Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU | NFL Draft Scouting Report

LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte has become a polarizing 2023 NFL Draft prospect, and his scouting report explains some of the reasons why.

Kayshon Boutte entered the 2023 NFL Draft cycle viewed as a potential first-round pick, with his explosive, game-breaking talent evident during his first two seasons at LSU. A disappointing 2022 college football campaign twinned with a rollercoaster draft process has impacted the electric pass catcher’s stock, as Boutte’s scouting report explains.

Kayshon Boutte NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: WR
  • School: LSU
  • Current Year: Junior
  • Height/Weight: 5’11”, 195 pounds

A former five-star recruit out of Westgate High School, the Louisiana native was the second-ranked WR in the 2020 recruiting class. Boutte opted to remain in-state with LSU over options that included Alabama and Ole Miss.

He made an immediate impact as a freshman for the Tigers. Earning Freshman All-American honors, he led LSU with 735 receiving yards and finished second on the team with 45 receptions and five touchdowns. He ended the 2020 campaign with three straight 100+ yard games, including an SEC record of 308 yards against Ole Miss.

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As a sophomore, Boutte added 100+ yard games against UCLA and Auburn. However, his season was curtailed by a leg injury suffered against Kentucky. In a shortened campaign, Boutte registered 509 receiving yards. At the time of his injury, the LSU WR led the FBS with nine touchdowns, creating excitement ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft cycle.

However, the LSU WR had his share of struggles on his return from injury, showing frustration early on in the 2022 season and being a statistical non-factor for the first five games. Yet, Boutte flashed his game-changing magic in games against Florida and Georgia — putting up 100 yards on the national championship-winning Bulldogs defense before declaring for the NFL Draft.

Kayshon Boutte Scouting Report

Boutte’s scouting report is one of the more difficult evaluations in the 2023 NFL Draft class. His 2020 and 2021 tape tells the tale of an explosive pass catcher with game-changing potential.

Even on his 2022 film, there are examples of his potential and those flashes of exceptional football talent that made him such a highly-touted prospect. The difficulty comes in knowing which to believe to be the player who will line up in the NFL.

Strengths

When Boutte is at the top of his game, his tape is highlighted by explosive acceleration, apparent straight-line speed, and movement skills that demonstrate agility and twitchiness.

His acceleration appears almost effortless. When he hits top speed, there are few defensive players who can catch him. His lateral agility is impressive, cutting and changing direction with the same level of ease with which he accelerates.

That translates to the route-running element of Boutte’s scouting report. He’s a clean, sudden route runner who can break from his route at the drop of a penny.

The ability to flip his body effortlessly means he can set up his coverage defender one way before whipping in the opposite direction and catching the ball in yards of space. The LSU WR also demonstrates the intelligence to find soft spots and maneuver into holes in coverage.

In addition to using the above combination of excellent route running and devastating athletic prowess to gain separation and after-the-catch yardage, Boutte can create separation on release.

The LSU WR possesses ludicrously quick feet, which put coverage defenders in a bind from the get-go. However, he can also use his handwork to help create an advantage within seconds of the snap.

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There’s also plenty of excitement about Boutte’s scouting report as it pertains to the catch point. During his young LSU career, the WR has showcased excellent ball-tracking ability.

Additionally, he’s demonstrated catch-point body control. He adjusts to errant passes with relative ease to ensure that he makes a play on the ball. Furthermore, he has good length to be able to coral the ball at the catch point — although there are some clear improvements to be made in this regard.

An underrated aspect of WR scouting is blocking ability. The LSU WR has shown to be willing and able in this regard. He routinely uses his length to lock out his opponent. Meanwhile, his quick feet and impressive hand usage mean he’s adept at mirroring his opponent and thus remains engaged with decent physicality.

Rounding out Boutte’s scouting report, the LSU WR has shown a penchant for performing in the biggest games. It is by no coincidence that one of his most productive games of the 2022 college football season was against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

Areas of Improvement

Although Boutte has shown some impressive ball skills, there are some concerns about dropped balls from studying his LSU tape. Those drops range from low targets to contested-catch situations on the boundary. The drops are a combination of focus and lapses in pass-catching technique where the LSU WR doesn’t extend properly away from his frame to secure the ball.

Injuries will always form an element of the NFL Draft evaluation process, and while that doesn’t fall under “area of improvement,” there are certainly concerns on Boutte’s scouting report in that respect. He has missed time with injury, while two surgeries on the same ankle will raise significant red flags for NFL teams as they assess the LSU WR ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Furthermore, the apparent on-field by-product of Boutte’s injury and surgery history is a cause for concern. The LSU WR didn’t look anywhere near his explosive best this fall, and there will be concerns that he may not recover to the same level. When that explosion is the hallmark of your game, that is a major concern.

The concerns on Boutte’s scouting report extend to non-skill-set-specific incidents. The LSU WR was openly frustrated during the season-opener against FSU, calling into question his ability to be a mature leader for an offense.

Meanwhile, the mystery surrounding his on-off relationship with being declared for the 2023 NFL Draft adds a further layer of uncertainty. Originally stating his intention to return to LSU for his fourth season, Boutte was then listed as “unavailable” for the Tigers’ Citrus Bowl clash with Purdue before declaring for the draft.

According to multiple reports, including from Sportskeeda, Boutte was reportedly involved in a multi-person “intimate party” ahead of LSU’s preparation for the SEC Championship Game with Georgia that may have seen him follow recruiting coordinator Destiny Wilson out of Baton Rouge.

Current Draft Projection for LSU WR Kayshon Boutte

Arguably, there hasn’t been a bigger drop-off in NFL Draft projection for any prospect as there has been for Boutte. Once considered a potential WR1 and first-round pick, there is a genuine possibility that he falls into the third day of the 2023 NFL Draft.

There are both on and off-field concerns for the former highly-touted star wide receiver. From a pure on-field perspective, any team that uses a pick is gambling on a return to the electric form that we saw in his first two seasons. The question is, will those two campaigns be enough to outweigh the recent season?

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At the top of his game, Boutte’s exciting playmaking ability with after-the-catch value makes him an — at times — undefendable pass catcher. Players who can create separation with speed and twitchy movements will always be valued in the NFL.

However, after two ankle surgeries and some of the issues he’s encountered during his LSU career, will he ever return to the top of his game? Only Boutte himself can answer that question, and the cost of finding out the answer may prove too high for some.

Kayshon Boutte Combine Measurements and Results

  • Wingspan: 77 1/4″ (LSU Pro Day measurement)
  • Arm: 31 3/8″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.5 seconds
  • 10-Yard Split: 1.58 seconds
  • Vertical Jump: 29″
  • Broad Jump: 9’10”
  • 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.25 seconds

The 2023 NFL Combine could definitely have gone better for Boutte. A drop-off in on-tape explosiveness and speed from the 2022 college football campaign was quantified by a workout that ranked near the very bottom of all receivers at the NFL’s annual selection event.

Particularly disappointing was Boutte’s performance in the explosiveness drills — vertical and broad jump — given that was the hallmark of his early cycle draft hype. Given the opportunity to improve on that performance at the LSU Pro Day, Boutte opted to stand on his Combine numbers while adding a distinctly average three-cone drill to his testing résumé.

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