The Patriots have made yet another move at WR and have signed Lil’Jordan Humphrey to a one-year deal. Humphreys last played for the New Orleans Saints and had his most productive season last year, recording 13 receptions for 249 yards and two TDs. He originated in the NFL as an undrafted free agent signing with potential from the University of Texas.
What Potential Does Lil’Jordan Humphrey Have?
Lil’Jordan has the ability to play on the outside and the slot. He has lined up in both roles as a Longhorn and as a Saint. While his numbers last season leave something to be desired when looking for a leading target, he still makes for a good depth signing and helps round out the receiver room.
Furthermore, his final season as a Longhorn netted him 86 receptions, 1176 yards, and nine TDs, showing his ability to produce at a high volume. Consider that alongside the Saints’ tumultuous and constantly changing quarterback situation last year, the position he enters in New England could allow significant improvement.
And a deeper dive into his stats highlight his 72.2% catch percentage, which would have put him at 12th in the NFL with larger sample size. Given that drops were a bit of an issue last year, that number will surely bring a smile to the faces of Patriots fans.
His 13.8 yards/target is also impressive and shows an ability to make big plays. His highlight tape shows his abilities to run routes well, make quick directional changes, cut upfield, and make catches in crowded areas. His high school experience as a running back certainly contributes to that shiftiness, a coveted trait in receivers nowadays.
His size of 6’4″ and 225 pounds also makes him a brutal guy to tackle and gives the latent potential to block. His vertical leap of 33.5″ will allow Mac to place balls where only he can catch them and has been a big reason he’s been able to catch in traffic.
An issue for New England last year was that 50:50 balls often went the wrong way, but swinging 50:50 balls are one of Lil’Jordan’s specialties. From his skills on the field to his raw measurables, Lil’Jordan Humphrey has a high ceiling written all over him.
Reasons For Concern
As with any free-agent signing, but especially a relatively unproven one, there’s always an upside, but the relative lack of production at the NFL level brings some concern. Thirteen receptions is a low figure, even among the current WR corps in Foxborough, and underproduction was already an issue with many of last year’s receivers.
The potential to be able to block, and that favorable size, is bound to remind fans of another with similar measurables and scouting expectations, N’Keal Harry, and therefore cause trepidations about his Patriots’ tenure similarly lead to limited production.
While his tape shows unusual movement across the field, Lil’Jordan’s raw speed, or lack thereof, is a concern. His 40-yard dash time of 4.75 s ranked dead last among receivers at the 2019 NFL Combine, and his three-cone drill (a measure of speed and agility) time of 7.05 seconds was also quite a bit slower than average. In an NFL that’s getting faster and faster, it’s possible that getting open won’t be a trivial task for him.
The Bottom Line
This acquisition was not meant to find the Patriots their next #1 receiver. However, Lil’Jordan has some promise and has the potential to improve quite a bit this season. He’ll add depth to the receiver room, and his versatility will allow the team to plug him into several different roles.
He’s on the slower side, but his shiftiness and route running help make up for that. With a one-year deal, this is a relatively low-risk move with the upside potential and doesn’t bind the team to him in the instance that he has a disappointing season.
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