However, he showcases the coordination and body control to be a very solid slot guy with some time. Adjusts well to the football on all levels of the field. Does a nice job extending his arms and plucking the football away from his frame. Quickly is able to get up to speed, but lacks a dynamic second gear; is more shifty than fast.
Doubles as a gifted punt return man as well. Has a lot of confidence catching the football, quickly locates defenders in front of him and is a consistent threat to make the first man miss and accelerate up the field. Also, is a gifted thrower of the football. Showcases good arm strength from the wildcat, spinning passes down the field and can give offensive coordinators some flexibility in the offense.
Impression: A well-built, quicker than fast, slot guy who can create after the catch and help out on special teams. Might need some time to develop as a route runner, but definitely has the body control to separate for himself out of the slot and make a roster."
As a sophomore, Kerley began to carve out a niche as an ace return man. He earned first-team All-Mountain West honors at the position in the same year, finishing 13th in the nation with a 13.9-yard punt return average. Minor lower-body injuries slowed him for four games and caused him to miss all of two, though he bounced back as a junior, finally recording his first two touchdown receptions and his only two scoring returns. For his efforts, he landed on a few All-America squads, though his play as a receiver wasn't as celebrated.
As a senior, that changed. Kerley set career marks with 56 receptions, 575 yards and 10 touchdowns, adding another 388 yards as a punt returner. He wrapped up his second straight Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year nod, and he showcased a serious knack for turning routine catches into jaw-dropping runs.
His lack of experience running pro routes will steepen his learning curve, but Kerley has shown the fluid hips and quick feet necessary to develop into a nightmare in the slot for a team willing to invest the time.
Strengths: Moves very quickly off the line and gets into his routes without any wasted motion. Shows nice savvy on underneath routes. Stems his patterns well and can stick his foot into the ground and cut on a dime. Gets up to top speed in a hurry and maintains acceleration through the play. Creates consistent separation when breaking and has worked to limit steps in and out of breaks. Possesses strong hands and will pluck the ball from the sky without decelerating. Is a very dangerous runner after the catch and has elite shiftiness to make defenders miss at all levels of the field. Gets up the field quickly and maximizes the value of every reception. Has very fluid hips and moves laterally with ease. Does not shy away from contact when going up to make tough catches and will sell out over the middle in traffic. Brings added value as a strong punt returner with sure hands a fearless attitude.
Weaknesses: Undersized with shorter arms and smaller hands than most receivers. Top-end speed is only average and will not consistently get behind NFL secondaries. Can be controlled at the line of scrimmage by bigger, more physical defensive backs. Has a tendency to drift back into coverage and needs to improve awareness against zone coverage. Lacks the second gear to consistently run away from defenders. Loses concentration and often looks to run before securing the ball. Misses soft spots in coverage when asked to run deep routes and is much more comfortable underneath."
Positive: Productive skill player who can help a team in a variety of ways. Solid receiver who immediately gets off the snap, shows quickness into breaks, and runs terrific routes. Stays low on exit, comes back to the ball, and displays a good sense of timing. Possesses good eye/hand coordination and quickly transitions from making the reception to running after the catch. Nicely adjusts to the errant throw, makes the difficult reception in stride, and shows ability running after the reception. Consistently makes catches away from his frame. Impacts the game as a return specialist.
Negative: One-speed receiver who cannot get separation down the field. Was never a dominant receiver.
Analysis: Kerley was a consistent threat at TCU whenever he handled the ball. He projects well at the next level as a slot receiver and should immediately help out returning punts. Likely to be downgraded because of his poor speed, Curley should still see significant action as a rookie in the NFL."
Negatives: A bit on the short side... More quick than fast, timed speed is average... Appears to have short arms and with his small stature, makes it difficult for him to win any sort of jump ball battles... Not a great leaper... Below-average run blocker, undersized and not always willing to throw his body in front of defenders... Never put up terrific numbers at TCU despite their offense putting up a ton of points... Breaks plays open with his run after the catch ability, but likely isn't going to make a ton of plays down the field at the NFL level... Limited upside due to his size and lack of blazing speed."
Strengths: A dynamic player, Kerley is a player who needs to have the ball in his hands. Great quickness, lateral agility, and COD ability. Can make a cut on a dime. A reliable receiver with good hands and ball skills to pluck balls out of the air. Good vision in the open field. Continually makes defenders miss in the open field. Gets yards after the catch. Shows competitiveness as a blocker.
Weaknesses: His size limits him to being a slot receiver at the next level. Will struggle to defeat press coverage at the next level becuase of his thin frame. Good burst, but doesn't have enough to be a vertical threat. Quicker than he is fast. Needs to improve his crispness in his routes.
Projection: Fifth or sixth rounder. Kerley can immediately contribute as a returner and develop into a slot receiver down the line."
As a sophomore Kerley caught a couple more passes, but it was in the punt return game where he started to really shine. The following season Kerley was all over the field. He caught a team high 44 passes for 532 yards and two touchdowns. He ran 14 times for 50 yards and three more scores. He completed his only pass on the year for 44 yards and he took over kickoff and punt return duties. In the return game Kerley added two more trips to the end zone on punt returns. During his senior season Kerley was once again quarterback Andy Dalton's go-to-receiver. This time he caught ten touchdown passes, rushed for two more and even threw for a score.
Kerley has been the conference's first-team return specialist for two consecutive years and was also a second-team honoree as a wide receiver during his senior season. Kerley does not have blazing sub 4.0 speed, but he is extremely quick, runs great routes and has sure hands. His versatility is a plus, but Kerley deserves to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round on his return abilities alone. NFL scouts may boost him up their boards even further with a good showing at the Senior Bowl."
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