Michigan State Senior
He has good size and decent speed to get behind the safety on the deeper routes. Shows decent burst off the line and hard to jam at the line of scrimmage. Has good hands that extends to make the grab. Uses his length well to make the high catches or in traffic. Can get position on the short crossing routes and slants. Is effective on short, intermediate, and deep routes mainly due to his size and ball skills. Does a good job attacking the ball in the air, and shows good body control to adjust to the back-shoulder throws. Shows nice ability after the catch to make the quick move after the comeback or to separate on the short, crossing routes. He has the size and strength to drag a small corner and fight for extra yards after the catch. Gives effort as a blocker and can be very effective due to his size. Will deliver a blow to the smaller defender, get position on the edge and be able to spring the ballcarrier.
Doesn't have burner speed and may lack the burst to consistently separate from more athletic corners. Needs more polish as a route runner and will round off some of his routes. Will drop some balls in traffic and has small hands. Doesn't always track the deep ball well and will lead to incompletions. Gives inconsistent effort at times as a blocker, and won't always lock onto and maintain his blocks against smaller defenders on the edge.
Cunningham was the go-to target for Michigan State this past year. He's a big possession-type receiver that was a very tough matchup for the smaller and lesser college corners. The biggest concern with him is his smaller hands (8 1/4") for a player his size, less than ideal speed, and whether or not he can separate from defenders. But he's a guy that uses his size well and is a fairly consistent catcher, so I'm not sure the issue with the hands will be a huge deal. But don't expect him to have velcro for hands at the next level. He is a player that can definitely contribute on the next level as a complementary receiver.
2011 GAMES WATCHED
(9/2) vs. Youngstown St: 9 targets, 9 catches, 128 yards (14.2 avg), 37 YAC (4.1 avg), 1 TD, 0 drops
(10/1) at Ohio State: 11 targets, 9 catches, 154 yards (17.1 avg), 61 YAC (6.8 avg), 1 TD, 1 drop
(11/12) at Iowa: 7 targets, 4 catches, 40 yards (10.0 avg), 8 YAC (2.0 avg), 2 TDs, 1 drop
(12/3) vs. Wisconsin: 6 targets, 5 catches, 108 yards (21.6 avg), 49 YAC (9.8 avg), 2 TDs, 0 drops
2011: 14 GP, 13 GS, 79 catches, 1306 yards, 16.5 avg, 12 TDs
2010: 12/7, 50-611-12.2-9
2009: 12/10, 48-641-13.4-4
2008: 13/12, 41-528-12.9-0
Cunningham has nice potential as a No. 2 guy. He definitely has the skill-set where he should be a capable No. 3 receiver. He potentially compares to a player like Justin Gage, who was a solid but unspectacular starter in a run-based offense in Tennessee. Like Gage, he offers potential to make the occasional big play downfield, but won't be a reliable option there. He's a player that can also help move the chains because of his size and ability to work the short field. He'll have trouble separating from top-level corners, which is why he's probably a complementary player than a go-to playmaker. Like Gage, playing on a team that relies more on running the ball should fit well with Cunningham because of his potential as a blocker. He's not completely polished there, but he has the potential to improve and become one of the better blocking receivers at his position. In most offenses, he'll offer some potential as a redzone target and fit as a third option. Like Gage, he may not also come into the league and be a major contributor off the bat. He'll have to polish his route-running more if he wants to be able to separate from the better corners in the league. So more than likely, he can come in and add some depth, but by his second or third year you should start to see him move up the depth chart. Potentially, you're looking at a guy that can potentially contribute 30-50 catches a year depending on the scheme.
Justin Gage, WR, Titans (formerly)
Cunningham could be an effective No. 3 receiver for the Falcons, particularly if the team was unable to retain Harry Douglas this off-season. It would likely be a step down as a rookie, but he could give them some reps on the outside, which would likely require them to start to play Julio Jones more in the slot when they go to 3-wide sets. But if the team was able to retain Douglas, he could slide in fairly easily as the No. 4 receiver as he's an upgrade over both Eric Weems and Kerry Meier. But his primary value as a rookie would be on special teams. But in time, he shoudl be starting to contribute as a role player that could potentially give the Falcons three, big physical receivers and offer similar value to what Michael Jenkins added over the years to the offense.
Cunningham is a solid mid-round pick. He does have enough ability to start on certain run-oriented teams that are looking for a complementary receiver. For such a team, he might be worth a late 3rd round pick. But because he's not likely to be a huge contributor right away and the fact that most teams will see him more along the lines of No. 3 talent, he's probably more along the lines of solid fourth round talent.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
After Catch: 5.5
Body Control: 7.0
Scouting reports of the wide receivers in the 2012 Draft.
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