Jake Wieneke is a 6'3 215 pound wide receiver at South Dakota State University. He's a junior, and not expected to enter the NFL Draft until 2018, where nfldraftscout.com projects him as the 25th overall receiver in the class. While this seems, at first glance, to be a reasonably high ranking for a Division I-AA prospect, this is not the case for Wieneke. Wieneke has the potential to be a top ten caliber wide receiver prospect by the time his college career comes to a close, and he has the production to back up that argument.
Wieneke is not the first South Dakota State offensive player to take the NFL by storm in recent years. If you've read our site for a few seasons, you know that I was high on Zach Zenner before the 2015 NFL Draft. I hyped him like crazy, and he proceeded to go undrafted, signing with the Detroit Lions following the draft. What did Zenner do with his NFL opportunity? Only lead the entire NFL in rushing yards in the preseason before his season ended prematurely with an injury. My point isn't that South Dakota State University is a secret NFL powerhouse. My point is that players that are successful in the South Dakota State University offense can continue that success in the NFL. Has Wieneke been successful so far? Let his numbers be the judge.
Jake Wieneke has 27 touchdown receptions over two career NCAA seasons. In 2014, Wieneke had 73 receptions for 1404 yards, and 19.2 yards per reception. In 2015, he had 72 catches for 1472 and 20.4 yards per reception. In 26 career college games he's generated 145 receptions, 2876 yards, and 27 touchdowns. That's more than a touchdown reception a game. The guy can flat-out produce and will be an asset to any NFL offense that takes a chance on him.
One thing you don't see in Wieneke is a big step up in production between his freshman and sophomore seasons. While this might make some scouts wary and raise doubts about his ability to improve as a player, I wonder if Wieneke is simply producing as much as he can in the South Dakota State University offensive system; his freshman and sophomore seasos were nearly identical except for the fact that he scored more touchdowns as a freshman. The question is, is Wieneke a product of the South Dakota State University offense, or is he a legitimate NFL prospect?
I think he projects as a solid NFL prospect. If you watch the film on him (here's some film), you will see a sure-handed receiver who easily makes guys miss. He's comfortable catching the ball in traffic and is willing to lay out to make a catch on a poorly thrown ball. Note that the film I linked is of him as a FRESHMAN in college, and he already looks like a borderline late-round NFL prospect. As he continues to learn the game, he will only improve. He has two seasons of college eligibility left, and if he can show some development over those seasons, we could be talking about a Day 2 prospect, or even a potential first round pick, if NFL front offices are intelligent. He could get overlooked due to questions about his competition and slip into the later rounds of the draft, but if that happens, some NFL team will get an absolute steal with him. The potential is there for Wieneke to develop into a solid NFL player, and he's a guy to watch heading into the 2016 season. --Mike B.
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