Jalen Tolbert

Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama

Redshirt Senior (5Sr) | 6’3″ 190 lbs | Mobile, AL | 2/27/1999

Jalen Tolbert is an athletic receiver with a prototypical X build who can be a legitimate NFL threat with an expanded route tree and focus on his hands.


Jalen Tolbert was a two-star recruit coming out of McGill-Toolen High School in Alabama. He was a three-sport letterman in football, basketball, and baseball in high school. He chose to stay local, committing to South Alabama football over Vanderbilt and Michigan State. A season-ending knee injury derailed Tolbert’s freshman season in camp. Since then, he has appeared in 28 straight games, starting 23. He became South Alabama’s first-ever 1000 yard receiver in 2020 and tied the most TDs in a season in program history with 8. In the last two seasons, he produced 1606 yards on 91 receptions and added 14 TDs. 

Jalen Tolbert played exclusively as a true X receiver in the South Alabama offense, often by himself close to or beyond the numbers. He was tethered to the line of scrimmage and rarely went in motion despite a scheme that used heavy motion. The offense often lined up from Pistol and Shotgun formations with a simple West Coast-style variant, throwing quick short and intermediate passes paired with a zone run scheme.


  • Twitchy athlete who uses subtle, sudden movements to make him strong in his releases. He puts defensive backs on their heels or forces them to open up early in route tree.
  • Great size and length help him high-pointing the football and catching away from his body.
  • Great body control when going up for the football, making it difficult on defensive backs in contested catch situations to break up plays or take him off the ball. Impressive focus and good ball tracking ability help him to make adjustments to the ball.
  • Good long speed. Able to make big plays happen with his feet after the catch; helps him stack defensive backs, leaving them in pursuit.
  • Nice elusiveness, able to make defenders miss with sudden and decisive cuts, and his long strides often give him the early step on defenders out of his cuts.
  • Good short-area burst when changing direction and in making sudden releases. Moves horizontally and laterally with ease.

Areas To Improve:

  • His twitch and speed make him an above-average route runner; however, he only ran a small route tree with mainly go’s, hitches, and quick outs. Expanding his route tree can make him a more complete weapon.
  • Average hands, he has some inconsistency with his hands, leading to drops that he needs to clean up.
  • Takes long strides and doesn’t seem aware of it at times, quickly playing almost excl defensive backs and ends up having to attempt to run through them or gets stuck on them.
  • Inconsistent blocker; sometimes, he will take a guy and drive him away from a play; other times, he does not contest defenders.
  • Play strength is okay. He is inconsistent, sometimes impressively playing through contact and interference, other times being hindered by physical play. Sometimes when blocking, he was easily tossed around.

Injury Concerns:

  • None


Jalen Tolbert comes out of the Sun Belt Conference, leaving some things to be desired regarding the level of competition he faced. But he is an excellent athlete with some good pro-ready tools despite playing almost exclusively as the X receiver in the offense. Tolbert has great NFL size for a wide receiver. But he can also create after the play with his elusiveness and speed, opening himself up to expanded usage. His twitch will help him win early in routes, and there is more to his route tree than what we have seen.

Defense rarely challenged Tolbert with press coverage; there is also reason for concern with his play strength based on how he blocked and played through contact at times. But refining the basics, like eliminating some drops and working with an expanded route tree, could also take his game further. Tolbert possesses intriguing, translatable traits; the more we see in 2021, the more he can build on his value.