The combine has just finished and we witnessed a ton of great test numbers for the 2017 wide receiver (WR) class. KD Cannon had himself a very nice showing both in testing and the route running/gauntlet portion of the combine:
Arm: 30 ¾”
Hand: 8 ⅞”
Cannon was an absolute stud as a true Freshman and earned himself consensus Freshman All-American honors. Baylor chose to feature Corey Coleman in 2015 which caused Cannon’s production to take a hit. He was able to bounce back for a very good Junior year after arthroscopic knee surgery in July. His 2016 numbers were 87 receptions, 1,215 yards, 14.0 avg., 13 TDs.
I evaluated 10 games from Cannon, two from 2014, two from 2015, and six from 2016. Five of his games can be found on Draftbreakdown.com, a very good source for watching film. His 2014 games against Michigan State and Northwestern State were two of my favorites, paired with his 2015 game against Oklahoma State. Here is my evaluation of KD Cannon.
The main strengths in Cannon’s game are his athleticism, speed, acceleration, body control, tracking, and his ability to win contested catches.
Speed. The first thing that stands out to me when watching Cannon is his speed. Dating back to his Freshman season he has been able to consistently blow by his defenders and get behind a defense. When facing press coverage, Cannon has a very good release off the line and he wins there first. Then he stacks the defender while hand fighting to get ahead. After the separation is created, he tracks the ball very well and makes the right adjustments while hauling the ball in with a smooth cradle over the shoulder or going up and attacking the ball with his hands. Cannon has very good burst and acceleration which helps him eat up cushion in zone or off coverage. That added feature causes corners to respect him and sometimes flip their hips a little too soon, which allows Cannon to win on his comebacks most of the time. Cannon accounts for a ton of explosive plays and brings that “wow” factor to a football game. A lot of his touchdowns have come at 25+ yards which is considered an explosive play in my book. There isn’t much depth to the route running that Cannon was asked to do at Baylor but his double moves and little elements in his game like a quick jab or head fake, allow him to get wide open and leave defenders in the dust. After the catch, Cannon can use his track speed to outrun defensive backs. He has very nice body control which allows him to go up, adjust and win contested catches. That seems like an underrated aspect of his game because he does go up and attack the ball with his hands.
Physicality. Cannon has shown physicality in his game at the line of scrimmage, after catching the ball and fighting for extra yards, and while blocking. I know the word blocking isn’t usually associated with Baylor receivers, but when a run is to his side or a receiver needs help, Cannon can engage defenders and push them back. So, the physicality in Cannons game is there, and even though he has a thin frame, he has a ton of athleticism and may be stronger than many think. Weighing in at 182 pounds, a bench press of 13-reps at the combine is a very good number for him. Cannon was primarily lined up on the right side, but he moved into the slot from time to time and was able to create separation on slants and post routes up the hash marks.
Cannon as a true Freshman showing his ability to adjust, attack the ball and score.
Cannon times this back-shoulder throw and extends, attacking the ball for a catch.
He shows good burst off the line, then must slow down for the catch.
Here Cannon shows his athleticism by going up and over the defender to steal an interception for a touchdown.
I could show GIF after GIF of Cannon winning deep, but I’ll close it out with this one of him as a true Freshman against Michigan State.
The main weaknesses to Cannon’s game are his vision, elusiveness after the catch, letting the ball get into his body on catches, and question marks in his route running.
Inconsistent Hands. I believe Cannon has natural hands and catching ability, but they were inconsistent this past season. There were times when Cannon had to adjust for a low throw and he wasn’t able to haul it in. He sometimes lets the ball get into his body and that accounts for most of his drops. He does have smaller hands so that also might play a part in the inconsistencies. I have seen him make nice catches when the ball is on him fast but there have been too many instances where he’s not able to react to the fast ball and it gets through his hands. Although Cannon does have the ability to attack the jump ball and win there, he fails to attack the ball on comebacks which allows for corners at the next level to jump the route or break up the pass. Cannon doesn’t necessarily have the dip in his route-running which would allow for him to have better balance in his routes and breaks, as he tends to stay upright when making his moves. The limited routes he was asked to run at Baylor is a concern, but he was able to make a living off his speed and frequently win the routes he did run.
After the Catch. When Cannon has the ball in his hands he isn’t able to create much and based on what I witnessed on tape, he lacked good vision and elusiveness. He didn’t have much shake to him and chose to try and run through defenders rather than make them miss. Luckily for Cannon his game is over the top most of the time and the only yards after catch he will need to account for is out running defenders on the way to the end zone. One thing I did notice a few times was his struggles with catching the ball over his outside shoulder. It’s a difficult catch but it’s something he’ll need to be able to adjust for at the next level.
Cannon will enter the league as a legitimate deep threat and then eventually blossom into a complete receiver. He showed at the combine that he can run a number of routes, so now we just wait and see how he incorporates them into his craft against real competition in the NFL. He is not a finished product by any means and can use some refinement in his route running, but he has traits that translate to the NFL. Overall Cannon displayed an excellent release off the line and his speed will allow him to make an early impact for a team at the next level. I wouldn’t dig too deep into his drops this past season because he has shown he can catch the ball and has natural hands. Cannon graded out very well for me. Although Cannon has a smaller frame, the physicality he showed was a big factor when evaluating him. His change of direction wasn’t quite what I anticipated before going back and watching him, so I wouldn’t expect him to be a guy that’s counted on to create for himself at the next level. He will win at the intermediate to deep levels of the field.
|Speed/Acc/Athleticism||Blocking/ Physicality||Hands||Final Grade