KeKe Coutee’s rookie season is a bit of a mixed bag. The former Texas Tech star was a difference maker when he hit the field, but hamstring issues held him on the sideline for a large chunk of the season. Although I recognize him as a steal of a 4th round pick, his box-score stats disappointed fans and fantasy football owners alike.
Though, his more advanced stats painted a much clearer picture of the talented 22-year-old.
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Nonetheless, stats don’t tell the tale, the film does. Fortunately for Coutee, he shined in the category.
The first thing that pops out on film is his first-class route running. He proved during throughout his playing time that his sharp and quickly run routes are fit for the NFL. It doesn’t matter if the route were short, intermediate, or deep, Coutee ran it correctly.
Follow Coutee as runs an ankle-breaking zig route above. His nimble feet and dynamic cuts jump off the screen when he runs these shorter routes. For slot receivers, those short routes are a crucial aspect of their game. Fortunately for Coutee, it’s his bread and butter.
Watch him run the same route with a nearly equal ankle-breaking result below. The left-foot pivot that produced the separation is a thing of beauty.
And on intermediate distance routes, Coutee uses those same fast feet and hip elasticity to turn without sacrificing momentum.
Those two qualities mentioned previously along with stable body control let him run intermediate routes like the dig route above successfully. He runs vertically then takes a two-step without surrendering considerable speed.
On deeper routes, he blends his top-end speed with an aggressive cutting style to make him a legitimate deep-ball threat out of the slot.
Watch how Coutee runs this deep skinny post above. Not only does he use his speed to splice the defense he also applies just one hard left foot-plant to separate himself from safety Jordan Poyer (No. 21). I can’t overstate how special a clip like the one above is. The combination of top-end speed and sharp cutting from Coutee is genuinely unique.
Coutee’s hands and ball tracking are also impressive. Though he dropped three balls, he caught nearly 71% of all passes cast his way.
Catches like the one below set him apart from being just a twitchy slot receiver to a sure-handed one.
The catch might not be impressive to the naked eye. Once you factor in that the throw was off and Coutee seemingly sacrificed his body to leap for it, the reception looks a whole lot more impressive. It’s also worth noting that he is continuously looking toward Watson’s way off of breaks; a testament to good chemistry and ball anticipation.
Coutee’s speed, agility, and field perception give him some remarkable run after the catch capabilities, which, in turn, round out a promising slot receiver.
At the combine, Coutee ran a 4.43 second 40-yard-dash, then added a 4.15-second 20-yard-shuttle time to his resume. Good for fifth in both categories for wide receivers in the 2018 NFL Combine.
That speed and quickness have translated well to the NFL, where he ran for a total of 247 yards after the catch in his seven games played. Though he doesn’t possess a flashy spin, juke or hurdle move, his quick-twitch speed, and acceleration make him dangerous in the same way Tyreek Hill, and T.Y. Hilton are playing out of the slot.
Notice that Coutee can go from a halting stop to full speed in only a few strides on this 40-yard scamper below. After, his field vision and agility steal the show to create a huge play.
Naturally, Coutee is a candidate to see a lot of sweeps due to his extraordinary talents with the ball in his hands. Particularly in the red zone like the play below.
In the future, I expect for head coach Bill O’Brien to modernize his offense with multiple sweeps and play-action screens predicated on the threat of Coutee’s speed and agility. The concept is similar to how Andy Reid uses the risk of Tyreek Hill to open up his offense horizontally.
Of course, three strengths don’t make or break a receiver. But they do build a mold that can establish KeKe Coutee as an elite slot receiver. Had he not injured his hamstring I believe Coutee could have given the Texans offense the extra boost it desperately needed through the stretch run of the 2018-19 season. If he had not been injured I would grade him closer to an A, but availability is the best ability, meaning Coutee’s final grade falls a bit.
Final Grade: B-