As a Volunteer, Josh Malone came up big on several occasions to get the team out of some otherwise sticky situations. During his career in Knoxville, Malone put up stellar numbers, including 11 touchdowns and an average of 19.4 yards per catch in 2016. As a top target in Tennessee’s supposed “Wide Receiver U,” Malone stood out as one of Josh Dobbs’s go-to receivers throughout his tenure, and he’ll likely be one of the first of Tennessee’s draft class taken off the board. He boasts several characteristics that make him a quality selection, while some traits may not be taken as well.
Throughout his career at Tennessee, Malone has posed a consistent deep threat, no matter what quarterback may be running the Vols’ offense. On more than one occasion, Malone used his size and strong hands to pull his team out of a jam late in the game. As such, his ability to out-leap defenders and snag balls that some receivers might find uncatchable is one that will prove vital to an NFL offense. Malone also possesses another unique ability, though, in the way he readjusts his routes. In the play below, quarterback Josh Dobbs tossed an absolute dime on this throw, but Malone showed great focus in the way he turned and brought the ball in before scampering into the end zone. That’s the kind of focus that general managers will be looking for if Malone is to be successful at the next level.
Finding an opening
While at Tennessee, Malone was used on deep routes plenty of times, but he was also sent over the middle on quite a few occasions as well. He runs crisp routes and slashes through secondary gaps on a dime, especially in the video below from Tennessee’s matchup against Ohio. Malone isn’t very quick off the ball, and that’s something that could prove costly once draft day rolls around. Nevertheless, he found an opening in the Bobcats’ defense and took full advantage to make up for a slow start. The play call itself wasn’t a bad choice, either.
When not going up on a fade route or wrestling the football from a defender, Malone has also made himself known as a viable open field target. His ability to scamper and juke his way through the secondary is one of note, especially considering his dual-threat ability when playing out wide and from behind the line of scrimmage, the latter of which is seen here.
Over everything else, Malone provided an ever-looming deep target for Dobbs. As seen below, his knack for snatching the football at its highest point is the epitome of a wide receiver’s proper technique. Granted, he doesn’t have to go up too high on this play, but a 6-foot-3 frame doesn’t hurt his chances, either. Throughout his career, snippets of Malone’s ball-hawking ability have been evident when he goes deep, and that’s just the case in this clip as well. He’ll need that and plenty more should he expect to play on Sundays.
Now, I alluded to Malone’s lack of quickness off the ball earlier, but I don’t think the last bit of film really did this part of his performance justice. To remedy this, I’ve included an extra clip below. Please enjoy:
In all seriousness, though, Malone shows some good qualities that, given the right molding, could make for a solid pick in this year’s draft. He’ll need to improve on speed off the line of scrimmage and bulk up a bit more, but as far as open field movement, ball awareness and deep threats are concerned, he’s good to go.
Edited by Quinn Pilkey
Featured image by Sumner Gillam