NILES PAUL, WR, NEBRASKA
Triangle Numbers: 6-1, 220, 4.45
• Sturdy frame with good height and outstanding bulk
• Super athletic with impressive speed and a burst
• Elusive with great vision and instincts as a runner
• Soft hands and will snatch the ball out of the air
• Is able to break tackles and create after the catch
• Good body control, ball skills and leaping ability
• A vertical threat capable of stretching the field
• A willing blocker and does a good job in that area
• Tough and isn’t afraid to work across the middle
• Can also contribute on special teams as return man
• Still has a ton of unfulfilled potential and upside
• Has short arms as well as small hands
• Is not a very polished route runner
• Doesn’t get much separation from DB’s
• Struggles to beat a jam at the line
• Drops balls due to poor concentration
• Needs to take better care of the ball
• Ran into some trouble off the field
• Was not overly productive in college
A three-year starter for the Cornhuskers — Uncle is former Nebraska and NFL All-Pro running back Ahman Green — Averaged 24.5 yards with 2 touchdowns on 77 kick returns and 10.8 yards with 1 touchdowns on 60 punt returns during college career — Named Most Valuable Player of the 2009 Holiday Bowl after catching 4 balls for 123 yards and 1 touchdown — Earned notice from Big 12 for work in classroom — Arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in April of 2009 and suspended for the rest of spring practice — Ticketed in May of 2010 for suspicion of alcohol possession by a minor and urinating in public — Played in a conservative, run-orientated system which limited opportunities to produce — A bit of an underachiever who looks like a first rounder on paper and has shown flashes but doesn’t consistently play up to those impressive physical tools — A height / weight / speed prospect who could be selected earlier than he should be based on workout results — May turn out to be a better pro than college player
Positives: Very strong lower body, reportedly squats over 500 pounds… Reasonably good hands… Plays in the middle of the field, not afraid to take a hit… Good burst off the line of scrimmage, big frame and quickness make him a tough guy to jam… Very good blocker, always helping out teammates… Great leaping ability and body control in the air, makes a lot of acrobatic catches… Can return punts at the NFL level… Solid possession receiver who can be a good second option at the next level… High upside because of his lack of opportunity to show his talent at Nebraska… The type of player who could rise during post season workouts.
Negatives: Has a tendency to drop some easy passes (see: Texas game from this year)… Inconsistent, will make an amazing play then miss an easy one… Has a difficult time getting separation in man coverage… Rounds off his routes too much… Suffered a broken foot in November, 2010… Doesn’t get thrown to enough in Nebraska’s run oriented offense… Has two alcohol related offenses… Undergoes lapses in concentration, not always focused on the football field… Has had problems securing the football, fumbles too much.
To a certain extent Niles Paul would be a great receiver if he played on a team that had a quarterback that could throw the ball effectively. However, the receiving corps has had more than their fair share of drops. One of the biggest was Niles Paul’s drop in the team’s loss to Texas this season. He was not the only one though. But because of the system Paul is in, he will never put up big numbers and his draft value will largely depend on the little things and the post-season workouts.
As a junior in 2009, Paul averaged nearly 20 yards per catch and reached the end zone four times. Catching 40 passes for 796 yards is as good as it will get for Paul. His senior season is not going as well and through six games he has caught just 17 passes for 227 yards and one score. In contrast to 2009’s impressive yards per reception average, so far in 2010 his longest reception of the year is a mere 33 yards.
Despite all the criticism, Paul is usually a reliable receiver and nobody would be talking about his dropped passes if Nebraska would have beaten Texas and remained undefeated. There is plenty of game tape out there with Paul playing very well and showing that he can be a good possession receiver at the next level. His ability to return kicks and punts adds even more value to his resume, but that may not be enough to keep him in the first two rounds of the draft.
1/17 Update: Paul finished up the 2010 season with 39 receptions for 516 yards and one touchdown. Paul has accepted an invitation to participate in the Senior Bowl and he will need to have some solid workouts to remain in the third to fourth round range; having a nice showing at the Senior Bowl is the place to start. Paul’s lack of production as a senior is hurting his stock right now, but he can easily make up for it by April.
[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmFt10el-m4[/pro-player]
Niles Paul is a talented, underachieving wide receiver who has a lot of potential and an awesome name (never underestimate people with awesome names. They almost always make it. Seriously). Didn’t play in a pass first offense, but still put up good numbers. Can contribute on kick returns. Has a nice size, speed combo, that scouts will love. Has a lot of potential. Has some off the field issues that need to be sorted out. Has a bad case of the dropsies, which you hate to see. Can get downfield, very athletic. Not a burner, but certainly has great speed. Paul is a guy you can get in the 3rd or 4th round, and he can turn into a really great player. Reminds me a bit of Mario Manningham, actually, but not as fast. Paul may drop past the 4th because of the off the field stuff. Hey, if you can get him past the 4th round, that is a steal. You run up to the podium. Nice player, lots of untapped potential, could be a nice surprise in the middle rounds.