Updated: Feb 21
A name that has received much attention in the last month among NFL scouts, has been Liberty receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden. Often, when a prospect not from a power five conference garners this much buzz, it indicates the presence of a unique skill set that could translate to high-level production at the next level.
What is interesting about Gandy-Golden, he does not possess a vast route tree, and his releases off the line of scrimmage are seemingly basic. What he does possess, however, is a unique combination of size, agility and overall athleticism which makes him arguably the most intriguing prospect of this year's wide receiver class.
By no means is Gandy-Golden a finished product, yet NFL teams looking for a big,
playmaking receiver on the outside, are looking his way and with good reason.
Exceptional Catch Radius
As a youth, gymnastic was a major part of Golden-Gandy's life; much of the reason stemmed from his mother's love of the sport. One of the aspects that sets him apart is his catch radius, which affords him the ability to make plays of high-degree of difficulty. Often times when there is seemingly no room, he has a natural ability to elongate higher or longer than an opposing defender.
In this sequence, Gandy-Golden is positioned on the outside against a UMass defensive in press coverage. As noted at the beginning, Gandy-Golden's releases off the line are very basic, yet his strength and speed well compensates for it. When the ball is snapped, Gandy-Golden executes a double move, then speed releases outside. Note how he extends with his inside arm, helping him win leverage over the UMass defense back. As the ball is thrown, Gandy-Golden turn towards the ball, and as it reaches his highest point, he jumps, extends and makes a highlight-worthy catch with one hand. What is notable in this sequence, is the fact that he was fully covered, and still found a way to make a play of this quality.
Unmatched Physicality(Yards After Catch)
Physicality is what defines Gandy-Golden's style as a receiver. There are few wide receivers in this year's draft class, capable of using physicality as a means of gaining substantial yards after a catch, in the manner Gandy-Golden has been able to do throughout his collegiate career.
In this sequence, Gandy-Golden is positioned at the 'z' spot against a Syracuse defensive back showing press coverage. When the ball is snapped, execute a jab step outside, then sharply releases inside, and turns into a slant. After making the reception, he executes a subtle move that sends the Syracuse defensive back to the ground, while turning the other way. As he reaches the sidelines, Gandy-Golden stiff arms an oncoming Syracuse defender and continues gaining yards. The previous defender attempts to tackle him, but Gandy-Golden is able to shrug off his tackle attempt and one from a third defender, as he makes his way to their 5-yard line. If there is one sequence that defines Gandy-Golden as a player, it would be this one.
Gandy-Golden may not possess elite-level speed, but somehow, he continues to beat opposing defenders with it. His speed is similar to that of former Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington; the type of speed that may not time well at the Combine, but is deceptively effective.
In this sequence, Gandy-Golden is seen on the outside, opposite a Baylor defensive back showing off-man coverage. The Baylor defender is at least 10 yards away from Gandy-Golden, yet one should expect him to cover a good amount of distance in a short period of time. When the ball is snapped, Gandy-Golden releases off the line starts his 'go' route. As the ball is in the air, he looks back while continuing on his route. As gets closer to the Baylor defender, he accelerates past him. Before the Baylor defender was realized he had been beaten, Gandy-Golden had the separation he wanted to make the catch and score. As big as he is, his ability to accelerate past defenders is part of what makes him a unique specimen.
The demand for the receivers that can stretch the field continues to increase as the passing offenses have proven to the pathway to success in the regular and postseason. Gandy-Golden not only possesses the tools to stretch the field, it is proven asset in short yardage situations, while flexible enough to play in different areas along the line of scrimmage. With his size and big-play abilities, his stock continues to increase and what is scary is that he will only get better with time. If he is true to form, Gandy-Golden will not be short of suitor leading into this year's NFL Draft.