The NFL is evolving. As recently as twenty years ago, fans would be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of professional wide receivers under 6’0 tall. The traditional approach to the position favored height and contested catch ability. With offenses shifting toward spread concepts, smaller, shiftier receivers are now all the rage.
Perhaps more than any other major program in the country, Alabama has shown the value in smaller receivers with overwhelming athletic traits. Between 2018-2020, the Crimson Tide often worked with both Henry Ruggs and Jaylen Waddle on the field. Two speed demons puts defenses on edge and provides an explosive quality to a collegiate offense. With Ruggs leaving following the 2019 season and Waddle exiting after 2020, Nick Saban needs a replacement speedster.
That speedster is JoJo Earle.
The 6th ranked receiver in the 247 composite, Earle dominated Texas high school competition as both a sophomore and junior. The 5’9.5 170 pound offensive weapon totaled 149 catches, 2691 yards, and 31 touchdowns between those two years and added 827 yards & 15 touchdowns on the ground. Even more impressive, Aledo High School won Texas state championships three years running. Earle played a key part in each, including the 2021 championship in which he accounted for 226 yards and a score.
As is typically the case with high level recruits, Earle’s offer list reads as a Who’s Who of top college football programs. After verbally committing to LSU last April he flipped to Alabama on National Signing Day, helping vault the Crimson Tide to the top recruiting class of all time.
Earle’s statistical profile gives us a glimpse of how he may be deployed at Alabama. Although he will almost certainly line up as a receiver, Earle can be used in a gadget-type role too. This versatility should ease his transition to college and get him on the field early. Jaylen Waddle and Henry Ruggs were both the beneficiaries of designed touches including jet sweeps, bubble screens, and direct snaps. Earle can do all of that as well. He frequently lined up as a wildcat quarterback at Aledo High School, with great success.
Part of Earle’s versatility is his ability to stretch the field on any given play. Not only is Earle insanely fast, he understands some basic nuances of route running to open up bigger throwing windows for his quarterback. For some reason, there is no deep safety on this play but Earle sells the break outside before running the post. The quarterback has a 30×30 yard window to drop this into, and with Earle’s speed he takes care of the rest.
Special Teams Ability
Burying the lede a bit here, but Earle’s return ability is special and can get him on the field early. Alabama always has a stockpile of wide receivers on the roster. To get playing time, especially early, players need to have a skill that sets them apart. Earle should be one of the top returners as soon as he sets foot on campus. His combination of vision, elusiveness, and long speed all contribute to his success.
WHAT FORMATS AM I BUYING IN?
Hearing about the pros and cons of a player is nice, but most of the top guys in a recruiting class are good athletes that have tons of good offers and potential through the roof. So the big question becomes, in which formats should I be targeting this player? And where should I draft him?
As a high four star recruit bound for Alabama, there is an enormous spotlight shining on JoJo Earle. With 4 high end receiver recruits committed, Earle’s value may be suppressed slightly, but not more than a few picks. If you want Earle, be prepared to pounce as soon as the incoming freshmen start coming off the board. Devy Verdict: In a devy draft with any significant depth, Earle should be considered amongst the top 2024 eligible players.
Because both Agiye Hall and Jacorey Brooks profile similarly, Earle’s skill set presents an interesting value in Alabama’s high powered offenses. As a result, he is a trendy pick in c2c startups. Outside of leagues that draft very QB heavy, Earle is likely a top-6 pick in freshmen drafts and a top ~ 60 start up selection. C2C Verdict: If you really want Earle, you’ll have to pay up. Be prepared to snag him early!
Earle has the talent to be the next great undersized wide receiver prospect, that much is clear. He is versatile enough to gain manufactured touches, but still technical enough as a wide receiver to likely end up there full time. Earle faces two barriers to early playing time. First, incumbent Slade Bolden is a solid slot receiver with multiple years of experience. If Earle projects to that position, there could be mild competition. Second, Earle is not an early enrollee, due to his long postseason. Those figure to be nothing more than speed bumps for the uber-talented Earle. Draft him early this offseason and watch his stock soar through 2021 and beyond.
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