Scouting Chad Hansen

On Saturday night, the Jets selected California wide receiver Chad Hansen with the 141st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Hansen is 6'2" and 202 pounds and led the Pac-12 in receiving last year. The 22-year old had a break-out season, catching 92 passes for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 10 games.


Hansen was a late bloomer in high school, growing from 5'4" to 6'1" before his final year, by which time it was too late for him to garner much interest from major colleges. He eventually accepted his only scholarship offer from Idaho State, catching 45 passes for 510 passes and three touchdowns in his only season there.

He decided to transfer to a power conference school, sitting out the 2014 season before joining Cal as a walk-on. Half-way through his first season, he had barely played and had just two catches for 11 yards.

However, his role gradually increased down the stretch. He caught a career high five passes in week 12 and then had a big game in week 13 against Arizona State, catching four passes for 91 yards, including a 52-yard play, his first Cal touchdown and a a crucial late catch to help set up the game-winning field goal. Over the last seven games, he caught 17 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown, but that gave just a small hint of what was to come.

With Cal's top six receivers and starting quarterback Jared Goff all leaving at the end of the 2015 season, Hansen immediately emerged as Davis Webb's top target as he had double figures in catches and over 100 receiving yards in each of the first four games and went on to catch 92 passes for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 10 games.

Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Hansen brings to the table, based on my research and film study.


Hansen's workout numbers are pretty solid, although he's a player who scouts have said plays faster than they had expected him to test. What's notable are his excellent agility numbers.

At his pro day, Hansen re-ran the 40-yard dash and was timed at between 4.44 and 4.50. That averages out at well above average and his burst and acceleration is immediately apparent on film.


Hansen had a very limited role at Cal, playing nearly all of his reps as the outside receiver and on the right side of the formation. He's barely played in the slot, although there were a couple of plays where he lined up in an H-back position and then motioned across to the left side.

Hansen didn't seem to be lined up on the line of scrimmage very often, even though it was rare for him to go in motion.

Officially, he didn't run the ball at Cal, although he did score on an end-around on a two-point conversion. He rushed twice for 10 yards at Idaho State.

Deep threat

Hansen definitely has the ability to make plays down the field as he had almost 500 yards and six of his touchdowns on downfield throws last year. It could have been more than that, as he often beat his man by a step but Webb missed the throw.

In one game, against San Diego State, he blew by his man for an easy long touchdown early on in the game and that affected the rest of the game because defenders were playing too far off him from that point onwards so he was able to make a lot of easy yardage underneath.

His ability to go up and make contested catches is also useful in this regard and he displayed that on this play, where he also used his size well and was physical at the point of the catch:



Cal runs a spread offense and Hansen was almost exclusively out wide, so he doesn't get many chances to block in the running game. However, when he does, the effort is there, as on this play:


He would get more chances to block in the screen game and, again, gives a good effort here and consistently seems to find his target, although he's not particularly dominant or effective and does sometimes have issues with players fighting off his block to get in on the tackle. Here's a play where his man drives him off his spot to help bottle up a receiver screen:



While scouting reports seem to indicate that Hansen didn't run a full route tree at Cal, any assumption that this means he's raw as a route runner is misguided.

Yes, he does most of his damage on go-routes, hitches and dump-offs to the flat. However, he's technically proficient on these, is effective at getting a clean release and looks comfortable whenever he is required to run a more conventional route.

At times he doesn't break down well enough and defenders are able to jump the route. There may be a tendency there to rely on the fact that he can get defenders too far off him by being a deep threat and that makes it too easy for him, so he struggles to adjust to tighter coverage. He does a good job of that here though:



Hansen typically catches the ball cleanly has only dropped a handful of passes over the last two seasons with no fumbles. He shows an ability to make contested catches, hang on after a big hit and come down inbounds on sideline catches. Here is a tough low grab where he does well to dive and keep the ball off the turf:


It was rare but there did seem to be a couple of plays where he perhaps located the ball late and struggled to adjust to it. He seemed to improve at this in 2016, though:


Concentration drops were rare, although there was this one, where he obviously was looking up to see where he would run:


Yards after the catch

Hansen has good numbers for yards after the catch, but a lot of those were simply because he caught the ball in space and ran away from the defense. He doesn't break a lot of tackles, but has good vision and a knack for finding a route to the first down marker:


One thing he does impressively well is accelerate from a stationery position after a catch. However, he's even better when he can catch the ball in stride, making some impressive bursts for big yardage on tunnel-screen type plays.


Hansen gives a good effort, but could probably benefit from adding some strength. He can be outphysicalled at times when running routes and, as noted, doesn't break a lot of tackles.

He was slowed up by press coverage at times, but also was occasionally nudged off his route downfield or didn't use his body well enough to box out a defender.

He had just two penalties in his two seasons with Cal.


You might assume Hansen's instincts aren't great because he plays in a simplistic scheme and only really started getting significant playing time last year.

However, there were a couple of good examples of him finding gaps in the secondary and, as already noted, his vision as an open field runner is good.

On this play, he does a terrific job of constantly moving and finding open spaces to make himself an option as the play gets extended, setting up a makeable fourth and short:


This is a similar play from 2015, as he started to show signs that his role deserved to increase in 2016. On this play, he initially runs a downfield route, but then races back to make himself an option, finds an open spot and is able to make the first down. Cal kicked the winning field goal a few plays later:


There were a couple of plays where he was not on the same page with the quarterback but it's never 100% clear who was at fault in such situations.

Scheme Fit

There should be a bit of a learning curve for Hansen because he played in such a simplistic offense. However, he already played a year in a more conventional offense at Idaho State.

Some scouts have compared him to Eric Decker and he does bring some similar things to the table. While he doesn't play in the slot at the moment, this could be something he develops so that he can play a similar role to Decker's over the past two years.

Special Teams

Hansen doesn't have any experience as a return man and hasn't played much on special teams while at Cal. He had one tackle in coverage, in his first game with them in 2015.

He was credited with seven tackles and a pass break-up while at Idaho State, so some of that production may have been generated on special teams too. He definitely hadn't played on defense for them because he told Cal coaches he hadn't played defense since high school when they approached him about a position change in 2015. Of course some of those tackles may have been after turnovers and I assume the pass break-up was on a Hail Mary or just a mistake.


After being snubbed by almost every division one college and then having to walk on at Cal, Hansen unsurprisingly plays with a chip on his shoulder.

He has worked very hard at refining his techniques and you can see that in the footage because he looks smooth. Based on his story, you can be confident that he's going to work hard to learn the playbook and to pick up those route-running skills he didn't get to work on much with the Bears.


Hansen had trouble with an injured ankle during the 2016 season, missing two games. That just makes his level of production all the more impressive. Otherwise, he doesn't seem to have had any major issues.


What's encouraging about Hansen is that I expected him to be quite raw but he's actually pretty polished. He's obviously a dynamic athlete with playmaking potential and should be a popular and exciting player if he lives up to that.

There could be a learning curve for him in some areas, but Hansen has become accustomed to bettering himself to move up the depth chart so he'll be ready for that challenge at the pro level.

As noted, there are similarities with Decker and Hansen can learn a lot from the veteran if he becomes Decker's shadow at OTA's and camp this year.

UP NEXT: We'll take a look at the first of the two fifth round picks, tight end Jordan Leggett.