Editor’s note: NESN.com will profile intriguing prospects in the days leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft. Next up: UMass wide receiver Tajae Sharpe.
Tajae Sharpe, wide receiver, Massachusetts
6-foot-2, 194 pounds
Projected round: Sixth
2015 stats: 111 receptions, 1,319 yards, five touchdowns
Testing numbers: 4.55-second 40-yard dash, 1.55-second 10-yard split, 33.5-inch vertical jump, 9-foot, 6-inch broad jump, 11 bench-press reps at 225 pounds.
Strengths: Sharpe was extremely productive at UMass, catching 277 passes for 3,486 yards with 16 touchdowns in four seasons. Despite having small hands, Sharpe dropped just three passes on 175 targets in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus. He had just seven drops over his final two seasons with the Minutemen. Pro Football Focus also notes Sharpe has “nice footwork” and a “big frame that he uses well.”
Weaknesses: Sharpe has one of the smallest pair of hands among wide receivers in the draft at 8 3/8 inches, and while that didn’t show up on the field with drops, it could still be concerning to NFL teams. He didn’t test out well at the NFL Scouting Combine, and a groin injury prevented him from working out at UMass’ pro day. His lack of top-end speed showed up on the field when he caught just 35.3 percent of his deep targets. Sharpe played against some of the weakest competition at the FBS level and didn’t stand out in Senior Bowl practices, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades.
Patriots fit: Sharpe isn’t a good fit for the Patriots based on his testing numbers, but they could use a big, young possession receiver.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images