2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jalen Tolbert

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jalen Tolbert

by April 24, 2022 1 comment

The level of competition is something often brought up with Jalen Tolbert. He dominated a lesser level of competition, however, it is the traits within his game that illustrate he can be a successful receiver in the NFL. Tolbert wins vertically and in the intermediate areas where NFL teams are beginning to exploit more. He has a history of being a productive receiver, recording 64 receptions for 1084 yards in 2020, and would then end his final year at South Alabama with 82 receptions, 1,474 yards, and eight touchdowns. 

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: Jalen Tolbert
Jersey: No. 8
Position: Wide Receiver
School: South Alabama
Class: Redshirt Senior
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 195 lbs 

Games Watched: Louisiana (2021), Georgia Southern (2021), Louisiana-Monroe (2021), Louisiana (2020)

Major Injury History: None

Player Breakdown 

Hands/Ball Security (7.5/10)

Tolbert had seven drops as a senior which were mostly outside of his frame or when his arms were fully extended. He sometimes took his eye off the ball resulting in a concentration drop. However, there is a significant potential to become a reliable chain-mover in the NFL due to the length of his arms, body control, and aggressiveness. He could become a quarterback’s favorite target quickly due to this willingness to pull down the ball.  

Contested Catch (7.75/10)

Tolbert sometimes had drops when there was contact at the catch point. It may be a product of long arms, not squeezing the football, or strength at the catch point.  All of which can be coached or improved upon in the weight room. There is a clear willingness to be aggressive and physical at the catch point. In addition to being physical, Tolbert has shown the strength needed to fight through contact when cornerbacks hold him. In addition to being aggressive, Tolbert shows high-level flashes while high-pointing the ball in the air and winning with length, which should translate to the NFL. 

Tracking/Body Control (8.25/10)

Tolbert has the desired tracking ability to make tough downfield and intermediate receptions. His ability to use his long arms gives him a larger margin for error when he is in the wrong position. The use of body control and length will make him a popular target in the red zone. His spatial awareness on deep passes is excellent and is what made him so deadly on vertical jump balls. Overall, the traits are there to be a well-rounded possession receiver.

Route Running (6.25/10)

There are elements to Tolbert’s route running which can be improved with coaching including stemming, leveraging positions of cornerbacks, and maintaining space on the sidelines during vertical routes. Simple fixes and experience in the NFL will make him a more effective route runner. In addition, there could be some improvements to timing and use of space on routes, however, Tolbert has the desired quickness to develop into a great route runner. 

Separation (8.25/10)

Tolbert finds a way to separate against man and zone coverage. His ability to create separation downfield drives his value up and could make him special as a deep threat. He has quickness to his game, which just hasn’t been harnessed to its full potential on short and intermediate routes. Once Tolbert becomes a better route runner, his separation will make him a threat on all levels of the field.

Release (9.25/10)

This is Tolbert’s best trait, as he is extremely fluid off the line of scrimmage and has the traits to have good release packages in the NFL. His use of quickness and strong hands at the line of scrimmage gives him the advantage at the beginning of the route. Tolbert shows that he can fight through contact using his strength. Overall, expect his ability to release off the line of scrimmage to put him in a good position to win in the NFL. 

Run After the Catch (7/10)

Tolbert has good open-field vision once the ball is in his hands. He will use speed and quickness to gain additional yardage and get upfield quickly. Ultimately he may be able to win with speed and make a defender miss in open space. But, he does not possess game-changing shiftiness or power to make multiple defenders miss. Expect Tolbert to be utilized on the intermediate where he can make defenders miss and pick up additional yardage.

Vertical Speed (8.5/10)

Fast enough to play outside, but also looked faster on the field than at the combine. Tolbert is a really fluid and smooth vertical threat. While he played a lower level of competition in college and dominated with his speed, he was able to win against better competition in the senior bowl. Tolbert’s ability to control his speed makes him a viable downfield threat. 

Burst/Acceleration (5/5)

Tolbert’s burst makes him very successful in his release packages. Tolbert is fast off the line of scrimmage and has great burst in and out of breaks. His burst also gives him the upside to be an effective route runner, where he should be able to accelerate to throw off or create deception for defensive backs. 

Athleticism (4/5)

On tape, the NFL Combine numbers are reflected for Tolbert. With excellent athleticism for his size, Tolbert is an athlete and will be able to keep up to the speed at the next level. He will be able to score long touchdowns due to his size, length, tracking, and speed. His mix of skills complements his athleticism perfectly as an intermediate to deep threat receiver. 

Blocking (4/5)

There are flashes of great blocking. Tolbert puts some aggression into his blocks when the runs come his way. On wide receiver screens, he provides lanes for the runner to make a play. With his long arm, when he engages he can really drive and should be able to be an effective blocker in the NFL. 

Versatility (4/5)

Tolbert should project as an ‘X’ or ‘Y’ receiver in the NFL with his profile. At South Alabama, Tolbert was used in motion and in the slot. He is extremely versatile and is able to line up in every role as a receiver. While he may not be a Deebo Samuel-like player, who can take carries out of the backfield, Tolbert can be a true receiver capable of fulfilling all the roles on an offense.   

Player Summary

There are some easy fixes to Tolbert’s game that could make him a well-rounded receiver. The current problems include concentration drops, not squeezing the ball during contact, and a lack of nuance in route running. That aside, Tolbert excels in fighting through contact and working back to the ball, and being aggressive at the catch point. He finds a way to separate down the field, which will make him an attractive deep threat. 

Tolbert may have a similar development curve as Michael Gallup, where both played a lower level of competition in college and will take a year to adapt to the strength and speed of the NFL. With that said, Tolbert has the upside to become the top receiver for a team using his combination of size, upside in his separation ability, movement skills, aggressiveness, and high-pointing of the football. 

Rookie Projection: Rotational Outside Receiver 

Third Year Projection: Starting Caliabler Receiver

Final Grade (79.75/100): Early-Third Round Pick

Pro Comparison: Michael Gallup

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

Contributor for Prime Time Sports Talk for the NFL. Covering the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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