PROS: Has good speed and is able to stretch the defense. Shows big play potential as a runner after the catch, able to use his speed and shiftiness to make guys miss in the open field. Is capable on screens. Shows some body control and able to adjust to throws. Shows potential as a blocker, able to get position out in space.
CONS: Has inconsistent and unreliable hands. Tends to body catch too much and will double catch balls. Doesn't show great concentration. Despite size, needs to do a better job in traffic and attacking the ball in the air. Doesn't get great release and needs to improve his route-running as he's more of a straight-line guy.
OVERVIEW: He's a big and fast receiver with big play potential, but was inconsistent throughout his LSU career. He's more of a big, fast guy playing receiver than a natural one. Had nice production his final three years there, averaging 57 catches, 792 yards, and 8 touchdowns in those years. Had career highs of 63 catches as a junior and 11 TDs as a senior.
NFL FORECAST: LaFell reminds me a lot of Devery Henderson when he came out of LSU. Henderson is coming off a strong year, but really is about as average a No. 2 receiver as you'll find in the NFL. He excels at making plays downfield, but if you ask him to do anything else, he's not going to be a factor. And in a similar role on the next level, LaFell can also excel. But his hands are just too inconsistent and he doesn't have the natural instincts of a reliable NFL receiver. Troy Williamson might be a more apt comparison as LaFell drops way too many passes. He has potential to be a starter on the next level because teams may like his blocking ability and potential, and if he's tag-teamed with a really good all-around receiver like Henderson is with Colston, then his shortcomings may not be as obvious. He's the type of guy that will only catch 30-40 passes on a consistent basis, and might mix in a 50-catch season every once in a while like Henderson. He can stick in the pros because teams will like his vertical abilities and his speed will create the occasional big play. But his best chance of impacting is like Henderson in New Orleans, where he plays with a good quarterback, and the team has a plethora of weapons on offense. He can be one of those weapons. But if at any point a team is relying on him to be a consistent weapon, then he'll fail.
ATL FORECAST: LaFell could compete in Atlanta simply because down the road they may like his size and speed to make plays down the field. And if he can improve his blocking, he could eventually carve out a nice niche in Atlanta. And because of that, he may technically become a starter opposite White three or four years down the road. But he won't be an improvement over Jenkins, because his hands are even less reliable. He could block, make a few big plays downfield, and be better after the catch, but would have less production than Jenkins. In tandem with White, a good slot receiver like Douglas, and a good pass-catching tight end, he could be an effective fourth option. But if he's asked to do more than catch 30-40 passes a year, then you're asking too much.
VALUE: LaFell might merit a late third round pick for a pass-happy team looking for a vertical receiver with size to fill a niche as a third or fourth option. A team looking for him to be a No. 2 starter then they are better off waiting until the fifth round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
AFTER CATCH: 4.0
BODY CONTROL: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.