Normally, being a five-star prospect out of high school would not qualify you to be deemed a ‘sleeper’ for an upcoming NFL Draft. You could also make the case that being a five-star prospect out of high school helps your case for being a ‘sleeper’ in an upcoming NFL Draft. Arkansas’ Jadon Haselwood fits that description.
Haselwood was the No. 6 overall prospect in the 2019 recruiting class according to ESPN and the No. 1 wide receiver in his class. Haselwood ranked ahead of names like Garrett Wilson, George Pickens, Treylon Burks, and Jameson Williams. His college career did not pan out quite like those guys did, but Haselwood still has plenty of game and enough to get excited about for his NFL prospects.
Needed a Change of Scenery
It’s fair to cut Jadon Haselwood some slack for his 18.7-percent college dominator ranking in PlayerProfiler’s database. It just didn’t work out for him at Oklahoma. It’s hard to gain much traction as a freshman in a rush-first offense playing to Jalen Hurts‘ strength and competing for what little target share CeeDee Lamb didn’t hog.
That was in 2019. Haselwood only played three games in 2020, otherwise known as the COVID year. 2021 saw Haselwood finally produce on the field, but even that wasn’t until Oklahoma pulled the plug on the Spencer Rattler experiment and rolled with phenom Caleb Williams under center.
Even that was short-lived. Soon after the 2021 season, head coach Lincoln Riley left Norman for sunny Los Angeles and the USC head coaching job. Riley brought Williams and others with him. It’s not Haselwood’s fault it didn’t happen for him at Oklahoma.
The Big Slot
Jadon Haselwood soon entered the transferred portal and wound up in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Finally, Haselwood had the playing time and a ton of target share to work with after Treylon Burks and Tyson Morris departed the year prior. With that opportunity, he led Arkansas in receptions (59), targets (78), and target share (22-percent; 23.78-percent if you exclude Arkansas’ bowl game).
He was second on the team in yards with 702 in another run-heavy attack and scored three touchdowns on the season. He did so while playing primarily out of the slot. Haselwood is really big for a slot receiver at 6-2 215-pounds, but is also quick and shifty. He’s very good with the ball in his hands with a very mean stiff arm. He made throwing defenders into the turf a thing.
Arkansas mostly deployed Haselwood short and in the middle of the field, but he was able to win from all areas of the field. Haselwood made his hay mostly as a chain mover and red zone weapon, though. He only scored three times, but it should’ve been more and could’ve been more had Arkansas not had two wrecking balls in their backfield in K.J Jefferson and Raheim Sanders.
Red Zone Playmaker
These two plays are great examples, and both are done in different ways. In his Arkansas debut against Cincinnati, Arkansas dialed up a slot fade for Haselwood inside the red zone, and he used his big frame to haul it in for six.
Haselwood stuck the landing pic.twitter.com/NYohKC9vUq
— Arkansas Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) September 3, 2022
And then against Auburn, he takes the cushion his defender is giving him to scurry inside on a slant route where he’s wide open and saunters into the end zone after K.J. Jefferson gives him a pass right on the money.
Pitch and catch pic.twitter.com/P2D7ShMBDI
— Arkansas Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) October 29, 2022
The Draft Process
Jadon Haselwood‘s draft process hit a bit of a snag at the NFL combine. Most of his testing numbers came out somewhere from solid to very good, except for his 40-yard dash time. We’ve seen guys like Cooper Kupp (4.62) and Keenan Allen (4.71) carve out exceptional careers in the slot as slower guys, but they at least major production in college. Haselwood doesn’t, and expecting any prospect to reach that level of production is unrealistic, so him running a 4.66 at the combine was worrisome. However, he seemed to rectify that at his pro day recently.
Pro Day 𝘅 @jadon_haselwood pic.twitter.com/1LXaRYCXbi
— Arkansas Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) March 30, 2023
Granted, we don’t have the official number from his pro day, and colleges tend to juice up 40 times from their pro days to make their guys look better, but still. The real answer is somewhere in the middle, but it’s good to see Haselwood improve on his combine time for his draft stock.
What also helped Haselwood’s draft stock was his performance at the Shrine Bowl a couple of months ago. Nate Tice of The Athletic mentioned Haselwood as one of the standouts during the week of Shrine practices, including that Haselwood ‘displayed a more polished route tree than expected coming into the week.’
Talent isn’t an issue with Jadon Haselwood. Neither does he have off-field concerns. Yet it’s likely the former No. 1 wide receiver in his high school class is a Day 3 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Hmm, that sounds familiar.
Stefon Diggs was the No. 13-highest-rated prospect in his high school class and No. 2 wide receiver. No, I’m not saying Jadon Haselwood is the next Stefon Diggs. But weird stuff happens and some people’s journey to their destinations is more circuitous than others. That’s the case with Jadon Haselwood.
Day 3 receivers aren’t the best bets to take in fantasy and dynasty leagues, but we’ve also seen a fair share of those guys hit. And there aren’t many Day 3 receivers as talented as Jadon Haselwood. Whatever team drafts him will be getting a steal and someone with major ability. Keep an eye out on where he lands, fantasy gamers.