For NFL talent evaluators in many cases the physical talent of a player is readily apparent. There are stopwatches and measuring sticks to gauge the athleticism of a pro prospect. Often the tougher task is accurately assessing a player's work ethic, desire and passion for the game when immersed in the daily grind of being a professional. When it comes to LSU receiver Rueben Randle he should prove to be an easy study.
The son of a coach, Randle was not only provided with round the clock tutelage of the game, but instilled with a work ethic to be the best.
"He played and he coached me all the way up to junior high," said Randle of his father Emmett. "I heard he was a great athlete. He tries to say he was better than me. He taught me the things that he learned. That's why I was ahead of the game a little bit when I got to high school."
Randle excelled at Louisiana's Bastrop high school, where he played both receiver and quarterback. Playing quarterback as a senior in 2008 Randle threw for 2,461 yards and 20 touchdowns while also accounting for 12 TDs on the ground. He led his team to the state playoffs before losing in the semifinals.
"It prepared me a lot," said Randle of playing quarterback. "You know the things that quarterbacks have going through their heads playing the position. It kind of gives you an understanding of where to sit down on certain routes, when it comes to reading and where the safeties are."
With two seasons of production at receiver his sophomore and junior year where he posted 69 catches for 1,491 yards and 18 touchdowns, Randle was rated the number one receiving prospect in the nation by a handful of high school scouting services.
Randle could've gone to any college program in the country, but chose to stay home and play at LSU. Thrust into the lineup as a true freshman, the receiver contributed right away with 11 catches for 173 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Over the past two seasons, despite being in a balanced attack Randle improved each season finishing his junior season last year with a 53-catch season with 917 yards and eight touchdowns.
Blessed with speed in the low 4.4s Randle (6'3" 210) proved to be one of the foremost deep threats in the SEC, finishing second in the conference last season with an 18.1 yards per catch average.
"I just feel like I've had that playmaking ability all my life," he said. "I'm very confident in the things that I do and I just want to express myself to those teams that are looking for a playmaker that they can depend on me to make those plays."
What's most appealing to scouts is Randle is anything but a diva receiver. In fact his blocking at the receiver position is one of the attributes that separates him from some of the other top wideouts in the draft class. Naturally he credited his childhood coach for those lessons.
(Blocking) is key," Randle said. "My dad taught me since I was little, if you want to be a receiver you've got to be able to block too. It's not all about catching. So you don't be a selfish player. Blocking is something that makes a difference downfield. You want a big run, you've got to block down field."
With solid intangibles and a playmaking resume to match, Randle is widely considered a top five prospect at the receiver position in this year's draft class.
"I think Rueben Randle doesn't have the same questions as Alshon Jeffery or Mohamed Sanu," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock. "I've got a first-round grade on him. I have (Justin) Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd and Rueben Randle with first-round grades. They're the four wideouts that should go in the first round. Randle should go in the second half of the first round in the 20 to 30 range. He's extremely well thought of and could go higher depending on how the process plays out."
Knowing Randle's character matches his ability only enhances the package and projection on the receiver being an NFL success.
"You've got to do the little things to separate yourself (from other guys)," he said. "I just have confidence in my ability. I'm going to do whatever it is to get it done. I'm just going to continue to work on my craft so I can get it NFL ready."