NGSC Sports

Wide Receiver: Improper Appellation for Stefon Diggs

Prior to Maryland’s shift to the Big Ten Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference has had the pleasure of hosting two of the nation’s finest wide receivers in Sammy Watkins and now, Stefon Diggs. With that said, the sheer nomenclature — wide receiver (Diggs’ listed position) is rather duplicitous, as it fails to encompass his entire skill set.

In 2012, Rivals listed him as the No.2 high school wide receiver prospect, and the No.8 overall prospect in the country. The same publication rated the currently troubled star, Dorial Green-Beckham ahead of Diggs as not only the No.1 wide receiver prospect, but the No. 1 overall high school prospect in country. Conversely, Diggs’ production has been greater than Green-Beckham to this point. Diggs was recruited by the likes of Ohio State, Auburn, and Florida, but he ultimately chose to stay in his home state and attend the University of Maryland.

It wasn’t long before his prodigious feats on the gridiron began to pay dividends for the Terrapins. As a freshman, Diggs amassed 848 yards and 6 touchdowns on 34 receptions. He also carried the football 20 times for 114 yards.

Diggs was enjoying a fantastic start to his sophomore campaign, but unfortunately he broke his right fibula; the injury forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Diggs was well on his way to his first 1,000-yard season had he not been injured; he raked up 587 yards and 3 touchdowns on 34 receptions through the first seven games.

Maryland head coach Randy Edsall is well aware of how special Diggs is, and makes certain to utilize him in a multitude of ways. Diggs is more than just a wide receiver, and dating back to his high school days, it’s evident in his play. Throughout the remainder of this article, I’ll be sure to illustrate his skillset, and how it projects to the next level.

Release: In an effort to get their most explosive player mismatches, Maryland often times lines Diggs up in the slot. When Maryland goes into their three-back formation, he’s lined up on top of the numbers. In any event that Diggs is lined up on top of the numbers, he gets off the ball exceptionally well, and is able to transition into his routes with ease.

Whether the opposing cornerback is playing bump-press, off-man, inside or outside leverage, his suddenness and exceptional footwork routinely forces cornerbacks to open their hips. Once the cornerbacks’ hips are opened, Diggs is able to reach any destination on the field he pleases.

 Route Running: Diggs is an adequate route runner, but there is opportunity in this area of his game. Diggs does a very good job reading leverage and adjusting his routes accordingly, but has a tendency to drift up field on “dig”, and “out” routes. It is important that he flatten the aforesaid routes to a 90-degree angle to minimize the probability of a turnover, or sustaining a big hit.

Keenan McCardale has signed on to be Maryland’s wide receivers coach and will help Diggs exponentially in this area.

Hands: Diggs has a tremendous catching radius that is relatively unrivaled. He possesses the ability to high point the football, and he tracks the football extremely well. Diggs should continue to work on his concentration and hand positioning on crossing patterns, as he has occasionally allowed the ball to get into his chest. Overall — Diggs’ hands are truly remarkable. Whether the ball is contested, or thrown along the boundary, expect Diggs to complete the catch.

 Separation: A receiver’s value can virtually be summed up in two attributes: the ability to catch the football, and the God-given gift to separate; Diggs undoubtedly possesses both. He has the ability to get in and out of breaks, and reaccelerate at a pace most defensive backs are unable to contend with.

His ability to “stop on a dime”, or quickly change direction consistently awards him separation and leaves defenders looking at the back of his jersey. It’s not often that you find receivers that can separate laterally, and “stack” (place defender in a trail technique) a defensive back vertically.

 Stalk Blocking: Dating back to his days at Good Counsel High School, Diggs has always taken pride in blocking along the perimeter. While stalk blocking is merely an afterthought to many super-star wide receivers, Diggs has made this area of his game a priority. Once he engages his blocking assignment, the opposition is regularly eliminated from the play.

Diggs displays very good technique while blocking, keeping a good base, and his head up, while delivering a powerful blow to the opposition. Diggs approaches blocking and catching the football with the same fervor, which is extremely rare in a young wide receiver.

Speed: For two years, Diggs has consistently made electrifying plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference lauded for its speed. However, I have yet to see Diggs caught from behind. Speed is certainly not a concern for Diggs as he has been timed as fast as 4.45 in the 40-yard dash, but his top-end speed does not appear to be comparable to the likes of Tavon Austin, Brandon Cooks, or even Sammy Watkins. Diggs might very well prove me wrong come time for the NFL Combine, and individual workouts, but as I said previously speed is certainly not a concern for him.

 Quickness: One of Diggs’ greatest attributes is his quickness, which is the conduit to his overall success. Whether it’s gaining separation prior to the catch, or making defenders miss after the catch, his quickness will be associated with nearly every positive play he makes. Diggs is also able to make defenders miss in small windows as a result of his exceptional quickness. All it takes for Diggs to get on the edge of a tackler is a slight stutter step, spin, or dead-leg move, and he’s off to the races.

