The Texas Tech Tandem: Scouting Keke Coutee and Dylan Cantrell

03/09/2018
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When Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury arrived on the scene in Lubbock, promises of high-powered offenses mixing air raid and west coast concepts came with him. In his first game as head coach, Kingsbury chose to start a little-known true freshman walk-on named Baker Mayfield at quarterback (people forget that). After Mayfield, current Giants backup quarterback Davis Webb took over, then future Chiefs starter Patrick Mahomes. This past season, Nic Shimonek took over under center, and he is looking to get drafted alongside Mayfield this April.

Over the time of this luxurious string of quarterback play, wide receiver production has been ridiculously high. As far as pro prospects go for the wide receivers, the two best under Kingsbury’s helm may be entering the league simultaneously in the 2018 NFL Draft: Keke Coutee and Dylan Cantrell. Despite playing the “same” position, Coutee and Cantrell couldn’t be more different players. While they are near polar opposites, both players settled into roles and thrived for the Red Raiders and, because of their differentiating play styles, complemented each other well.

Route Running

Keke Coutee is able to get in and out of breaks smoothly and with burst, regularly accelerating out of them. Coutee is a smooth operator in his vertical cuts and ruins defensive backs’ angles with his speed. He attacks leverage well in his stems and understands operating against zone coverage, routinely finding voids. Coutee has electric feet, pressing vertically at a killer pace and consistently getting defensive backs out of their backpedal or half turn before breaking off of his routes. He’s a field stretcher from the slot, consistently able to get open vertically, but is also able to win in the intermediate and shallow routes.

Dylan Cantrell is more of a technician as a route runner, making up for his below average long speed. Despite lacking that trait, Cantrell has loose hips on his broad frame and can use them well. Cantrell is able to stop and turn on a dime as well as you can expect from a bigger WR. He has good technique, and he releases off of the line of scrimmage with hand usage and lateral agility. In his stems and coming out of breaks, he does a good job of keeping low pads and his hands tight to his frame. He isn’t the best separator, but he understands the nuances of route running and shows the wherewithal to stack cornerbacks after releasing at the line of scrimmage and positioning his frame to consistently give his quarterback clear passing windows despite the lack of separation.

Athleticism/Physical Profile

Coutee has incredible acceleration, blowing past defensive backs with elite burst. He has great flexibility in his hips and is able to drop them, which allows for clean breaks. With that hip flexibility, he has seamless lateral agility and uses that throughout his routes and as a ball carrier. Coutee’s athleticism goes back to his track and field background, where he was a 23+ foot long jumper and a burner in the 200 meter. At just around 5’10 and 180 pounds with short arms and small hands, Coutee has obvious limitations owing to his frame.

Cantrell has the physical profile and athletic pedigree that the NFL covets in their outside wide receivers at 6’3 and 226 pounds. Additionally, he put together and incredible combine performance in the agility drills. He tested in the 85th percentile or better in the vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill, 20 yard shuttle, and 60 yard shuttle, despite being in the 94th percentile in body weight among wide receivers. Cantrell doesn’t have great long speed, which is going to be expected for bigger wide receivers, but his agility and bounce are more translatable to wide receiver play.

Hands / Ball Skills / Body Control

Coutee is a natural catcher and hauls in nearly everything. He attacks the catch point well with extended hands and has a knack for maintaining his speed through the catch point. When he needs to rise for the ball, he has elite body control and fluidity in his jumps. Coutee has a serious lack of length, which occasionally gets him in trouble when trying to make fully extended grabs or contested catches.

Dylan Cantrell is the prototype for the rebounder who can win 50/50 balls with a defender on his hip with strength in his hands. He is always working to catch with extended hands as far away from his chestplate as he can, and attacks the catch point at optimal angles. His upper body pliability allows him to have great body control and he is able to naturally leap after flipping his hips. He has strong hands and can finish through contact and over defensive backs’ hands. Cantrell is a magician along the sideline, consistently able to keep his feet inbounds while making fully extended catches.

Ball Carrier

Keke Coutee is an electric ball carrier with breakaway ability. He has seamless lateral agility and electric burst and acceleration. Texas Tech continually found ways to get Coutee the ball in space because of his agility and how he picked up yards in a flash. He has a low center of gravity and is able to stay upright through contact and pick up extra yards past potential tacklers.

With his size, Dylan Cantrell doesn’t offer much in the form of elusiveness, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a force as a ball carrier. He has a ton of strength in his lower body and keeps his balance through contact with power. He has consistently shown the ability to drop his pads and break multiple tackles. His mixture of size and surprising agility allows him to pick up yards after the catch and be a factor in the screen game.

Stalk Blocking

Keke Coutee is an extremely high effort jitterbug of a blocker, which is similar to his ability as a ball carrier. The way he sells out for his teammates with the same intensity as he carries the ball is an admirable aspect of his game. Coutee even shows effort after running his RPO routes, working hard to cut off defensive backs. Despite his lack of size, he has solid technique and blocks with his feet buzzing. His slight build can occasionally get him thrown off blocks, but he is usually getting the job done.

Cantrell is one of the better stalk blockers in the wide receiver class, an obvious strength to his game. He consistently blocks and plays with high effort in an attempt to keep his teammates upright. Cantrell has the technique to go with his size, strength and length, as he continually climbs with fast feet to initiate contact with the defensive backs. Texas Tech moved Cantrell to H-back on multiple packages to get him involved in run blocking, showing off his versatility in that regard.

Grades

Keke Coutee:
4.40 / 7
Early 3rd round pick, potential to become quality NFL starter.

Dylan Cantrell:
3.75 / 7
Mid 4th round pick, potential to become a starter in year 2.

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