Here are the career numbers: 241 career catches, 3,360 yards, and 26 touchdowns. The NFL Draft prep stats: 6’5”, 225 lbs, 4.54-second 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical jump. Oh, and there’s the four years in college, a degree, and zero off-field issues.
Is that guy draftable? I’d sure think so. Well 32 NFL teams thought otherwise.
It’s for that reason that former Iowa State WR Allen Lazard will be the biggest steal of any free agent signing in the 2018 NFL Draft process.
Lazard was a two-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection at the toughest position to accomplish this in the conference, where there are a plethora of incredibly talented wide outs.
Lazard joins the Jacksonville Jaguars, who only picked one wide receiver, LSU’s D.J. Chark, during the 2018 NFL Draft. And Lazard was their only undrafted free agent signing. The Jaguars are coming off a trip to the AFC Championship and have a quarterback in Blake Bortles, who has been through plenty of ups and downs during his career. Bortles can throw a solid deep ball, and if he can replicate his stretch from Weeks 13-15 of last season, where he threw for a combined 71.4 completion percentage, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions, and 9.9 yards per pass attempt, then he’s trending to be a top 10 QB in the NFL.
Bortles helped Jacksonville make this run last year, despite a suspect group of wide receivers. Players returning at the position include Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook. Allen Hurns is now with the Dallas Cowboys. So Lazard will have his chance to prove himself right away and play.
Lazard also is a perfect compliment to Chark, who got the following scouting report from CBS Sports, saying about Chark, “Linear deep threat who runs very high. Skinny frame. That combination leaves him susceptible against physical cornerbacks. Doesn’t possess sharp change-of-direction skills. Tracks ball extremely well but not a high-pointer. Plus return ability.”
Lazard’s skills are basically the opposite of Chark. He’s a big body, physical, can get the jump ball (just ask Oklahoma fans), but is not a flat-out burner.
There were 29 wide receivers taken in the NFL Draft, and somehow Lazard was not one of them. Should he have offered a move to tight end? I don’t see why he should have. NFL teams draft guys all the time who end up eventually changing positions. If Lazard was picked up by a team in the fifth or sixth round, and it became obvious after summer camp he was better suited for tight end, Lazard seems like the type who would have put team first and happily made the transition.
I don’t believe Lazard hurt his draft stock by returning for his senior season. While he did see a dip in receiving yards from 1,018 to 799, plus going from 69 to 61 catches, he did have more touchdown catches (nine vs. seven). He also allowed himself to grow as a person and a leader, you know those intangibles that apparently are only cared about in quarterbacks and not as much at other positions. Go figure.
The Cyclones haven’t had an NFL Draft pick since Jeremiah George went to the Jets in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and that should have come to an end this year. Unfortunately, NFL scouts and personnel folks dropped the ball.
Tom Coughlin and his crew with the Jaguars got a good one at little to no risk. They’ll look back on the singing of Lazard as one of their best undrafted free agent signings in a long time.