Last week, Sutton and I began our series of collaborative film breakdowns. The first installment of our series was on fifth-round defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, and can be found HERE. We received feedback from over 2 million Phinsider faithful and have decided to continue working together despite our lack of football knowledge, and pure hatred towards one another. So without further ado, here is our film breakdown on Virginia Tech Wide Receiver, Isaiah Ford.
Heading into the draft, the last position the Dolphins needed to address was at wide receiver. After all, the team is loaded with talent. Whether it be Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Leonte Carroo, Jakeem Grant, or Rashawn Scott, Miami had plenty of options for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Fortunately for the Dolphins, when the final round of the 2017 NFL draft started, great value remained on the board. His name was Isaiah Ford, the play-making wide receiver from Virginia Tech.
During his career at Virginia Tech, it was clear Isaiah Ford was the go-to receiver no matter who was the team’s starting quarterback. Throughout his three-year career, Isaiah Ford put up impressive numbers with the Hokies. As a freshman, Ford recorded 56 catches for 709 yards and 6 touchdowns. The following season, he was able to improve on those numbers, accumulating 75 catches, 1164 yards, and 11 touchdowns. His final season at Virginia Tech would be his Junior year, where he recorded 79 receptions, 1094 yards, and 7 touchdowns. The numbers alone are not what you’d expect from a seventh-round wide receiver.
In this week’s film breakdown, Sutton and I watched six games
: 2016 vs East Carolina, 2016 vs Boston College, 2016 vs Tennessee, 2015, @ Ohio State, 2015 vs Purdue, and 2015 @ Tulsa. All GIFs were taken from DraftBreakdown.
And another look...
SUTTON: I’ll just reiterate what Houtz mentioned in the intro: this is not 7th round tape we’re watching. I’m honestly a little perplexed how he fell this far. He had a 4.6 40, but from the research I have seen, there are zero measurables from the Combine that have a statistically significant correlation with a WR’s NFL success.
The Miami Dolphins are going to have a loaded WR room.
Ouch. #39 bit on that slant hard. His one major blemish is playing against physical CB’s. You see what happens if you give him cushion. I look for Kenny Stills to take him under his wing if he survives roster cuts.
Houtz: In this play, it is very clear the amount of respect the defensive back has for Ford. After all, he’s made a career out of clowning opposing corners. Earlier in the game, he ran a quick slant that netted the Hokies a respectable gain. It is clear the cornerback expected him to run a similar route, and he anticipated the inside move. With one quick step, Ford plants his right foot and explodes past the defensive back. Evans is able to hit him in stride, before the safety is able to get over to help the burnt cornerback. He breaks an arm tackle on his way to the endzone for six. TOUCHDOWN.
and from another angle...
SUTTON: Ford was a stud basketball player in high school, and despite his thinner frame, you can see the basketball instincts come in. Get that rebound, son. He times the jump nearly perfect, which can be tough to do when you’re both decelerating and turning almost 180 degrees. Demonstrates tremendous body control here.
I like when he catches it, he positions the ball high and away and uses his back as a shield, preventing the CB from being able to get his hands on the ball. He needs to hone these nuances to survive in the NFL, as CB will undoubtedly play him more physically.
Houtz: In this play, Ford uses his hands to create separation from the defender. Despite the ball being under thrown, he is able to locate the football and make the impressivr catch. Ford may not be the biggest or strongest wide receiver, but he has the ability to make plays like this routinely. The cornerback has no chance in this play and had it not been for the poor throw, this would’ve been another touchdown.
SUTTON: I played basketball in college, and I see Ford’s basketball background resurfacing again. Love the stutter step, like he’s setting up his defender to come off a screen in basketball. It’s about suddenness, and he shows that with this flag route. I like the subtle shoulder fake inside - another route ran with precision. Didn’t take long for the QB to decide where he was going with that ball.
Houtz: Ford uses a quick stutter step to beat the defender off the line. Another great fake inside, and he’s headed towards the corner of the end zone with the DB trailing behind. The quarterback puts the ball where only he can make a play, resulting in a touchdown. Yes, in college the players only need one foot in bounds, but he continuously gets two feet in. This helps prepare Ford for whats to come in the NFL.
