If there was an accolade to grab for Tajae Sharpe during his career at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Sharpe certainly did his damnedest to grab every last mark he could. Sharpe, who was often referred to as Mr. Minuteman in his tenure at outside receiver, won first-team All-MAC honors and second-team All-American Honors in his senior year, as well as a bevy of smaller awards over the span of his playing career.
Sharpe's senior year was his best statistical year as a receiver, gaining 111 catches for 1,319 yards and five touchdowns, leading the nation in total receptions. Overall, Sharpe had 277 receptions for 3,486 yards and 16 touchdowns. Sharpe played in the shadow of the indominatable Jean Sifrin for a year or two before taking over primary duties in his junior year, where he shone on the football field as the primary option for the Minutemen in a receiving corps that proved to have its limitations outside of #1.
Sharpe dazzled scouts at practices for the Shrine Game in the offseason, and was expected to have a great showing at the Senior Bowl, but was reduced to sitting on the bench after sustaining an injury on the first day of practices. Scouts were especially impressed by Sharpe's foot speed and his dazzling character, which shows the potential for great application and transition to the NFL's pace of play.
Sharpe's measurements caused a bit of controversy, though, as his hand size (8 3/8th inches) became a pint of contention among scouts, who were concerned that ball security and drops could become an issue. The rest of the measurements also showed Sharpe, who stands at 6'2", 194 lbs., as slightly smaller than would be ideal for an outside receiver in the NFL, and it showed, as a lot of the receivers in this group were a good deal bigger than Sharpe at the NFL Combine.
At the Combine, Sharpe flashed gleams of potential during drills, showing little difference from his game film during the drills, looking sharp and fluid whenever a ball was thrown his way. Sharpe has supple hands that can snag in a ball as soon as he gets it in within reach, and it showed. A 4.57 40-yard time certainly doesn't hurt Sharpe, either, who has shown that he has the speed to be a productive receiver. Sharpe did struggle in the vertical jump, only reacing 33.5 inches, which could be an issue when he has to go against the bigger corners for contested grabs, an issue that plagued him throughout college.
That film shows that Sharpe has great off-the-line footwork, and that Sharpe was a remarkable route-runner in the college game, often being able to outsmart his opponent by selling certain routes before changing mid-stream. His footwork, combined with an above-average acceleration, made him dominant in the Mid-American Conference. It certainly helped that former NFL coach Mark Whipple was the man that taught him most of what he knew.
Sharpe is currently projected to go in Day three, between the 4th and 5th rounds, and is the 21st ranked wide receiver, according to the CBS Sports Big Board. Whichever teams takes the time to build up Sharpe's frame and give him the time needed to develop his already stacked set of skills to an NFL pace, will be getting an extremely productive receiver that has the potential to turn into a star.