The 2021 NFL Draft is deep at the wide receiver position. Even with all that depth, former LSU receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. is viewed by many as one of the top pass catchers available. He has a chance to hear his name called during the first round Thursday.
Marshall is an exciting and ascending player. Turn the tape on and his skill-set jumps off the screen. Marshall is a big, fast, and physical receiver that has every baseline trait necessary to develop into a true No. 1 option at the next level.
Marshall spoke exclusively with The Draft Network to discuss growing up in Louisiana, his versatile skill set, how he developed such a physical mindset, and why NFL teams shouldn’t let him get past the first 32 picks.
JM: You grew up in Bossier City, Louisiana. The population is less than 70,000. What was life like growing up?
TM: Life was great for the most part. I stayed out of trouble. I was careful with who I surrounded myself with. My parents raised me right. They took care of me. They really wanted the best for us. I don’t have anything bad to say about my upbringing. I’m just thankful to be in this position. Coming from where I come from has motivated me to be the person I am today.
JM: You went to the local high school where you played football and basketball. How did that make you a better athlete?
TM: It all correlates. I played both sports at a high level in high school. Each one helped me succeed at the other one. Being a multi-sport athlete was a lot of fun for me. It was a great experience. It made me a more talented athlete in general.
JM: You graduated high school and went to LSU, which is less than four hours away from Bossier City. What did it mean to you to get to play your college football so close to home?
TM: It meant the world to me. Honestly, if I didn’t go to LSU, this journey wouldn’t even feel right to me. When I hear my name called on draft night, it’s going to feel so much better because I went to LSU. I wanted to make that dream come true. I’ve always had this vision in my head. It wouldn’t look the same without LSU. I’ve always known I wanted to go to LSU and compete. I wanted to win a national championship, which we did. I’m thankful for it all, man. I really am.
JM: We can tell. I don’t know a lot about Bossier City, but I bet it’s a tight-knit community. I bet LSU means a lot to that city. It must be the cherry on top for you.
TM: LSU means a lot to my hometown. It’s a state-wide thing, really. If you’re from Louisiana, you represent Louisiana and LSU is a part of that. Everybody from here loves this state, and LSU means everything to us. We hold our school and state in very high regard. We love all of our schools, but LSU is the biggest school in the state. The love is real.
JM: I love that. You know I have to ask a little about 2019. You caught passes from Joe Burrow and played alongside Ja’Marr Chase, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Justin Jefferson. What a team and season that was.
TM: I look back on it like that was a legendary moment in my life. We went down in history. It was meant to be. We made it happen. We all look back on it with smiles on our faces. It was crazy. It’s a moment in the past now, but we’ll always look back on what we accomplished that season. We’re cemented in history. It was a dream come true to play with those guys. I couldn’t have asked to be a part of a better group. It was an honor.
JM: The 2020 season was obviously very different from 2019. What was your biggest takeaway from one year to the next?
TM: It was a crazy year with COVID-19 and everything. It just goes to show you that you never know what’s gonna happen in life. You could lose everything in a flash. I learned a lot in 2020. I learned how to take things day by day. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. The world goes on either way. You just have to keep working at your craft. You just gotta keep moving at your own pace. Everybody can’t be on the same path.
JM: You had so many great teammates at LSU. If you were going to war tomorrow and could only bring one with you, who would it be and why?
TM: I would bring Ja’Marr Chase with me. I already know that we work well together. We motivate each other both on and off the field. We both have that dog mentality in us. Every time we get out there together, it’s a problem. We just go out there and compete with one another. We’re a couple of dogs. We’re always trying to one-up one another. I love him like a brother. We went out there and did our thing. He was a great teammate.
JM: That’s a great choice. Who’s going to be the breakout star at LSU in 2021?
TM: Hopefully everybody (laughs). I’ll say this. I’m looking forward to seeing Jontre Kirklin and Jaray Jenkins do their thing. They’re gonna have big seasons in 2021. I’m especially looking forward to those two players right there. They have incredibly high ceilings. It’s their time to shine now.
JM: It’s officially draft week. How are you feeling? [Editor’s note: This interview was completed on April 26.]
TMJR: I feel great. My emotions are running high. I’m a little bit anxious to find out where I’m going. I can’t wait to see where I end up. I’m ready for what’s next. I’ve been playing the moment out in my head for a long time now. I’m ready for it to become reality.
JM: We’re so excited for you. When I turn the tape on, I see a big receiver with incredible hands. You have great ball skills. How did you develop those aspects of your game?
