Jalen Nailor

Jalen Nailor

  • WR Spartans
  • Junior
  • #206
  • 5'11"
  • 186lbs
  • 03/02/1999
  • Prospect
  • Big Ten

2021 Season









Top Traits

Big Play Ability

Big Play Ability

Jalen Nailor

Nailor’s expertise is vertical receiving. He does well on posts, nines, double moves, and schemed shot plays to time up his acceleration and then create vertical separation. He appears to have good nuance in attacking deep defenders with his eyes, stem, and burst.

Ball Skills

Ball Skills

Jalen Nailor

Watching him adjust his tracks when eyeing the football down the field is notable and an area that should pay immediate dividends if he can get on the field in a niche role. Effort at the catch point when challenged with a defender on his frame suggests he’s not going to offer appeal as a contested-catch receiver or high-point pass-catcher over the rim.

Prospect Summary

Michigan State wide receiver Jalen Nailor has served as the Spartans’ big-play extraordinaire in the passing game over the past two seasons and leaves East Lansing with nearly a 17.0 yards per catch average throughout the course of his four seasons as a contributor on game days. Nailor is a speedy athlete who offers gracefully acceleration skills in the open field—he won frequently with double moves and vertical routes downfield. Those opportunities were supplemented with some manufactured touches, such as end-arounds and opportunities in the kicking game to return kicks. You can see Nailor’s high school track background on the gridiron; he won four state titles during his senior year at Bishop Gorman in Nevada. Projecting Nailor to the NFL, I think he stands a firm chance to be a depth receiver in the passing game and serve as a primary kick returner for his next team.

Ideal role: Depth receiver

Scheme tendencies: Spread offense


Written by Kyle Crabbs

Games watched: Rutgers (2021), Nebraska (2021), Miami FL (2021), Pittsburgh (2021)

Best Game Studied: Rutgers (2021)

Worst Game Studied: Nebraska (2021)

Route Running: Nailor is at his best on vertical routes. He does well versus off coverage to press with urgency and use his acceleration to stress defenders. His ability to sink his hips and suddenly redirect off that vertical stem, however, needs to improve for him to run a more diverse set of routes and be a more complete receiver.

Hands: I didn’t see any issues with misplayed targets and he actually did well to reach out and haul in a few throws that tested his catch radius. His cleanest targets come on over-the-shoulder bucket throws.

Separation: His ability to run past soft coverage in the open field is enough to offer appeal as a route-runner. Whether he becomes more nuanced to break off route stems with dynamic burst and explosive COD is yet to be seen, but I’d like to think his foundation here is quite strong and offers developmental upside. He’s currently best when called upon for shallow breaks and deeper targets.

Release Package: I did not get an opportunity to see too many reps against press, but his acceleration will cause strain against press corners who miss at the line. He’s got the juice needed to stack you quickly, but his foot-fire in short spaces is more smooth than sudden and I expect he’s going to need to build here to ensure clean releases at the NFL level.

Run After Catch: I saw some really creative challenges of tacklers with the ball in his hands, particularly against Rutgers. His vision of pursuit and understanding of angles has allowed him to create a lot of yards after catch, but I wouldn’t bank on him running through any firm challenges—he’s not built for that.

Ball Skills: See Above.

Football IQ: Nailor’s play tells two stories here. He’s natural with the ball in his hands and smooth to create chunk gains if you give him a crease. But his development as an all-around receiver appears to have been hindered by the limitations of the Michigan State offense (through 2020, anyway). As a result, he has a lot of growth potential to be a more well-developed player.

Versatility: Routes and targets that worked the more shallow areas of the field didn’t offer the same production or appeal unless they came on manufactured touches—his ability to break suddenly on sharp angles at the top of stems is only modest and won’t challenge high-level defenders without improvement. Special teams value is an important piece of his individual puzzle as a player.

Competitive Toughness: Nailor isn’t a big receiver and he doesn’t project as someone who is going to dictate reps with power or strength. I don’t see him as a receiver with the mass to run through press coverage with consistency. His blocking to step down and seal on defenders should be considered sufficient but not a true asset to his game.

Big-Play Ability: See Above.


TDN (Adjusted) Consensus: 70.50/100 (Fifth Round Value)

Crabbs Grade: 71.00/100