Name: Dax Raymond
SCHOOL: Utah State
CONFERENCE: Mountain West
POSITION: Tight End
JERSEY: No. 87
RECRUITMENT RATING: 2-star
WT: 250 lbs
D.O.B.: Not Available
Route Running –Utilization has exposed him to flex routes working primarily up the hashes. Effective release thanks to size and can play through challenges at the contact window. Breaks carry plenty of momentum for his stature. Would like to see sharper snap on hard angles.
Power at POA –Soft hands, does well in both over the shoulder situations and when addressing the ball square to extend and softly catch away from his body. Has a notable catch radius and will contend to bring in throws other targets may not have reach for.
Hands –Predominantly a receiving option. Has been offered reps in H-back role in the backfield and folded across the set as a blocker with more success. Isn’t going to inspire from an in-line position, at least not for the time being. Ceiling for growth as a do-it-all TE.
Competitive Toughness –Big body, has little problem sitting down between zones to cradle a throw and take hit. Soft hands come in handy and doesn’t allow contact to jar loose the football. Boxes out on slants when his passer forces him to sit.
Versatility –Has good but not elite speed. Will run away from man coverage if able to shake his defender when drawing LBs. Has flashed in TE screen game (Air Force) and offers a nice blend of size and agility in high traffic situations.
Flexibility –Doesn’t bring any notable influence in the ground game. Hands don’t land with effective placement and is essentially catching defenders from the point of attack. Lacks lower body framing to slide and stay in front of his man.
Contested Catch Ability –Is a moose after the catch, love his toughness there. Is currently limited in his skills in the box but limitations come from lack of polish and technique, not from any glaring deficiencies in strength or lower body power.
Balance –Free mover below the waist, has dynamic range through the base to ensure he can play with feet extended beyond his hips to play with speed and smooth COD skills. Can disassociate the hips and shoulders to carry speed while tracking the ball over shoulder.
Run After Catch Ability –Balance is on either end of the spectrum, depending on his role. Free, natural mover in space and after contact as a ball carrier. Will get uprooted and pushed around as a blocker but because he doesn’t deliver blows with accuracy to reset the LOS.
Football Intelligence –Doesn’t have a lot of nuance yet with his routes to optimize vs. man coverage, so room for growth is present in all phases of his play. That said, he’s a functional route runner early on and should get better with higher level coaching.
BEST TRAIT – RAC Ability
WORST TRAIT – Power at POA
BEST FILM – Air Force (2018)
WORST FILM – Michigan State (2018)
RED FLAGS – 2018 broken hand
Dax Raymond is yet another modern NFL tight end prospect who will be aided by the style of play in today’s game. Raymond has strong chops as a receiver and will effectively navigate the middle of the field against LBs in coverage. Raymond doesn’t have elite functional athleticism but he’s a smooth mover who has little issue snapping off his routes. Raymond projects as a potential starter in time to a team that can utilize him in space as a flex target with high frequency.
Route-Running – The baseline traits are there for a good route-runner, but needs to show more consistency out of the break. Floats out of his cuts at times and can be more decisive to break at full speed. Lower pads off the line of scrimmage against off coverage would help him sell vertically more. Not much deception in his footwork. Does a great job of swimming over or quickly dancing around jams down the field, won’t get hung up on contact.
Ball Skills – Catches the ball well outside his frame. Big radius to go up and get it, but have also seen him dig out low throws. Has done some good work over the middle of the field with contact looming. Not sure he’ll be the contort-in-the-air for off-target balls type, but can elevate and pluck.
Speed – Very good speed for a tight end. Hoping for 4.6s at the Combine. Runs the seam beautifully and has the second gear to detach late in the route. Not explosive necessarily, but gets off the ball quickly and can threaten vertically right away.
Run Blocking – The flashes are outstanding, but consistency can still be improved. Gets after his opponents with an edge to his game, saw 3-4 pancakes in the games I studied. Very little hesitation as a blocker, fires off the ball with intent, scrapes to second level on good angles and throttles down pretty nicely in space. Good stalk blocker who latches on and controls smaller defenders. Excellent attention to detail to get his hips around and seal the defender off from the ball carrier’s path on screens. Won’t settle for just making contact. Can come into his target high and needs to make sure he gets hands inside. Kenny Willekes gave him some rough reps, has to drop his pads rep-to-rep.
Contested Catch – Only saw a couple contested catch opportunities, so really not enough to judge him on tape. Has high-point ability, size, length and strong hands, but is he a great leaper? How does he handle contact in the air? Senior Bowl should shed some light.
YAC – Didn’t see a lot of opportunity for YAC in the games I watched, but clearly tough and physical after the catch. Has shown the ability to take a short one to the house, albeit against lower level competition (Air Force). Transitions quickly from receiver to runner post-catch, showing good burst to get upfield.
Separation Quickness – He’s quick enough to separate from most man coverage. Needs more consistent attention to detail, but I’ve seen him press a defender’s space and then show the burst to separate. Very smooth mover with no noticeable stiffness. Disclaimer: vast majority of the time Raymond worked against zone on tape, and never saw press. Also was schemed open a good bit by two concepts: split zone action to a flat route and fake stalk block vertical.
Pass Protection – Didn’t see a single pass protection rep in four games, but has spent time in-line and has the traits to be successful in that role. Frankly, if he’s working in pass protection on more than the rare occasion, your team has bigger issues.
Competitive Toughness – Love his toughness and physicality. Highly competitive and looks to bury his opponents when he can. Didn’t back down from anyone against Michigan State. Hustles his tail off to throw an extra block for teammates in catch-and-run situations.
Athleticism/Size – Outstanding size, length and build. May need to add a little muscle to his frame. Good athlete who can prove just how good in the coming six weeks. Combine will be huge for him, but looks like he’ll test well across the board on tape.
BEST TRAIT – Size/Movement Skills
WORST TRAIT – Contested Catches (more of a question mark)
RED FLAGS – 2018 broken hand. I think he turns 24 before his rookie season starts, but not positive.
Utah State has two extremely intriguing offensive draft prospects this year, Dax Raymond and Darwin Thompson. Raymond has produced at a solid level each of the past two seasons, showing the athleticism to play flexed and the toughness and physicality to play in-line as well. How will he hold up against bigger defenders in the trenches?
The traits are there for Raymond to be a starter in the NFL, but he is a little older and still needs some development, which could concern some teams in the first two rounds. As a no. 2 receiving tight end with stalk block ability on the perimeter and the speed to stretch the field, he could be an impact player as a rookie, adding much-needed versatility to offensive packages.