Player Name: Tajae Sharpe
H/W: 6'2 194
Position: Wide Receiver
School / Class: UMASS / Senior
Measureables: 4.55 40, 33.5" vertical jump, 11 bench press reps, 9'6" broad jump
- Excellent Routes - Sharpe is the best route runner that I've seen in this year's class. He knows how to vary the depth and angles of a route to deceive the defender. Seemingly always gets himself open using his wits and footwork. Always knows where the first down markers are located. Adept at using his bag of tricks to fool defenders on short, intermediate, and deep routes. Frequently sits down in the open zone and presents himself as a viable target to the QB. The one thing that I noticed that he was used both as an slot and outside receiver by UMASS. A pure technician as a route runner. There's virtually no freelancing with him. He knows where he's going and executes nearly every time.
- Ball Skills - Sharpe is a savant when it comes to tracking the ball in the air and coming down with it. Frequently beats the defender to the mark. In the film that I have watched of him, he knows exactly when to box out the defender to draw a lot of pass interference flags. Deception is the biggest ally to his game as he doesn't key his opponent to the ball until the last possible second, avoiding passes being defensed or picked off.
- Work Ethic / Character - Excellent on both accounts. Runs routes until he perfects them to a science. A willing learner that can take to hard coaching just as well as soft coaching. No off field issues whatsoever. A bring your lunchpail to work type of guy that team security has to make sure that he left before locking up the building for the night.
- Athleticism - He's not a quick twitch athlete and is a long strider. It takes him a bit to get going full speed. This leads to an immense struggle to beat defenders deep and gain critical yards of separation. He will likely struggle against the more press coverage type of schemes as a result. While he can track the ball well, he often has trouble to getting to the high point with less than desirable leaping ability. Sharpe's vertical tendencies compare to Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph in that both are content to let the ball come to up knowing their athletic limitations. Often gets caught from behind by onrushing defenders as he doesn't have the speed or agility to shake free of a tackler.
- Hands - Has some of the smallest hands in the class. Doesn't hand catch as often as one would like because of it. However, all is not lost as he only dropped three passes in 177 targets during his senior year. The hand size is concerning though.
- Frame - Justin Hunter 2.0 in essence. Wiry frame that can't put on much weight without sacrificing what little athleticism he has. Sharpe can be outmuscled by more physical defensive backs to the ball. Needs an NFL strength and conditioning program badly to get his frame in order.
Sharpe's route running really stood out to me when I watched him. He blew up during the East - West Shrine Game which led to invite to the Senior Bowl. He was doing well there before an injury knocked him out of the proceedings in Mobile. Like many of the Titans' 2016 draft class, he was a virtual unknown high school recruit that worked himself into being a legitimate NFL prospect. A native of New Jersey that somehow spurned the local state school Rutgers (among other northeastern schools) for UMASS. He has had poor QB play throughout his entire college career, which led to him struggling to find any consistency. He knows what he is and doesn't stray too far from the role he is assigned. The Notre Dame game was one that I watched repeatedly as he fared pretty well against elite defensive talent.
Yes I do fully endorse the pick. I had him as a prospect to keep an eye on as a potential Titan throughout the offseason process. While not the best athlete in the world, he has just enough guile and athleticism to eventually settle as a potential third or fourth receiver on the depth chart. He needs a redshirt year to get his frame in order and learn the system. Sharpe's excellent route running ability will be his calling card in the NFL and could lead to some reps earlier than anticipated if things above him don't shake out. I expect him to compete with the likes of Justin Hunter, Harry Douglas, and Tre McBride for a roster spot in 2017, possibly even challenging for a starting role. A lot of scouting services had him going earlier than the fifth round so to get him there is a steal.
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