led Legacy to the 2017 Texas High School Football Class 5A-II state semifinals and earned four 2017 Defensive Player of the Year honors from SportsDay. After high school, 247Sports ranked him as a 4-Star recruit, the 305th-best recruit nationally, the 26th-ranked safety recruit in the country and the 38th recruit in the state of Texas.

As a freshman at Arkansas in 2019, Catalon appeared in 4 games and got his season cut a bit short as he underwent shoulder surgery. In 2020, Catalon maintained redshirt freshman status and made his name known. After missing about four weeks of practice for a procedure on his meniscus, he tallied 99 tackles, 2 TFLs, 3 INTs, 4 PBUs, 2 FFs, 1 FR in just 10 games. He led the Razorbacks in solo tackles and was tied for the lead in INTs. He is the only FBS freshman to post 95+ tackles and at least three interceptions during the regular season and the first SEC freshman since Tennessee’s Eric Berry (2007) to post at least 86 tackles with three INTs. Catalon was recognized as All-SEC First Team by the AP and All-SEC Second Team by the coaches. He was mamed a FWAA Freshman All-American, the first Razorback since Dre Greenlaw and selected to The Athletic’s Freshman All-American Team.

Catalon boasts a combination of on-field talent and off-field mentality that NFL execs and coaches will love. His work ethic after his freshman year was evident, being asked about goals for the offseason, he responded, “working hard, keeping my head down and just making sure I put my defense and my team in the best situation it can be for it to be successful. I have always carried myself to work hard no matter what the situation is, so when the new staff came in, it wasn’t going to change how I worked as a man. I always attacked every single thing that I did as if he was going to be the last drill I was going to have to do” While Catalon is uber-talented, he balances it with self-awareness and humility, understanding his youth and the value in learning from vets, “it was a humbling year for me to kind of look back and learn from the older guys and kind of see how things ran.” Catalon has a good head on his shoulders and if he takes a jump in 2020, don’t be surprised to see him in first-round mocks.


One-Liners

Bogan: Potentially a high-end starting nickel at the next level, has good versatility potential if he can show better feel for playing as a two-high safety.

Pun: An elite athlete and playmaker with a nose for the ball, Catalon excels in Zone coverage due to range, route combination recognition and ball skills but will need to clean up pursuit angles when working East-West and refine tackling technique to reach his ceiling.

Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

Bogan: 7.4 / 8.0

Pun: 8.0 / 9.0


#1
Pos: DS
Ht: 5100
Wt: 198
DOB: 3/15/01
Eligible: 2022
Mansfield, TX
Mansfield Legacy High School

Jalen Catalon
Arkansas Razorbacks


Pros: 

Bogan: High-effort player who plays with a continuous motor, never giving up on plays and understanding that as a safety he is the last line of defense. Twitchy athlete with fluid hips, exhibits short-area quickness to be able to stick in man-to-man coverage against slot receivers on a consistent basis. Very good when used as an underneath defender, provides physical reroutes on receivers and understands spacing to leverage routes properly while reading the quarterback. Excellent closing burst on ball carriers when running the alley, showing a willingness to play the run and slip blocks with his quickness. An efficient tackler who throws his bodies into ball carriers without any thought, love his aggression to play all out.

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