In the Film Room

Watching Kyle Prater on film seemed very familiar. There was just something about this young player that reminded me of someone. It hit me about half way through his film that his game was very similar to that of former Notre Dame standout Maurice Stovall.

Prater also has a bit of Dwayne Jarrett to his game as well. I'm not saying Prater will be the next 1000 yard receiver for either Southern Cal or Notre Dame, but there is a lot to like about his game. Heading into the Army All-American combine Prater was a relatively unknown. After earning the top honors during the combine Prater will soon become one of the nation's most highly regarded wide receivers for the Class of 2010.

Prater has tremendous size. He's very tall (listed anywhere from 6'3 to 6'5) and has a very good frame. He's lean at this point with a very nice frame. Prater has very long legs and long arms and he knows how to use both to his advantage. One thing he has already figured out is how to use his great length to his advantage, although he'll need to learn how to better use his size and strength. The Proviso West star doesn't have great speed but it's good enough for him to be a downfield playmaker when you combine it with his size and excellent leaping ability. While not a burner, Prater does have outstanding physical skills. For such a long player he has tremendous body control. He's able to quickly and smoothly twist and turn his body as a route runner and especially when adjusting to the football. He's also pretty light on his feet, although at times he gets a bit flat footed. The 6'4 Prater is a smooth big man and shows good foot quickness. These traits allow him to be very dangerous after the catch. He not only uses his size to make plays after the catch but also is able to weave in and out of traffic before bursting up field. It's rare to see big, tall, and strong players use their feet to make plays after the catch. More often than not big players like Prater use their size, strength, and brute force to make defenders miss and pick up extra yardage. Prater can do that, but he also is very quick, smooth, and uses his agility to make defenders miss. He has a knack for catching the ball on the run, making the initial defender miss, and then smoothly weaving his way in and out of traffic for big plays.

The Illinois native has very strong and very quick hands. I love how he quickly snatches the football out of the air. At times he tends to stick his hands out a bit too soon, but this is rare. It's obvious that Prater has excellent ball skills, sees the ball well, and when it is thrown in his direction he is great at coming down with the football, even when he has multiple defenders hanging on him. One area where Prater will need work is on balls thrown over his head when working left to right. Right now Prater often has his front arm (the arm closest to the football) underneath. This is an awkward motion that I see quite a bit with younger receivers. This causes a receiver to fight the football a bit. He needs to work on flipping his hands on these types of throws. I like how Prater plays the football. He knows how to adjust his speed to the flight of the football. He can accelerate to an overthrown ball, as most players do. But what Prater also does, which isn't as prevalent, is if the ball is underthrown a bit he'll actually throttle down a bit, keep the defender pinned behind him, and catches the ball on the run. If the ball is thrown up Prater shows the ability to go up and use his height to make the catch. As he learns to explode up to the football, catch it high, and not fade away he'll be even more dangerous on deep balls. The 6'4, 195 pound receiver also shows no fear going over the middle or catching the ball in traffic. There are several clips on his film where he leaps high over the middle, leaving his body open for a hard hit, but only focuses on the football and making the catch. He takes several hits on his film but always hangs on to the football. I like the toughness he shows.

Like most high school receivers Prater has a lot of work to do as a route runner, although I see a lot of potential. First and foremost Prater really needs to improve his stance. In fact his stance hinders him quite a bit at this point. There are too main problems with his stance and both prevent him from getting off the ball quickly. First of all he bends over too much. I actually prefer a nice forward lean in a stance, but Prater leans over a bit too much. This forces him to waste a lot of body motion at the snap before he gains any vertical ground. He needs to lift his body up a bit more before the snap which will eliminate his wasted upper body movements. The second issue is that Prater is too balanced with his feet. He seems to have his weight balanced equally from the front to back. This prevents him from getting any explosion off the line. A balanced stance prevents him from really driving off his lead leg, which is where the explosiveness and power comes from. When he's running downfield he shows a good burst, but off the line he shows very little burst. This has everything to do with his stance. Lifting up his upper body and putting more weight on his front foot will allow Prater to really drive off the line at the snap and make him very, very hard to defend.

As a route runner Prater shows a lot of potential. He seems to understand what he wants to do as a route runner but needs work. Once he releases Prater lifts up too high which prevents him from really accelerating in and out of his cuts. The high body prevents him from sinking his hips and driving through the route. This forces Prater to be too choppy in and out of his cuts. He has the foot quickness to be better here, but his upright running style limits how quick he can be in his routes. If his will run with a more forward lean, sink his hips as he breaks, and limits his steps he'll be a very effective college route runner. Prater also needs to learn to keep his feet underneath himself as he makes cuts, especially double moves. This will allow him to use his upper body and lower body together and will make him quicker and more effective on double moves like the post-corner route. Prater also needs work getting off against press corners. Right now he is able to out run and out size his opponents. In college he'll need to develop a repertoire to get off the line as well as use his size and strength to get on top of his opponents. At this point he tends to drift once he gets by a defender rather than quickly getting on top and leaning into the route. He has the physical skills to do it, he just needs to learn the technique.

Kyle Prater is an excellent wide receiver prospect. He is a unique blend of size, strength, and agility that is rare. This is especially rare with younger players. Prater also has toughness and the ball skills of a smaller player. Like Maurice Stovall at Notre Dame, Prater also has the versatility to play inside or outside at the next level. This will make him a dream for his offensive coordinator but will be a nightmare for opponents. His coaches will have the flexibility to move him around quite a bit which prevents the defense from keying on him. Whoever ends up with Kyle Prater will be getting a player with quite a bit of potential, and will get a young man who in time could be a difference maker.


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