It doesn’t seem that long ago that talent evaluators tabbed LSU as WRU. LSU moved pretty seamlessly from Reed to Clayton to Bowe to LaFell to Beckham and Landry. All six players rank in the top 10 in LSU history in receiving yards, and I didn’t include Buster Davis and Early Doucet, who also rank and played in the same era. These are the spoils of the golden era of LSU football.
Yet, since 2013, production dipped dramatically. In the following three seasons LSU’s leading receiver posted 758, 698, and 593 yards. And it’s not as if the riches were distributed to a glut of targets. LSU’s second leading receiver in those years posted 318, 533, and 466 yards respectively. Players like John Diarse, Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn, and Tyron Johnson came and left the program without significant production.
Some of this can be blamed on the failed QB development, but LSU failed also to develop receivers. Talent in and talent out in failed offensive schemes. But a new era is upon us, fresh with an offensive coordinator promising an improved passing game and opportunities for all. Canada routinely insists his offense is about the players and he seeks to feature what players do best. It seems innovation is finally on the door step at LSU, after years of trudging through the offensive darkness.
Mannie Netherly may be the first step to bringing the light back to the WR position at LSU.
Back of the Card
110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can’t miss" talent.
100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.
97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who is projected to play professionally.
89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.
79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.
247 Composite Ranking: ****
247 Composite Rating: .9069
Netherly finished ranked 251st overall in the 247 Composite and as the 36th overall WR. Though he never appeared above the 200s, Netherly’s ranking did fall after his senior season, where he played QB for Crosby. As a Junior, Netherly caught 60 passes for 1,000 yards and 18 TDs.
Officially listed at 6-3, 194 pounds, Netherly’s long and lean frame projects well to the next two levels. By comparison, Malachi Dupre listed at 6-4, 194 his final season at LSU and measured 6-2, 196 at the NFL combine. There’s no good photos to compare, but Netherly looks a legitimate 6-2/6-3 on tape.
Netherly originally committed to A&M in 2015, but then decommited in hilarious fashion after A&M receivers coach Aaron Moorehead decided to go on a rant about recruiting loyalty.
He picked LSU about two months later and never looked back. A December graduate, Netherly enrolled early at LSU and participated in spring practice, which bolsters his opportunity for playing time this fall.
On the Field
Already There: Speed, Explosiveness, After Catch Skills
Working On It: Route Running, Hands Catching, Polish
Doesn’t Have It: Nothing
Speed: Kid can run. He posted a 4.48 at the Houston Regional of the Opening. :43 is just a simple drag and after he makes a couple guys miss and catches that sideline, it’s over. 1:00 again just a little screen, but once he makes a guy miss, no one is catching him. He’s got angle-beating ability. The QB run at 1:47 is perhaps most impressive. Once he rounds that corner and gets downhill, he’s flying.
Explosiveness: There’s speed and there’s being sudden. I think Clyde Edwards-Helaire is explosive, but I’m not sure he’s fast. Netherly is both. He’s the type of guy that can one-cut and hit top speed in a step or two. 1:19 you can see him get to top gear in a hurry. He doesn’t run many routes on tape (more on this later), but this will translate to his route running once developed. It’s a major trait that separated both Beckham and Landry as elite WRs. Beckham has great speed, Landry does not, but both are explosive coming out of cuts, which allows them to create separation.
After Catch Skills: He’s lethal with the ball in his hands. Love seeing him in the open field because he can make guys miss and once he finds a seam, he’s gonna hit it. That makes him a big-time big play threat. 2:55 is one of those silly HS plays, but you can see how lethal he can be in the open field in one-on-one situations.
Working On It
Route Running: A major reason Netherly failed to climb rankings is because he spent his senior season playing QB, though he profiled to WR all the way at the next level. This probably also set him back slightly on the development curve as a WR. He’s had less time to refine his craft. Right now, he’s very raw in this area and will need to work to perfect his craft. 3:53 is a pretty crisp route.
