Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds (45th)
Vertical: 36.5” (64th)
Broad: 121” (55th)
3-cone: 6.96 seconds (49th)
20-yard shuttle: 4.14 seconds (69th)
Pittman Jr. was 1 of the most productive receivers in the country last year. He ranked 4th in catches, 10th in receiving yards and 19th in TDs. He caught at least 6 balls in 10 of his 13 outings and topped 100 yards 5 times, including in 4 of his last 6 games.
He benefitted from playing in a USC passing game that ranked 5th in yards and 12th in TDs. But Pittman Jr. still registered solid market shares: 27.7% of the team’s receptions, 29.2% of the yards and 31.4% of the TDs. Those marks rank 8th, 12th and 13th among 23 of this year’s top WR prospects.
Pittman Jr. was named a 2nd-team All-American and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award (nation’s top WR).
That was a culmination of a 4-year career that saw Pittman improve his numbers each season. The son of former Cardinals, Bucs and Broncos RB Michael Pittman, Junior was a 4-star recruit after posting a massive 81-1,990-24 line in his final high school campaign.
He totaled just 29 catches across his first 2 years on campus, playing behind guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Deontay Burnett. Pittman made an impact on special teams, though, and was named 2017 All-Pac-12 first team as a special teams player.
It’s worth noting that Pittman missed the first 3 games of the 2017 campaign after spraining his ankle in fall camp.
He earned a bigger role on offense as a junior, leading USC in receiving yards, tying for the team lead in TDs and ranking 3rd in catches. And that was despite missing 1 game with a left shoulder injury that required offseason surgery.
Pittman’s market shares in his 11 games in 2018: 18.4% of the receptions, 27.0% of the receiving yards and 37.5% of the receiving scores.
Courtesy of @WhatsOnDraftNFL
Games watched - UCLA (2018), BYU, Utah, Colorado
Pittman is your classic big-bodied possession receiver. He’s a strong route-runner — especially for his size — with experience running a wide variety of routes. Per Pro Football Focus, Pittman saw 7+% of his targets on 7 different routes over the past 2 seasons: go, out, hitch, screen, in, slant and cross. By comparison, the top 2 prospects in this class, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb, saw 7+% of their targets on 6 different routes.
Pittman also has some of the most reliable hands in this year’s WR class. Pro Football Focus charged him with just 5 drops on 176 catchable targets over his 4 seasons at USC — good for a sterling 2.8% drop rate.
Although he ran a nice 4.52-second 40 at the Combine, Pittman doesn’t beat guys downfield very often. He also doesn’t fare as well in contested situations as you’d like from a 6’4, 223-pounder. He reeled in a mediocre 44% of his contested opportunities last year, per PFF.
Finally, Pittman isn’t going to add much value with the ball in his hands. He averaged just 4.8 yards after the catch in 2019, again according to PFF. That ranked 187th in the country.
Pittman has a strong combination of size and athleticism with a nice college production profile. That probably means we should be excited about him as a fantasy prospect.
I can’t get there, though. While Pittman plays big, runs nice routes and has sticky hands, there’s no juice to his game.
That doesn’t mean he can’t be a productive pro. In fact, he might be 1 of the safer WR prospects in this class. From a fantasy perspective, though, he’ll probably need big volume to be a difference-maker. That makes landing spot more important for Pittman than most.