Anatomy of a WR: Marcus Tucker

By G.Stryker

Marcus Tucker has had a noticeable minicamp this year. Populated only by rookies and players under 2 years of experience, Marcus separated himself as both a player and a leader on the field. Coach Tomlin even mentioned him in a positive light, which is rare for this coach. This is an important year for Marcus, he spent last season on the practice squad. This year Eli Rogers is injured, so he will see more snaps in the slot. It is up to him to seize his opportunity.

Tucker has good size (just under 200 lbs) for being a 5’10” receiver. Watching his tape, he reminds me of a young Antonio Brown. I can see why the Steelers scouts were high on him and why they want to give him a chance to see him on the field.

I don’t like using college highlights, because good players are going to look great against lesser competition, but we can still take a look at what he does well and how he does it:

0:20 puts both hands up, thumbs together, at chest height to make the catch. Then makes an excellent move to avoid the defender and shows speed in separating to the end zone.

0:28 Screen Pass, gets both hands up, chest height, thumbs together and catches the ball cleanly. Quick burst upfield for the untouched TD. Loved his hand placement and quickness on this play.

0:38. Both hands up, thumbs in, palms on the ball. Ball was high, but his reach and hand placement made this catch happen for the TD! Replay shows his reach and hand placement.

1:20 This was the second angle and the better view of this catch. Great basket catch to his outside. Elbows tight to his body, both palms on the ball, great form!

1:26 Great pattern to get open, and perfect hand placement on the ball, thumbs together, palms on the ball, instant possession.

1:33 Hands in front of him again, thumbs together, perfect form. Then shows great speed and burst in space for the TD.

1:47 Hands on the ball again on the screen. I’m really starting to like his hands first approach to catching the ball. Good speed up the sideline for the TD

2:01 Another Screen. Hands up, palms on the ball. Secures it quickly to put his hand down to keep balance and explodes upfield for the TD.

2:09 Another WR isolation screen. Ball was a little low and he had to squat and scoop the pass low. Pinkies together, and palms on the ball. Then makes a nice move and speeds for another TD. Replay then from the defensive side of the ball shows it again.

2:42 Another WR Screen. Hands on the ball again perfect hand placement. Thumbs in, palms on the ball. Shows some power as he runs through a potential tackle, then bursts for another TD. Replay from the opposite angle shows it again.

3:07 Nice down out and up pattern, and then shows the fight as he goes up to catch the ball nicely, in traffic with both palms on the ball above his head. Great catch! Good poise to continue for the TD. Replay from the reverse angle follows and shows how nicely he high points this football down the field.

3:38 Nice motion and good pattern. Gets space and makes a nice hands catch for a TD.

3:50 Keeps his stride as the ball is thrown slightly to his outside. Adjusts his hands nicely to catch it pinkies together over his shoulder, without breaking stride, to continue to the end zone. Reverse Angle replay shows how his hands worked perfectly here.

4:09 I absolutely love this pattern. Gets around the jam at the line cleanly. Runs right at the deep DB in the bracket coverage, while avoiding a second jam. Then does a slick outside/in move to separate from the safety for the easy TD. This is how you get open running a perfect pattern! Ball was again caught with his hands in front of his chest.

4:21 Beats the jam inside and has great space with his speed. More of a rip than a swim to release, and gave him all the space he needed. Great hands on the catch here as well.

4:34 WR Screen. Catches the ball cleanly and shows power, by bouncing off 6 players then making a good gain before being forced out of bounds. Reverse angle replay follows.

5:05 Shows great speed on this fly route. Just speed and tracking here on a well executed pitch and catch.

5:19 Ran a nice outside in (Flag/Post) pattern. Extends, high-points, and gets both hands on the ball perfectly. Reverse angle replay shows how nicely he caught the ball while being contacted. Great hands!

5:40 Nice clean post pattern and good catch to finish the TD.

6:00 Nice drag pattern, catches the ball nicely with his hands in front for a nice gain. Replay from behind the QB shows his clean pattern, and how well he extends and gets his hands on a ball thrown slightly in front of him.

6:24 Slant in and catches the ball with his hands in front of his chest. Perfect form.

6:30 shows his vision and speed returning kicks.


Watching these plays shows me that Marcus knows how to use his hands to cleanly catch the football. His pattern running is complex, and clean. He is comfortable and looks good running the whole route tree. He is tough to bring down, quick, and fast down the field. He usually lined up at the X position (like Antonio Brown), but looked equally as comfortable and dangerous in the slot (Y). It looks to me that he would be position flexible in the NFL at either the X or Y positions. He loves screens, and excels at getting yards after the catch on them.

There is a lot to like about these highlights, but keep in mind, it is against lower college competition. He has some ability and his hand mechanics are sound. He flashes some ability on film and will hopefully flash that same ability again in camp. I can see Marcus easily making the practice squad if he doesn’t make this roster.

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