Allen Lazard is an interesting prospect. A 4-star athlete coming out of Urbandale High School in Urbandale, Iowa, Lazard was heavily recruited. His decision to stay in state and go to Iowa State was a surprise to some and not playing for a perennial powerhouse has kept him off some radars. So what skills stand out when watching Lazard? What does Lazard still need to improve on? Well here’s what I see on tape.
Listed at 6’5″ and 233 pounds you can get a picture of the type of wideout Lazard is. A tall physical WR, Lazard shows on film he can use his big frame to box out defenders and excels at high-pointing the ball. Lazard has made huge strides in this area, as he showed room for improvement at high-pointing the ball his freshman year and has made strides the past two seasons making it a strength of his game. Lazard really broke out last season (his junior season) with 69 receptions for 1,018 yards and 7 touchdowns. All this on a 3-9 team with poor quarterback play throughout the season. Lazard’s numbers have improved each of the last three seasons and you can see the improvements. In addition to high-pointing the ball, Lazard has improved his route running skills. He has shown a great double move that earns him separation and space for the quarterback to get him the ball. Lazard was used mostly on crossing routes and showed the intelligence to find holes in zone coverage and sit. He also understands the game and has an above average intellect for the position. Lazard often makes plays when his quarterback is in trouble by coming back to the line of scrimmage, squaring his shoulders and showing his numbers to give his quarterback a target to hit while on the run. Lazard has also proven plenty durable. In three seasons at Iowa State, Lazard has missed only one game. Lazard also shows a willingness to block downfield. His technique could use work though.
Lazard has come a long way since his debut season with the Cyclones but he is still far from being a complete wideout. While Lazard has improved his route running overall there are a few routes he still needs to improve. The comeback route is the main one Lazard needs to improve. He shows a tendency to turn around and wait for the ball, rather than coming back to create that separation from the defensive back. This often results in a batted pass or catch and immediate tackle. Lazard could still use some work on the slant route as well. He often runs the route fine but does not turn his body in tight coverage to give his quarterback a bigger window to make the throw, by blocking out the defender with his broad shoulders and big frame. Lazard also drops too many passes. He has a tendency to make the highlight catch, but all too often drops some easier passes that he should handle. I don’t question Lazard’s hands however these concentration drops happen far too often. Being 6’5″ and 233 pounds you can imagine speed isn’t exactly Lazard’s game either. He is often forced to make contested grabs because he lacks high-end speed to separate in short areas. This limits his upside a bit.
Lazard is entering his senior season with Iowa State and will look to further improve his numbers and draft stock. Lazard considered making the leap to the NFL after his junior season, but according to The Des Moines Register, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell looked into Lazard’s draft stock and the feedback he got was that Lazard could go anywhere from the 5th round to undrafted. Given that information, Lazard decided to return to Iowa State for his senior season. Allen Lazard will be 22 years of age at the end of his senior season.
Allen Lazard has the makings to be a very good wide receiver. I don’t see a player that will contribute right away, however. Lazard will need to clean up a few things, get stronger by hitting the weight room, and learn how to play outside the hash marks in the NFL. I feel Lazard will fall out of most people’s top wide receiver rankings next year due to his lack of television exposure, and working with likely sub-par quarterback play. Keep an eye on Lazard and see if he continues to improve. With a few adjustments to his game, Lazard could really shine this season and move himself up some NFL draft boards. So next time Iowa State football is on the screen, don’t change the channel. Tune in and see if Allen Lazard can work his way onto a roster of yours.