NAME: Dillon Mitchell
JERSEY: No. 13
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 195 lbs
Route Running – Mitchell has suddenness and flexibility, which gives him potential as a route runner. He’s yet to truly scratch the surface of that ceiling, but is obviously improving with his route running technique. One of the things Mitchell does well is open up his hips in order to come downhill towards the catch-point. He is difficult for defensive backs to drive on because he can snap his routes off quickly, then attack towards the quarterback. However, there are technique fixes that Mitchell will have to experience if he wants to truly develop into a consistent technician. Mitchell rarely stacks on vertical routes, forcing himself into too many contested spots. On top of that, he could use more forward lean and low pads while he breaks his routes off. He uses his lateral agility to clear himself, but then won’t use his hands to disengage from the jam of the defensive back. As a result of this, he struggles to defeat contact in his stems or out of his breaks. Until these are fixed, Mitchell will be an inconsistent separator.
Athleticism/Speed – Smooth athlete with a developed lateral chain and balance. More sudden than he is fast, he’s a flexible mover with bend. He’s a taller receiver but lacks strength in his lower half, which limits his potential in various areas. His frame suggests that he could add muscle, but will need to do so without sacrificing explosiveness. Mitchell is a candidate to perform better in his agility drills than his 40 yard dash, as his long speed seems just average for the position.
Hands/Ball Skills – The main weakness in Mitchell’s game is his awkward tracking of the football, and shaky hands as a result. In the Michigan State game alone, he had over the shoulder passes hit his near shoulder and wrists. Also, Mitchell’s has the habit of rising towards the ball too early, nearly being back on the ground by the time the ball arrives. Rarely making clean catches with proper extension. Even when in position to fully extend and pluck the ball out of the air, he’ll allow it to come closer to his body. Too often, Mitchell will cradle the ball against his body, even when given space. Really, really struggles with contact or disruption at the catchpoint. Curious lack of true ball skills limits his ability as a down the field receiver, as fails to win in contested situations. There have been a few flashes of Mitchell making full extensions grabs above the rim, but they are a rarity.
Body Control – For all of his faults in his tracking and ball skills, Mitchell has effortless body control and can contort his body with ease. Whether sticking his foot in the ground and flipping his hips at the last second or adjusting his body in mid-air, Mitchell’s body positioning is almost never an issue. Will turn his shoulders while keeping his lower half in position to get feet down along the sideline. With the ball in his hands, he maintains proper pad level and can seemingly move in all directions on command.
Ball Carrier – The strength in Mitchell’s game comes as a ball carrier, as he is one of the most slippery 6-foot-1 receivers I’ve scouted. Sudden with his cuts and adept with his lateral movement, Mitchell is difficult for tacklers to bring down square. He has a tremendous feel for tacklers and space, taking advantage of small pockets of space and picking up extra yards. Rarely will the first tackler bring him down, especially in pursuit. Feel for the game is shown with the ball in his hands, and his dead leg cut can make defenders looks foolish. Acceleration to top speed is apparent, just seemingly a bit limited with his long speed.
Stalk Blocking – Mitchell is a mostly ineffective stalk blocker, as the lack of power in his lower half limits his potential. On top of that, his technique needs improvement. Rarely will Mitchell approach the defensive back with speed and collapse space on them. He will either not give burst off of the line of scrimmage or overrun his approach, often times whiffing at space. When he does engage, he will rarely drive his feet and clear space for the ball carrier. Overall, this is an area where Mitchell needs a ton of improvement.
Versatility – Mitchell has over 20 career punt returns, but to minimal success. His real versatility comes as a receiver, as he can seemingly play from any alignment. With the size to play outside and shiftiness for slot duties, Mitchell was used as a movable piece at Oregon. This helps his projection because he won’t be limited early on in his NFL career, showing enough traits to win in all levels of the field.
BEST TRAIT – Ball Carrier / YAC
WORST TRAIT – Ball Skills
RED FLAGS – None
Mitchell is an ascending talent who was productive in his junior season at Oregon. He declared early for the NFL Draft, which likely means favorable marks from the NFL Advisory Board. He has good size and agility, and is improving as a route runner. This gives him the ceiling of a WR2 at the next level, especially with youth on his side. He could have an immediate role in the underneath and screen game in the NFL, as a way to showcase his slippery running and contact balance.
However, Mitchell is a ways off before being refined enough to fill a starter’s role. His route running technique needs to improve, as well as his stalk blocking and ball skills. All of these traits have flashed on film, so they are undoubtedly within his arsenal, now they just need to come with consistency.
