LSU junior wide receiver Malachi Dupre announced his decision to head to the NFL Draft this afternoon in a series of very tasteful tweets:
and this video.
Dupre finished his LSU career with his best game, catching seven passes for 143 yards in LSU’s Citrus Bowl win. Both figures were career highs. He finished 2016 with a team-leading 41 catches for for 593 yards and three touchdowns.
For most, Dupre leaves Baton Rouge with everybody wanting more. He may be the prospect that suffered the most from the malaise of LSU’s passing game from 2014 through most of this season. While Dupre will leave LSU with a respectable 14 career touchdowns, although on just 98 catches, and a career-high of 698 yards in 2015. Not the kind of numbers most expected for a five-star prospect in LSU’s star-studded recruiting class of 2014.
And while there’s truth to that narrative, I think Dupre has to own a lot of his issues from his time here, issues that may give him trouble in the NFL. He consistently struggled to get off of press coverage and make difficult catches in tight spaces. He even had issues high-pointing the ball consistently, which is not what you’d expect from a 6-3 wide receiver with big-time leaping ability (the catch pictured above may be the only true “jump-ball” Dupre caught this season). Even when the passing game improved under Danny Etling after Les Miles and Cam Cameron’s firing, other receivers excelled more, particularly D.J. Chark.
LSU, for its part, will still return a fairly deep group of wide receivers, although experience takes a hit. Chark, Russell Gage and Dee Anderson all saw significant time this season, and players like Drake Davis, Derrick Dillon, Stephen Sullivan, plus true freshman Mannie Netherly, who will participate in spring drills. This group will also have a fairly new lease on the offense under new coordinator Matt Canada, as well.
Still, it’s not a surprise that Dupre wants to take his talents to the professional ranks. It was likely “the plan” for him since arriving on campus, and lately, more and more prospects seem more interested in getting to the pros as quickly as possible. And while it’s understandable, Dupre wouldn’t be the first to be making a decision that might be unwise. He’ll likely jump out of the gym and run very well at the NFL Combine — athleticism has never been an issue. But when scouts look at the tape, I suspect they’ll wonder why they aren’t seeing more. Another year with more consistent production might have helped that.
Still, Dupre was a hard worker who always carried himself and represented LSU very well, and everybody at ATVS wishes him well in his future endeavors.