SUTTON: That’s a TD catch in the NFL as well, ladies and gentlemen. Right foot, right elbow, catch throughout. Oh, by the way, there were 2 dudes trying to cramp his style. QB definitely showed some trust in Ford here, and Ford delivers a most impressive TD. Not much else to do but sit back and watch this GIF a few more times.
Another thing I noticed: the 2 Boston College defenders contesting this ball are both 9 yards off the line of scrimmage and Ford still gets behind both of them. There were only about 39 yards between the line of scrimmage and where the pass was caught.
Houtz: Here, Isaiah Ford is double covered. Let me repeat, ISAIAH FORD IS DOUBLE COVERED. Despite being sandwiched between two Boston College defenders, Ford skies into the air like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story. He is very good at locating the football.
Like Sutton alluded to, both defenders were playing off the line of scrimmage and still allowed Ford to get behind them. Ford is a baller, who will be legit competition for the rest of the Dolphins’ wide receiver group.
SUTTON: That couldn’t have been a pleasant experience for the secondary watching this film if you’re Boston College. Ford shreds them in this game. Gets deep again, staying between the ball in flight and the defender throughout for optimal positioning. If the QB leads him more to the opposite hash, that might be a TD. Shows body control slowing down for the ball thrown a bit behind him.
Houtz: The repertoire Ford and Evans has is quite impressive. It reminds me a little bit of Tannehill and Landry. Evans is consistently looking for Ford as soon as the ball is snapped. To be honest, It would have been nice to see the Dolphins bring Evans in as a camp arm, but Philly beat them to the punch. Ford has the defender trailing in his footsteps. Had this ball been placed better, he may have scored. However, he is able to make the adjustment on the football, resulting in a big gain.
SUTTON: He could use a little more technique against zone coverage from what I’ve seen, but he sits and presents himself in the hole of what looks like a cover 2 with an overzealous LB reacting to the quick out pattern. He’s not the type of WR who is going to break a lot of tackles, but perhaps with NFL strength and conditioning, he can add that to his arsenal.
Houtz: Ford isn’t the best wide receiver against zone, but he has a knack at finding the soft spot in the defense, making himself available to the quarterback. As we know, Gase’s offense relies heavily on the short, underneath routes and this is something Ford excells at. He’s not the biggest or strongest wide receiver, but he is smart.
SUTTON: Broke one arm tackle, but the next arm tackle would get him. I like the short area quickness in the initial move - I’d just like to see him be able to fight through that second arm tackle, but I could probably be asking too much. All I know is that YAC is harder to come by in the NFL.
Houtz: Ford is able to shed the initial tackle, but is unable to turn it into anything more than a short gain. At the next level, he is going to have a difficult time making plays like this, primarily where players are far more stronger and don’t miss often. At just 21-years old, Ford has plenty of room to grow and should put on a significant amount of muscle this offseason. I’m excited to see his progress throughout the next few months.
SUTTON: I don’t see any problem with speed in this play, do you? Well-timed play call and I absolutely love the block by the LT. Ford is no stranger to the end zone, scoring 24 over the course of his collegiate career, and they come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes.
Houtz: We all know the Dolphins like to use the screen pass and here is a perfect example of what Ford can do with the football in his hands. Pre-snap, the quarterback sees the loaded box, and audibles into a pass play. A perfect block from the left tackle, helps spring him into the end zone. This is what I expect to see from Ford if he inevitable makes the 53-man roster. He’s not the fastest receiver on the roster, but his 4.61 40 doesn’t do him justice.
one more look...
SUTTON: His excellent body control allows him to catch this despite getting draped on at the 4-yard line. He’s quite fluid when tracking the ball in mid-air (although he can be late to react at times), and if I’m Evans I throw him the ball a lot too, because he can compensate for mildly to moderately inaccurate passes.
