NFL Draft: Devin Duvernay enjoys breakout game against LSU

From unheralded to unstoppable, Devin Duvernay broke out under the spotlight against the LSU Tigers.

It isn’t often that a 4-star player who commits to a blue-blood program goes under-the-radar in his career, but that is what happened for Devin Duvernay. Once a top-5 WR recruit nationally, Duvernay committed to Texas with the hopes of bringing the program back to the national spotlight and then heading off to the NFL Draft. 

Things didn’t really go according to Duvernay’s plan early on. He was rarely targeted and ended up being overshadowed by two other recruits from his 2016 class: Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Duvernay entered this 2019 season with minimal production despite quality tape. Last season, Duvernay had 41 receptions, 546 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns. It was frustrating to watch his teammates struggle to separate from defenders and then see Duvernay streaking down the sideline wide open, and it’s something the Texas coaches picked up on in the offseason.

2019, however, is Duvernay’s breakout year he’s been searching for, just in time for the NFL Draft. Duvernay already has 21 receptions, 209 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns, almost matching his 2018 season already. His 21st reception last season didn’t come until their game against Oklahoma State… in Week 9. Texas is using him as a weapon and not an afterthought (finally), and his traits are exciting to see. He’s lining up in the slot and taking full advantage of this opportunity. 

No one foresaw how devastating Duvernay would be against the vaunted LSU secondary. In a game filled with NFL stars, Duvernay stole the show, posting 12 receptions for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns. Averaging 12.8 yards a catch and with 9 of his 12 receptions going for first downs or touchdowns, it’s easy to see Duvernay was a big reason why Texas was in this game.

The former track star made mincemeat of LSU’s secondary play after play, taking advantage of their allowance of his free release off the line of scrimmage. Texas did a good job of giving him the ball quickly and letting him go upfield. He was targeted 14 total times and more than half were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, letting him use his speed to full effect.

Duvernay’s teammates have remarked multiple times about his speed. Brandon Jones, who is one of the most athletic safeties in the country, even remarked in practice, “Devin’s too damn fast. I’m tired of him.”

Duvernay is more than just a speedy slot guy though. Most guys that run that fast are on the smaller side and can’t take a hit. At 5’11 and 210 pounds, Duvernay’s got speed and size. LSU’s All-American and future NFL star Grant Delpit learned that the hard way.

After his breakout game against LSU, Duvernay’s NFL Draft stock is at its highest. His season so far has been spectacular. He’s 4th in the country in yards after catch with 145. He is tied for first in receptions nationally with 21, 2nd in total targets, and tied for 2nd in touchdowns. 

Duvernay has not posted a single drop this season, giving him 62 straight catches without a single drop going back to last season. He is proving to be a top-tier target for the Texas Longhorns and if he keeps this up, he’ll be a sought-after target for the NFL Draft as well. I listed him as my 16th-highest NFL Draft prospect from the Big 12 back in July, and he has a shot to be higher come season’s end. 

There aren’t many players that feature explosive speed and strong balance like Duvernay, but I have to say, he reminds me of last year’s Deebo Samuel. Both are YAC monsters and are built with compact frames that make them look like running backs in the open field. I think Duvernay is faster and tracks the ball better than Deebo, but both have very similar on-the-field traits. He has a ways to go before living up to that comparison, but the similarities are there.

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