College Sports

Did Texas WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey make right decision bolting for NFL early?

Texas’ Lil’Jordan Humphrey on Pro Day: I wanted to show that I’m not that slow

Texas WR Lil'Jordan Humphrey had a forgettable showing at the NFL Combine, with disappointing 40-yard times. He went into the Longhorns' Pro Day hoping to show NFL scouts he "wasn't that slow."
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Texas WR Lil'Jordan Humphrey had a forgettable showing at the NFL Combine, with disappointing 40-yard times. He went into the Longhorns' Pro Day hoping to show NFL scouts he "wasn't that slow."

Texas wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey received feedback from the NFL to return for his senior season with the Longhorns. He didn’t follow that advice.

Instead, the former Southlake Carroll star opted to turn professional.

“I just felt like it was my time,” Humphrey said last month at Texas’ Pro Day. “I had a good year, why not? I just felt like I needed to really hone in on what I wanted to do and that’s play football. I want to perfect my craft. If I want to be a pro, I’ve got to be treated like a pro, so I thought it was time for me to go.”

Time will tell whether that ended up being a good decision, but the early indications are that Humphrey faces an uphill battle.

Humphrey had a forgettable showing at the NFL Combine, posting the worst 40-yard dash times (4.79- and 4.75- seconds) of any wide receiver who ran in Indianapolis. He didn’t improve much, if at all, during his Pro Day (no official times are released from Pro Days).

Humphrey joked that he ran the 40-yard dash again at Pro Day to show scouts he “wasn’t that slow,” but acknowledged speed is something he must improve at the next level.

“I’ve got to get faster in general,” Humphrey said.

For Humphrey, though, he hopes his tape says more about his game than his training numbers.

This is a guy who had 1,176 yards receiving and nine touchdowns on 86 catches last season. At 6-foot-3 and 5/8 and 210 pounds, Humphrey is known as more of a physical receiver than a speed receiver.

Humphrey can out-muscle defensive backs for the ball, rather than creating separation via speed.

Asked about his physicality, Humphrey smiled and said: “I guess, but all I’ve got to say, you’ve never seen me get caught. That’s all I have to say.”

Humphrey went on to say that questions about his speed and 40-yard times have just become motivation at this point.

“I’ve always been looked down upon, never really giving a chance, so it puts some more fuel to my fire,” Humphrey said.

That, of course, isn’t an entirely accurate narrative.

Humphrey was a standout running back at Southlake Carroll, ranked as one of the top athletes in the country coming out of high school, and landed at the University of Texas, one of the most storied football programs in the country.

Humphrey transitioned to wide receiver, and had a breakout junior season. His breakout moment might have been during last year’s Red River Showdown when he turned what should have been a 10-yard reception on a screen pass into a 19-yard reception by carrying multiple OU defenders.

That reception came on a third-and-21 situation and the Longhorns went on to convert a short fourth down.

“I was a star … but I was never one of them big names, you know what I’m saying?” Humphrey said. “I’m a big name here, but nationwide I’m not a big name. I’ve always been under-rated, been an underdog, so it’s just going to keep me working forward.”

There’s no question Humphrey is in an underdog role now, bolting early for the draft. Some wonder whether he’ll even hear his name called during next week’s NFL Draft.

Most experts have pegged Humphrey with a late-round grade, but The Athletic’s Dane Brugler didn’t have Humphrey being selected in his full seven-round mock draft earlier this month.

“Overall, Humphrey is a better football player than wide receiver right now,” Brugler said. “But he is strong to the ball with athletic adjustments and reliable hands, projecting as a ‘big’ slot option who will find open zones and make plays between levels of the defense.”

Here’s more of what Humphrey had to say during his Pro Day interview --

On why he didn’t run receiver drills at the Pro Day: “I wanted to focus on running the 40 and doing tight end, blocking drills. That was just really it. My mindset and how I’m thinking.”

On his route running: “It’s good, but I just wasn’t confident today. I haven’t been training on it. I didn’t want to go out there and look a certain type of way. I wanted to be crisp, so I’ll get back to work on that.”

On playing TE at next level: “I’m open to anything, but I want to play receiver. It’s been asked a few times when I was at the Combine, am I open to play tight end? I am. I don’t really care where I play, as long as I get to play.”

On his ceiling: “I feel like I’m not even close to what I can really do. Once I get in there and get some knowledge from the old heads in there, I think I can really do something special, be something special.”

On Sam Ehlinger trying to convince him to stay: “It hurt. I love every single one of those guys in that locker room. That was the hardest part.”

On receiver he models game after: “Dez Bryant … he was that big, physical receiver, go and get it. Just a dog. He was going to compete with you. I enjoyed watching him.”

On how he stacks up with this year’s WR class: “If you’re asking me, I’m going to say I’m one of the best in the class. I’m going to let time tell the story.”

On how he’d describe himself to NFL teams: “A dog. Whoever picks me, gives me the opportunity, you won’t be sorry. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

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