Jaelen Strong hasn’t exactly taken the most conventional route to the NFL.
Then again, it’s never where you start but where you finish.
From Philadelphia, to Pierce College in Los Angeles, to Tempe and now football’s biggest stage where a well-respected draft analyst compared him to one of the most productive NFL receivers in the past decade.
“Kind of reminds me of [New Orleans Saint] Marques Colston,” NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks recently told Sports360AZ.com. “I think Jaelen Strong can be a guy that can eventually be a number one receiver in the National Football League.”
The 6-foot-3, 217-pounder did nothing to dispel the projection after running sizzling 4.51 and 4.4 40-yard dashes and posting a 42-inch vertical leap which ranked fourth-best among NFL combine wide receivers in the past 10 years.
Many were surprised the results, particularly the posted 40 times.
Don’t include Strong in that group.
“Even at West Catholic [High School], I knew I had the chance to play at this level if I just put my mind to it and work hard enough,” Strong said from Indianapolis in February. “I’m going to work hard every day. The thing about me is I haven’t reached my peak yet. I know I have a lot of coaching left in me. I’m going to bring it every day. I’m a quick learner, eager to get out there and compete.”
People in Arizona and along the west coast have seen Strong’s game evolve quickly since he stepped on campus back in early 2013. He was at times a one-man wrecking crew in Mike Norvell’s up-tempo offense and the ultimate nightmare for cornerbacks and defensive coordinators on ASU’s schedule.
“Very talented player,” Brooks explained. “The guy who is obviously a big-bodied wide receiver that typically make the transition to be a number one receiver in the National Football League.”
Strong, who caught 82 passes for 1165 yards and 10 touchdowns last fall, says he can get it done on the field and in the NFL classroom as teams continue to analyze talent leading up to the draft.
“I’m very, very smart when it comes to getting up on the board and recognizing coverages, recognizing hot reads and things like that,” he said. “You guys see what I put on film. You don’t really get the chance to talk to me about the game of football and how much I do know about football. That’s one thing I definitely will stress upon the GMs and coaches when I get a chance to meet with them.”
Judging from the past who are we to argue.