There was a stretch this season when Liberty wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden was the small-school gem everyone was talking about.
Now? Gandy-Golden’s draft stock has taken a bit of a dip, according to draft analysts.
It has nothing to do with his production or measurables. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Gandy-Golden is a big-bodied receiver who can outmuscle defenders and serve as a good red zone option, as evidenced by his 30 touchdowns the past three seasons. Scouts also rave about his catch radius and his hands in general.
Furthermore, Gandy-Golden’s senior season was even more impressive than his junior season, as he caught 79 passes for 1,396 yards, giving him two-year totals of 150 receptions for 2,433 yards. He also caught 10 touchdowns for three consecutive seasons and recently accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl.
So what’s not to like?
The issue, according to Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell, is speed. Until Gandy-Golden works out for teams, there will remain questions about whether he’s fast enough to separate from NFL cornerbacks.
“… (M)ultiple team sources say they have graded Gandy-Golden in the mid-rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft because of speed concerns,” Campbell said, adding that team sources still really like the receiver.
“Three teams said they had Gandy-Golden graded as a third- to fourth-rounder, and one team said they had a second- to third-round grade on him.”
Liberty WR Antonio Gandy-Golden is an intriguing player to watch. Big/athletic with huge catch radius. Doesn’t have special top speed but he generates a ton of big plays. Still needs work as a route runner but there’s upside. pic.twitter.com/tU0oJMbMdF
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) November 13, 2019
The latest top 100 draft board by The Athletic draft analyst Dane Brugler has Gandy-Golden rated as the No. 90 overall prospect. That would put him near the midway to bottom part of third round.
And the fact Gandy-Golden is part of what’s thus far considered a potentially historically good receiver class doesn’t help his draft standing, either.
However, before you slate Gandy-Golden as a Day 3 player, keep in mind scouts were saying the same thing about former SMU receiver Courtland Sutton prior to the 2018 draft. Sutton was picked by Denver with the No. 40 overall pick.
Both are big-bodied receivers (Sutton is 6-4, 218) who came from small schools — and came with concerns about their speed and ability to separate from defenders.
“Play speed feels non-threatening,” and, “Doesn’t show much separation burst on first and second levels.”
Instead, that perceived lack of speed hasn’t hurt Sutton despite a quarterback situation that remains in transition. Sutton caught 42 passes for 704 yards and four touchdowns his rookie year. His receiving yards were the fourth-most by a rookie in Broncos history.
Sutton had an even more impressive sophomore campaign, grabbing 72 passes for 1,112 yards and 6 TDs this season.