40-yard dash: 4.38 seconds
Marshall’s numbers don’t jump off the page. But context, as always, is important.
He arrived at LSU as a 5-star recruit, the unanimous top prospect from Louisiana and a top 5 WR prospect in the class according to most scouting services. He had offers from well over 20 schools, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma and Miami. And that was despite missing most of his senior year of high school with a broken left fibula. Marshall posted a big 55-1,250-15 line as a junior.
He hit the field for all 13 games as a freshman at LSU but finished just 8th on the team in catches and 7th in receiving yards. That squad featured then-sophomore Justin Jefferson and then-freshman Ja’Marr Chase, plus 2019 4th-round TE Foster Moreau and 2020 7th-rounder Stephen Sullivan.
Marshall captured a much larger role as a sophomore. He finished 3rd on that electric 2019 LSU offense in receiving yards and TDs -- behind only Jefferson and Chase. Marshall ranked 5th in catches behind Jefferson, Chase, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire and TE Thaddeus Moss. And that was despite missing 3 games with a fractured left foot. His market shares in the other 12: 13.1% of the catches, 13.3% of the yards and 26.5% of the TDs. Not huge marks -- but more impressive when you consider the competition for targets.
Marshall played in 7 of the Tigers’ 10 games last year, missing the Alabama game with an injury and opting out of the final 2. With Jefferson and Chase out of the way, he emerged as the top dog and easily set new career highs with 6.9 catches, 104 yards and 1.4 TDs per game. Marshall opened the season with multiple TDs in 4 straight and topped 100 yards in 3 of his 7 outings, including a 235-yard explosion at Missouri.
In his 7 games, Marshall soaked up 27.6% of LSU’s catches, 33.3% of the receiving yards and 58.8% of the receiving scores.
Courtesy of FF Astronauts
Games watched - Oklahoma (2019), Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Texas A&M
Marshall won mostly with size and athleticism at LSU.
At 6’3 with big hops, he dominated 50/50 balls. Per Pro Football Focus, Marshall came down with 25 of 41 contested opportunities over the past 2 seasons.
He also won deep with long-striding speed.
Marshall flashes some make-you-miss ability after the catch …
But most of his damage with the ball in his hands came from simply out-running defenders.
Marshall has work to do in the route-running department, though. His releases are lackadaisical and his routes a bit lumbering.
He won’t be able to win contested balls as consistently at the next level and will need to learn to create more separation. The good news is that he has the athleticism to become a more effective route runner.
Marshall also needs to clean up his drop issues. Pro Football Focus charted him with 7 drops on 55 catchable targets (12.7%) this past year. Most of the drops I saw on tape came when Marshall looked to turn upfield before securing the ball. That’s correctable.
Back on the plus side, Marshall has experience lining up all over the formation. He played 74% of his snaps outside the numbers in 2019 and then played 73% in the slot last season.
Marshall heads into the NFL as an unrefined prospect with a lot of development to do. I don’t expect him to make a big rookie-year impact. But there’s plenty to get excited about when it comes to long-term ceiling.
He was a big-time recruit. He has alpha size and tested as a 99th percentile athlete at his Pro Day. He flashes big-play ability and contested-catch dominance on tape. And his college production is more impressive than it looks at first glance. He held his own alongside Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase as a sophomore and posted strong market shares as a junior.
In a WR class with a bunch of smaller guys who will likely be secondary options in their NFL passing games, Marshall stands out as 1 of the few WRs with the potential to emerge as his team’s lead dog.