This site is usually reserved for Purdue news, but I’m a man of the people, and the people want to know about my man, Deon Cain.
Just a little background. I’ve watched every Clemson game during Deon’s career and write for Clemson’s SB Nation site, so I’m somewhat qualified to give you guys the scoop.
Size and Speed:
Deon is 6’2, 200 pounds and runs in the 4.4’s. This is legit football speed, and not track speed. He’s just as fast with the pads on and he runs away from other fast guys on a regular basis. Physically, Deon is everything you can ask for in a WR.
It’s weird, because you’re going to see hands in the cons section as well. Deon is physically capable of catching every ball thrown his way. He made plenty of incredible catches in his Clemson career. He is a true hands catcher, rarely letting the ball get into his body. This will serve him well in the NFL where fractions of a second separate touchdowns and interceptions.
Cain is an explosive runner with the ball in his hands. He’s not super shifty, but he gets through the gears quickly. Clemson was pretty much dead in the water in the 16’ National Championship game before Deon Cain busted a WR screen for big yards. He hit the gas and all of those stud Bama secondary players couldn’t catch him.
Room to Improve:
Deon was a dual threat QB in high school before transitioning to the WR position at Clemson. His route running has significantly improved, but he is far from a finished product. He still has basic, muscle memory stuff that will only get better with more experience.
Deon is a guy that can make the amazing catch and drop the wide open pass. He’s better at making the contested down field catch than he is at catching the 12 yard out route. You’ve got to think his lack of experience has him thinking about things like route depth and foot placement instead of just focusing on catching the ball. He dropped an absolute back breaker in the Semi Final this year.
I don’t know Deon personally, and from everything I’ve heard, he’s a good guy, but he did get in some substantial trouble his freshman year at Clemson. He managed to fail a drug test before the NCAA playoffs, and Dabo sat him for both games. It probably cost Clemson an National Championship. He subsequently had to meet a stringent set of Dabo goals before he was allowed back on the team. He sat out spring football as a Sophomore before being reinstated in the fall. As far as I know, he has avoided trouble as a sophomore and junior.
May Not Be a #1 Receiver:
Deon was at his best when he had a #1 receiver on the other side of the field. He’s not a guy (at least right now) that does well being the focus of the defense, but if you have a #1 receiver that draws safety help, and Deon is left in single coverage, just throw it up and let him run to the ball. It’s possible that he can develop into a #1 guy, but it’s also possible that he’s just a good complimentary receiver.
The Colts got a steal in the 6th round because Cain has legit 1st round physical talent. He might be frustrating in his first couple seasons, but if the Colts give him time, he has the potential to develop into an excellent starting wide receiver.