Separation Quickness – Balance and flexibility throughout the route tree are good, but would like to see him create more separation out of the break. May not have elite explosiveness, but is quick enough to separate in the majority of matchups he sees. Unafraid to play tight to the defender to force him off balance, maximizing his separation ability if he isn’t slowed by contact.
Ball Skills – Has some issues tracking the ball over his head at times. Will twist around and contort when he could just adjust vertically and snag over his shoulder. Had one go off his facemask against Michigan State. Has adjusted nicely to low throws and throws slightly behind him during his career. Not a strong hands catcher, will use his body and will suffer some drops. Doesn’t high-point and pluck, can mis-time his jumps addressing the ball. Does he fully trust his hands?
Speed/Burst – Should run in the 4.4s and has the speed to win vertically. Will stack defenders in a hurry when he isn’t held up by jams off the line of scrimmage. May not be an elite speedster, but it’s a strength of his game that allows him to win down the field from inside or outside.
Route-Running – Does a good job of pressing the defensive back’s space and dead legging into his breaks. Hip snap to get back to the quarterback is impressive, consistently comes back to the ball on curls and comebacks. Needs to carry speed through his 90 and 45-degree route breaks a little more decisively, can slow into them a round off his patterns just a bit. Slight frame is knocked off his pattern at times, has some wins with physicality at the top of his route, but it projects as a concern. Some give-and-take, but bigger-physical corners will give him issues in the NFL.
Contested Catch – Probably won’t ever be his calling card as a player, but had a few strong flashes in this area last season, including a leaping back shoulder grab over a defender against Stanford. Doesn’t box out defenders and can be bodied off the ball at times. Struggles to fight through contestation to rip away 50-50 balls. Concerning ball skills don’t help him much in this area.
YAC – Rapid transition from receiver to ball carrier. Super slippery and elusive in the open field, with the athletic tools to carry that ability over to the next level. Consistently makes the first defender miss and has great vision and feel in space. Won’t run over defenders, but will slip away from opponents at times and has much better balance and lower body strength than you’d think to absorb shots and finish forward.
Releases – Didn’t see a ton of press coverage in the games I watched, but when he did, showed good feet and active hands to work off the line of scrimmage with minimal wasted movement. When he was jammed up, struggled to work off contact and counter. Success as a route runner is dependent on winning cleanly off the ball.
Blocking – This ain’t his thing. His effort is passable, but he doesn’t sustain contact and rarely executes at a high level. Needs to position himself better to seal off defenders and at least get in the way. Not asked to a be prominent blocker in Oregon’s offense.
Competitive Toughness – Despite his blocking concerns, competes just fine as a receiver, both in the air and in his releases/routes. Works really hard to get open in scramble drills, constantly fighting to give his quarterback an opening.
Athleticism/Size – Needs to add some bulk to his frame, but has ideal length for the position. Impressive athlete who should test well across the board.
BEST TRAIT – YAC
WORST TRAIT – Ball Skills
RED FLAGS – None
Dillon Mitchell was the lone Oregon player who opted to declare early for the 2019 NFL Draft, a decision he may end up regretting. Don’t get me wrong, the talent is there for Mitchell to be a top three wide receiver on an NFL team, and his route-running and post-catch ability should help him find a role early on in his career.
Mitchell’s struggle may be to develop past the point of contributor to something greater, as his ball skills need plenty of work and refinement. Drops, double-catches and misplays litter his tape, and physicality at the top of his routes and in the air can bother him as well. Mitchell has clear ways that he wins on tape, but does he have a true trump card to emerge victorious in most 1v1 matchups in the NFL? His best spot at the next level may come in the slot, where his slight frame and questionable vertical tracking ability is less of a concern.
PROS: Effective YAC threat with the requisite burst, flexibility, and vision/feel to be a dangerous space player. Ability to retain velocity through various angles/with contact around his feet particularly impresses. Elastic frame can snap and go in an instant. Uses good bend when handling press in the contact window, dipping shoulder underneath punch to clear and stack. Sudden as smoke when releasing off the line of scrimmage or attacking would-be tacklers on screens and other quick-hitting plays. Able to make hands catches away from his frame and at tough angles, with some contact around his frame.
CONS: Doesn’t locate the ball naturally and is often late getting his hands and body into the catch point, whether down the field or in the short/intermediate area. Release off press currently a concern from limited tape exposure: must learn how to play tighter within CB’s cylinder and incorporate hand usage to generate release angles instead of just wiggling and hoping. Vertical burst is good but it’s not that good. Doesn’t make as many players miss in space as you’d expect for his agility in the open field.