Hands Catching: The sideline snag at 2:27 gives me hope that it’s in there, but he doesn’t naturally attack the football in the air, like I love seeing. The play at 2:42 is a prefect example. I want him to scale up and pluck that ball in the air and instead he allows it to drop into arms. It’s a nice adjustment, but still not premium. 3:53 another snag that shows you the promise. It’s just a consistency issue. 4:15 too, I love the way he high points the ball on the post.
Polish: He’s RAW. He doesn’t come to LSU as a guy that’s played WR for four years in HS and ran 5,000 routes and caught 500 passes and all that. He’s got to learn how to play the position. His other skills should enable him to hit the field early, but if he’s to be a top flight WR, he still has a lot to master.
Poseur’s 80s Movie Comparison
Some guys are studs, some guys are diamonds in the rough, but let’s be honest... most guys in a recruiting class are well-regarded players that evaluators predict will be modestly successful. These are Program Guys, the glue of any successful programs. Yeah, it’s not sexy, but you need good, reliable players.
Innerspace didn’t break any box office records, and it didn’t win any awards (I lie, it won an Oscar for its special effects). The movie was exactly what it promised to be: a well-made Hollywood vehicle for some up and coming stars. It’s a good way to spend two hours, as is pretty much any movie headlined by Dennis Quaid, but it is not a life-changing event or anything. If it is on TV, I’ll probably still stop down for a few minutes.
That is Mannie Netherly. A guy we are relying on to be modestly successful, but not break any records. Maybe he could develop a bit of a cult fanbase, but the chances are long. Besides, that’s not the real goal here. LSU is counting on him to be solidly productive. A nice, modest hit.
What the Future Holds
Upside, upside, upside is all I see with Netherly. His physical skills are immense. Running in the 4.4s gives plenty of promise. At 6-2, he’s an easy, long strider, but unlike most taller players, he also has strong start/stop ability. He’s not jitter bug quick like Edwards-Helaire, but he can definitely accelerate.
I’m interested to see how Netherly’s career will develop. I think Canada’s offense is an ideal place for him to thrive. He can be moved around formations and deployed in different looks. The object, at least early in his career, should be to simply get the ball in his hands in space. Netherly is the type of player that can make one defender miss and eat up a ton of yards. He can be of value in the jet sweeps and can be useful in the screen game until he further develops as a route runner.
How good Mannie Netherly wants to be will really be up to him. He caught a 60-yard TD pass in a recent scrimmage, though no explanation was given for the type of reception. Canada’s heavy shifts and motions almost assure Netherly of seeing early playing time, in order to keep fresh legs in the rotation.
For Netherly to be more than a space player or simply a weapon on handoffs and short passes, he will need to dedicate himself to mastering his craft as a route runner. I see a positive correlation in his ability to plant and go and the potential that translates to route running. The onus will then be on him to put those pieces together.
I do have concerns about Mickey Joseph’s ability to bring it out of him. Orgeron already brought in veteran Jerry Sullivan as a consultant this Fall, but it was a short term contract. Joseph is primarily a recruiter, so I’m not sure he has the tools to help Netherly make that leap like a coach like Adam Henry did for Odell Beckham.
I’m not sure I see alpha-dog, No. 1-receiver traits in Netherly, but then, I’m not sure I did with Odell Beckham either. What no one knew at the time was how dedicated Beckham would be at mastering his craft. Beckham is who he is today because he and Jarvis would spend their college nights catching hundreds of balls out of the jugs machine. How bad Netherly wants it may determine how high his star shoots.
High End: Multi-year starter and consistent contributor with NFL upside.
Low End: Rotational and gimmick player that never finds a consistent role in the offense and loses out to other talented players.
Realistic: Honestly: DJ Chark. They profile near identically. I didn’t see Chark as a potential No. 1 and I don’t really see Netherly there either, but it may be somewhere within him. He’s got tools that translate, the question will be does he maximize them? I see Netherly as a guy that will be a consistent threat in the offense without ever emerging as the go-to target.