Many people have their eyes locked on big-name wide receivers in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. However, UC Davis superstar Keelan Doss has something to say for himself as well.
Keelan Doss had 119 receptions for 1,345 yards and 9 touchdowns in FCS. He and the Aggies of UC Davis reached the FCS Quarterfinals, where they fell just short to the eventual runner-up Eastern Washington Eagles. Doss was terrific in the game though, finishing with 9 receptions for 143 yards.
Now, Doss is looking to be one of the few players from small schools to make it big in the NFL. He was widely viewed as the best wide receiver in FCS. However, Doss has been looked down upon most scouts, coaches, and fans due to the lack of competition the FCS gave him. In the spotlight though, Doss shined throughout his senior season at UC Davis.
On film, Doss proved he can be compared to some other small school receivers currently in the NFL. We will breakdown in this film review what makes him an NFL ready prospect as well as what holds him back from the top receivers in this draft. The categories Doss will go through are size, blocking, body control near the sidelines, route running, catch radius, and speed.
Doss measured in at 6-foot 2-inches and 211 pounds at the NFL Combine. Although he may not have the height of some of the higher ranked receivers in this draft, Doss plays like he has the size of a center in basketball. In fact, he used his high school basketball techniques back at Alameda High School in order to box out defenders like Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones. The rebound technique allowed him to gain 10-yard routes across the middle or on the outside against smaller safeties and cornerbacks.
In these two clips, Doss works inside the defensive back guarding him so they cannot defend the pass. The defensive backs only way to stop Doss from catching the ball is hitting him in the air for a pass interference call or trying to reach all the way across Doss’s body. This allows Doss’s catch probability to spike from a 50/50 ball to an 80/20 ball in Doss’s favor. His size will benefit him to catch in the NFL, but also for his blocking ability.
Doss may not be the best blocking receiver in the draft, but he can be a secret blocking weapon for run-heavy teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, or Seattle Seahawks. Doss has a high IQ when it comes to who to block in a current situation. His willingness to block to the whistle, with good footwork too, will also not go unnoticed.
In this clip, the Aggies are running a jet sweep to the left. Doss is all alone on the top of the screen. He had to crack down and seal the line on the sweep, and he had three options on who to block.
First, he can block the cornerback who will never make the play on the outside. Second, block the outside linebacker on the edge of the box, who most likely is already unable to make the tackle. Lastly, there is the safety who can crash down and be the touchdown-saving tackle. Off the snap, Doss patiently watches everything breakdown to see who to block. He notices the safety crash down hard. Doss reacts quickly to block the safety in order for the lane to be opened for his teammate.
In the second clip, Doss has a simple 1-on-1 matchup against the corner. He first tries to fool the corner by making him crash on a fake screen to take him out of the play, but the corner doesn’t bite. Instead of watching the play occur and not block, Doss finds the corner, breaks down and chops his feet. Doss is on the balls of his feet with all the power in his legs as he releases the power into his block and stops the corner from making the tackle.
Doss has decent body control and flexibility. Again, it is not as great as some of the other receivers in the draft. However, he has proved he is good enough for a back shoulder catch on the sideline. For example, in the video below he catches the ball on his back shoulder.
This video shows he may have struggled to make separation in the man to man coverage. However, his look back to the quarterback and ability to adapt on the fly allows him to swivel his hips and slide his attention to the other part of the body in order to be in position to make the catch. Doss was able to stay poised and take a couple of steps inbounds before running out of bounds for a 20-yard gain.
As stated just above, the body control is fairly good, but the route running has held him back a bit from jumping up in the rankings.
Doss is an experienced route runner from the outside and the slot. He has been able to break away from the FCS defensive backs, but he may not have the smoothest moves compared to some other NFL candidates. Doss has not proved he is able to break off of press coverages in man coverage. His change of direction is decent, but is nothing spectacular, mostly due to his size. His speed off the ball hurts his route running too.
On the other hand, he has upsides in his route running too. His hand usage and vertical cuts are definitely above average. He has learned how to beat the weaknesses in zone coverages. This is something that can bump up his draft grade because some of the top receivers cannot discover the weaknesses yet.
This clip shows us Doss’s capability to read a zone defense. He notices the outside linebacker has his eyes on the backfield. Doss realizes off the snap that he is in a hook curl and the safety is dropping back into a deep half zone. He decides to cut his in route a bit deeper behind the linebacker and in front of the safety to catch the pass in the small pocket in the weakness of the zone defense.
In the second clip, Doss has an off-man coverage. Doss bursts off the ball and causes the cornerback to open his hips within a few yards off of where he began. The opening of his hips made him believe that Doss was going deep. Instead, Doss cut down into a post route and caused the corner to be beaten. The opening of the corner’s hips caused the post route and burst of speed that allowed Doss to have a couple of steps advantage. He was able to catch the pass for a decent gain.
Overall, this may be one of his weaknesses holding him back. But he still has some upsides in his game that should not be overlooked.
With his background in basketball and football, his catch radius is tremendous due to his vertical and long arms. Doss’s arms came in at 31 3/4″ while his unofficial vertical jump was a whopping 38.5 inches. If that was official, it would have been tied for the 8th best vertical jump for wide receivers at the NFL Combine. His height just adds to the outstanding numbers too.
In the above clip, Doss leaps for a high ball and comes down with it. His height, length, and vertical, allowed him to get over his defenders. In fact, Doss’s combined catch radius can be 13 feet high and close to 3 feet wide to the left and right. This is an area of his that is overlooked. It can and will be useful for any team picking him up because his radius will be useful in the red zone.
Last, but not least, is Doss’s speed. This category hurts him the most because he is not a quick receiver. He struggles to explode off the line of scrimmage for the first few yards. However, once he builds up his speed over about 10 yards, he will be tough to catch and bring down. UC Davis used Doss a lot for screen plays, and it would’ve worked if he had a lane to build up his speed. He was not able to break through the first few tackles and could not juke the early tacklers either.
As we see in this clip, Doss takes the screen pass and tries turning upfield quickly. Attempting to do so before the defenders crash down and shut down the lanes. However, the speed does not build up and as he turns upfield, the defenders break down and tackle him after a couple of yards.
In the second clip though, Doss was involved in the jet sweep. He has time to build up speed laterally then cuts up quickly with his near top speed. This allows him to break through a tackle. Afterward, he finds the lane down the middle of the field and breaks it off for a big play, resulting in a touchdown.
By the end of the day, Doss proves he can and will make an NFL roster. Doss will flourish in a run-heavy offense due to his blocking presence and deep threat on play action plays. His size will also be helpful for these teams in the red zone too. Doss will look to become another small school standout like Cooper Kupp. He should expect to be selected in the mid rounds (3-5) of the 2019 NFL Draft.