2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect:  Isaiah Ford


   

School:          Virginia Tech
Ht:  6'2"       Wt:  195
Eligibility:      JR
Uniform:       #1
Position:      WR






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Ford is one of the more difficult evaluations I have done this year. He has outstanding numbers and measurables. He's had a catch in every game since he stepped on campus and now owns just about every receiving record at Virginia Tech. Still, in the four games I scouted from his junior year, they force-fed him the ball and those numbers are misleading. I also keep hearing about him running in the 4.4's which is impressive for a player over 6'2. He may be over 6'2, but the sub-4.5 forty does not show up on tape. There are a number of variables that lead to this conundrum of talent, production, and efficiency, and it will be up to scouts to determine whether the issues are and whether or not they can be fixed.


Let's start with the measurables. He does have very good size and arm length for the position. His frame, while a bit slender, has room to add bulk which could make him that much more imposing to defensive backs. As I mentioned, he has been rumored to run in the 4.4's, but it doesn't show up on the field. He doesn't appear to be a dangerous deep threat, and with the ball in his hands, I don't see a player that has that big-play ability. On the other hand, he does separate extremely well in the limited amount of routes that he runs. He sinks his hips and explodes out of his breaks well. Virginia Tech runs an extremely simple offense that only asks him to run a handful of routes but moving forward, he should be a guy that teams can move around and ask much more of. Still, the one thing I was hoping to see is a player with an extra gear, and that just isn't the case.

As far as his production, no one can argue with the records he has broken in his first three years in Blacksburg. Where I will voice my concern is the amount of targets compared to the number of receptions. Take his best game in 2016. He caught ten passes against Pitt, yet he was thrown the ball 19 times. That is not a great percentage of receptions, and while some may point to the quarterback, a lot of balls hit his hands or were contested because he couldn't get off of coverage. Percentages like that are only going to get worse in the NFL with better defenders. The balls off his hands are even more concerning. He has small hands and even when he makes some catches, they are not caught cleanly. This is an area he will have to get better if he is going to make it in the NFL.


As a blocker, I think he has potential. I already see him shoot his hands on the defender and with his long arms, he usually wins in that regard. He may not yet possess that mean-spirited nature to finish defenders, but I think this is an area he will continue to improve. That competitive fight is also something I would like to see more of from him as a route-runner. There seem to be routes when he is on the backside of the play where he doesn't give his best effort. I am not going to completely overblow this because he sometimes appears to be blocking where they have a run called to his side of the field and the quarterback snaps a quick throw off the other way. I blame this system a bit, but there are examples of him just going through the motions when he knows the ball isn't coming his way. He also has to show more desire to win the ball on 50-50 chances.

Overall, I see the potential to be a really good receiver at the next level but the amount of times the ball comes his way and doesn't get caught concern me. Maybe an NFL-caliber quarterback is what would make the difference. Perhaps his ceiling is just a number-two receiver. Maybe that 4.4 shows up at the next level. There are a lot of variables that will determine where he is drafted and they are up to scouts and general managers. I listed quite a few negatives about him, but there are aspects of his game that I like, and it only takes one team to fall in love with him, and he is off the board.

Compares to (Current NFL Player): Marqise Lee (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Strengths
- Terrific ability to separate out of his breaks
- Good height with long arms
- Terrific production

Weaknesses
- Small hands/doesn't always make catch cleanly
- Like to see more energy when ball isn't coming his way
- Needs to win on 50-50 balls
- Rudimentary route-tree in college


Austin Smith
Austinjs14@aol.com
December 22, 2016



Articles/Links
1)   Why Virginia Tech's record-setting Isaiah Ford spent spring on the sideline   - Washington Post
2)   A conversation with mom of Virginia Tech star Isaiah Ford   - The Virginian-Pilot
3)   NFL draft spotlight: Teams want more receivers like Virginia Tech's Isaiah Ford    - The Sporting News
4)   Isaiah Ford Twitter
5)   Isaiah Ford Instagram





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