After winning the Biletnikoff Award at Pitt, Jordan Addison decided to take his talents to Southern California, joining head coach Lincoln Riley and QB Caleb Williams at USC. After a bit of a down season, especially compared to the year prior, where does Addison’s 2023 NFL Draft scouting report fall in the WR class? Spoiler: top five, and he ain’t 2-5.
Jordan Addison NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: USC
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 5’11”, 173 pounds
- Arm Length: 30 7/8″
- Hand Size: 8 3/4″
Addison played quarterback, defensive back, and wide receiver at Tuscarora High School in Frederick, Maryland. Having produced an electric highlight reel and earning all-area honors, Addison received a four-star rating as the 10th overall ATH in the country.
As a result, he had no shortage of suitors, including Notre Dame, South Carolina, Maryland, and, of course, Pittsburgh. After taking multiple visits, Addison committed to the Panthers.
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Being one of 10 children, Addison had to fight for attention, but it didn’t take long for him to catch the eye of college football. As a true freshman, Addison corraled 60 receptions for 666 yards and four touchdowns. He also recorded nine carries, two punts returns, and four kickoff returns. But that was just the rumbling of a dormant volcano patiently waiting to erupt.
With Kenny Pickett under center and Mark Whipple calling plays for another season, Addison torched the nation. One season, 100 receptions, 1,593 yards, 17 touchdowns, a Fred Biletnikoff Award, and consensus All-American recognition later, Addison was at the peak of the mountain.
But with Whipple onto Nebraska and Pickett leaving for the NFL, Addison decided to pair up with another elite offensive mind and quarterback. Yet, Addison’s lone season in Los Angeles saw him post nearly half the production he did the year prior (59-875-8 receiving line). Missing three games due to injury and needing some time to reacclimate tends to have that effect.
Jordan Addison Scouting Report
However, when you add in his middling NFL Combine numbers — 4.49 40-yard dash, 34″ vertical, and 10’2″ broad — it’s fair to raise an eyebrow at Addison’s pro prospects. But once you turn on the tape, both eyebrows will be raised … just for a different reason.
Where Addison Wins
At 5’11” and 173 pounds, Addison won’t ever be the biggest player on the field. But you couldn’t tell by watching his tape. He can pluck the ball out of the air and has the play strength to hold onto passes with big hits looming.
Additionally, he gives effort as a run blocker and will play wherever you ask. At Pitt, he returned a handful of punts, over a dozen kickoffs (15.4 yards per attempt in 2021), was used as a rusher, lined up outside, in the slot, and moved around the formation on motions.
It was more of the same at USC, except he primarily lined up outside, and nearly all of his production came from between the numbers.
A big plus for NFL franchises scouting Addison is he will be a 21-year-old rookie — a breath of fresh air coming off a class with a surplus of 23-to-24-year-olds. Moreover, Addison can win downfield — better than his 40 time would have you believe. His acceleration out of breaks is impressive; he gets a step on DBs instantly and displays little wasted movement off the line.
That speed also translates in short areas. He’s explosive with the ball in his hands, can start or stop on a dime, and has the wiggle to shake defenders in the open field. That last part is important, as Addison doesn’t own the size to break many tackles once defenders get arms around him.
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Although Addison wasn’t asked to run many hard-breaking routes, he showed the hip sink to snap down and cut quickly when he did. He does a fantastic job of using his pivot foot and exploding off his next step at the stem. With incredible footwork and flexibility, Addison can run a full route tree with ease.
He understands coverages (which is crucial for smaller/slot receivers) and easily finds holes in zone. Addison hasn’t faced a lot of press, but he has a few nice releases up his sleeve. And although no one will mistake him for a contested-catch monster, he’s impressive at the catch point.
Insane catches are littered throughout his highlight reel, and you can see at least one in almost every game. He demonstrated elite concentration near the sideline and in the end zone. He exhibited rare body control midair and when adjusting to passes. And the Trojans WR goes up with vigor and attacks the ball. There are mental lapses we will get into shortly, but Addison comes down with balls some receivers aren’t able to.
However, Addison’s trump card is his ability to force a DB to open their hips in the direction he chooses, allowing him to snap his route off the opposite way. At the rate he generates separation, Addison could have a lucrative post-football career as an American divorce attorney.
Addison’s Areas for Improvement
Along with Addison’s young age comes room for refinement, but not much. His athleticism and speed allow him to get lazy at times, but that lack of deception won’t fly in the NFL. He occasionally raises his pad level before breaks, which is a dead giveaway to DBs.
He’s also susceptible to giving a shoulder/head fake and calling it a day. Again, NFL DBs (and even solid college ones) won’t bite on that. They are watching the hips, so they can identify when you are breaking if you don’t commit with the hips, stride/speed, and pad level. The Trojans WR often showed intent prior to the snap as well (i.e., high pad level = screen). Self-scouting and being aware of tendencies is a must for receivers, as cornerbacks study tape too.
Size will undoubtedly be a limiting factor for Addison. He gives effort in the run game but won’t move the needle much there. Working to stay low and punch inside the chest will mitigate his lack of stature, but that’s not his game anyway.
Addison has done most of his damage between the numbers in his three collegiate seasons. That’s not to say he can’t win outside, but we just haven’t seen it enough at the college level, and it will be a concern for NFL GMs.
Bigger corners can disrupt his timing if they get their hands on him at the line or along the stem, but he does a good job of combating this in the following reps. His overall lack of size will also naturally shrink his catch radius.
Addison’s last — but substantial — area for improvement is his hands. Earlier, I waxed poetically about his concentration and ability at the catch point. And while that is the case (for the most part), the Maryland native dropped 10+ passes in his first two seasons.
Whether he’s anticipating a big hit or looking upfield for room to run, Addison will sometimes take his eyes off the ball before it reaches his hands/body. Using the diamond technique, looking passes in, and violently tucking them away will reduce drops and make Addison even better than he already is. Now, it’s important to note that he drastically improved in this area with the Trojans, but there’s always room for improvement.
Current Draft Projection for USC WR Jordan Addison
Addison’s average-at-best Combine will leave a sour taste in some analysts’ mouths, but the film takes precedence. Combine numbers are essential only when they don’t match what you saw on tape — for better or worse. With Addison, I always believed he was more smooth than explosive. And that’s OK because he knows how to use the tools at his disposal.
You just don’t find his combination of short-area agility, ball skills, and separation prowess frequently. Being a 21-year-old rookie certainly helps; his most significant issues are coachable. Although Addison certainly has room to grow, I believe we have yet to see the best he has to offer.
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Thus, I have him as my WR1 and a lock for the first round. And I’m not the only one, as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has Addison as his ninth overall prospect in the 2023 class:
“He is a very smooth, polished route runner, routinely changing tempo and efficiently getting in/out of the break point. He has excellent play speed and can find another gear when the ball is in the air. … After the catch, he has excellent burst and wiggle. Overall, Addison should become a high-volume pass catcher very early in his pro career.”