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Marino | Why Clemson receiver Deon Cain is such a big play threat

JAN 09 CFP National Championship - Clemson v Alabama
Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire

Motorsports

Marino | Why Clemson receiver Deon Cain is such a big play threat

The NFL likes big-play wide receivers and that’s why Deon Cain finds his name among the most prominent entering the 2017 season. Averaging 19.1 yards per catch in 2016, Cain will be relied upon heavily in the Clemson passing game this year.

Gone is quarterback Deshaun Watson and leading receiver Mike Williams, both as first-round draft selections. Also no longer on the roster is Jordan Leggett and Artavis Scott who were the team’s second and fourth leading receiver in 2016 respectively. The leading rusher, Wayne Gallman, is also off to the NFL. Needless to say, Cain will be called upon to make plays for the defending National Champions.

Replicating his success won’t be easy as Cain will have a new quarterback to mesh with and he will become the focal point of passing game. Defenses will be locked in on stopping Cain with the rest of the Clemson weapons largely unproven.

Let’s take a look at why Cain was such a big-play threat in 2016.

To make plays down the field, the receiver must be able to locate the football in the air, project the balls course and adjust his body to be in position to compete at the catch point. From there, it’s about timing, attacking the football and finishing the play. All of those traits are on display in this rep from Cain.

Sometimes big plays are simply about getting behind the secondary combined with an accurate throw to create a chunk of offense. On this rep, Cain’s ability to push the defense vertically and blow by the coverage is on display.

It’s surprising just how often Cain blew by cornerbacks in 2016. Every week Cain found himself behind the defense and all Deshaun Watson had to do was not over throw him.

Because Cain is such a threat to take the top off the defense, it enables him to have success with in-breaking patterns. Cain is willing to work the middle of the field and knows how to find space against zone coverage.

You don’t average nearly 20 yards per reception without creating some of those yards for yourself after the reception. While picking up YAC wasn’t a huge piece of Cain’s success in 2016, he flashed the ability to make tacklers miss in space and work up the field.

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Joe Marino

Marino began his career as the Assistant Editor for USA Today Digital Properties Draft Sites Network in 2011. A member of the FWAA, Marino writes about the NFL, College Football and NFL Draft for FanRag Sports.

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