Scouting Spotlight: WR Deon Cain
Deon Cain is a 6’1”, 190-lb junior Wide Receiver out of Clemson University
Wide receiver who burst onto the scene as one of Clemson’s biggest downfield threats in 2015 ... had 130 receptions for 2,040 yards and 20 touchdowns in 1,419 snaps over 42 games (14 starts) in his career ... tied for fourth in Clemson history in receiving touchdowns...had at least one reception in each of the last 37 games he played.
In December of 2015 was suspended for the final game due to a positive test for marijuana and his coach told the media he would be allowed to come back if he grew up. Was suspended throughout the spring and was reinstated. Met with team psychologist weekly and Christian Wilkins volunteered to be his roommate to help guide him. (Information taken from Jesse Fritsch @CalhounLambeau )
Coming into to this assignment my last memory of Deon Cain was his monster performance against Alabama in the 2016 National Championship game. For most of the year all I heard was first round hype around this guy. Over the course of the year that hype died down and I wanted to figure out why.
Clemson has a recent history of producing extremely talented NFL receivers, such as Deandre Hopkins, Martavis Bryant and Sammy Watkins, just to name a few. Deon Cain was supposed to carry the mantle and even though he put up a lot of yards, was two receptions shy of first on the team, was frequently targeted, and led the team in touchdowns, he simply didn’t. In fact, after my evaluation on Cain, I don’t think he’ll even make it to the top half of the second round and could go as low as the fourth round.
Cain has the measurables of a big bodied number one receiver that most teams in the NFL are dying to find. He is 6’1”, and has great ball skills and body control. He owns the back shoulder fade and has the strength to run straight through contact downfield. If that were all it took to be successful in the NFL I would say he is a first round lock, but it isn’t and he doesn't have a whole lot more to his game. To be perfectly honest my favorite part about his game is actually his grit. Cain shows willingness as a blocker. He isn’t exceptional at it, but he isn't bad at it either. In addition to that, he is willing to go over the middle of the field and take a hit.
Cain is not great off the press; he struggles against bigger corners in press situations and can’t bully them downfield. However, if he gets matched up with an average-sized or smaller corner who doesn't have elite speed, throw him the ball every time. Cain is great at initiating contact downfield to disrupt the corner and blowing past them. He isn’t a burner but if the corner isn’t either, then that deep route is money all day long.
Cain did not run a very complicated route tree at Clemson, in fact it seemed like everything was either a screen, vertical, post, or slant route. This could be because his route running is nothing special. He uses his size to get open, and he does not have natural hands. Too often he double catches or catches with his body when he doesn’t need to.
At the end of the day Deon Cain’s floor in the NFL is a red zone threat and a back shoulder fade threat. That is a solid niche that a lot of teams would love from their number three guy and that is what I think Deon Cain will be. A really talented number three who will once or maybe twice a season take over a game. That is what he was in his best game of his career against Alabama in 2016. Behind Mike Williams, Hunter Renfrow and arguably even Jordan Leggett.