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Role Play: Where Jalen McCleskey Stands in 2018

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Of all the receivers on Oklahoma State’s roster, Jalen McCleskey might have the most to gain in 2018. One of the fastest players on the team, McCleskey had his fair share of ups and downs but remained a steady contributor. He hasn’t missed a game in his career and is always a threat to make a big play after the catch. How much will he contribute in 2018? Let’s take a look.

Oklahoma State’s speedy slot weapon enters his senior season as the most experienced receiver remaining. The departures of James Washington, Marcell Ateman and Chris Lacy will open up spots for others, but McCleskey, the son of former Saints receiver J.J. McCleskey, is undoubtedly the veteran of the group.

Tylan Wallace made some dazzling catches last season and will surely see an increase in playing time. I’m also a big believer of LC Greenwood, a 6-foot-4 outside presence who looked like a man among boys at the high school level. Wallace will be a sophomore and Greenwood will be a redshirt freshman in 2018.

Dylan Stoner and Tyron Johnson will be McCleskey’s main competition for touches. Stoner took McCleskey’s duties at punt returner after a few ill-advised fair catches (and a few decisions to not signal a fair catch), but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Gundy give the senior another go at it. Stoner was proven a safe option, but McCleskey’s ceiling as a returner is higher. He had an electric, 67-yard return touchdown against Texas Tech in 2016 and could be effective if he cleans up those mental mistakes.

McCleskey has proven he can shoulder a heavy load in a high-octane offense. He led the Cowboys – and was third in the Big 12 – with 73 catches in 2016, amassing 812 yards and seven touchdowns.

Regardless of what role – if any – he plays in the return game, and regardless of the competition he faces on his own team, McCleskey looks to be a go-to guy for whomever the Cowboys put under center in 2018. This season will be big for him; it’s his final case to persuade scouts he’s worthy of an NFL Draft pick.