After a stellar career at William & Mary that included three all-conference selections, Tre McBride looks to be one of the first FCS players off the board at the NFL draft. He's not a perfect prospect, but let's take a look at what makes him special.
McBride has prototypical NFL WR size at 6'0" 210-lb, and he couples that size with 4.4 speed. Just looking at him, you'd think he came from Alabama or USC. And he doesn't just look the part, he knows how to use that size and speed on the field.
In the few games I've seen, McBride caught almost everything thrown his way - and they threw to him a lot. He can go up and get the ball, adjust his body mid-air, and when he comes down with balls he is always looking for extra yards. All the physical tools that an NFL GM looks for are there, even during run plays. Although it is very often overlooked when scouting WRs, McBride shows really great toughness and persistence in the run-blocking game.
At the very least, McBride should be able to contribute right away in the return game. He was one of the best returners in the FCS over the last few years, with quick-twitch ability and good vision in finding running lanes.
Because McBride was able to beat defenders purely on his athleticism, he never really had to polish up the more technical aspects of his game. He's not a very precise route runner, and that will get him into trouble at the next level (however, that is very coachable skill).
For all of the blazing speed McBride supposedly has (4.41 40-yd dash at the combine, 4.08 20-yd shuttle), it doesn't always come across on film. Admittedly, he played against a lot of off-man and soft zone coverage and wasn't asked to simply beat his defender down the sideline very often.
Another thing we didn't see because of the defenses he faced: can he beat press coverage? It seems like he still has a lot to learn before he can contribute significantly to an NFL passing game.
So many scouts have taken note of how "underrated" he is that he's no longer flying under-the-radar.
Tre McBride / Adrian Coxson / Justin Hardy MT @dhseagle2011 who is your sleeper pick in the draft?— Jayson Braddock (@JaysonBraddock) April 4, 2015
@RobbieSteeves really like Tre McBride from William & Mary— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 6, 2015
I've seen projections everywhere from the third round to the fifth for McBride. Personally, I think he has so much upside that it will be unlikely he falls out of the third round. Although he may not be an every-down player in his first year in the league, I think with some coaching he can turn into a solid number two type option for a lot of teams.