Many of you probably know the name, but even though he has been around for a few years, Julius Pruitt is probably an unknown to many Fin Fans. The biggest reason is simply that he was came out of a small school. It generally takes a while to develop WRs anyway, but it is ESPECIALLY tough for guys from smaller schools! – the level of competition increases exponentially when they make the jump to the NFL. So you might have a guy blessed with natural gifts and talent – he’s big, strong, fast – and he probably runs over any opposing DB in college. If he is from a Div 1A school, he may occasionally play against a future NFL CB, but if he is from a smaller school he probably rarely challenged.
Even when you have a guy with all the measurables, a WR’s success in making the transition to the NFL is usually tied to his ability to improve technically. He needs to be able to be very technical in his route running, his use of hands to beat the jam off the line, his ability to box out a defender with his body, etc. And once he learns the technicalities, he then needs to develop the nuances that come with football savvy…. the head fake, the stutter step, the shoulder juke, the stiff arm of a smaller DB while you are running away from him, etc. These are all things he did not need to work on in college because he was able to out-power or out-run most of the defenders he encountered. And all these new technicalities he has to learn are in addition to having to learn the bigger picture – the playbook, the audibles, motions etc.
So what is the best you can do when picking a WR? First, you look for production against competition in college. Second, you look for the measurables – Size and Speed. And third, you look for a guy who is smart enough and coachable enough to learn quickly. You rarely get all three right off the bat unless you get a top ten draft pick.
Some guys just may need to marinate a while before they are properly seasoned, Right?
Enter Julius Pruitt. I admit, I did not know much about the kid until I did a little research, but I like what I see. First of all, it is important to note that the Dolphins have kept this kid around for a couple of years now - even as they were letting other folks go and shuffling players on and off the practice squad. Second, there was quite a bit of interest in this kid before the draft, but he is from a very small school - Ouachita Baptist - so he was always considered an NFL "project".
Pruitt is 6'2", 212 lbs, and ran a 4.42 40yd dash. As a senior at Ouachita in 2008, Pruitt enjoyed a prolific season where he not only had more than 1,100 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns, but was also featured on Sports Center's Top 10 Plays after an incredible catch during the 2008 Battle of the Ravine against Henderson State University. I found several scouting reports on the kid, and they all said pretty much the same thing - good quickness, athleticism, and character.
Here are some quotes from one article calling him a draft sleeper:
Pruitt worked out for the St. Louis Rams and Green Bay Packers on March 3 where he ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash, posted a 31 1/2-inch vertical and a 9-foot, 4-inch broad jump. The scouts where impressed with the performance so much that the Rams where back in the area on Wednesday for a second look.
Pruitt caught every pass thrown his way and made several acrobatic catches during receiving drills.
When watching the receiver on film, he absolutely jumped off the screen. Pruitt has good size, speed, explosion and subtle quickness. He’s very strong, squats over 600 pounds, and shows great leaping ability, body control and athleticism.
Pruitt is a pretty good route runner with solid hands and is a willing blocker. He’s a physical possession-receiver who loves to catch the ball over the middle and shows a strong desire to play the game. Pruitt is a high character guy and is great in the locker room. He was voted most valuable player by his teammates.
Now, of course, the knock on him is experience. The scouting reports note that he will need to work on refining his route running and separation skills at the next level. But he has already been working out with the Dolphins for a couple of seasons, so it is possible that he might be ready to go into camp this year and compete for a role on the offense. I am not suggesting that he will be ready to be a starter but, considering how many guys get cut from the practice squad over the course of the season, SOMEBODY must think that the kid has some potential.
It will be very interesting to watch what this kid does in training camp over the next couple of weeks.