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NFL Draft Prospect Preview - J. Michael Sturdivant

by Zachary Somma


Photo courtesy of 247Sports.


The NFL Draft talk never ends and we here at Draft 412 will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars. From today until draft night 2024 we will bring you mocks, profiles, team needs, and everything else related to the 2024 NFL Draft.


Today’s Spotlight - UCLA, Wide Receiver, J. Michael Sturdivant


Name- J. Michael Sturdivant

Pos- WR

Team- UCLA

HT/WT- 6’3” 205 lbs.

Born- 09/06/2002

Home- Highland Village, TX


J. Michael Sturdivant is a RS Sophomore entering his 3rd collegiate season after a great 2022 campaign with the otherwise dreadful California Golden Bears, where he racked up 65 catches for 755 yards and 7 touchdowns on 102 targets. After the season, Sturdivant made the decision to transfer to UCLA and had an explosive debut against Coastal Carolina, with 5 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown.


Positionally, Sturdivant is a stereotypical “X” receiver lined up outside but occasionally is used as an oversized slot receiver. Sturdivant and many other receivers in this 2024 draft class will be a welcome sight after the supremely undersized WR class last year. Sturdivant looks the part and uses all of his 6’3” frame to its fullest advantage as an “X” receiver. He has a fantastic ability to high point the football and use his size to box out defenders and come down with more “50/50” balls than the average receiver does.


Sturdivant also has the body control and ball tracking ability to make almost any throw have at least a chance of being caught. He can consistently contort his body around defenders to make some incredible contested catches in the air, and still have enough control to keep his feet in along the sidelines. On top of his ball-winning ability, Sturdivant can get up to his top speed very quickly; he has great acceleration on his releases and can use it to get around press coverage corners if they are not prepared for it. While he is not developed as a run blocker yet, he absolutely has the size and burst to be a good blocker at the next level given time.


However, Sturdivant does have a few areas which he will need to improve upon if he is going to be one of the first receivers off the board in April. One major concern is that he had a number of drops last season at Cal (11 total per PFF), and the majority of them were on the easier opportunities. His ability and stats in contested catches were great, but it was the easy focus catches that were the concern. So far, Sturdivant has no drops through his first 2 games with the Bruins, but it’s going to be a focal point for scouts to examine if they become an issue again.


On top of that, his overall long speed will be a question mark for many teams. He certainly isn’t slow, and his acceleration really helps him play fast, but he can occasionally be caught from behind on long receptions. Sturdivant also needs to improve as a route runner as he can struggle with sudden cuts on routes over the middle of the field, and overall has a limited route tree as of now. He also struggled somewhat with having late releases off the line with his short time with the Bruins. Given the QB carousel so far for UCLA, this may just be an adjustment period, and it was not too big of a noticeable issue with Cal, but it is something to keep an eye on going forward.


Strengths


- “X” Receiver Size Profile

- Body Control

- Ball Tracking

- High Point Ability

- Great Acceleration


Weaknesses


- Mediocre Long Speed

- Some Focus Drops

- Late Off the Line of Scrimmage

- Route Running Could Improve



Final Analysis


Overall, J. Michael Sturdivant is a big possession receiver with fantastic jump ball ability and body control that can struggle to play with top speed and route running at times, but hopefully has plenty of room to grow as a receiver.


Draft 412 Draft Prediction- Round 6-7

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