2023 NFL Draft prospect profile – Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU5 min read
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By: Chris Pflum
Will Boutte be a role player, or a steal, at the NFL level?
Few players in the 2023 NFL Draft have seen the kind of precipitous drop in their draft that LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte has over the last 18 months or so.
Boutte looked like he could emerge as one of the top receivers in the country — potentially the best receiver in his draft class — by the sixth game of the 2021 season. By that point he had already produced 9 touchdowns on just 38 receptions. But then his breakout was interrupted by a fractured ankle, which ended his season after those six starts.
But instead of picking up where he left off once healthy in 2022, Boutte seemingly regressed. He never got traction in new Head Coach Brian Kelly’s offense and his junior season was a pretty big disappointment. That also extended to his draft stock, which has seemingly fallen off a cliff.
Various wide receivers have widely been mocked to the New York Giants in the first round of the 2023 Draft. But could Boutte be an under-the-radar option for the Giants in the middle rounds if they go in another direction early?
Prospect: Kayshon Boutte (7)
Games Watched: vs. Mississippi State (2022), vs. Tennessee (2022), vs. Alabama (2022), vs. Georgia (2022 SEC Championship)
Red Flags: Ankle (2021, surgery in January 2022)
Games Played: 27
Yards (YPC): 1,782 (13.4 per catch)
Games Played: 11
Yards (YPC): 538 (11.2 per catch)
Best: Football IQ, competitive toughness, short-area quickness, versatility
Worst: Long speed, explosiveness
Projection: A developmental possession receiver and core special teams player.
(Boutte is LSU WR number 7)
LSU’s Kayshon Boutte is a smart, physical, quick, and competitive wide receiver prospect.
Boutte played out of multiple alignments in LSU’s offense, moving freely between the X, Flanker, and Slot positions. He has a fairly diverse release package for a college prospect and gets into his routes efficiently against both zone and man coverage. Boutte releases with a good burst against off coverage, getting into his stem with little wasted energy. Against tight man coverage, Boutte uses quick footwork to stop defenders’ feet, as well as using his hands to quickly clear jams without allowing his route to be disrupted.
Boutte is a savvy route runner who has a good understanding of how to use his routes to manipulate the defense. He is careful to drive his route stems vertically on come-back routes, forcing defenders to honor him as a vertical threat, and allowing easy separation as he breaks back toward the ball. He also uses subtle fakes throughout his stem to create uncertainty and separation on routes that actually are vertical. He shows a good understanding of coverage schemes and is consistently able to find and settle in the soft spots between defenders.
Boutte is a relatively reliable receiver and a natural “hands” catcher. He does a good job of locating and tracking the ball down the field, and routinely extends to maximize his catch radius. Boutte has solid body control to contort around defenders or make difficult catches along the sidelines. He’s a very physical receiver at the catch point and will fight for the ball against tight coverage.
Boutte shows competitiveness throughout his game, and he plays very hard without the ball. He gives full effort on all of his routes and works to sell defenders when his job is to create space for his teammates. Boutte also uses his route running as a weapon as a part of route concepts. He has a good understanding of how to shape his routes and position himself to create traffic for defenders and open space for his teammates – without drawing offensive pass interference penalties.
He is also a very willing and physical blocker. Boutte attacks defenders when blocking on the perimeter, showing good hand placement, leverage, and play strength as a blocker. He fights to sustain his blocks and is willing to take on contact or larger defenders. He was even put in motion and used as a lead blocker on occasion.
Boutte is definitely a “quicker than fast” receiver. He has average-at-best long speed and struggles to create separation through pure athleticism, particularly on deep routes. He can find himself in contested catch situations when defenders are able to stay disciplined and not fall for his tricks during the early part of his routes. He lacks the speed to be a true vertical threat, and isn’t explosive enough to be a consistent threat as a ball carrier.
Teams will want to investigate the drop in Boutte’s production from 2021 to 2022. His sophomore season was ended early by a fractured ankle in October, which required surgery in January of 2022 to fully heal. Boutte was very productive prior to his injury and looked to be on his way to a break-out season. After the injury, and the arrival of Brian Kelly, he saw his yards per catch drop from 13.4 to 11.2, his touchdowns drop from nine to two, and he only caught 10 more passes (38 to 48) despite playing in five more games. He was widely regarded as an “electric” athlete prior to his injury in 2022, and teams will want to know if his ankle injury had any lingering effects, or if there were any issues between Boutte and Kelly.
Overall Grade: 7.0
Based on his 2022 tape, Kayshon Boutte projects as a developmental possession receiver and special teams player at the NFL level.
Boutte’s projection is a bit difficult due to the size of his step backwards in 2022 compared to the first six games of 2021. It’s possible that he has a very high ceiling and can be a real sleeper if he can regain his 2021 form. Perhaps more time away from his ankle injury and surgery, as well as a change of scenery, will allow him to become the player he looked like he was becoming in 2022.
But despite his disappointing 2022 season, Boutte seems to have a relatively high floor. He might not be a dynamic weapon, but has football IQ, toughness, and physicality that should serve him well in the NFL.
He will likely start his career as a special teams player, and his willingness to take on contact for his teammates should be an asset in that regard. Over time, he could develop into a possession receiver with good scheme diversity and the ability to help keep an offense on schedule out of the slot or as a flanker. Likewise, his ability to play and help an offense without the ball in his hands are useful in modern offensive schemes.
Boutte’s disappointing production and Combine performance will likely knock him down draft boards. He should be a solid mid-round player as things stand now, and we’ve seen receivers with modest athleticism win in the NFL with great football IQ and route running. If he can pick up where he left off in 2021, however, he has the potential to be a massive steal for the right team.
Originally posted on Big Blue View