Bengals Draft Profile: Michael Pittman Jr. could be a Day 2 Steal
By Aaron Burd
Many analysts believe that the Bengals could target a wide receiver on Day 2 of the NFL Draft. USC prospect Michael Pittman Jr. is a player that fans should make themselves familiar with.
The 2020 NFL Draft is just days away and fans are itching to see who the Cincinnati Bengals will take. Because the first overall pick is essentially confirmed to be Heisman winner Joe Burrow, people have turned their attention to the 33rd and 65th pick.
One name that should be on people’s radar is Michael Pittman Jr., the wide receiver from USC. With A.J. Green and John Ross entering contract years and dealing with injury concerns, Pittman could give the team some much-needed security at the position.
I went to the film to check out how Pittman rates as a prospect in this deep wide receiver class.
Pittman Jr. has elite size for the wide receiver position, standing at 6’4 and weighing in at 223 pounds. For a player with such great size, he also tested well athletically, running a 4.52 in the 40-yard dash.
In addition to being fast for his size, he also plays with the physicality you hope to see in a player of his stature. His run blocking is a plus and he displays his toughness as a player. He shows a strong ability to find the soft spot in a defense, exhibiting his solid mental processing.
Smooth route running for his size helps him to get open despite not having the high-end speed needed to create separation. He has great hands, according to Pro Football Focus he only had 5 drops in his entire collegiate career. Tall frame and long arms contribute to an excellent catch radius. He can regularly snatch the ball from outside his frame.
His physicality, hands, and solid catch radius all contribute to great contested catch ability. He does well tracking the ball in the air and controlling his body to make the catch inbounds. He’s tough after the catch and will fight for and earn additional yards. His dad was an NFL running back so he has a professional football bloodline.
While he does have good speed for his size, he’s still not fast enough to create separation with speed alone. Pittman will have to rely on contested catch ability when his speed isn’t enough to separate. He needs to get better release off the line versus press coverage. He didn’t break out and put up good production until late in his collegiate career.
In my opinion, Michael Pittman Jr. is one of the safest wide receivers in the draft. I currently have him rated as the #7 receiver in the class. While his ceiling may not be as high as some of the other prospects at his position, his floor is one of the highest. He says he models his game after Brandon Marshall, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas. While those are big names to live up to, the similarities are certainly there.
Pittman Jr. should be near the top of the Bengals’ board in the third round. He would be a solid third option in an offense that already features A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd.