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2014 Tight End Rankings

April 24, 2014

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Tight End

Prototype in the NFL: Jimmy Graham

Best In Class

Best Hands: CJ Fiedorowicz             Best Route Runner: Jace Amaro

Best Blocker: Troy Niklas                 Best Open Field Runner: Eric Ebron

Best Burst: Eric Ebron                       Best Jump Ball Ability: Austin Seferian-Jenkins

 

1. Austin Seferian-Jenkins Stanford #86 6’5 ½ 262 Jr.

Comparison: A slower Rob Gronkowski

Stats: Pac-12

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2014

 

 

 

 

2013

36

450

12.5

8

2012

69

852

12.4

7

2011

41

538

13.1

6

Combine: He didn’t run or do any of the drills except the bench (20 reps-mediocre).

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6054

262

33.75

9.75

 

20

 

 

 

 

Strengths: 1st Team Pac 12 in 2013. Won John Mackey Award in 2013. A blue chip prospect out of HS-#110 on ESPN 150 for 2011. He played basketball as well and was a good rebounding power forward for Washington for a few years. He has a Rob Gronkowski type body and knows how to use it as he’s elite at shielding a defender and coming down with the tough catch in traffic. He will be one of the 5-7 best red zone TEs in football when he enters the NFL due to his size, strength and great hands. His 21 TDs in 3 years are nearly triple what “consensus” top TE Eric Ebron’s are (8 in 3 seasons). He is a complete TE and, while he isn’t a great blocker, he is a good blocker. He has good body control and elite hands for a man his size.

Weaknesses: He’s a solid blocker but not dominant like he should be with his size and frame (he played last year at +280 lbs. He lost 20 lbs (checked in at 262 lbs at the Combine) from his playing weight, this kind of extreme weight loss always worries me as it’s either an attempt at a great 40 time and the weight will be re-added (unhealthy for a body) or it says he thinks this is his best weight to play at which creates questions about his work ethic. Unfortunately NFL doctors found a pre-existing condition (stress fracture in his left foot) that caused him to miss all of the drills and have surgery in late February. He should be fully healthy within 8 weeks so training camp is still expected but he might not have an official 40 time by May when the NFL Draft occurs. He was arrested for a DUI in March 2012. He’s coming off his worst season statistically and, while part of it can be explained away by the shift to a spread offense and him having to stay in as a blocker more often, it’s still rather worrisome anytime a player leaves school after an unproductive season.

Overall: For the past 3 years Austin has been my #1 ranked TE. After the 2011 season I had him ranked ahead of Coby Fleener. After the 2012 season I had him ranked well ahead of Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz (Ertz actually was ranked higher than Eifert on my board). After the 2013 season I had him ranked ahead of Eric Ebron. Nothing has changed on my opinion of Austin since I saw his huge frame, great hands and elite strength in 2011. Many scouts have turned on him over the past few years due to a DUI in 2012, poor production in 2013 and/or a stress fracture in 2014 that ruined his Combine. I don’t care about any of those things as Austin was one of the 2-3 TEs in the country for 3 straight years despite playing for a mediocre QB (Keith Price) and being somewhat marginalized in a spread system. He will fit much better in the NFL where his ability to block, win the jump ball and bring down a contested pass will be more appreciated. In college the smaller, speedier TEs were more effective yet in the NFL where everyone is bigger, faster and stronger the windows are smaller and Austin has shown a penchant for excelling in those situations. A good example of this is in the red zone where his 21 TDs trump both Ebron’s 8 and Amaro’s 13. They had more yards than Austin but when things became congested on the playing field Austin shined and the other two didn’t. To me Austin reminds me of a poor man’s Rob Gronkowski as Austin measured in at 6’5 ½ 262 and would likely have run a 4.75-4.80 (I think he’s a 4.8-4.85 on film but he came in 20 lbs lighter so I’m sure it would have helped his time). Gronk came in at 6’6 ¼ 258 and ran a 4.68 so essentially Austin is a slower Gronk. Eric Ebron, the universally regarded “best TE” is to me a rich man’s Jared Cook. Eric measured 6’4 3/8 250 and ran a 4.60 while Cook a few years back measured 6’4 ¾ 246 and ran a 4.49. Cook actually showed far superior speed but Ebron’s a rich man’s version of Cook due to superior hands, body control and quickness. The question is whether you’d prefer a poor man’s Gronkowski or a rich man’s Cook. I personally think it’s a no brainer as the first three things I want from my TE are blocking skills, talent in the red zone and the ability to make the contested catch to convert first downs. In all of these aspects I have Austin far superior to Ebron and it’s the reason why I’m going against the grain and have him as my #1 TE and a Top 15 pick 3/6/14.

2. Eric Ebron North Carolina 6’4 3/8 250 Jr.

Comparison: Rich man’s Jared Cook

Stats: ACC

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2014

 

 

 

 

2013

62

973

15.7

3

2012

40

625

15.6

4

2011

10

207

20.7

1

Combine: He was upstaged by AC Leonard but his 4.60 40 was still impressive for a 6’4 3/8 250 lb man. His 10’0 broad and ’32 vertical also were upstaged but also were top 5% historically for a TE. He tweaked his hamstring in his last 40 and didn’t do any position drills.

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6043

250

33.25

10

4.60

24

32

1000

 

 

Strengths: 1st team ACC in 2013. Most prolific TE in ACC history. NFL Body. Long and lean but with decent muscle tone. Gives good effort as a run blocker. Is an incredible athlete for his position (in the Cincinnati game he leaped over a defender on a shallow cross). He looks to be a legit 4.5 guy and will likely have a great Combine. He’s at his best as a run after the catch player and is the rare TE that can threaten a defense deep. He’ll open up a passing game by threatening a secondary on seam routes. He has very good hands and has shown he can catch the off target throw as well as make the acrobatic catch in traffic.             

Weaknesses: Is undersized and tries as a blocker but is just a wall off type. At 6’4 he isn’t a huge TE and at 245 lbs he isn’t the biggest TE, both of which will reduce his effectiveness as a red zone threat. He’s a very good athlete but is compared to Vernon Davis and that’s not valid as Davis ran a 4.38 40 and had a ’42 vertical while Ebron had “only” a 4.60 40 and a ’32 vertical. He’s a very good but not elite athlete.

Overall: Ebron is the “consensus” #1 TE in this draft class as I’ve yet to find a scout or media person without him at #1. Last year the same thing occurred as everyone had Tyler Eifert #1 except me who had a higher grade on Zach Ertz. One year later it’s looking smart as Ertz had a superior rookie season and appears to be the better athlete. Now I have Austin Seferian-Jenkins as my #1 TE not Ebron as Eric is shorter, smaller and more of a split out wide type than a muscular, red zone type. When surveying the NFL landscape it’s easy to see my logic as teams rank Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski well ahead of the Vernon Davises and Jared Cooks of the world. Ebron is a very good athlete, he is a willing blocker and he has great hands but he will never be 6’6 270 and because of that he will never be an elite red zone threat. If I’m spending a Top 10 or Top 15 pick on a TE, a tough decision to make in and of itself, then I better be getting a 3 down TE who is an elite red zone threat. Ebron probably will be subbed out on short yardage situations (not a three down guy) and will be mediocre in the red zone so he doesn’t fit the mold. Late 1st as my #2 TE who I think is overrated as he does excel at the areas that elite tight ends are supposed to excel at 4/23/14.

3. Jace Amaro Texas Tech 6’5 3/8 265 Jr.

Stats: Big 12

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2014

 

 

 

 

2013

106

1352

12.8

7

2012

25

409

16.4

4

2011

7

57

8.1

2

Combine: He came in more bulked up than he plays at. He had a fast 40 (4.74) for his size (265 lbs) and impressed me with his arm length (’34) and strength (28 reps-2nd most among 22 TEs). He looks like he could possibly be taught to block. Dropped ball on speed out drill. Dropped ball on in route drill. He was one of the worst in the position drills and looked neither extremely fast nor agile. He is definitely no higher than #3 among the TEs and is lucky Niklas was hurt as this wasn’t a great showing.

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6053

265

34

9

4.74

28

33

910

4.30

7.42

Strengths: 1st team Big 12 in 2013. He led all TEs in yards and receptions in 2013 and it’s not even close with his 106 catches more than 50% higher than #2 Eric Ebron’s 62! Set an FBS TE receiving yards record in 2013. He has elite hands as he can pluck on the run and always catches the ball with extended hands away from his body. He is one of the best I’ve ever seen at finding the soft spot in zone coverage and this skill shows that he understands schemes and could become a student of the game.

Weaknesses: I get the impression that he’s a bit of a dickhead. From his interviews to his relationship with teammates I get the vibe of a Ben Roethlisberger meat head type. It’s backed up by his off the field incidents as he was arrested in 2012 due to using a teammates credit card at a bar. He also was kicked out of their 2012 bowl game when he threw a punch at a defender. He has a tendency to get “alligator arms” when a big hit is coming for him and he doesn’t appear to be the toughest of players. He is inconsistent as a blocker as sometimes he’s into it and other times he gives minimal effort. He is a mediocre athlete in long speed, explosion and quickness with my thoughts from the Combine being that I needed to go back to the film as he looked like a product of his system. Most of his catches are on hitches and shallow crosses. I was always shocked that collegiate teams didn’t jam him at the LOS and put a nickel back on him as he was too fast for a linebacker but rarely showed the strength and toughness to beat a CB with power. He hasn’t always been the most focused player, “I just don’t think my mental state of mind was the best it could have been (quote from him in the fall of 2013 to the Dallas Morning News).”

Overall: At one time I had a late 1st round grade on Jace but his Combine and further film study have erased that possibility from my mind as there is a lot to worry about with him. At the Combine he didn’t look fast, explosive or quick and when you study his film closely you notice that 90% of his receptions came of f shallow crosses and short hitches. He occasionally threatened a defense down the seam but for the most part he was just an outlet receiver for their offense. Against NFL coordinators and elite athletes those routes will no longer be uncontested and I question whether he will be able to make the transition. At 6’5 3/8 265 he has prototypical TE size but he lacks the strength or technique to be an every down blocker and his experience is as a slot receiver at Tech. I think Amaro needs the right system to be successful as he won’t be strong enough to block and won’t be a good enough athlete to get open consistently on his own. If used correctly though, he could be a very good player as he has great hands, good body control and a rare understanding of where to find soft spots in zones. I like Amaro as a 2nd rounder as my #3 TE but he’s far inferior to the top 2 guys at his position and barely beats out Niklas who has superior physical skills than him 4/23/14.                 

4. Troy Niklas Notre Dame 6’6 ½ 270 Jr.

Comparison: Kyle Rudolph

Stats: Independent

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2014

 

 

 

 

2013

32

498

15.6

5

2012

5

75

15.0

1

2011

0

0

0

0

Combine: He didn’t run his 40 but had a good bench (27 reps) and solid explosion drills (vertical and broad). He did raise a red flag though by not running the 40 and by his very poor quickness drills as he was last in the shuttle (4.55) and 3 cone (7.57). The 3 cone drill time was actually beat by 9 OL in this year’s class. Good hands on in route drill. He’s a good looking kid that has the nickname Hercules.

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6064

270

34.13

10

 

27

32

906

4.55

7.57

Strengths: He has elite size for a TE as his height (6’6 ½), weight (270), hands (10) and strength (27 reps) are all above average to elite. He’s a very good blocker and seems to really try at it. He’s improved dramatically in a short time as in 2012 he was a bad blocker and only had 5 catches all season yet in 2013 he was a good blocker and was a dynamic pass threat for them. He has great body control for a player his size. It’s easy to make the argument that he would have gone much higher if he had stayed another year so a team drafting him could be in for a treat when Niklas fully develops as a player. His best two games of his career came in 2 of his 3 biggest games in 2013 (Michigan and USC) showing that he can play well when the level of competition increases.

Weaknesses: To come out early after one good but hardly great season is a somewhat selfish act. His career stats (37 573 6 TDs) isn’t even a great season and it makes you wonder how team oriented he is. Is he just a big guy who will just be a blocking TE or is he a legit athlete who can be a #1 TE for a team someday. He played LB as a freshman in 2011 and doesn’t have much experience as a TE.

Overall: In my opinion Niklas is going to be one of the steals of this draft as he’s a 3 down TE who probably would have been a 1st round pick if he had returned to school. Instead he left early and won’t be drafted earlier than 4th at his position which likely means he’s a 3rd-4th round selection (only twice in the last 7 years has the 4th TE been drafted before the 3rd round). A case can be made that he has more upside than Jace Amaro as he’s taller, heavier, stronger and played in a more pro style offense. At worst Niklas will be a very good #2 TE for a team and a great blocker yet at best he could become a Pro Bowl caliber player in the Kyle Rudolph mold as he’s the rare guy that can block a DE and then win a jump ball against a CB. He has good speed, good hands and great body control so a team drafting him could find themselves with a young star in a year or two. His two red flags are that he never had a dominant season statistically and he has only been playing the position for 2 years yet that is why he will last longer on draft day than he should. 2nd round as my #4 TE who likely will be one of the steals of this draft when we look back in 3 years 4/22/14.

5. CJ Fiedorowicz Iowa 6’5 ½ 265 Sr.

Stats: Big 10

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2014

30

299

10.0

6

2013

45

433

9.6

1

2012

16

167

10.4

3

2011

0

0

0

0

Combine: He had an average 40 (4.76) but checking in at 6’5 ½ 265 with 25 reps on the bench and was elite in the quickness drills with a 4.26 shuttle (1st among 22 TEs) and a 7.10 3 cone drill (1st as well). He showed solid hands on in route drill. He was clearly out of his element on wheel route and corner route drill. He lacks the deep speed and the agility to adjust to the ball.

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6054

265

33

10.25

4.76

25

31.5

908

4.26

7.10

Strengths: Honorable mention Big 10 in 2012. Blue Chip prospect out of HS- Ranked #82 in ESPN 2010 HS Class. He has a long frame that appears like it could add even more weight. He’s a solid blocker but nothing special in this area. He’s been productive despite being in a run first offense. He won’t complain as a role player. He has very good hands and has made a number of tough catches in his career.

Weaknesses: He lacks the strength to be a dominant in line blocker. He lacks the speed to stretch the middle of the field. He’s a bit cumbersome in his gait and is definitely not smooth. He has no YAC ability as it’s catch the ball and get tackled immediately. He rarely gets separation against collegiate defenders and there’s a chance that he’ll never be more than a mediocre #2 TE. He has no chance to ever be a #1 TE.

Overall: CJ is the best of the “not #1 TE material” prospects at the tight end position. Every team needs at least 3 TEs on their roster and most teams nowadays employ at least two tight ends in their offense. Some use them interchangeably, others use one predominantly as a blocker and the other as a receiver and others use a combination of a TE and H-back. CJ would fit well in a run oriented system that used a TE and H-back or a two TE team like the Colts under Peyton Manning a few years ago as he’s a good enough blocker to stay on the line yet lacks the athleticism to be a huge threat in the passing game. Fans of his will point to the fact that he has no holes and should be a capable pro while critics of his will point to the fact that he’s great at nothing at a time when more and more teams are specializing their tight ends. He isn’t a great blocker and he isn’t a great athlete who will get open consistently. I think he will end up as an average or above average #2 TE and there’s value in that but to me he’s getting a little overrated as guys like him are available in free agency on the cheap. Late 3rd round as my #5 TE 4/22/14.

