There is no hiding it. The 2016 season was a disappointment for the Stanford Cardinal X receiver, who reeled in only 32 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns. After his junior year uptick in production, the summer hype had him rolling in big numbers this season. He also ran five times for 71 yards and a touchdown, which we will get to later. Unfortunately, the chips did not fall that way.
Now it is time to decide if his numbers suffered from a running back oriented offense that had Christian McCaffrey and struggles at the QB and OL or if he just cannot threaten offenses like we all thought.
While his height at 6’1” and weight at 189 is a little under the preferred size for an X receiver he is a solid route runner and has great hands paired with a vertical that helps him win 50/50 balls. That paired his 36 1⁄2 inch vertical and 4.42 speed on the 40 yard dash make his measurable assets seem pretty good. But can he be a contributor on an NFL roster?
Pro Comparison -
While his production was low in college, especially after he was prime to be the big option outside his senior year, there is a mold for success Rector can follow. Every player has a style and body type similar to a pro that gives them a road map on how to make it. For Rector, that guy is San Fransisco 49ers wide receiver - Jeremy Kerley. Kerley is a fast receiver with solid hands, who has really perfected the typical X receiver routes. Those typically are variations of the vertical or go route and the post, sending the best receiver deeper most of the time to put strain on a secondary is the idea there. He is not exceptional at every route like a Larry Fitzgerald, but he can run the routes you need him to.
The wrinkle that these players give a team is in the running game. Both of these guys have made big plays on the ground because of jet sweeps and their good size that gives them durability on the ground. This helps make both of these guys variable because they have that extra gear to offer an offense.
Best Fit -
While there are always teams that need a wide receiver, like the Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears or 49ers, Rector fits in to a couple schemes. The best spot for him is somewhere he can play on the outside but doesn't have to be the dominate receiver and a place whiling to use him creatively, helping him develop and utilize that unique edge he gives teams.
The two teams he fits best are the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams have a dominant receiver, the Bills have Sammy Watkins and the Bengals have A.J. Green, which takes the pressure of young guys drafted to step up and try to fit the star role. Both also have a receiver that can play in the slot, Bills/ Robert Woods and Bengals/ Tyler Boyd, but also are shallow overall at the position.
Rector could come in for either team and play a rotating role on the outside across from the X receiver and add some depth. Both teams also show plenty of creativity as far as willingness to get wide outs in the backfield. For Cincinnati it brings to mind when Mohamed Sanu was on the roster and had multiple wildcat packages for him that they went to throughout the year. For the Bills, they showed extreme creativity in their ground game that gives no reason to think they would not give Rector a shot to shine there.
In both spots Rector would be worked in with some snaps on the outside and utilize his X factor ability, which can make him an underrated wide receiver as another fairly deep crop at that spot yet again enters the draft. Do not sleep on Rector in the right spot.