Michael Pittman Jr. is coming off of a terrific 2019 collegiate season. With excellent physical traits and production to match, I will tell you why he is the best Pac-12 receiver prospect.
Michael Pittman Jr. is coming off of an excellent 2019 campaign. He led the Pac-12 in receiving yards averaging 101.8 receiving yards per game and second in the Pac-12 with 11 touchdowns. He has excellent size that could dominate at the NFL level. Pittman stands at 6’4 and 220 Lbs and using every inch and pound of that frame throughout his game. During the Trojans fourth game of the season, he went off against a very good Utah squad with 10 receptions for 232 yards and a touchdown. Let’s look further and see why Pittman could be an excellent future prospect.
Pittman graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC. As a Freshman, Pittman did not see much on-field action accumulating only six catches for 82 yards in 13 games. He was a great special teams contributor though. Pittman had two punt returns for 63 yards (an average of 31.5 yards) and four kickoff returns for 31 yards. On the opposite side on special teams, Pittman also contributed seven tackles, a blocked punt, and a forced fumble.
During Pittman’s Sophomore year he was much more involved in the passing game for the Trojans starting six of the 11 games he played in. He finished with 23 receptions for 404 yards and two touchdowns. Pittman was also a stud on special teams once again with six tackles, another blocked punt, and returned two punts for 89 yards and one of them going for a score. Pittman made All Pac-12 First Team as a special teams player. The 2017 season came to a close on a huge note for Pittman where he put up, at the time, career bests with seven receptions, 146 receiving yards (a Pac-12 Championship game record) and a touchdown in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Pittman showed progress once again in the receiving department becoming a big part of the Trojans offense. He finished the season with 41 receptions for 758 yards and six touchdowns. Pittman was 19th nationally in receiving yards per catch at 18.5 showing great big-play potential. Pittman again finished the season incredibly strong picking up 549 receiving yards (109.8 yards per game) and five touchdowns over his final five games of the season. He was an All Pac-12 honorable mention for 2018. He once again made a huge impact on special teams coming up with a blocked punt for the third straight season.
In 2019 Pittman became one of the nation’s top receivers. He showcased great ability to catch at the high point, super strong hands, solid speed and size that is tough to defend. Pittman finished the season with 95 receptions for 1,222 yards and 11 touchdowns during his senior season. Pittman had six games with at least 95 receiving yards including games of 146, 156, 180, and 232 yards and also had three games with multiple touchdowns. Once again Pittman finished the season strong converting 37 receptions for 430 yards and three touchdowns in the final three games.
What Michael Pittman Jr. Does Well
Michael Pittman Jr. has elite size for the receiver position standing at 6’4 and 220 Lbs. with a 40 yard dash time around 4.50 seconds. His size and speed make him an elite deep threat with great ability to win at the catch point. Watch here how well he high points the contested catch and comes down with the reception:
Michael Pittman Jr. extends USC’s lead 🔥
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 21, 2019
These same traits allow Pittman to be a huge red zone threat. He is a great candidate for fade throws at the NFL level and jump ball attempts. Watch this back shoulder throw that Pittman rips out of the air over his defender:
Michael Pittman Jr. has hands for days.@USC_Athletics – 7, CU – 0
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 11, 2017
Pittman showed in that previous clip very strong hands, something he showcased all season. His hands are not the only strong part of Pittman. His frame is massive and can run through contact. Watch here as he runs through the BYU safety en route to the end zone:
Michael Pittman Jr. ran bruh OVER!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/GaFuWwPfij
— 1st Team All Common Sense (@MrRoscoes) October 20, 2019
What Pittman seems to do best though is track the ball in the air. He makes excellent catches over his shoulder and has great timing. If he beats his man off the line, as long as the throw is catchable, Pittman will likely catch in a smooth fashion. Here is an example of his ability to beat his man and catch in stride:
— Travis May (@FF_TravisM) December 30, 2017
For a full display of Pittman’s route tree watch these highlights from his career night against Utah:
Raved about USC's Michael Pittman Jr. on 2 For 1 Drafts, @PFF's new rookies and draft prospects podcast.
And he showed out against Utah last night. 📈
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) September 21, 2019
Michael Pittman Jr. is also an excellent special teams player. He blocked three punts during his college career and had an excellent average in punt returns himself. Not only can he make an impact year one as a receiver but he can also contribute in the return game. He also uses his size well in run blocking where his strength and physicality really show out.
What Michael Pittman Jr. Needs Work On
Pittman needs to work on getting stronger against press coverage. He can get thrown off his route by press coverage resulting in poor timing with his QB. Pittman also is a little tight hipped in his route running which leads to low-level separation. Though he is terrific in contested catch situations he could do a better job in his route running so he does not have to do it as much. These are all things he could be better at but things that he is not bad at. Pittman is all in all an excellent prospect.
Pro Comparison Jordan Matthews – Free Agent
Both Michael Pittman Jr. and Jordan Matthews possess good size and strength at the receiver position. Pittman stands in at 6’4 and 220 Lbs. while Matthews is 6’3 and 215 Lbs. Both are known to have very strong hands and are incredibly physical receivers. Both receivers have also been said to have a fault of owning slower than normal game speed and fail at gaining separation. Though the separation is hard to come by for the two they routinely win with strong hands and a high catch point.
What both do best is win the contested catch battle. Quarterbacks need a receiver who they can just throw the ball up to when they run into trouble, both posses this trait. Watch Matthews bail out his QB here:
Video: WR Jordan Matthews at Vandy. College Stats: 262 Receptions, 3759 Yards, 14.3 Avg, 24 TD, 9 Rushes, 115 Yards, 12.8 Avg, 1 TD, Scrimmage 271 Plays, 3874 Yards, 14.3 Avg, 25 TD. #JordanMatthews #49ers pic.twitter.com/3o2T0YHnSv
— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) March 17, 2019
Now watch Pittman here make a very similar play:
USC has sent a heap of talented wide receivers to the NFL in recent years. Next up is Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns, who form one of the best WR tandems in the country. pic.twitter.com/BTysD4Wsoe
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValenciaPFN) June 12, 2019
Both Matthews and Pittman are also physical receivers. They can take a hit and hold on to the ball with the best of them. Neither is afraid of contact either, watch as both of them absorb contact but keep focus to make their receptions and maintain possession:
Jordan Matthews back? pic.twitter.com/AGfIFtm48r
— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) November 6, 2019
USC WR Michael Pittman Jr. would be a household name in college football if people on the east coast were awake to see him play most weeks. pic.twitter.com/Rx3J0n8C6X
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) November 3, 2019
Matthews has had an up and down career so far in the NFL. He has had three seasons over 800 yards and two seasons with eight touchdowns. Injuries have riddled Matthews for his entire career having played every game in only two of his six NFL seasons. Matthews is a big-bodied slot receiver and which is the receiver position he thrived at. This may be the position in which Pittman has the most success in the NFL.
Michael Pittman Jr. has shown progress and improvement during every one of his collegiate seasons. He is a large, physical and powerful receiver. He tracks the ball as good as any prospect, has strong hands and a high catch point, a large catch radius and big-play potential. His route running could use some work but his constant improvement shows that he has a great work ethic. Pittman has the potential to be a good receiving prospect and has a bright future in the NFL as a number two receiver with potential wide receiver one upside as well as a top-level return man.