By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Ford was one of the top wide receivers in the ACC over the past three seasons, providing a vertical threat for the Hokies. As a freshman, he had an impressive debut with 56 catches for 709 yards and six scores. Ford followed that up with a breakout sophomore season with 75 receptions for 1,156 yards with 11 touchdowns. In his final season, the junior totaled 79 receptions for 1,094 yards and seven touchdowns.
Quickness is the No. 1 attribute that Ford brings to the table. In college, he served as a vertical wideout who stretched defenses over the top. Ford was quick to get separation out of his breaks and could burn past college corners on go routes. Ford isn’t thick, but he does have decent height to him, and he can use that to help make leaping catches over defensive backs. With his height, Ford is capable of boxing out corners for downfield jump balls. He is a speed receiver, but he is not a rare burner like John Ross this year or Will Fuller last year. Ford can run, but does not have the kind of elite speed that will set him apart in the professional game.
Aside from being quicker than fast, there are a few things that make Ford more of a mid-rounder. He does a lot of body catching. Ford needs to use his hands more to reel passes in and secure them. He also is a lanky receiver who could stand to add more strength. Extra power will help him to get off jams at the next level.
In the NFL, Ford would fit best as a slot receiver and backup. Playing the slot could provide him with good matchups against nickel corners, who tend to be short. Team sources have said that Ford received grades of late third round to the fourth round. Going in the middle portion of the 2017 NFL Draft seems reasonable for him.
Player Comparison: Robert Woods. Woods (6-0, 190) has almost identical size to Ford. Both of them are quicker than fast wide receivers who should be quality backup contributors. Woods was over-drafted by Buffalo and was a disappointment for them prior to the Rams giving him a huge payday in free agency. I think Ford could be an NFL receiver comparable to Woods.
NFL Matches: Buffalo, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Baltimore, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles
There could be a lot of teams in the market for an upgrade at wide receiver, so Ford should be a mid-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Buffalo needs a wide receiver to pair with Sammy Watkins. The Bills badly need a reliable receiver to help their passing offense when Watkins is out of the lineup and exploit teams sending double coverage his direction. A dependable receiver would be a good complement as a third- or fourth-round pick.
The Eagles have to get more weapons for Carson Wentz. They need some long-term receivers for Wentz after signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to short-term contracts. Ford could fill the role of the latter. The Bears signed Kendell Wright to a 1-year contract, but could use more long-term receivers to replace Alshon Jeffery.
The Ravens could consider Ford as they need a replacement for Steve Smith.
Tennessee needs to find more receiving weapons for Marcus Mariota. Ford could be in play for either of the Titans’ third-round picks or their fourth-round pick.
The Buccaneers need more receiving talent for Jameis Winston. Getting a receiver like Ford in the mid-rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft to rotate and behind Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson would make sense.
Kansas City supposedly wanted Laquon Treadwell last year, so adding more receiving talent to go with Jeremy Maclin could be a possibility for the Chiefs.
In California, the 49ers could use more wide receiver talent. The Rams need more receivers for the disappointing Jared Goff.
2017 NFL Mock Draft: Charlie’s | Walt’s
2017 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings
2017 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22
2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 21
Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19
NFL Picks - Feb. 12