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NFL Draft Profile: Jalen Nailor, Wide Receiver, Michigan State Spartans

NFL draft profile scouting report for Michigan State Wide Receiver, Jalen Nailor

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#8
Pos: WR
Ht: 6000
Wt: 190
DOB:
Eligibility: 2022
Palmdale, CA
Bishop Gorman High School

OIP

Jalen Nailor Michigan State Spartans


One-Liner:

Nailor is a legitimate deep-threat burner whose production comes from demanding schematic respect over the top. Nailor isn’t a particularly nuanced player, but he opens things up for others underneath.

Pros:

You know what you’re getting with Nailor and it’s homerun ability on go routes. Nailor appears on tape to have sub 4.4 speed and compliments that with a natural ability to stack defenders deep on vertical routes. This demands some extra cushion for corners who can’t match the speed, which Nailor will punish with a good ability to plant his feet and turn on curl routes. Nailor keeps his feet churning well on his stems and can get back up to top speed quickly from his cuts. He knows where the sideline is and keeps his feet in good position when on the boundaries. Nailor’s deep speed demands help and often opens things up for other receivers underneath, as well as for the run game. As evidenced by his Rutgers game, Nailor is capable of being a game-wrecker if you get him into a favorable matchup. Nailor adds some value in the run game, where he is always in a good position (despite not being the most physical player), as well as with the ball in his hand on end-arounds. Will get you yards if he has space. 

Cons:

Nailor is god awful in contested catch situations and didn’t haul in a single contested catch in 2021. Similarly, Nailor only caught 38 of 75 targets on the year. This is a boom or bust player and for every blow-up game, there will be one or two disappearing acts. Nailor has a fairly limited route tree and does not do much of his damage over the middle. Nailor’s hands are average to below, drops will happen. Body control is lacking for a deep-ball specialist, doesn’t look natural when adjusting to imperfect ball placement. For his speed, Nailor has struggled when asked to return kicks and likely isn’t suited for that role at the next level. Dangerous if you miss on a press, but Nailor struggles to get off press when it lands. Best with free release, but not ideally suited for a slot role. For better and for worse, Nailor is a long strider who can eat up ground but lacks bend and hip flexibility. It’s track speed. This limits him as a route runner despite his burst out of cuts, he’s likely a specialist more than an every-down player. Doesn’t project as an impact special teamer.

Summary:

Overall, Nailor projects as a pure, outside deep threat. He does add value in the run game, he lacks special teams value and will have to justify his roster spot with a high hit rate when targeted deep. He has a very real shot to do so and will likely raise some eyebrows at the combine, but it’s a thin margin for error in this role. I see a mid-late day three player who will have to earn his spot in camp, but you can’t teach sub 4.4 speed and he has to be accounted for when on the field. 

Background:

Jalen Nailor is an exciting playmaker who has 80 catches for 1,346 yards, reaching the 1,000 career yards mark in the Western Kentucky game, becoming the 46th player in MSU history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards. He has 12 receiving TDs in 27 games (eight in 2018, four in 2019, seven in 2020, eight in 2021), including 20 starts (one in 2018, four in 2019, seven in 2020, eight in 2021) and has three career 100-yard receiving outings (vs. Iowa, 11/7/20; vs. Western Kentucky, 10/2/21; vs. Rutgers, 10/9/21) and one 200-yard outing (vs. Rutgers, 10/9/21). Nailor earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades by both the media. He was a preseason All-Big Ten selection by Phil Steele (second team) and Athlon Sports (third team). Nailor is MSU’s active leader with 1,346 receiving yards and over the last two seasons, 45-of-57 (78.9 percent) receptions have gone for either a first down or TD. He had a streak of two or more receptions in six-straight games as part of a 15-game streak with at least one catch halted by going without a catch in Nebraska game and also has 163 rushing yards and one TD on just 17 carries (9.6 avg.), along with eight punt returns for 48 yards (6.0 ypr) and eight kick returns for 163 yards, for 1,720 career all-purpose yards (63.7 ypg). He would rank No. 7 for career active FBS players for yards/catch (16.8) but doesn’t have the 100 career catch minimum and ranks No. 20 on MSU career receptions/game list (2.96), No. 17 on career yards per catch list (16.83 ypc), tied for No. 16 on career receiving TDs (12), No. 33 in receiving yards (1,346), becoming 46th Spartan receiving with 1,000 career receiving yards, tied for No. 42 for career receptions (80) and No. 51 in total TDs (13 (12 receiving, 1 rushing). Nailor has at least one catch in 24 of 27 total career games played and MSU has an 19-8 record when Nailor is in the lineup. He is high school teammate of fellow Michigan State offensive lineman Jacob Isaia.


Grade:

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

6.3/7.1

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#8
Pos: WR
Ht: 6000
Wt: 190
DOB:
Eligibility: 2022
Palmdale, CA
Bishop Gorman High School

Jalen Nailor Michigan State Spartans


One-Liner:

Nailor is a legitimate deep-threat burner whose production comes from demanding schematic respect over the top. Nailor isn’t a particularly nuanced player, but he opens things up for others underneath.

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