Over the past few weeks, we've been taking a detailed look at the players the Jets signed to futures deals at the end of the regular season. We continue today with a look at wide receiver Tre McBride III.
The 25-year-old McBride is listed at 6-foot-0, 210 pounds, and was a seventh round pick out of William & Mary in 2015. He spent his first two seasons with the Titans before joining the Bears last season. McBride has 10 catches for 152 yards and a score in his NFL career so far.
McBride was a small school prospect from William & Mary where he was the first wideout in school history to see playing time as a freshman. He had a breakout year as a sophmore, setting career highs with 897 yards, 10 touchdowns and a 16.3 yards per catch average. He had 63 more catches as a junior in addition to contributing as a kick and punt returner and then followed that up with a career-best 64 as a senior. Heading into the draft he was regarded by some as a possible day two pick.
Despite a good combine, McBride didn't get selected until the seventh round by Tennessee. He spent parts of his first two season on the Titans' active roster and was on their practice squad the rest of the time. McBride caught just two passes in those two seasons, although one was for a touchdown.
In preseason this year, he failed to make it through final cuts for the third season in a row, but this time was claimed by the Chicago Bears, again spending part of the year on their active roster and part on the practice squad. He caught eight passes for 144 yards, including a game against the Saints where he racked up a career-best 92 yards on three receptions, but the Jets were able to sign him to their practice squad when he was waived in late November.
Let's move onto some further analysis of what McBride brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
McBride had a pretty good combine as you can see from the spider graph below:
However, this timed speed doesn't seem to translate to his film as much as you might expect and the book on him coming out of college was that he doesn't get as much separation as you'd hope to see from a player at a lower level.
McBride is a versatile receiver, capable of going in motion and producing out of the slot. 10 of his 29 receptions in regular and preseason action have been while lined up in the slot.
McBride was a legitimate downfield threat in college and has made a few downfield catches at the NFL level, including this one on an out-and-up:
Coming out of college, McBride had a reputation as a raw route runner, albeit one whose route running skills were developing. On film, it didn't seem like he made sharp breaks or exhibited good technique, but he didn't really need to do that to generate production at a lower level.
However, McBride produced well in three games against competition from FBS schools, including a game against West Virginia where he ended up with over 100 yards and would have had more than that had he not been underthrown on two deep balls where he got behind the defense, including one on a sharp double move.
His NFL highlights don't show much in the way of polish, but he does seem to have worked at his craft and he shows a tight break off inside leverage here, adjusting well to make the catch:
As you can see from his spider graph, McBride has small hands and did have a few drops in preseason as well as one in his rookie year. Having said that, he is excellent at adjusting to the ball in the air and capable of going up to get it or extending for difficult balls, even in traffic.
Here is a good example, as he makes this spectacular leaping grab during a preseason game in 2016:
As you can see, he is also adept at getting his feet in bounds near the sideline, which he also showed on this reception for his first NFL touchdown:
Yards after the catch
With his experience as a kick returner, you'd expect McBride to be good after the catch, but he hasn't displayed much tackle-breaking ability at the NFL level because most of his catches have either been in traffic or open in space.
Here's a good example of him finishing a play strong by dragging a certain Marcus Williams for some extra yardage:
McBride isn't technically great as a blocker as he had a couple of penalties for illegal blocks in the back and he'll occasionally let his man get off his block to get in on a tackle. However, he gives a good effort and can make some good blocks, driving his man out of play or to the ground on a few occasions.
Here's a play where he initially ran a route and then ended up blocking his man down the field on a Mitchell Trubisky scramble:
As noted, McBride isn't afraid to make catches over the middle and as you've already seen, he can be aggressive as a runner.
He's been called twice for offensive pass interference in his career, including on this play:
While McBride has experience as a return man, he hasn't had a great deal of statistical success, averaging just 19 yards per return on 10 kickoffs at the NFL level with a long of 31.
He was slightly better in preseason action, averaging 24.2 yards per return with a long of 35. He also returned six punts with one going for a 16 yard return but the other five netting just five yards in total.
Here's a clip from preseason where it looked like he had room to break into the clear but just ran straight into an opponent:
In addition to returning kicks, McBride has contributed in kick coverage. He did a good job as a gunner in his rookie year, recording five special teams tackles and almost making the play a few more times.
McBride seems to have an ability to find open spots within zone coverages. However, while he didn't have any obvious blown assignments, on this play he wasn't on the same page as Trubisky, who threw behind him for a game-ending interception in a one-possession game:
He had one penalty for illegal motion.
McBride seems to be a hard-working player but there's a slight red flag connected to his departure from the Bears. There were reports of a heated argument with a teammate, although that teammate (Josh Bellamy) later downplayed the incident, referring to it as "brotherly love".
McBride should be comfortable within a west coast offense, as he comes from the Bears' system. The Jets targeted Marquess Wilson from the same system last year. While Tennessee doesn't run a pure west coast offense, their system does use some of Bill Walsh's philosophies.
McBride doesn't seem to have dealt with many injury issues in his pro or collegiate career. However, he ended up on the practice squad injury list with the Jets last December. The nature of that injury was undisclosed.
McBride was a popular sleeper prospect a couple of years ago but hasn't really made his mark at the NFL level yet and hasn't been good enough on special teams to carve out a niche for himself.
His 92-yard game against the Saints last season showed some potential and if the Bears really did let him go just because of an overblown argument with a teammate then perhaps the Jets have found themselves a diamond in the rough.
McBride could potentially compete with players like Charone Peake and Devin Smith to sneak a roster spot in preseason. It's a low-cost long-shot for the Jets, but they'll be hoping they picked him up just as the light-bulb was about to go on for him.