Southern Methodist can hardly be considered a hotbed for NFL talent ever since the legendary Eric Dickerson earned the No. 2 overall selection back in 1983 but current standouts Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos) and Cole Beasley (Dallas Cowboys) provide plenty of evidence that if there is one position the Mustangs can still gallop, it is at wide receiver.
The physically imposing Sutton - whose has caught 31 touchdowns passes over the past three seasons -appears poised to continue SMU's impressive recent track record of pass-catchers.
After spending his prep career split between tight end and safety, Sutton did not generate the same sort of attention as a prep as some of the other highly regarded receivers in the 2018 draft. He played in just two games as a true freshman, hauling in two passes for a total of 27 yards before being shut down for the year and redshirting.
Sutton exploded onto the scene a year later, however, setting a school record with 862 receiving yards and tying Sanders for the most touchdowns by an SMU pass-catcher with nine scores to earn USA Today Freshman All-American honors. A year later, Sutton galloped past some of the thoroughbreds in recent SMU history, breaking Aldrick Robinson's (Atlanta Falcons) sophomore school record with 1,246 receiving yards on 76 grabs and 10 touchdowns to become the first Mustangs' wideout to earn First Team all-conference honors since Beasley back in 2011.
Sutton was even more efficient in 2017, hauling in a career-best 12 touchdowns over the regular season to earn First Team All-American Athletic Conference honors and ranking amongst the most productive receivers in conference history.
It is easy to get excited about Sutton's blend of size, athleticism and sure hands. Critics, however, will point out that Sutton's top games in 2017 came against the likes of North Texas (eight catches for 163 yards and a career-high four touchdowns), Connecticut (7-112-2), Houston (11-160-0) and Navy (7-123-2) - hardly a who's who of elite defenses in college football.
The traits are there to project success in the NFL and warrant a top 50 selection. Given the questionable talent, lack of press coverage and minimal routes run at SMU, however, don't be surprised if this Mustang is a bit late out of the gate.
Earned three stars as a recruit after spending his high school career at tight end and safety. Spurned offers from BYU, Colorado and Rice to sign with SMU. Received a medical redshirt in 2014 after playing in the first two games. Elected to play basketball a year later but saw limited action, playing in just three games and totaling three points and two rebounds in four minutes of action.
Possesses the build of a prototypical No. 1 NFL receiver with broad shoulders, long arms and a tapered, athletic frame with good overall musculature. Natural hands receiver who collects passes easily, showing very good concentration and hand strength to secure the contested grab. Can track the ball over his shoulder, as well as come back towards the ball and pluck before taking the big hit. Is not afraid to use his size and strength to box out defenders for the ball, showing good timing and body control to win 50-50 throws and adjust to poorly thrown balls. Can contort in the air to adjust, making him a natural red zone threat.
Smooth accelerator off the line of scrimmage with enough build-up speed to be a vertical threat. Surprisingly agile for a receiver of his size with good lateral agility and a stop-start move. Shows good vision to set up blocks, weaving through traffic and using his natural size and strength advantage to bully his way and create additional yardage after the catch. Showed improved savviness as a route-runner in 2017, varying his gait to create separation and using shoulder fakes to leave defenders guessing and recognizing the potential for big gains on "free plays" when the defense was clearly offside... Experienced playing inside and out, theoretically easing his transition to the NFL. The clear-cut top option at SMU and might blossom with a greater supporting cast... - Rob Rang 12/14/2017
Lacks elite suddenness off the snap to frighten NFL defensive backs, showing smooth but not sudden acceleration to create separation. Does not explode out of his breaks and throttles down on comebacks and stop routes which could lead to interceptions against the elite cornerbacks he will face in the NFL.
Can be too physical, resorting to pushing off defensive backs to create separation and drawing offensive pass interference penalties (TCU, Houston 2017). Could improve in his ability to recognize and improvise, failing to adjust his routes when his quarterback is in trouble. Did not face much press coverage in college and will need time to adjust in this area. Despite playing multiple receiver positions at SMU, ran a fairly limited route tree... Gets in the way as a blocker but is not the dominator that his build and hype suggest... -- Rob Rang 12/14/2017
COMPARES TO: Hall of Famer Art Monk, Washington Redskins. The elite size-speed matchup in recent NFL history is Randy Moss, a 2018 Canton finalist. Sutton's blend of height, agility, underrated straight-line speed and reliable hands is a closer comparison to Monk, a 6-3, 210 pounder who earned a yellow jacket based on consistency, including in the red zone with 68 career touchdowns.
IN OUR VIEW: Today's NFL passing attacks feature physical mismatches and perhaps no one in the 2018 draft class boasts a more intriguing combination of size, athleticism and ball-skills than Sutton, who recorded 31 touchdowns over the past three seasons, building upon his production each year after tying current Denver Broncos' standout Emmanuel Sanders' SMU freshman record with nine touchdowns.
Critics will point to Sutton's lack of ideal straight-line speed and questionable level of competition. His production (and this year's relative average receiver corps, however) are likely to earn him a top 50 grade with a first round selection in his very large catch radius.