ASU Football: Strong Drops to Third Round


During the NFL draft over the past weekend, ASU receiver Jaelon Strong was drafted by the Houston Texans.  While there is no shame in being taken in the third round, there is definitely some disappointment for Strong.

Jaelon Strong was the best receiver coming out of the PAC-12.  His metrics and his production speak for themselves.  And apparently, somebody convinced him that because of that, he would be a lock for a first round pick.  In fact, Mel Kiper Jr, the NFL Draft guru from ESPN predicted that strong would be the 19th overall pick.

So, unsurprisingly, Strong chose to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.  Devils in Detail is not going to second guess that decision because it seemed as if Strong would definitely be a first round pick for any team that needed a receiver.  But this draft class ended up being stocked with talented receivers from around the country.  The result:  Strong had to watch six other wide receivers get drafted in the first two rounds.

Hindsight being what it is, it appears that Jaelon Strong may have been better off coming back to ASU for his senior season.  Another year in college would have given him more time to hone his skills and show his talents.  Throw in the fact that next season’s quarterback for ASU will be Mike Bercovici, who is a “pass first” quarterback, it’s not a stretch to believe that Strong’s statistics and performance would have elevated his status for the draft in 2016.

The matrix or formula that agents and coaches use to predict draft position is obviously not an exact science.  But there was clearly a disconnect between what certain “people” predicted for Strong versus what the reality was.  For whatever reason, NFL executives didn’t believe Jaelon Strong was good enough to spend first or even second round money on.

Unfortunately, the clock cannot be turned back.  Jaelon Strong must now move forward and prove that the “experts” were wrong.  He’s got to dive into the Houston playbook, hit the gym and prepare for the harsh realities of the NFL.  He’ll be compensated well….just not as well as if he was a first round pick.  His goal now is to earn a lucrative second contract in the years to come.

This scenario for Strong is yet another where college players need to be very careful about their decision to come out early.  In the Draft, it isn’t enough to just consider how good you are.  You also have to consider how many other players at your position are coming out as well.  How good are they?  What are the needs of NFL teams?  What will the scenario be a year from now?

In the end, nobody needs to feel sorry for Jaelon Strong.  Jaelon would be the first to say that.  But, his experience in Chicago was a huge disappointment and a good lesson to other players.  Devils in Detail wishes Jaelon Strong the best of luck in the future.