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2021 NFL draft: LSU's Terrace Marshall has rare combo of height, speed

Eric Edholm
·6-min read

Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, which starts April 29, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down in groups of five for Nos. 100-51, followed by more in-depth reports on our top 50 players, with help from our scouting assistant, Liam Blutman. We reserve the right to make changes to players’ grades and evaluations based on injury updates, pro-day workouts or late-arriving information from NFL teams.

Other prospect rankings: Nos. 100-96 | 95-91 | 90-86 | 85-81 | 80-76 | 75-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. OT Liam Eichenberg | 49. WR Terrace Marshall Jr. | 48. LB Chazz Surratt | 47. EDGE Joe Tryon | 46. OT-OG Alex Leatherwood | 45. CB Asante Samuel Jr. | 44. DL Levi Onwuzurike | 43. LB Jabril Cox | 42. DT Daviyon Nixon | 41. EDGE Ronnie Perkins | 40. LB Nick Bolton | 39. CB Ifeatu Melifonwu | 38. WR Elijah Moore | 37. OT Jalen Mayfield | 36. EDGE Carlos Basham Jr. | 35. CB Elijah Molden | 34. RB Travis Etienne | 33. WR Kadarius Toney | 32. EDGE Jayson Oweh | 31. LB Zaven Collins | 30. Christian Barmore

Here are how we use our prospect grades for the 2021 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Here are how we use our prospect grades for the 2021 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

49. LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr.

6-foot-3, 200 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.88 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Lean, fast, tall deep threat who turns 21 this summer but must round his game into a more complete form.

Games watched: Clemson (2019), Missouri (2020), Mississippi State (2020), Texas A&M (2020)

The skinny: A 5-star Rivals recruit (No. 27 nationally), Marshall entered the lineup right away as a freshman in 2018, catching 12 passes for 192 yards in 13 games (with one start vs. Miami). In 2019, Marshall started all 12 games in which he played (missing three with a toe injury), catching 46 passes for 671 yards and 13 TDs for the national champions. He caught 48 passes for 731 yards and 10 TDs in 2020, starting the first seven games before opting out for the remainder of the season and declaring early for the 2021 NFL draft.

Upside: Incredible production, even while surrounded by elite talent — 23 TDs in his final 19 college contests. Caught more than 70 percent of the targets thrown his way. Four multiple-TD games in seven 2020 contests as the go-to target. More than 20 percent of his career catches have been touchdowns. Averaged 94.6 yards and over a TD a game over his final 10 college games.

Played primarily outside his first two seasons then shifted mostly into the slot in 2020 — has manned every spot and been productive no matter where he’s lined up. Was the same player when he was running alongside Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson as he was as the lone wolf in 2020. Wasn’t fazed by bracket coverage.

LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr. has been a massive TD producer the past two seasons. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr. has been a massive TD producer the past two seasons. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Game-changing speed — chews up ground in a hurry and has an extra gear in reserve. Great vertical target who can stack corners and threaten safeties. Has all the traits to be a nightmare matchup with size and speed. Really strong overall athletic profile. Explodes into his routes and has the musculature and enough twitchiness to make things happen after the catch.

Great length to high-point the ball and tracks it well in the air. Can adjust to off-target throws and did that more in 2020 with Joe Burrow off to the NFL. Works well in traffic — patrolled the middle quite a bit and was successful working the middle of the field. Nice body control on the sideline. Shows some toughness.

Stepped up in 2019 postseason games — 13 catches, 215 yards and five TDs in three contests against Georgia (SEC championship), Oklahoma (playoff semifinals) and Clemson (national championship).

Very young — won’t turn 21 years old until June. Ascending talent who might just be hitting his prime years for development.

Downside: Still unpolished in his development — has thrived largely on traits. Route running could use a clean-up — takes some false steps and can gear down to make short and intermediate catches. Runs some dirty routes when his path has been altered. Lets DBs get hands on him in press. Needs to show more suddenness at the break point in his routes — more effective on linear routes.

Saw favorable matchups as a “big slot” receiver last season. Also saw primarily single coverage in 2019 with so much talent around him. Only was a WR1 for roughly half a season.

Frame lacks quality body armor. Doesn’t always display strong play strength in his releases. Could do a better job of muscling out DBs for the ball. Has suffered multiple lower-body injuries dating back to high school, including twice breaking the same left tibia.

Less effective catching short passes where he was asked to create YAC on his own. Could show more interest in run blocking, where his length and athletic traits should make him effective in that department — too many poor efforts here. Appeared a bit more natural and dangerous when lining up outside. Very little obvious special-teams value.

Looked a bit checked out in his final few games prior to opting out. Opted out just prior to the Alabama game, which bothered some evaluators. Suffered through some concentration drops last season. Scouts wonder if he has the type of self-motivation and work ethic to raise his game yet another level.

Best-suited destination: Marshall is an exciting prospect with some bust potential. He profiles as a vertical threat capable of lining up outside and as a big slot. But ideally, he’d be supported by consistent QB play and surrounded by other receiving talent so that Marshall isn’t thrust into a WR1 or WR2 role initially. He has the ability to be a top target in time but might not be ready to handle that responsibility out of the chute.

Did you know: Marshall’s great uncle was the late Joe Delaney, a 24-year-old running back for the Kansas City Chiefs who tragically died of drowning while trying to save three children in a pond back in 1983.

Player comp: We see a lot of Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Tyrell Williams in his game — a deep target who will make the big play but also frustrate with his inconsistency. Nonetheless, Marshall is a weapon, and he could develop into a D.J. Chark-like player.

Expected draft range: Anywhere from the late first round to the early third.

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