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After selecting Joe Schobert with their first pick of the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Browns chose their second receiver of the draft, WR Ricardo Louis of Auburn. This pick added another player to the receiver depth chart, which was one of the team’s weakest positions on the roster, especially with the unknown future of Josh Gordon. In 13 games as a senior last season, he caught 46 passes for 716 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing 29 times for 158 yards and a touchdown. So, what are the Browns getting in the Auburn Tiger receiver? Let’s take a look at the film of Ricardo Louis to examine his strengths and weaknesses in his game.
This play shows Ricardo Louis’ incredible speed. On the play, he runs a sweep play around the edge and then cuts up field. He completely blows past the entire defense for a touchdown, showing off his blazing speed. At the NFL Combine, he ran the fourth fastest 40-yard dash at 4.43 seconds. He has excellent speed to turn short catches in big gains, running past defenders. His speed allows him to separate from the coverage and create space to catch the ball. This speed allows him to be a big play producer. Speed is probably his best attribute, helping him in all facets of his game.
This clip shows Louis’ size advantage. On the play, he uses his size and athleticism to go up and get a pass at higher point than the Kentucky cornerback. He is able to outreach the corner for the ball. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, the Auburn Tiger has good length with 32 3/8-inch arms. He can use this size and length to outreach defenders for a ball, giving the quarterback a big target to throw to. His size also helps him when the ball is his in hands. He can be tougher to bring down because of his bigger size. Louis has the prototypical size that teams want in their wide receivers.
Body Movement/Cutting in Route Running
This play shows some of Louis’ suddenness and body movement in his route running. On the play, he is running a flag route. He makes a strong fake inside at the top of the route, getting the corner to think he is running inside. He then makes a quick cut back outside, gaining separation from the coverage because of his body movements. Louis has the ability to make quick hard cuts that allows him to get space from the man who is covering him. He uses head fakes and body movements to fake out his coverage and get the defenders off balance. Louis may have not run the entire route tree, but he does possess some positive route running skills.
Vision as a Runner/Returner
This play shows Louis’ vision as a runner. On the play, he takes the handoff from the quarterback, running a sweep to the right edge. He has good vision initially when he cuts quickly inside of the edge defender, finding an open lane to get down field. He then uses his vision to get even more yards when he sees another cutback lane in the second level. He cuts behind to defenders to get additional yards. Louis’ vision as a runner helps him find open lanes to extend plays. He makes him a good option as a player who can receiver reverses on offense. It also helps him as a returner on special teams. He can find running lanes on returns, making him a good option for punt and kick returner. His vision makes up for some of his shortcomings as a make-you-miss runner.
This play illustrates Ricardo Louis’ struggles with his hands and catching the ball. On the play, he is thrown an accurate pass, but allows the ball to get to his body, causing him to drop the pass. He has shown on many instances that he can be a body catcher rather than a hands catcher. He can allow the ball to get to his body, rather than catching with his hands. He needs to be more aggressive at attacking the ball and catching with his hands. He has shown the ability to make amazing catches, but he is far too inconsistent. Louis does not use his athleticism and size well enough in terms of his ball skills. He can be too passive and allow the ball to come to him rather than he going to get the ball. Louis must improve this area.
This play demonstrates some of the shortcomings of Louis’ ability make defenders miss. As you can see here, he receives the handoff, running a sweep to the left edge. He cuts around the edge and is faced by a defender. He tries to juke the defender, but he just does not have the wiggle to get away from that defender. Louis is a stiff player overall. He does not have the quick twitch, elusive movements that can make defenders miss. He will not be a player who will make a lot of defenders miss, beyond just using his speed to outrun them. Louis is just not a runner who will feature a lot of elusive moves and highlight level make-you-miss moments.
Route Running Experience/Aggressiveness
This play shows some of Louis’ struggles as a route runner. On the play, he is running a curl route. When he reaches the top of the route, he turns around and stops at that spot. He does not come back to the ball, allowing the defender to get back to him in time for the ball to arrive. In the Auburn offense, Louis has not been introduced to the whole route tree. Auburn was a heavy run, quick pass offense. He just did not have to do the intricate routes that he would need to run in the NFL. Also as a route runner, as you can see above, he must learn to be more aggressive and focused on every play. He can get lazy and allow the ball to get to him, rather than coming back on his route to get the ball. Louis needs to learn that every route counts and that running a route crisply can help gain separation.
This play shows Louis’ struggles with ball security. On the play, he takes the handoff on a sweep. He reversed field and tried lunging toward the endzone, but was stripped of the ball. According to CBSSport.com, Louis fumbled six times over his 177 touches during his career at Auburn. He must be able to keep control of the ball. Especially if he is returning on special teams, ball security is a huge part of the job. He must be able to secure the ball and not fumble, possibly committing huge turnovers.