https://footballscoutingjournal.com/2019/12/16/all-22-scouting-usc-wr-michael-pittman-jr/

All-22: Scouting USC WR Michael Pittman Jr.

Route Running

Especially fluid for his size, operating with minimal wasted movements. Considering his length, he has a special ability to break his routes off on both the horizontal plane and on curl or comeback style routes. Easy to see a natural sink of his hips and weight transfer onto his break foot. Explosive cuts after he takes away the space of defensive backs, creating passing windows even from tight coverage. Elite at creating space on curl routes, both finding a void against zone coverage and sitting down after threatening vertically against man defenses. Consistent separation on out routes as he’s able to sprint through speed cuts and finish downhill towards the quarterback. Pittman has a deadly rocker step in his toolbox that he uses on vertical routes, which slows down the defensive backs and gets them on their heels.

Press releases aren’t that varied, but are clean and he is always gaining ground. Shiftiness in his hips allows him to move defensive backs laterally in order to win inside when necessary. Incorporates a nice arm over move at the line of scrimmage. Will fight pressure with pressure in his stems in order to hold his line, but will invite contact as he gets vertical.

Pittman is a fine athlete, especially at his size, but doesn’t have great straight line speed by any means. Can get matched downfield by average athletes at cornerback if he doesn’t involve multiple moves in his stem.

Pittman can drift through some in-breaking routes, as he seems overly concerned with settling in the first window rather than using his plus traits to separate and adjust once he’s uncovered. 

Hands / Ball Skills / Body Control

Pittman’s size makes him an effective receiver at the catchpoint, but his ball skills add to that. Rarely does Pittman not extend to the ball when in a position to do so, and he does an excellent job of shielding the catchpoint from defensive backs with his body positioning. He consistently makes plays along the boundary, dragging a foot when necessary or using acrobatics to remain in-bounds. Pittman didn’t suffer from many drops considering how many passes he hauled in during his senior season, but there were cases of him peaking away from the ball before it arrived in traffic. There were a couple of cases where he could rip the ball down with more authority when he was contested. 

With his plus route running and ability to consistently come down with passes in a variety of ways, Pittman is one of the most effective possession receivers in the NFL Draft class.

YAC

Pittman doesn’t offer a ton of elusiveness after the catch, but will slice upfield and stick his nose into contact. While he doesn’t make many defenders miss, Pittman is a safe and steady ball carrier who will rarely take a loss with the ball in his hands. He’s able to find pockets of space, and while he isn’t going to run many defenders over or remain balanced through contact, he will get vertical and pick up a tough yard or two. 

Stalk Blocking

Pittman has shown positive effort when tasked with run blocking, but there are spells when he fails to really burst out of his stance. He improved at this aspect during his senior season, showing a better blocking base and extension into the pads of the defensive back. Pittman can struggle with blocking bigger cornerbacks or safeties, as he can get hip tossed when he allows his feet to become too narrow or he doesn’t lower his hips. There are some plays when Pittman flashes physicality as a blocker, but this comes and goes far too often to be relied upon.

Positives

  • Productive – 95 receptions, 1,222 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns through 12 games as a senior
  • Team Captain

Negatives

  • Played almost exclusively along the boundary on the left side of the offense

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