5’ 8” 165 lbs
Strengths: Speed, Burst, Versatility
Weaknesses: Size, No true Position, Learning Curve
We were shocked that he didn't run at least a 4.45 forty. On film he looks like a 4.39 guy to me, but no worries, he just had a bad day. He was the fastest running back at the NFL Scouting Combine in the 20 yard shuttle with a time of 4.06. And remember, on film when it counts, on game day, he is is extremly explosive.
If someone is going to need a guy that can be a game changer on offense then they need to look no further than Dexter McCluster. While he may not be the biggest guy on the field McCluster plays well with the big boys and could be a real asset to the team that selects him.
So what makes McCluster so good? He has deceptively fast speed and is very quick out of his stance. He has outstanding quickness and burst and can accelerate quickly to get down the field and make a play. He is a threat to run the ball into the end zone each time he touches it and has the speed and ability to take it all the way in at any time.
McCluster has great change of direction and when he hits the open field he can put the moves on most any defender leaving them virtually in the dust. He also has great hands and catches most everything that is thrown his way on the field. He runs very good routes and seems to be in sync with the quarterback.
McCluster has also been used as a running back and his toughness shows through as he has been given multiple carries in multiple games against some tough opponents and did very well. He could be used as a “gadget” guy in an NFL offense. He could even be a good wildcat guy if teams want to look at him like that. In being an effective pass catching player, he might also be able to cement himself in a role as the “go to” guy in an NFL offense. McCluster is a player that can work effectively out of most any offensive formation and can be a real threat each time he touches the ball. He is also very shifty and hard for some of the bigger guys to bring down.
He is a very hard worker both on and off the field and is known for spending a lot of time in both the weight and the film room. McCluster had a great Senior Bowl week as well and raised a lot of eyebrows.
Size is an obvious weakness that McCluster has but he has more than made up for it with his heart and hard work. Another issue that NFL teams will discover is that he really didn’t have a true position while he was at Mississippi. He will need to try out at the wide receiver and running back positions to try to find his true calling but teams can use him as a weapon in a variety of roles to help maximize his effectiveness. His size may also prevent quarterbacks from seeing him deep down the field and this will be a problem. It will show that he is much better suited for shorter routes or catching passes out of the backfield.
McCluster has had some problems with fumbling while running the ball and that will be an issue. He needs to switch things up when he runs (carry the ball away from the defense or put it towards the sideline) when he runs.
Using McCluster as a return specialist may not be ideal either thanks to the lack of experience that he has returning punts and kickoffs. Going to a team that has a great special teams unit and coach may help him out a lot. McCluster also had some issues with injuries to his ankle and shoulder and will have to prove that he is over those.
While at Mississippi, McCluster earned the following honors:
2009-Third team All-American by the Associated Press as an all purpose player, third team All American by Phil Steele as a wide receiver, National Running Back Trophy recipient by the College Football Performance Awards, All SEC first team as an all purpose player by the Associated press, second team running back All-SEC by the AP, SEC coaches and Rivals.com) second team wide receiver All SEC by Phil Steele. Two time SEC player of the Week, one time National Player of the Week, preseason All American third team as an all purpose player by Athlon, number five all purpose and number 14 wide receiver by Lindy’s. Named preseason All-SEC second team as a receiver by Athlon, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and the Birmingham News. Named the SEC’s Most Underrated Player by the Birmingham News.
2008: Second team All-SEC honors as an all purpose player by the AP, named second team All SEC by Phil Steele as an all purpose player, named the number six multipurpose player in the SEC by ESPN.com. Midseason All SEC third team by Phil Steele.
2006: SEC Freshman of the Week and National Freshman of the Week by Rivals.com, Rebel QB Club Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Week.
High School: First Team All State 5A by Florida Sports Writers Association, All Suncoast Player of the Year by the St. Petersburg Times, Most Valuable Player of Florida Athletic Coaches Association, Played in the North South Football All Star Classic, MVP and Best Back, Rated Number 21 player in Florida by the Orlando Sentinel and the 54th best running back in the nation by Rivals.com.
Final Thoughts: Teams will have to think about what position they want to play McCluster at when they draft him as he can be both a wide receiver and a running back but lacks the durability and effectiveness to be an every down running back. He is an intriguing option however and will find a home with a team that will use him in a specialty role to help get that tough first down or perhaps even score when they are close to the goal line. He has a lot of potential and could be a decent player in the NFL.
Potential Draft Position: Early to late third round.