As the 2015 season came to an end for tight end Jerell Adams at South Carolina, he looked back at four years that netted 66 receptions for 977 yards and seven touchdowns. Adams never caught more than 28 passes in a season, and his 421 yards during his senior campaign were far and away his best.
His four seasons with the Gamecocks didn’t do a whole lot to truly open the eyes of NFL scouts, and popular draft prognosticator, NFLDraftScout.com, had Adams as the sixth-ranked tight end in the upcoming 2016 draft with a fourth- to fifth-round grade.
The last two months have been very good for Adams, however.
After impressing at the Senior Bowl in January, Adams ran the fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends (4.64 seconds) and also posted a top-5 short shuttle. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said the NFL combine opened his eyes to the South Carolina tight end.
“I think he helped himself a lot,” said McShay on a conference call Wednesday. “Coincidentally I was watching his tape the night before the tight ends worked out — him and [Pharoh] Cooper together. I was so impressed with both of them on television, but have not studied them that much. I did Cooper a little bit in the preseason, but I didn’t even study Jerrell Adams in the preseason in tape and then do a full evaluation. This is my first exposure to Adams.”
McShay loved what he saw.
“I watched a little bit of his older tape versus this past year and he’s really grown as a player,” said McShay. “Of all the tight ends in this class, he is the best at separating from man-to-man coverage. The reason he’s able to do it, first of all, is speed, which he confirmed at 4.64 at 6[-foot]-5 and 247 pounds he ran the fastest time of all the tight ends. And then also the subtle head fakes and then the crispness of his routes and how sharp he is at getting in and out of his breaks. None of these other guys are as good.
“Hunter Henry from Arkansas is the closest. But I think Adams may have the highest ceiling of all the tight ends in this class, and combined with watching tape and then getting the confirmed workout numbers I moved him up to No. 2 on my tight end board.”
Adams went from a mid-Day 3 pick in the draft to the second-ranked tight end available, at least according to McShay. That could spell a raise, once his draft-slot is determined – assuming he lands somewhere in the second round instead of the late-fourth or early-fifth – of $1.5 million over four years.
According to McShay’s evaluation, Adams may benefit $1.5 million for two months of hard work and two excellent demonstrations at back-to-back pre-draft events.
“That’s how impressed I’ve been with him just studying his tape and matching up with the workout,” said McShay on Adams’ combine efforts.