Houtz: Ford’s ability to track the football in the air despite being blanketed by the DB is second to none. This is a remarkable catch despite being smothered by the opposing DB. If Ford is Super Man, the defensive back is his cape. The only difference is his cape wouldn’t be hanging onto his back quite as much. Great catch.
SUTTON: Gets plenty of separation deep down the field against the Buckeye secondary. Gauging from the way #11 is turning towards the flight of the ball, it looks like Ford got the defender’s hips turned inside somehow. There’s a few times on tape he does these little “mini-hops” to enable using his body as a shield between the defender and the ball to secure the catch.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but is that a weird tackle by OSU on Ford? Is it a lazy tackle? An uncoordinated tackle? Help me. Just looks bizarre. It looked like he was gonna give up on making a play because he thought it was a TD, and then realized he had to tackle him.
Houtz: Ohio State is one of the better teams in college football. What does this mean to Isaiah Ford? Not a damn thing. Here, he creates significant separation against the DB. However, the quarterback manages to throw the ball to his outside shoulder, making it difficult for YAC. Ford uses his body to protect the football, making it difficult for the defender to break up the pass. During his time at Virginia Tech, he broke countless school records. He has the ability to make plays underneath, and even more so deep down field. It will be interesting to see how his skills translate to the NFL.
SUTTON: Finds a crease in the back of the end zone. He’ll extend his career mightily if he can find a niche in the red zone. Ford was a productive player at Virginia Tech and wasn’t a player that would disappear against elite competition. You can tell he was a trusted playmaker at VT, and the tape demonstrates his growing football acumen as well.
Houtz: As I stated earlier, Ford does a great job of finding the weakness in the defense. Here, the quarterback keeps the play alive after avoiding the blitzing cornerback. Ford works his way into the middle of the endzone, finding the weakness between two defenders. The QB throws up a prayer, resulting in an easy touchdown.
SUTTON: I believe that’s Cameron Sutton that gets juked out of his jock, who was selected in the 3rd round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The under thrown ball allows Sutton to get back into the play, and Sutton plays the ball physically and gets the deflection. That’s the one thing that’ll determine Ford’s longevity in the NFL: how he responds to physicality at an NFL level, both at the line of scrimmage and at the catch point.
Boy, that’s a gorgeous route though. You can see the VT players excited on the sideline because it was such a good move. Just couldn’t seize the opportunity.
Houtz: The defensive back expects Ford to run an out route. What he gets instead is his ankles broken in two. Fortunately, the quarterback under throws the football. This allows the CB to regain his footing, breaking up the pass downfield. Had the ball been thrown better, the opportunity was there for a big play.
SUTTON: Excellent slant route: he has suddenness in his routes, which is his modus operandi for creating separation. Yucky catch, however. There’s not a lot of dropped passes in his tape, and perhaps a stroke of bad luck that the ball gets batted up in the air to the waiting arms of the BC safety. It wouldn’t prevent VT from going back to him time and time again after this play.
Houtz: In most of the film I’ve watched, Ford makes very few mistakes. Here he runs a great slant route, but takes his eye off the football. Fortunately for the defense, the ball is bobbled and falls perfectly into the safety’s hands. This is a rarity from Ford, similar to a Charizard first-edition holographic. It just isn’t normal.
In the end, it’s crazy to think that a guy with Ford’s talent fell all the way to the seventh round. All 32 NFL teams not only passed over this guy once, but most several times. In our opinion, Ford is a talented wide receiver who has the hands and route running ability to be a playmaker in the National Football League. It is anyone’s guess as to whether or not he makes the final 53-man roster, but I have to think his odds are good when compared to some of the other wide receivers on the roster. If I’m Jakeem Grant, Rashawn Scott or even Leonte Carroo, I’m taking my game to the next level with the addition of Isaiah Ford. He has all the traits to be a big-time receiver in the NFL and if Adam Gase has any say in the matter, he will likely have a role with the Dolphins come Week 1.
Houtz and Sutton
Will Isaiah Ford make the Dolphins 53-man Roster?
This poll is closed