 Competitiveness: Diggs plays with a passion and zeal for the game that is simply unfathomable for many young wide receivers. His high school Coach Brawley Evans said, “He’s super-competitive, and hates to lose. When the chips are down, he never quits; he fights. He leaves it all on the field and you can’t teach his ability.” His college coach Randy Edsall has offered similar opinions when referring to Diggs.

Diggs once said himself, “If you’re trying to tie your shoe right next to me, I’m gonna try to tie my shoe faster.” How’s that for competitiveness?

Diggs’ play might come off as edgy, as he occasionally can be seen blocking after the whistle, or shoving a defensive back after the play is over. Nevertheless, it’s good to see a wide receiver play with the level of intensity Diggs possesses.

 

Projection: Mid-Late Round One

Potential Landing Spots:

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Carolina-Panthers$-150×150$.jpg” alt=”Carolina Panthers” class=”alignnone size-thumbnail wp-image-5459″ ],

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Arizona-Cardinals$-150×150$.jpg” alt=”Arizona Cardinals” class=”alignnone size-thumbnail wp-image-5460″ ],

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Cleveland-Browns$-150×150$.jpg” alt=”Cleveland Browns” class=”alignnone size-thumbnail wp-image-5461″ ]

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/chargers1$-150×150$.jpg” alt=”chargers” class=”alignnone size-thumbnail wp-image-5463″ ]

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Raiders$-150×150$.jpg” alt=”Raiders” class=”alignnone size-thumbnail wp-image-5465″ ]

 

What makes Stefon Diggs Different?

The above listed attributes are certainly commensurate with all the things a good wide receiver is supposed to do, but Diggs is capable of so much more when given the opportunity. In today’s NFL, teams want players that can wear many hats. The more versatility a team possesses, the less predictable they are.

Diggs will be in popular demand if he continues to improve as a route runner, and dominate when lined up at various wide receiver positions. With that said, Diggs’ biggest step forward, might actually be taking a step backwards; perhaps three years back. During his time at Good Counsel high school, he saw time at running back, and looked incredibly natural at the position.

 

 

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Stefon-Diggs-HS-1.gif” alt=”Stefon Diggs HS 1″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-5467″ ]

In the above video, Diggs displayed patience, change of direction, and acceleration, which, ultimately placed him in the end zone. Diggs did an excellent job letting his blocks develop before he hit the hole, and another item of note is that he was running behind a fullback. There are a number of NFL backs who have experienced difficulty running behind a fullback, but as evidenced by the video, that would not be a problem for Diggs.

 

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Stefon-Diggs-HS-2.gif” alt=”Stefon Diggs HS 2″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-5468″ ]

In this video, Diggs dotted the “i” in a traditional I-formation, took the handoff, and patiently waited behind his pulling right guard and tackle to open up a rushing lane for him. Once he found daylight, he exploded through the hole without running into the back of his blockers. Diggs exhibited the balance, and quickness necessary to make defenders miss in space. He then bounced the run to the outside, and utilized his speed to reach the end zone.

 

Maryland head coach Randy Edsall is well aware of Diggs’ ability to contribute out of the backfield, but he has yet to implement him as a traditional runner. While he has lined up in the backfield for the Terrapins, the below video is likely the closest he’s come to taking a handoff while lined up in the backfield pre-snap.

 

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Stefon-Diggs-Maryland-Backfield.gif” alt=”Stefon Diggs Maryland Backfield” class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-5469″ ]

The above play is a backwards pass out of a broken I-formation, which would’ve been a loss if not for Diggs elusiveness. Maryland utilizes Diggs on jet sweeps, and has made him the pitch man when they run the triple option; however, if the Maryland coaching staff wants Diggs to reach his zenith, that isn’t enough.

Maryland should absolutely begin involving Diggs in their three-man-backfield package as a running back, as he’d be a perfect fit at one of the “sniffer” positions. He should also be motioned into the backfield when they are presented with favorable run ratios, as he has the vision and patience to exploit the opposition’s alignment.

It is my hope that Maryland gets Diggs more involved in the backfield this year, as it will only increase the team’s chances of consistently putting points on the board. Subsequently, Diggs draft stock will likely improve as well.

Giving Diggs 3-5 carries a game would make Maryland’s offense very unpredictable; unfortunately, he has yet to be utilized to capacity. When assessing the talents of players that can do the things he’s capable of, it behooves us to stop calling them wide receivers. It’s time we begin addressing and employing players such as Stefon Diggs as wingbacks, because that is precisely what they are.

 

 

Player Comparison: Johnny Rodgers

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Johnny-Rodgers-Heisman1.gif” alt=”Johnny Rodgers Heisman” class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-5487″ ]

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Johnny-Rodgers-Gif.1.gif” alt=”Johnny Rodgers Gif.1″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-5472″ ]

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Johnny-Rodgers-Gif.2.gif” alt=”Johnny Rodgers Gif.2″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-5474″ ]

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Johnny-Rodgers-Gif.3.gif” alt=”Johnny Rodgers Gif.3″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-5475″ ]

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Johnny-Rodgers-Gif.-4.gif” alt=”Johnny Rodgers Gif. 4″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-5476″ ]

 

 

 

 

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Ralph Garcia

CEO NGSC Sports


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