If you’ve been around Twitter at all this summer, you no doubt have heard of a particular Notre Dame wide receiver that has been the talk of the Devy circle. That receiver is none other than Lorenzo Styles. Is Styles worth the hype he has been giving or does he come up just a bit short? Let’s dive in and find out.
In 2021, the Fighting Irish were far from a prolific passing offense. With no receiver over the 1,000-yard mark, and only two receivers over 400 yards, there was not a clear-cut WR1 on the roster. Many could even make the argument that tight end Michael Mayer was the best pass-catching threat on the team. With Kevin Austin Jr. off to the Jaguars, there is a wide-open competition for the WR1 spot on Notre Dame’s roster. Enter Styles.
Styles finished the 2021 season with 24 catches for 344 yards and a touchdown, good for 14.3 yards per catch on average. While these stats don’t exactly blow you out of the water, they paint the portrait of a receiver called upon throughout the season. On film, it at least came through at specific points.
This summer, there has been a discussion about year one zeros regarding the wide receiver position. While we are still exploring the correlation between this and NFL success, it does give us a good picture of whether a receiver has “hit” or not. Styles did enough in 2021 to not qualify as a year one zero. In turn, we can most likely predict for him to add to his freshman success this season and beyond. The opportunity for Styles is most certainly there, but the question is his skillset.
What sets Styles apart from many of the receivers on Notre Dame’s roster is his ability to create separation through crisp sound route running. He has a good release at the line of scrimmage and has quick feet to get inside leverage on the defensive back before exploding through his cut. He sinks his hips well at the top of his routes and creates separation with fairly technical route running.
We can see in this clip above, Styles puts together everything he just talked about. He has a clean release off the line of scrimmage and utilizes a stutter step to get inside the defender. He then shows off his speed to get over the coverage for a long touchdown grab.
The other thing we notice about Styles is his speed and run-after-the-catch ability. He has the wheels to take the top off the defense and stretch the coverage. He also has some pretty nice playmaking ability after the catch. Styles looks like an RB with the ball in his hands and can score from nearly anywhere on the field.
Demeatric Crenshaw hits Lorenzo Styles Jr. for a 49 yard Touchdown to take the lead in the State Championship game. Garner Wallace with the downfield block to clear the path. Tigers went on to win their 2nd State Title. pic.twitter.com/diIiPCRAoy— PCtigerfootball (@PCtigerfootball) April 10, 2020
Areas for Improvement
When you watch Styles play, he does have some glaring weaknesses in his game that he needs to clear up. The biggest of these weaknesses are some obvious drop issues. Watching him play last year, there were several passes in his direction that should have been routine catches for an easy first down, maybe even more. On more than a few occasions, I saw Styles drop these passes with little to no pressure from coverage.
The root cause of this is the way that Styles attacks the ball in the air. He is a true and true body catcher. He does not attack the ball and pluck it out of the air like we like to see from receivers at his level. I rarely saw Styles win contested catches. I worry if he has the strength to be a reliable receiver at the catch point.
While I believe Styles can be a viable receiver at the college level, I am not buying him for the price created by the offseason hype. While he is a sound route runner and has some nice playmaking ability in the open field, I can’t get over the obvious issues he has at the catch point and his drop concerns. Far too often, the devy and dynasty community alike have been burnt by fast receivers with less than reliable hands. I have learned my lesson from this mold of receiver in the past. I prefer to stay away from Styles in drafts. The ceiling for him is an early day three pick right now, and you can find better options at his price point.
Well, that does it for us today. For more devy and college football analysis, make sure to follow me on Twitter @DevyMatt and subscribe to my Youtube Page at Devy Database, where I am starting to put out player profiles. We will see you next time.