How would you feel if the Patriots selected a wide receiver that led all draft prospects in yards per game down the final stretch of the 2015 college season in November and December? This player picked up 659 yards and 6 touchdowns on 35 receptions over five games during that time frame against Power 5 opponents.
This player was a first year transfer that couldn't join his new team until the middle of June. He took the first half of the season to adjust (and to overcome a hamstring injury), but then exploded once he was comfortable in the offense. After he collected 118 yards against then-ranked #4 Utah, he was responsible for 38.3% of the team's receiving production, in line with top 50 prospects like Baylor's Corey Coleman, Pittsburgh's Tyler Boyd, Notre Dame's Will Fuller, and TCU's Josh Doctson.
He grabbed 77 yards and a touchdown against perennial powerhouse Oregon. 190 yards and a touchdown against in-state rival Arizona. 200 yards and three touchdowns against California. 144 yards and a touchdown in a bowl game against West Virginia.
He runs a 4.49 second 40 yard dash and a 6.93 second three cone at 6'1, 201 lbs. He has great hands, body control, and runs pro style routes.
Arizona State wide receiver Devin Lucien is currently rated as an undrafted free agent prospect. This has to change.
Name: WR Devin Lucien
School: Arizona State
Stats: 66 receptions, 1074 yards, 8 touchdowns
Size: 6004, 201 lbs
Expected Round: Day three of the draft
Strengths: His hands are some of the best in the draft, with just three drops on 98 targets per Pro Football Focus.
He runs crisp routes, with a Pro-ready arsenal of screen, back-shoulder, hitch, out, slant, cross, and post routes with quick feet able to turn and deceive defenders. He is savvy and knows how to best attack a defensive coverage scheme.
He's an active and strong blocker in the run game. He does a good job of generating yards after the catch. He's experienced functioning in a similar role as Brandon LaFell with the Patriots. He offers great concentration to make contested catches away from his body on the sideline.
He was at his best against the top competition, always rising to the challenge. His quarterback called Lucien "the most competitive person I've been around."
Weaknesses: Thinks he can play smaller than he is and will try to generate more yards with unsuccessful fakes, allowing himself to be gang tackled, instead of just driving forward with his size and picking up the yards in front of him. Seems to go down on first contact on crossers at a higher rate than you would expect. Has burst to get initially get behind the defender, but his second gear isn't exceptional.
Definite questions about why he didn't produce more at UCLA; he transferred to Arizona State so he could have a bigger role in the offense. Is that a knock on the UCLA coaches, or a flag for Lucien? He was behind Shaq Evans (4th round pick by the Jets in 2014), and then Jordan Payton (projected 3rd rounder in 2016 per CBS Draft Rankings), Thomas Duarte (projected 5th round in 2016), and quarterback-conversion (and Patriots predraft visit) Devin Fuller.
What is their role? Lucien would be the outside wide receiver for the Patriots, functioning in a similar capacity to Brandon LaFell. He will compete with the likes of Aaron Dobson, Chris Hogan, and Nate Washington for the outside receiver role. He looks to be a quality #3 or #4 target as a rookie, and would fit in behind Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.
Will it change from year 1 to year 2? Patriots give deference to those that produce, so if Lucien wins the starting role as a rookie, then he'll have the same function in year two. If the Patriots choose to stash Lucien in 2016, there's a chance that Hogan could replace Danny Amendola and his big contract in 2017, with Lucien taking over on the outside. Lucien seems to offer #2 target upside.
How many downs can he play? Three. He's a willing and able run blocker and, of course, he can play receiver.
Which current player will he beat out? Aaron Dobson and Nate Washington.
What's his ST value? Little, but he could learn to be a back-up gunner or another type of special teams player as a rookie. He's very team-oriented.
Does he have positional versatility? He's primarily an outside wide receiver, but he's fearless running across the field and could technically play some slot.
Why the Patriots? New England needs an outside wide receiver and Lucien offers everything that LaFell did, but without any of the drops. I've pounded the table for the Patriots to draft a receiver from a Pro Style offense and Lucien knows all of the routes; he'd be ready to step in and perform early on in his career. He can make plays at every level of the field and he's a competitive, team-oriented player at a cheap draft price. What's not to love?
Why not the Patriots? Bill Belichick and company seem willing to give Aaron Dobson another chance, and the acquisition of Chris Hogan reduces the need for an outside receiver.
Verdict: Lucien is too much of a low-risk, high-reward candidate to ignore. If you stripped the names off the jerseys and watched his production at the end of the 2015 season, you'd put a late 2nd, early 3rd round grade on him and put him in the same tier as Colorado State's Rashard Higgins without thinking twice.
While Lucien is tagged as an undrafted free agent, don't expect him to remain unknown for long. If the Patriots can take him with one of their 6th round picks, then he could come into camp and compete for a spot, without a major commitment if he doesn't pan out.
But based upon his skill set and what he is currently capable of offering, I wouldn't bet against Lucien having an impact in the NFL.