There are two Florida Gator receivers set to be drafted in 2021, but you wouldn’t know that from the pre-draft coverage.
Kadarius Toney has drawn a lot of plaudits for his bruising play style and his ability to add significant yards after the catch, but it feels like the majority of people aren’t paying any attention whatsoever to his teammate, Trevon Grimes.
Maybe it’s because the focus this year seems to be on those players which twitter likes to label ‘playmakers’, often smaller receivers with pace to burn in the mould of Tyreek Hill (how many player comparisons is he named in?!). Playing into this is the fact that, with the exception of Terrace Marshall, who seems to be dropping down boards due to injury, Devonta Smith stands at the tallest of the top receivers, and he’s 6’1”. This feels like a modern phenomenon as teams look for a player that can unlock a defense at all levels using speed, and it’s pushing the traditional possession style receivers down the rounds.
There’s no doubt that Grimes is the latter of those styles, he’s imposing, long and has a catch radius amongst the best in this class. In fact his size, speed and skill set seem remarkably close to a receiver that just made big money in free agency, Kenny Golladay. If the former Gator can live up to that comparison then we’ll be hearing his name a lot more in years to come.
As a High School player, the Indianapolis native moved to Florida to play for the talent factory known as St. Thomas Aquinas, sitting on a depth chart which included two fellow ‘21 draft class members, Elijah Moore and Josh Palmer. An ACL tear ended his Senior season early, but that didn’t stop him being ranked as the 6th highest rated receiver in the country as a four-star recruit.
After a brief spell at Ohio State, Grimes went back to Florida to play for Dan Mullen and the Gators. He improved his catches, yardage and touchdowns every year in Gainesville, but still never cracked the 600 yard mark, finishing his final year with 38 receptions – 589 yards – 11 touchdowns. The lack of huge production across his CFB career was in part due to staunch competition from the likes of Toney, Kyle Pitts & Van Jefferson across his three years, but he did command a starting position in both 2019 & ‘20.
Standing at 6’3” and weighing in at 220lb, the immediate aspect of Grimes’ game that jumps off the tape is his length. He goes up and plucks balls out the sky above some of the best defensive backs in the SEC, pulls in catches away from his body and uses his wingspan to fend off tackles after the catch. Against Vanderbilt he pulled in a 30 yard touchdown above the head of two defenders, also holding on through blows to his arms and hands.
At the catch point there’s a lot to like about the Florida prospect, he’s not afraid to be physical and will cleverly utilise his hands to beat his man. He controls his body well, moving back to the ball where necessary and making sure he’s aware of his positioning down the sideline throughout the catch. Not many players can say that they got the better of Pat Surtain II during his college career, but the touchdown grab Grimes scored against Alabama perfectly demonstrated his ability – tracking the ball over the defensive back, coming down in bounds and then shrugging the tackle off to go in for six.
Whilst Grimes’ route running isn’t a massive standout for him, it’s also not a weakness and it improved drastically over his two years as a starter. Given his frame, a lack of explosiveness is probably to be expected, but what he does have is good timing – often using curl routes to sit down at the first down marker and take the ball into his chest. With an RPO-heavy offense built for Feliepe Franks in 2019, the Gators often used Grimes’ timing to good effect, making him the slant option for his quarterback and generating easy yardage in the process.
The main thing holding Grimes back from having his name thrown in the day two conversation is his quickness and burst. He lacks elite speed and his acceleration isn’t going to create immediate separation against NFL level corners. However, the tape tells us that Grimes isn’t as slow as some seem to think, he can more than hold his own down the field when utilising his long strides. His pro day also produced a 4.49s 40 yard time, which is more than respectable when compared to those of a similar stature.
After the catch it’s a mixed bag, after all of the above it feels odd that Grimes was used so often in the screen game, but the tape doesn’t lie and the Gators often looked his way in the red zone. That speaks to the physicality and strength that he possesses, and more often that not Grimes lowers his head and fights in for the touchdown. However, in other parts of the field the after the catch production dips, given the fact he doesn’t create a lot of separation this won’t be a surprise to scouts and he’s often dragged down by the defender covering him.
With average production and a lack of game changing speed, it is probably fair that Grimes isn’t getting massive hype as a prospect. However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that he’s dominant in the red zone, going in for a score on nearly a quarter of all his catches in 2020.
Anyone that can play the role of dominant outside receiver has a chance to succeed at the next level, and whilst Grimes hasn’t done that consistently in college, he has flashed it on tape against the likes of Alabama. With a lack of high quality tall, possession receivers in this class there is every chance that a Front Office sees that potential and decides to take a shot on it in the fourth or fifth round.
By Andy Moore – @ajmoore21