Florida State wide receiver Tamorrion Terry‘s explosiveness and strong all-around game should intrigue the New York Jets in the mid-rounds.
After a 2019 season that saw him garner first-round attention with 1,188 receiving yards and an absurd 19.8 yards per reception, an ankle injury-shortened FSU receiver Tamorrion Terry’s 2020 campaign to only five games.
He’s since become an afterthought in a loaded 2021 receiver class.
Terry’s freefall on draft boards is a mistake by many. A smart team out there is going to land an athletically gifted pass catcher with near-limitless upside. Practically every other year, a physically elite receiver prospect gets overlooked for one reason or another. And like clockwork, they go on to become studs because they are simply bigger, faster and stronger than the guys trying to guard them (hello, D.K. Metcalf).
Terry is one of the most enjoyable players I’ve scouted in this year’s draft class thus far. I knew what to expect before getting to the film – a 6-foot-4 wideout with great deep speed and run-after-catch skills – but what I found beyond those things is what blew me away.
Terry is as explosive as advertised, but he is so much more than just a deep threat. His routes are crisp and polished, he has strong hands through contact, and he knows how to set up cornerbacks with routes early, only to exploit them later.
I originally envisioned Terry as the Jets’ version of Deebo Samuel, a dynamic playmaker who gets the ball on screens, reverses, jet sweeps and over routes, and uses their natural talent to get the most out of the space they’re given. I have no doubt that Terry can play that role and play it well, but I now think he can be so much more than just a gadget player, and the Jets could end up with the steal of the entire draft if they take him.
Starting with an example of his explosiveness, FSU lines up Terry as a Wildcat quarterback and calls Outside Zone. The backside blockers do their jobs well, but the tight end and tailback get beat on the frontside and Terry is forced to reverse field.
After a stiff-arm to the linebacker’s face, Terry spins and cuts back, beats the angle of three defenders in pursuit, and turns a busted play into a 9-yard gain. Remember, he is six-foot-four and 210 pounds and yet moves effortlessly.
Terry (outside right, top of screen) shows strong hands and improvisation skills here against Miami. He’s running a curl route against a corner playing bail in Cover-3, and after he sees his quarterback roll right, he cuts upfield and breaks away. The ball is underthrown and behind him, but Terry leaps over the corner and snatches it anyway, then fights through the corner’s attempt to knock the ball loose. He puts that 6-foot-4 frame to work and shows he can make contested catches, and make plays off-script.
The next three clips are a sequence of plays against Arizona State, and in them, I’ll show why Terry is not just a speedster but a potentially dominant X receiver capable of taking over a game by himself. It’s a lesson in route running, scouting, and what it means to be a physical freak.
Physically elite receivers with “limited” route trees have time and time again been undervalued by league and media scouts, only for said players to thrive in the NFL because they are physically elite. D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, and many others all got unfairly judged because they didn’t run a full route tree, despite the fact that they simply didn’t have to.
If a receiver only needs four routes to win – go, slant, comeback and post – and still produces at a high level, it’s not an indictment on their route running, it’s a testament to the fear they instill in defenses.
Receivers with elite vertical speed scare the hell out of cornerbacks. In fact, most corners will play with a large cushion in off-coverage out of raw fear for the 9-route. This opens up free yards underneath on curls, slants, posts, digs, smokes, drags or any quick-breaking inside route. Terry ran the curl against Miami when given a cushion, and runs the slant against Arizona State here.
FSU gets the ball at the ASU 13-yard line after an interception on the first drive of the game. The Sun Devils are in Cover 1, and the corner is nine yards off. Terry (outside right, top of screen) explodes off the line before snapping off the route on his fourth step and breaking inside for the slant. With the corner on his back, Terry again shows off his strong hands and makes the catch at the 3-yard line, giving FSU a first down. This slant against off-coverage would go on to be the play of the game.
Later in the game, it’s the same route against the same coverage. Like before, the corner gives Terry a 9-yard cushion in fear of his speed, and like before, Terry snaps off his route on his fourth step. He gives a slight nod outside before the break, which causes the corner to flip his hips the wrong way for a brief second, and gives Terry an extra bit of separation on the slant. Once more, Terry snatches the ball out of the air, this time for a gain of 15 yards. Terry had beaten them twice now, and ASU was catching on.
After a tough-fought three quarters, FSU finds themselves still hanging on down 9-7 with one minute left in the third, pinned at their own 9-yard line after an ASU punt. Needing a big play to take the lead and carry momentum into the fourth quarter, the Seminoles turn to Tamorrion Terry and call the play they had been setting up since their opening drive.
Just like before, Terry takes four steps and breaks on what appears to be a slant. The corner, now expecting the Slant, barely backpedals and lets Terry eat up the cushion, then drives as hard as he can as soon as he feels Terry break inside. However, this is not a slant route, it’s a sluggo (slant-and-go), and Terry explodes down the field into the corner’s blind spot once he takes the bait. Terry tracks the ball in the air and catches it in stride, and with the safety and corner within five yards of him when he makes the catch, he turns on the jets and actually separates from them both before crossing the goal line. 91 yards in a flash, and FSU took the lead.
Fear of the deep ball is why the Sun Devils kept showing Terry off-coverage, and when they were finally sick and tired of getting beat underneath for free, they gambled, and Terry made them pay. In the NFL, Terry is going to see the same kind of off-coverage he routinely saw in college because pro teams will be just as scared of his speed as his collegiate opponents were. He’ll be free to attack underneath and make plays with the ball in his hands, and if and when the defense tries to test him, he has the juice to make them regret their decision immediately.
A Jets offense that features Tamorrion Terry as the main target and gets him the ball in as many ways as possible isn’t hard to imagine. Terry would fit perfectly in the X receiver role played by Deebo Samuel in San Francisco but could be even better than Samuel if the Jets incorporate his vertical dominance as a tendency breaker when defenses creep up to stop all of the plays underneath. With Terry at X drawing safety help, Denzel Mims at Z would be free to attack one-on-one coverage down the boundary and will get more space to work with on the over routes that Kyle Shanahan calls off of play action for the backside Z every single game.
The Jets made a mistake by letting Robby Anderson leave for Carolina in free agency last year, but that wound could heal quickly if they draft Terry to be their dominant vertical threat of the future. His potential as a yards-after-catch weapon and field stretcher in the Jets’ new offense is infinite, and if he hones his craft, he could be one of the most feared pass catchers in the entire league.
Whether he ends up in New York or not, remember the name Tamorrion Terry. If he lands with a team that uses him properly, he’s going to be an absolute superstar.
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