6. Arthur Lynch Stanford #86 6’4 5/8 258 Sr.

Senior Bowl: Day 2: Beat eventually by Christian Jones in pass pro drill, beat badly by Jones on spin move next time. He had a very good rep vs. Jeremiah Attaouchu for a strong win. Day 3: Couldn’t get into route vs. Kenny Ladler as he was stone early, beat Lamin Barrow on out-strong hands, beat Kyle Van Noy on route showing good strength to throw him off press,

Stats: SEC

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2013

30

549

15.3

5

2012

24

431

18.0

3

2011

0

0

0

0

2010

RS

 

 

 

2009

2

17

8.5

0

Combine: He measured in big (6’4 5/8 258) like I expected and even had one of the bigger pairs of hands out there (10 1/8). He’s one of the most ripped TEs out there. He had one of the largest discrepancies between unofficial 40’s (4.68 and 4.72) and official (4.82) which is disappointing as a sub 4.7 40 would have been huge for his stock. He was average to above average in all the other drills and showed the great hands I saw on film. He did look out of his element though on the corner route drill. His final corner route drill was well run. Big time biceps.

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6045

258

32.5

10.13

4.82

28

29.5

908

4.35

7.38

Strengths: 1st team SEC in 2013. In the 2013 Nebraska game (bowl game) he showed almost a Tony Gonzalez ability to snatch a ball in traffic away from his body. He’s big, physical and has good hands. He might only be a #2 TE in the NFL but he definitely will be on the field in some capacity and looks like a poor man’s Kyle Rudolph. Has the frame to add weight and be a dual TE.

Weaknesses: He dropped two balls in the 2013 bowl game vs. Nebraska including the final pass on 4th and 3. He will be 24 a month after the draft due to being at Georgia for 5 years (redshirted in 2010, played in 2011 but had 0 receptions as a blocking TE). He has huge hands and can make the tough catch in traffic but then drops the easy one from time to time. He isn’t fast and ran a poor 40. I don’t think he has the athleticism to ever be a #1 TE.

Overall: Lynch is another player that lacks the pure athleticism to be a big weapon in the passing game but he has the size and strength to be a good in-line blocker, enough athleticism to be a threat in certain matchups and the hands to make the difficult catch. He looks like a future above average #2 TE who could be very productive if given the right matchups each week. I don’t think he has the athleticism to ever be a #1 TE so his draft grade is capped but I’ve been a big fan of Lynch for 2 years now and consider him a sleeper. Early 4th round as my #6 TE who is extremely undervalued by the draft community 4/22/14.

7. Jake Murphy Utah #86 6’4 249 Jr.

Comparison: A poor man’s Dallas Clark

Stats: Pac-12

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2014

 

 

 

 

2013

25

417

16.7

5

2012

33

349

10.6

4

2011

5

64

12.8

1

Combine: He had an interesting set of numbers with an average 40 (4.72-8th among 22 TEs) and average bench (24) but very good shuttle (4.27-2nd) and 3 cone (7.18-4th). He looks like a big HB or slightly undersized TE who is quicker than fast. Good hands on speed out drill. Solid on in route drill.

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6040

249

31.75

10

4.79

24

33

906

4.27

7.18

Strengths: He has underrated speed as he doesn’t appear to be fast but next thing you know he’s beating a defense over the top or down the seam. He was a big play threat in 2013 as in 7 of his 8 games he played in he had a reception of 19 yards or more. He’s an extremely tough player and had no issues with making a catch before taking a hit. He was very productive considering he missed 4 games due to injury, he missed part of a game due to the injury as well and he had average QB play to work with. He plays faster than he times and he’s very quick (his shuttle time being 2nd best didn’t surprise me). He left school early to provide for his wife and 9 month old daughter so he’s leaving school for the right reasons.

Weaknesses: He missed 4 games in 2013 due to injury (broke his wrist) and he only was a contributor for 2 seasons so it’s a bit strange that he left school early. He has no moves in space as he is a north-south runner with the ball and gets tackled almost immediately after the catch. He is 6’4 249 but watching him on film it’s obvious he’s an H-back not a TE as he plays even shorter and smaller than his measurables. His 40 was below average for an H-back.

