1. First things first, what is Jaelen Strong like as a person? How does he fit into an NFL locker room?
During my time covering the ASU football team, I haven't heard a bad thing about Jaelen Strong's character. I know there was a report from Baltimore about behavior issues while at ASU, but no local reporter has any knowledge of character issues from Strong. He joined the team in 2013 about a week before training camp, and within a few weeks worked his way to the starting lineup. He is known as a tireless worker, and this past year he was one of the faces of the football team. One story I saw from last week was from ASU reporter Chris Karpman from Scout.com. He remembers a post-game press conference where after Strong was done speaking, he offered to get a towel to wipe down the seat he was sitting in before Todd Graham sat down in it. I have no concerns he will struggle to fit into an NFL locker room.
2. I noted some concerns about Strong's hands while doing my pre-draft film sessions, though those issues may have been caused by a previously undisclosed wrist injury that happened in the middle of the season. Would you say that Strong has a reliable pair of mitts on him and that his inconsistency was solely because of the injury, or is this something that we should be concerned about long term?
Strong did have a few drops this year, but that happens to every receiver on occasion. I believe his hands are one of his greatest strengths, especially in making highlight reel catches like the one-handed catch for a touchdown against Notre Dame. What is interesting is that this wrist injury was a surprise to those who cover the football team. Strong missed a game this year due to a concussion but he played most of the year with the wrist injury and still scored 10 touchdowns and recorded over 1,000 receiving yards.
3. What would you say is Strong's greatest strength (no pun intended)?
Watching Strong for the past two seasons, there is no doubt that his greatest strength is his ability to high point the football and make catches in the air over defenders. His size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) allows him to out-muscle cornerbacks when going up to get the football. His specialty with ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly was the back-shoulder throw, as he has the ability to get good position on the cornerback and make a tough catch, usually with the defender draped all over him.
4. Greatest weakness?
Like a lot of receivers, Strong does not do well when he is pressed on the line of scrimmage. He sometimes has a tough time fighting off contact if a defensive back jams him at the line. He also pretty much played only one position at ASU so he does not have experience in the slot.
5. What is your favorite non-Hail Mary related memory from Jaelen Strong's time at ASU?
Just a quick note on the "Jael Mary" (which is what we call it here). It wasn't your typical throw the ball up and see what happens [kind of play]. Yes, Bercovici heaved it, but Strong found the football in the air and actually adjusted his route inside to make the play right in front of the USC defender. He was honestly wide open on the play and it was baffling how bad USC played that. My favorite moment was the one-handed catch against Notre Dame I mentioned above. Strong makes those catches look easy, he has such great body control and concentration.
Thank you so much to Ryan for stopping by. I don’t know about y’all, but it sounds to me like we got ourselves a keeper.