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UCLA Football: NFL Draft Profile - WR Jordan Payton

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UCLA Bruins #1 all-time receiver heads to the pros.

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Some team is going to get quite a catch with Jordan Payton!
Some team is going to get quite a catch with Jordan Payton!
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Which team will be smart enough to know that Jordan Payton will be a solid, consistent and talented receiver for their team? We know that Jordan can be counted on to not only catch the ball, but to run around, over, and through the defense in order to make the catch (9th best in not dropping the ball), set a block (2nd best in the nation), and to gain extra yardage (averaging 5.1 yards after catch). Jordan not only works hard and fights for every ball, but he completed his stellar career at UCLA as the Bruins' all-time leading receiver and became the Bruin's first receiver to catch over 200 passes.

What we also know, is that Jordan is a great leader on and off the field. Jordan is not your the usual flashy off the field type receiver that gets a lot of attention in the NFL. And this is a good thing. Jordan can be your go to receiver and will provide leadership in the clubhouse, on the field, and off the field.

Most are pigeonholing Jordan as an outside possession receiver, questioning whether or not he has the break out speed to get open on deep routes. Payton challenged that by posting a 4.47 in the 40 yard dash at the combine and credits Sal Alosi and staff for helping him show that speed. You have to love his walk-off, a young man showing the peace of mind of knowing his hard work paid off!

One has to wonder whether Jordan's lack of deep routes was a result of Jordan's talent or the routes assigned to him in Mazzone's offense. At least one NFL analyst agrees that Jordan is underrated. Gil Brandt says that Payton is one of the 10 most underrated players in this year's draft, stating:

Payton (6-1 1/8, 207, 4.47) is a try-hard, every-down player who excels in the clutch. He made 145 catches for more than 2,000 yards over the last two seasons. He's a good and willing blocker. The former Bruin is a hard worker with a lot of upside.

In the highlights from the Colorado game (and some UCLA lowlights), you can see all that Jordan will bring to a team: ability to get open, sure hands, downfield blocking, fighting for the ball, coming back to get the ball, yards after the catch, and intelligence as plays break down.

Jordan has been making the NFL circuit and said he'd love to be a Ram. I know many Bruins would love to see him get to play in L.A., although I'd love to see him get to play for a team with a quarterback that could get him the ball. Enjoy listening to Jordan as he talks about football, UCLA,  getting ready for the pros, and the possibility of playing in L.A.

Combine Results

From NFL.com:

Tale of the Tape
Height 6'1"
Weight 207lbs.
Arm Length 32.5 inches
Hands 10 1/8 inches
Ranking 5.15 (Developmental prospect or special teams potential)

NFL Combine Physical Tests
40-Yard Dash 4.47 seconds
3 Cone Drill 7.08 seconds
Vertical Jump 34.5 inches
Broad Jump 121.0 inches
20-Yard Shuttle 4.33 seconds


Strengths

Jordan Payton has sure, strong hands, knows how to get open, can make catches in traffic, has good footwork and technique, gets free from corners trying to jam him, produces yards after catches, has great concentration, is a team first player, and is a reliable leader on and off the field.

According to Pro Football Focus, Jordan had the second highest overall grade for any receiver in the nation last year. He makes people miss after he catches the ball, having forced 33 missed tackles out of 148 receptions. He dropped only 6 balls out of 154 catchable catches in the last two seasons. According to PFF, that drop rate "would have been good enough for ninth amongst receivers in the NFL in 2015".  He also had the second highest blocking rate of any receiver in the nation and caught all catchable passes on slant routes.

His broad build and strength also helps him shield the ball and shed off receivers. He can be counted on to make a play when it's needed and to get the extra yards necessary to keep an offense moving.

Weaknesses

Scouts are concerned that Jordan lacks the break out speed and quick first step needed to be a deep receiver. At UCLA 49/80 of his catches were less than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. He also doesn't have the elite leaping ability to make acrobatic catches.

Comparison

Draftwire.com compared Payton to Hines Ward for his ability of "getting open by any means necessary while showing just enough athleticism to be a high-volume target." Jordan's combine results compare to Sammy Watkins and the Bill's may be one of the teams looking to bring in a receiver like Jordan. Coach Mora compared Payton to Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmanzadeh.

Projection

Looking through oh so many predictions, it looks like Jordan could go anywhere from the 3rd round to the 6th. The Washington Post have both Jordan and Thomas Duarte going in the 4th round to San Francisco, which I know would please our 49er sub-community a great deal. NFL writer, Adam Rank sees Jordan as a great 2nd option receiver for the Cowboys, Bills, Falcons, Giants, and yes, the UCLA - oops - Minnesota Vikings saying: "He could be a nice option as more of a thumper who will fight for catches, be good around the first-down marker or goal-line and also be an asset to the running game."

Career UCLA Stats

GP REC YDS AVG YDS/G LNG TD 100+
2012 10 18 202 11.2 20.2 40 1 0
2013 12 38 440 11.6 36.7 43 1 0
2014 13 667 954 14.2 73.4 80 7 3
2015 13 78 1105 14.2 85 59 5 4


Jordan Payton epitomizes Coach Wooden's definition of success and he will most likely be another Bruin gem in the NFL in the very near future.

And of course, Jordan is already giving back:

From Jordan:

Thank you Jordan for being such a great Bruin, and good luck in the draft and in the future.

Go Bruins!