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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: WR Ben Skowronek

  • The Draft Network
  • January 8, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY - BEN SKOWRONEK

Notre Dame wide receiver Ben Skowronek projects as a bottom of the roster wide receiver prospect for the pro game. A Northwestern transfer, Skowronek enjoyed a productive final season of college football with the Irish and became one of the featured threats in Notre Dame’s aerial attack. WIth size and high point ability, Skowronek skied to some impressive receptions courtesy of QB Ian Book. But a deeper dive into Skowronek’s traits offers some concern over his ability to translate to the pro game. His size is essential to his game but how much added explosiveness he can add to his athletic profile will be a key determining factor on if he’s going to find separation in the pros. A blue-collar player, Skowronek is a feasible candidate to play on special teams units, which offers him a fighting chance to secure a roster spot. 

Ideal Role: Red zone fade specialist.

Scheme Fit: Vertical passing offense.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Kyle Crabbs

Games watched: Pittsburgh (2020), Clemson (2020), Boston College (2020), Syracuse (2020), Alabama (2020)

Best Game Studied: Boston College (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Alabama (2020)

Route Running: This should be considered a big stumbling block for his draft status. Skowronek struggled with hard angles and his ability to carry speed through shallow angles wasn’t overly inspirational. He has the feel of a very one-dimensional player and if he’s not afforded a chance to run vertically he’s not going to have much of a shot. He telegraphs breaks too often and will struggle with the length and burst of outside corners in the NFL. 

Hands: It may be his best quality. Skowronek’s high-point skills and ability to extend away from his frame helped contribute to the majority of his best reps. He's undeterred in traffic, unbothered in contested situations, and clean along the sideline and in the middle of the field. 

Separation: The space he creates is the space he can establish with his inside hand or by extending at the top of a route. If he’s charged with rolling through breaks, he’s going to threaten vertically with enough juice to prompt corners to flip their hips and carry him vertically ahead of the break. He’s physical enough to bump you off his hip, however—almost like what you’d expect from a tight end. 

Release Package: Skowronek is big and plays with good strength but his surface area and lack of lateral mobility are going to present hurdles for success. He struggles to drive out of the blocks and NFL perimeter corners will be able to get very handsy with him in the contact window.

Run After Catch: this is a slow burn, straight-line runner. As a result, his YAC opportunities are limited at best and when he gets them, he’s not imaginative and does not show any desirable level of wiggle to break free and create yardage. He is, however, a big body. Poor angles into the catch point will allow him the chance to slip through a crease and rumble for some cheap yards. 

Ball Skills: His catch radius is quite large and he’s capable of plucking the ball off the helmet of a defender or extending back across his frame to haul in errant passes. Perhaps the silver lining of some of the QB limitations is that we’ve seen him tested with general accuracy and he’s done well here to adjust his frame and win positioning. He showcases ideal strength in his hands away from his frame, regardless of if he’s got a defender on his hip or into his frame. 

Football IQ: He’s almost like the equivalent of a raw, athletic lineman. His size does him so many favors—he was able to win reps regardless of what the nuance and technique looked like. The tops of his routes weren’t overly crisp and his ability to run more than nines and shallow crosses out of bunch to generate a free release didn’t jump off the screen. He’s natural to identify the ball in flight and attack at the highest point, however. 

Versatility: Skowronek appears to lack the explosion desired to threaten vertically and work underneath routes, he’s going to have his hands full winning any targets that aren’t aided by defensive leverage. He appears to be a viable candidate to play gunner with his size and toughness but he’s not someone who will command looks all over an offensive set or run a very diverse tree. 

Competitive Toughness: He's big, physical, and dominates the catch point. You can appreciate how well he boxes out and how assertive he is with his hands to secure the football. He brings good energy to blocking and shows awareness on scramble drills to rework open and press to grass to provide a target. 

Big-Play Ability: Anyone physically capable of skying and winning 50/50 balls with a level of consistency is always going to be capable of creating a big splash. The wins down the field for Skowronek in 2020 were inflated by poor play on the ball by defenders, and expecting chunk gains or any electric run after the catch feels overly ambitious. 

Prospect Comparison: Jeff Samardzija (Notre Dame Class of 2007)

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Kyle Crabbs: 67.5/100

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