Testing: Michigan Pro Day
4.8 Forty Yard Dash
4.19 Short Shuttle
7.02 Three Cone
35 ½ Vertical
10 ft 4 in. Broad Jump
I thought if Jason could run a 4.6 in the 40 it would have been a very solid time for him. The 4.8 probably didn’t surprise most scouts and it certainly didn’t help his prospects. Avant’s short shuttle time and his three cone are solid. There is more emphasis on shuttle and cone test than most people think…especially with cornerbacks and receivers. Avant suffered a wrist injury at Michigan's Pro Day which no doubt hindered him a bit in some of the drills. Having been injured at the combine AND at Pro Day will raise a concern. Overall, his testing didn’t change the minds of many scouts because there wasn’t much surprising about his showing.
First and foremost, Jason Avant is a great young man. He has a great work ethic, is a leader and his attitude certainly rubs off on teammates. He will be a player an NFL organization can be proud of. On the football field he displays the same traits. He has the best hands in this wide receiver class. He shows incredible concentration and body control, and can makes catches from contorted positions. He can adjust to poorly thrown passes and adjust in the air. If he has to go low, he can dive for a ball to dig one out as well.
Route running is another strength. He has polish to his routes a bit, but he runs at correct depths and has fairly good quickness out of cuts. He's better at finding the soft spots in a zone than he is at beating man coverage. Because of his strength and precise routes, he has the potential to really improve against press coverage in the pros.
One of Avant's biggest assets is he is not afraid of the middle of the field. He will take a hit and is strong going for the ball.
The biggest question about Avant is obviously his speed. He doesn’t have the deep speed to stretch a defense vertically and is pretty much a nonfactor as a long range threat. His NFL longevity will inevitably hinge on how he separates against coverage. Right now he has average yards-after-catch ability. He also isn’t explosive off the line and takes time to gather speed.
Jason will likely go to whichever NFL team that picks him exactly for what he was to Michigan… a reliable, possession type receiver that will move the chains. He’s not going to offer a team a deep threat, or be a run-after-the-catch type of player. His upside is very restricted by his limitations getting separation. I expect Avant to be brought in as a player who can contribute in the slot receiver role. It remains to be seen whether he can develop the skills necessary to be a NFL starter.
The receiver class is down this year, which will raise Avant’s status. Some of the teams looking for help at receiver are:
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Francisco 49ers
New York Giants
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
A few situations would fit well for Avant. New England uses a lot of screens and quick passes, something which Avant has experience with. Coach Bill Belichick will certainly love his attitude as well. The Saints are looking for a receiver and it would re-unite Avant with former Michigan offensive coordinator Terry Malone. A ball control scheme like the New York Giants would be a nice fit as well.
A few teams will move Avant way down on their boards due to the demand for deep threats, but he will still be appealing to a good portion of them as a mid-round selection. His draft range could be anywhere from late in round three to early in the fifth. Scouts generally have him in the 4th round as of now.