Tony Lippett Player Evaluation

Scout's Dave-Te Thomas breaks down Michigan State wide receiver Tony Lippett.

Welcome to the Tony Lippett “coming out” party, folks. After three seasons of mostly blocking for the team’s staple – the ground game – and serving as a nice safety valve receiver, the staff decided to push the aerial game a bit this year and Lippett embraced that opportunity to shine. The third-year starting split end became the first Spartan to ever be named Big Ten Conference Receiver of the Year, as he caught a career-best 65 passes for 1,198 yards (18.43 ypc) and eleven touchdowns this year, also scoring on a 32-yard reverse.

Adding to his resume, he often saw action as the “field” cornerback in sub packages. Just the sixth player in MSU annals to gain 1,000 yards receiving in a season, he’s grabbed 144 balls for 2,173 yards (15.1 ypc) and 15 touchdowns for the Spartans. He has the natural instincts and feel on the field that lets him adjust on the move. He shows good alertness to coverage and is quick to find openings or come back for the ball and has no trouble working in unison with the quarterback.

The split end has deceptive speed to get downfield, showing good body flexibility, good balance and body control to adjust to the ball in flight and has the leaping ability to compete for the ball in the air. He showed this season that he has the size and vertical jump to go up and make the catch over the middle. As fast as he can be off the snap, he is best when using his long stride and deceptive vertical speed to stretch the field.

Lippett shows good quickness and a deceptive stride, where he can suddenly put on the second gear to eat up the defender’s cushion. He doesn’t have the strength to fight through a powerful jam (10 reps in the 225-pound bench press), but when he is able to avoid it, he gets into his route quickly. He will need to add more bulk and strength in order to beat the press at the next level. Still, it is his moves off the ball that gets him most of his success in moving up the field.

Lippett has the size and vertical jump to go up and make the catch over the middle, but you sometimes wonder if he has the strength and body to take a pounding there. He is better when using his long stride and deceptive vertical speed to stretch the field. It is evident that he has natural ball skills to adjust to the ball in flight and play it deep. He builds to top speed nicely with no wasted motions and takes long strides to compensate for a lack of blazing speed. He can run a lethargic defender off the line of scrimmage and plays the ball well with nice adjustment skills.

Lippett is a long strider with good quickness off the line and the ability to eat up a defender’s cushion. He shows nice acceleration throughout his routes and has an array of moves to set up the defender. He has loose hips, doing a good job of sinking his pads. He seems to be better on linear routes, as he can build his acceleration and make cuts to separate.

On short routes, unlike most tall receivers that struggle to drop their weight and gain separation, Lippett is very precise making cuts and coming back for the ball. He rounds up field routes some, but has the body control to adjust and get under the thrown ball without having to break stride. He has the functional speed and burst to get deep and threaten, and looks very crisp adjusting on underneath routes.

The Spartan has awareness to uncover, as he does a nice job of staying low in his pads to cut more effectively working in the short areas. He has the size to shade defender and a valid second gear to separate in the deep zone. He plays with a very good feel for the ball in flight. He shows the ability to adjust and get in position to snatch the long ball over his outside shoulder without having to throttle down.

You can instantly see on game film that Lippett is very good working the sidelines and keeping his feet in bounds. Going over the middle, he never looks effected by close coverage and seems to be alert to finding the soft areas sifting through traffic. He does a good job of adjusting to deep coverage and can get open and settle on deep throws better than he can going over the middle.

Lippett has outstanding ball skills to adjust to the thrown ball, looking natural with his body control to get in position and make plays over his shoulder. His fluid hips allow him to sink his pads on underneath throws. He flashes above average flexibility to adjust to the off-target passes. Lippett has the leaping ability, reach and timing to catch the ball at its high point. He seemed to have his timing off some in 2013, as he was either affected by working in closed quarters or just did not compete for the jump ball, but he made a much more determined effort in 2014.

Lippett has excellent hands to look the ball in. He is able to extend and pluck the ball outside his frame and while his concentration lapsed at times, he was good at securing the ball and protecting it before heading up field. He will generally catch anything thrown right at him. He also has enough elusive moves to take a short crossing pass for a long distance, but needs to have room to operate in order to be successful.

The Spartan shows the vision to make the big play if he finds the crease. He runs with good urgency and uses his hands well to break arm tackles. In the second level, Lippett is very effective at taking angles and executing the crack block. He is the type that will pester and mirror when blocking in-line because of a lack of bulk, but flashes good aggression at the point of attack on the edge or when cut blocking down field.

Tony Lippett Scouting Combine measurables

6-2/192 (4.61 forty)
32 3/4-inch arm length
9 7/8-inch hands
36-inch vertical jump
114-inch broad jump
6.92 3 cone drill
4.13 20 yard shuttle
11.44 60 yard shuttle

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.


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