TM: I’ve put a lot of work into the finer details. A lot of time has gone into my craft. I’ve also been blessed by God with some natural ability. I’ve always worked incredibly hard on becoming a better player. I try to get better every day. I work on my hands all the time. Whether I’m at home on my own time or at the practice field, I work on my hands. I’m still getting better. It’s important to balance your strengths with your weaknesses.
JM: You’re also incredibly physical after the catch. You’re always looking to make something happen once you get the ball in your hands. You’re tough to tackle in the open field. Tell me about that.
TM: It’s all about what type of player you want to be. That’s who I wanna be. I wanna be a playmaker. I wanna make big plays after the catch. The play doesn’t end once I make the catch. It’s just getting started. You have to make your best play every time the ball comes your way. I have that dog mentality. I’m ready when the ball comes my way. It’s time for me to let the dog out.
JM: What is one aspect of your game that you don’t think gets talked about enough?
TM: I would point to my versatility. I can move anywhere on the field. You can put me inside or outside. I can play every receiver position. I pray that I get that same opportunity in the NFL. LSU moved me all over. Whichever team drafts me, I hope they utilize my versatility.
JM: We saw you do it at LSU. You worked both inside and outside. Where do NFL teams see you lining up?
TM: The feedback has been pretty consistent. They can see me playing both. I can use every aspect of my game. They wanna use my skill set to my advantage. I have a lot of size. I’m physical. I can run good routes on the outside or in the slot. I’m versatile. I might get picked by a team that plans on moving me around. I can make plays everywhere.
JM: What’s the biggest difference between playing outside versus playing in the slot?
TM: You tend to see a bit more press coverage on the outside. You’re faced with more press-man out there. Going into the slot, you have to read the safeties a bit more. You need to have a feel for the play and your route. You have to maneuver across the slot and get to your spot. You have to find the hole in the defense.
Other than that, I don’t see many differences personally. I try to approach them the same way. You’re still playing receiver. You’re still running routes. The ball is coming at you either way. You have to catch it the same way. It’s still football at the end of the day.
JM: That’s a great point. What can you tell me about the scheme LSU ran on offense? What did the coaching staff ask of you?
TM: The scheme was very progressive. The coaches expected us to make plays every time the ball came our way. They expected us to eat. That was our philosophy during the 2019 season. Everybody eats. Every time the ball comes your way, it’s just another opportunity to make a play. Go out there and make a play. Make a name for yourself. Put on for the team and put on for the state of Louisiana. That was our mindset. The coaching staff put us in a position to succeed. We played into our strengths.
JM: Your position coach, Mickey Joseph, is a great wide receivers coach. He’s very underrated in my opinion. He’s done a terrific job. How did Joseph help take your game to the next level?
TM: He’s made me a much better player. He also made me a better person off the field. He helped every one of us kids become a man. He taught us responsibility and accountability. He helped me so much at LSU. He’s a great asset both on and off the field. I love coach Joseph. He’s a great receivers coach. I’m so glad that you brought him up. He got me right, man. He made me more physical. He helped me tap into the mental aspect of the game. I love coach Joseph. He’s a great coach. He’s going to continue being a great coach for the next generation of LSU talent.
JM: That’s very high praise for him. Do you have a favorite route to run?
TM: I’d say a 15 yard stop or a Lucy route. The Lucy route is basically just a five-yard option route that I ran at LSU. I can break it inside or outside depending on how the defensive back is playing me.
JM: How do you approach a physical, bigger cornerback in coverage differently than you do a smaller, speedier one?
TM: I always use my size to my advantage. If they wanna get nasty with me, we can do that. I can bang it out. They wanna get banged up? We can do that. I’m very physical. I can do it either way. I’m a football player. I approach every play differently. Anybody that gets in front of me, they better come with it.
JM: I love your attitude. If you could catch a pass from any quarterback in the NFL not named Joe Burrow, who would it be and why?
TM: You already know I was gonna say Joe Burrow (laughs). I would probably say, Tom Brady. That’s the GOAT right there. He’s gotta be the greatest of all time, right? I’ve caught a lot of balls from a lot of different quarterbacks. I’ve been to different camps and played with some great players. I’ve worked out with some of the greats. I never caught a ball from Tom Brady, though (laughs). That would be cool. I need to see what kinda’ heat he puts on the ball.
JM: Nobody can argue with that choice. I’ve really appreciated your time today. This has been terrific. We’ve had a long conversation that paints a picture of why you’re one of the best players in this draft class. In closing, when a team uses a first-round pick on Terrace Marshall Jr., what kind of person are they getting?
TM: They’re getting a dog first and foremost. They’re getting somebody that’s really gonna produce for their team. They’re gonna get somebody that’s reliable. I’m gonna put my best foot forward and give it my all.