Just two years ago, SMU WR receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. showed the potential to be one of the most explosive pass catchers in the 2021 NFL Draft class. However, injuries in consecutive seasons have knocked his trajectory off course. Despite this, Roberson’s scouting report still showcases some exceptional talents that should translate to the NFL.
Reggie Roberson Jr. NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide receiver
- School: SMU
- Current Year: Super senior
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 192 pounds
- Wingspan: 78 1/4″
- Arm length: 32 5/8″
- Hand: 9 1/2″
Reggie Roberson Jr. Scouting Report
Since 2010, SMU has had five wide receivers drafted to the NFL. The position makes up a third of the program’s draftees in that time span. In the 2022 NFL Draft, Roberson and teammate Danny Gray have an excellent opportunity to bolster those ranks even further.
At present, I have Gray listed as my 167th overall prospect and Roberson just slightly behind at 185th overall. I’ll go into the reasoning behind why I have Gray ahead of Roberson later on. But for now, let’s dig into Roberson’s scouting report to uncover his potential ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Roberson has excellent technical ability at all stages of the receiving process — those being release, route running, catch point, and after the catch. He can gain separation on release with quick footwork, impressive agility, and technically refined handwork. He’s a handful for defensive backs to contain right from the snap.
A speedy big-play threat with excellent catching technique
Roberson’s footwork and agility are apparent in his route running. He makes adjustments with ease due to his lateral agility, and the deceptiveness of his footwork can shake defensive backs out of their skin.
In this regard, he also displays football intelligence in that he is able to ghost into spaces in zone coverage and create big plays this way. Robinson’s intelligence is also on display with his vision as an after-the-catch threat.
Roberson’s calling card as a wide receiver prospect is his speed. He creates separation with his acceleration and top-end quickness. Once he has the ball in his hands, he’s a good bet to take it to the house with elusiveness, the lateral agility to cut, and long speed. He isn’t easily taken down on contact either.
As an actual catcher of the ball, Roberson showcases impressive ball tracking and also plucks the ball out of the air with excellent technique. Additionally, he has the body control to reposition himself to make a play on the ball when faced with errant throws.
Areas for improvement
Roberson was a hot NFL Draft prospect following his successful start to the 2020 college football season. However, despite his Senior Bowl invite, Roberson has somewhat flown under the radar in this cycle as an almost forgotten prospect in a deep WR class. While his scouting report reveals the talent to make an impression on the NFL, the SMU WR also has some points of concern and areas for improvement.
The causes for concern start with his injury history. Suffering season-ending injuries in consecutive seasons will raise red flags for the NFL. Roberson’s 2020 knee injury is perhaps more concerning given it was a non-contact injury. The medical checks at the NFL Combine will be an influential part of Roberson’s NFL Draft process.
The injury concerns might not be as heightened if he’d returned to his explosive best this season. However, the SMU WR didn’t look to be as fast or possess the same level of explosion as in previous seasons. It might be — and I certainly hope it is — just a case of rust, or SMU gradually working him back up to full speed because they didn’t want to push him too hard in a pivotal year. When speed and explosion are your calling card, a lack of either is a concern.
Finally, Roberson could use a little more physicality in his game. He doesn’t bully cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage when faced with press coverage. At the catch point, he isn’t a physical threat either. If this is apparent at the college level, it will only be exacerbated in the NFL.
Roberson Jr.’s Player Profile
Even before he exploded onto the scene with monster performances for SMU, Roberson had crafted a reputation for being a big-play threat with a remarkable athletic profile. The latter was honed as a track star for Mesquite Horn High School. He represented the school in the 100m and 200m relay, long jump, and high jump.
Saying he merely represented them is to do Roberson a disservice. With a personal best of 10.59 in the 100m, he was an extremely impressive sprinter. However, more importantly for his future success, Roberson was able to translate that speed to the football field with dangerous results.
A three-star recruit who ranked as the 112th WR in the 2017 class, Roberson attracted attention early and often in his football journey. By the May preceding his senior season, he was already committed to a Power Five program: Kansas. However, the Jayhawks wouldn’t prove to be his final destination.
Interest in the explosive and productive pass catcher intensified during his senior season. After tallying 1,060 receiving yards and over 800 return yards, Roberson was named the District 11-6A Special Teams MVP and earned first-team All-District honors. With more successful programs showing interest, he rescinded his commitment to Kansas in November. By the end of January 2017, he was committed to West Virginia.
Roberson Jr.’s college career
Roberson’s career at West Virginia didn’t last long. As a freshman in the 2017 season, he saw time on special teams with limited action as a wide receiver. In total, he tallied just 6 receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown. Wanting to find a program that would allow him to return closer to home, Roberson entered the transfer portal. SMU hadn’t offered him coming out of high school, but they took their opportunity to snag a dangerous pass catcher.
After gaining a hardship waiver from the NCAA, Roberson was immediately eligible to play for the Mustangs in 2018. In his first year at SMU, the WR tallied four games with over 100 yards during his sophomore campaign. Additionally, he earned Special Teams Player of the Week honors after returning 2 kickoffs for a total of 124 yards and a score. In 10 games with seven starts, Roberson tallied 52 catches for 802 yards and 7 total touchdowns.
Explosion and agony
Although Roberson posted exceptional performances in his sophomore campaign, there was still more to come during his junior season. He garnered national attention after a blistering performance against Temple. Roberson averaged a ridiculous 31.3 yards per catch as he tore up the Owls for a mind-blowing 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sadly, one game later, his season prematurely ended due to a foot injury. The SMU WR ended the year with 803 yards and 6 touchdowns in just eight games.
Despite the injury and the disruption to the 2020 college football season, Roberson returned in devastating and dominant form. The SMU WR averaged 100 receiving yards and scored 3 touchdowns through his first two games of the year. Against Memphis in Week 4, he took the college football world by storm, racking up 243 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also suffered a non-contact knee injury that ended his season.
Roberson’s NFL Draft ascension
Although Roberson has failed to surpass his production from previous seasons, he still put together a relatively productive campaign amongst a competitive WR room at SMU.
He snagged a touchdown in a run of five consecutive games that stretched from Louisiana Tech to Tulane. Against Navy, he tallied his only 100-yard receiving game of the season. Roberson ended the year with 51 receptions, 625 yards, 6 TDs, and most importantly for his 2022 NFL Draft stock, a Senior Bowl invite.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Reggie Roberson
Positives: Explosive, game-breaking receiver whose career was consistently interrupted by injuries. Agile, plays with balance as well as body control, and displays terrific quickness. Plays to his 40 time and easily gets downfield. Tracks the ball and makes the reception at full speed. Displays eye/hand coordination, extends his hands, and looks passes into his hands.
Displays strong hands and the ability to pull the ball out of the air. Immediately turns it upfield after the catch, displays a burst of speed, and works to pick up positive yardage. Easily adjusts to errant throws and gets down to scoop up low passes. Gives effort blocking.
Negatives: Lacks height and has high throws sailing over his head. Struggles handling jams at the line of scrimmage. Easily brought down at the point by a single defender. Had his 2019 and 2020 seasons cut short by injury.
Analysis: Roberson looked like a big-time receiver prospect as a junior in 2019, but his development was hampered by consecutive knee injuries. At the top of his game, Roberson is an explosive playmaking wideout who can also return punts. He has an upside, and hopefully Roberson can remain healthy as he did throughout the 2021 campaign.