With the 2018 NFL Draft just days away, it’s time to analyze wide receiver Dylan Cantrell. He was a four-star recruit from Whitehouse, Texas, before joiningTexas Tech. He is incredible in using his frame to create separation and only requires a small catch windows to do his thing. After recording 29 catches in his first two seasons at Texas Tech, a back injury forced Cantrell to redshirt the 2015 season. He returned in 2016 and posted 129 receptions, 1,491 yards and 15 touchdowns over his final two years in Lubbock.
Although wide receiver isn’t the strongest position in the 2018 NFL Draft, there are a number of attractive prospects in the group including Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and Maryland’s D.J. Moore.
At 6’2 7/8“ and 226 pounds, Cantrell is a big body wide receiver who knows how to use his size for his advantage. Cantrell is mainly known as a deep threat, but he’s more than experienced in every aspect of the position. He is a good blocker, but he can also take short catches that get the chains moving. He’ll be remembered for his one-handed grabs and diving catches, but that is not all he can do.
Outside of his 40 time, he dominated every event in the combine. He proved to be an aggressive runner with a 6.56-second three-cone drill, 4.03-second 20-yard shuffle, and 10.85-second 60-yard shuttle. He has an impressive leaping ability as evidenced by his 38.5-inch vertical and 130.0-inch broad jumps during the combine. He is amazing at tracking the ball in the air and exploits his strength and leaping ability to box out defenders and come down with jump balls. His lower-body strength and explosiveness with his jumps combined with his size is undoubtedly something that can be advantageous when playing in the NFL.
Cantrell very rarely drops the ball. He possesses strong hands that hold the ball well and can stab throws without much of a notice. Along the sideline, he displays good awareness and body control to stay inbounds after making catches. He fights through contact and uses his strength to push his way forward and increase yards after making the catch.As a blocker, he squares and gives good engagement. When the ball does not come his way, Cantrell displays very good competitive toughness as he finds somebody to block and will control the defender through the play.
Dylan Cantrell flashing a little bit of the elite athleticism he showed at the combine to slice upfield through multiple defenders pic.twitter.com/GTVzhY0Tul— NFL Draft Videos (@NFLDraftVideos) March 5, 2018
Cantrell is getting some comparisons to Cooper Kupp. Kupp was drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and went on to have a solid rookie year for the Los Angeles Rams, catching 62 passes for 869 yards and five touchdowns.
POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS
The last wide receiver to be drafted from Texas Tech was Jakeem Grant. In 2016, he was drafted by the Dolphins in the sixth round. Teams I believe Cantrell could fit best into are:
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
What could be better than a Patrick Mahomes – Dylan Cantrell reunion? You cannot overlook chemistry in any sport team, and Mahomes and Cantrell certainly have that. The two have known each other since little league, went to the same high school, and played together at Texas Tech. They have watched each other grow as players and can read each other’s minds on the field. What’s makes Cantrell fit with the Chiefs more is the teams’ need for a big-bodied, sure-handed receiver.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Although Cantrell plays in an air raid offense, he’s caught passes from two different quarterbacks that should make NFL rosters - Patrick Mahomes and Nic Shimonek and of course, you cannot ignore the success the Patriots have had with Texas Tech wide receivers in the past. Wes Welker and Danny Amendola both left some pretty big shoes to fill, but if Cantrell is as good of an athlete as his combine results showed him to be, he should have a chance to get there. He is also widely thought of as one of the best, if not the best, blocking wide receiver in the draft because of his size and physicality, and his performance at the bench press backed that up.