Will at times lose his balance, though, as he almost looks to be moving too fast for his own good trying to drive defenders up the field, causing him to not be as clean out of his breaks at times. Has an impressive feel vs. zone, quickly finding soft spots underneath, sitting down and plucking the football. Also, will block down the field, but isn't real physical or strong on contact. However, he works hard to stay on his man.
He just isn't a real physically gifted athlete and lacks the type of shiftiness, explosion and/or strength to quickly/cleanly get into routes vs. press. Is easily re-routed off the line and doesn't exhibit much burst when asked to generate separation for himself out of his breaks. Seems to have only one gear and isn't going to ever be a threat down the field.
Impression: Isn't capable of playing on the outside at the next level, but because of his ability to find soft spots in zone and be a reliable pass catcher, could end up filling out a wide receiving group at the next level as a team's No. 5 or No. 6 guy. Isn't anything more."
As a freshman, he managed only one catch for 11 yards, but he played in all 12 games, carving out a niche as a tough, blue-collar receiver with no fear over the middle. He started seven games the following season, cementing his status as the team's top option before becoming a mainstay on the first team.
Whalen's senior year didn't go quite as planned, however, as he gave up the top spot on the stat sheet after missing the better part of four games with an elbow injury (41-439-2).
Still, Whalen has shown the type of work ethic and attention to detail that allow a former walk-on to become a team captain and a two-time Honorable Mention All-Pac 10 selection. His straight-line speed isn't ideal, but he's the type of player who won't back down from a challenge and possesses the drive to earn a roster spot, even if only as a sub-package guy with experience in a pro-style system.
Strengths: Owns solid frame with more upper- and lower-body bulk than many receivers in the class. Tracks deep passes well and will fight for jump balls all over the field. Former walk-on who is a very coachable player. Works hard and gives full effort in the running and passing game. Flashes enough strength to control defenders as a blocker and uses long arms and solid base to lock on when stalk blocking. Reliable receiver who will work the middle of the field and sell out to make tough catches. Has the hands and wrist strength to secure the ball and hold on after contact even if exposed. Locates holes in zone coverage and settles in without drifting back to defenders. Sets up routes with head fake and shows good discipline when selling a corner on the wrong pattern. Will work back to the football and shield defenders with his body.
Weaknesses: Lacks the necessary second gear to consistently separate on vertical routes. Is not elusive after the catch and is not physical enough to break tackles and run over defenders. Struggles to eat up cushion out of his stance with a slow first step and lack of explosion. Not a gifted athlete and gets ahead of himself when stemming routes, causing him to lose balance when cutting. Falters and takes false steps when trying to slip press coverage and can be stymied early by aggressive corners. Allows defenders to redirect him at the line and lacks the burst to get back into position in a timely manner. Will lose focus at times and drop catchable passes. Looks to run before securing the ball and takes his eyes off the throw. Can allow ball into his body and lose possession on contact."
Positive: Dependable possession receiver who plays a smart brand of football. Displays terrific focus, battles to make the reception and extends to catch the ball away from his frame. Shows good eye/hand coordination, stays low exiting breaks, and plucks the ball from the air. Gets vertical over defenders and extends to make the difficult grab. Uses his frame to shield away opponents. Consistently finds the open seam in the defense.
Negative: Does not have a burst or the speed to stretch the defense vertically. Plays a bit tight at times. Average route runner.
Analysis: Whalen is a reliable receiver who does the little things well. He possesses just marginal size/speed numbers but could be a productive fifth receiver on an NFL roster."
Negatives: Below-average speed, struggles to get separation on vertical routes... Regressed a bit from his junior season, saw his production cut in half after battling an elbow injury for most of the year... Poor runner after the catch, is not much of a big play threat... Not elusive... Takes too many false steps at the line of scrimmage... Arms are a bit short and hands are a bit small... Gathers himself too much before cutting, gears down in his routes... Low ceiling due to his limited physical gifts... Did not have a play go for over 30 yards in 2010... Was not frequently targeted in the red-zone, only had seven touchdown receptions in four years at Stanford."
Weaknesses: Lacks athleticism to create separation in his routes. Doesn't have the speed to be a vertical threat. Loses concentration at times that leads to dropped passes, and he lets the ball get to his pads too often. Doesn't possess great elusiveness to make guys miss after the catch.
After catching just one pass as a freshman, Whalen came out of nowhere to lead the team with 41 receptions for 508 yards. Unfortunately Whalen only reached the end zone one time. With Andrew Luck under center in 2009, Whalen's numbers improved. In what turned out to be his signature season in Palo Alto, California, Whalen caught 57 passes for 926 yards and four touchdowns. Without Toby Gerhart running the ball all of the time, 2010 was supposed to be a big year for Whalen, but it never materialized.
Whalen has decent size and strength and enough speed to be a decent receiver in the NFL, but his lack of production this year has really hurt his draft stock. His 6-2 listing is probably a little generous and he does not have blazing speed either. Whalen does run good routes and is a steady receiver, but his workout numbers will not blow anybody away and that could keep him from being drafted."
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