When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected wide receiver Robert Herron in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, I was waiting for someone to get arrested for theft. The pick was an absolute steal as Herron was projected to go in the third or fourth round, and has the potential of being a great receiver.
It is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated picks for the Buccaneers in the 2014 draft. Sure Herron’s size (5’9”, 193 pounds) is a concern, but he is tough and don’t forget his speed. At Wyoming’s Pro Day, Herron’s hand-timed 40-yard-dash was 4.25 and 4.29. Herron has also been compared to Oakland receiver Jacoby Ford as both have a trait that NFL teams love, which is straight-line speed. Herron could be a home run type receiver by getting behind the defense with his speed and setting up a big pass play. The Buccaneers can definitely use some of that speed in the open field this year to help strengthen an already strong receiving corp.
In his college career, Herron statistically kept getting better every year. Herron did not play much in his freshman year, only recording six catches for 57 yards, but after that he became a key part of the offense. Herron’s sophomore year saw him accumulate 379 receiving yards on 43 catches and three touchdowns. In his junior year, Herron averaged 21 yards per catch as he racked up 657 receiving yards on 31 catches and 8 touchdowns. His longest catch of his junior year was 82 yards. In his senior year, he had 72 receptions, one of which was 92 yards which topped his previous longest catch, for 937 yards and nine touchdowns.
The best traits that Herron brings to Tampa, besides his speed of course, is his toughness and body control. Herron is also quick and has good balance which could potentially make him a good route runner for the Buccaneers. He also has lateral quickness and can set up blocks in the running game.
Herron could also be utilized a lot as a bubble screen receiver with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson blocking for him. If the two big receivers can get big blocks, then the speedy Herron could easily pick up a big chunk of yardage on a screen play.
If what I have listed above wasn’t already enough, Herron could be a punt returner for the Bucs as well. Herron could potentially be a clone of Trindon Holliday in the punt return game with his speed and size. His speed plus his agility is coveted as a return guy, and the fact that he has steady hands only adds to the fact that he could be dangerous for opponents when returning punts.
Now Herron does have some weaknesses, that’s why he went in the sixth round and not the first. As previously mentioned, Herron is small for a receiver. He is able to take hits, but a big question will be for how long? If he is in the slot and running slant routes, he is going to receive some big hits from linebackers who tower over him. There will definitely be a lot of concern as far as his health throughout the season.
Even though I stated he could be dangerous as a return man (which I do believe he will be), Herron logged only three kick returns in his college career and zero punt returns. It could take some practice for him to become accustomed to the return game, but once he does it will be something to watch.
Imagine having Herron with his blazing speed, plus Vincent Jackson, and first round pick Mike Evans making up the Tampa Bay receiving corp. That is a quarterback’s dream and a defensive coordinators nightmare.