Overall: Jake Murphy is a player most college diehard college football fans wouldn’t even recognize but the kid is a talent and I expect him to be a playmaker on Sundays. He isn’t the tallest or strongest guy at his position but he made big plays consistently for a bad team (5-7 back to back seasons) and seems to have underrated athleticism. His 4 games missed due to a broken wrist as well as his poor 40 time (he ran a 4.79 but he plays much faster than tat) could cause him to drop on draft day but for team’s using an H-back, Murphy could be a steal in the middle rounds. He reminds me a bit of Dallas Clark as he’s undersized, white and has athleticism that will surprise you. He isn’t quite the athlete Dallas was but the similarities are there. Early 4th round as my #7 TE 4/22/14.

8. Colt Lyerla Oregon #86 6’3 7/8 242 Jr.

Comparison: Aaron Hernandez

Stats: Pac-12

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2014

 

 

 

 

2013

2

26

13.0

0

2012

25

392

15.7

6

2011

7

147

21.0

5

Combine: He only had 15 reps on the bench (last among 22 TEs) and didn’t do any quickness drills yet wowed with a 4.61 40 (3rd), ’39 vertical (1st) and 10’8 broad (1st). Double catch on speed out drill. On the tape it showed that Lyerla ran faster than Eric Ebron (4.60) and almost as fast as AC Leonard (4.50) so his 4.61 was more like a 4.56.

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6037

242

32.75

10.25

4.61

15

39

1008

 

 

Strengths: He’s an explosive athlete that has WR like athleticism. #15 on Bruce Feldman’s freak athlete list for 2013 due to ’35 vert and an 11’3 broad at 6’5 250 lbs. He’s a determined player as countless games I scouted of him I wrote down complements about his energy level, his strength in breaking a tackle or his toughness in lowering his shoulder to give a blow to a DB. Due to his H-back size he’ll never be a great blocker but he gives it his all and if places against LBs or DBs he can actually dominate at times. He has huge hands and looks great catching it on a juggs machine. He has the speed to threaten the seam down the middle which should help his receivers on the outside as it will draw safety attention away from them.

Weaknesses: Well there are a lot of them. First there are the on the field weaknesses as he’s an undersized TE who is more of an H-back type. He is actually a very willing blocker and I’ve seen him lay some pretty big hits on people but he still is only about 240 lbs so it won’t be a strong suit of his. He also has never had a great statistical season and COMBINED his stats in his 3 seasons equal up to only an average season compared to most prospects in this draft (34 catches 565 yards 11 TDs). He also has had his share of drops in his career and, while his hands are actually very good in terms of jugg machine drills and hand size, he doesn’t seem to have great concentration and a team should expect him to drop the occasional one (in the 2013 Virginia game he dropped 3 passes, he only caught 2 passes all season so he was 2 for 5!). Yet the big weaknesses are obviously off the field with Lyerla as he’s something of a bad boy. He was suspended from the team in the fall of 2013 and then quit the team on his own accord. He later pleaded guilty for cocaine possession so it was likely linked but Oregon isn’t talking. He also was arrested for driving with a suspended license. He has tattoos all over his chest and right arm. He looks shady as hell. Mayock brought up that he’s on his 2nd agent already and I like the comment as it shows that this kid is still not making great choices in his life. He will be a headache for someone and the question is whether or not he’s worth it. In some ways, on and off the field, he actually reminds me of Aaron Hernandez. Now some will run for the hills on that comparison yet others will remember that Hernandez was a Pro Bowl TE who was offered a lucrative extension at one time so he was worth the trouble up until a certain point. It will be up to each team to decide whether they take him off the board or not but the kid has late 2nd/early 3rd round talent if you take the off the field issues away.

Overall: Lyerla is one of the most polarizing players in this draft. Some think he’s truly a bad dude and have him completely off their draft board while others think he was the consummate pro while Chip Kelly was there and then his ego got a little out of control under the new coaching staff. I personally think he’s a bad dude and my opinion is that he will be on the police blotter sometime within the next 2-3 years. I also think that he’s obvious choice as the 5th best TE in this draft class and a 3rd round talent so if he’s available in the late rounds he might be worth a shot. As a player he’s an H-back with elite athleticism as he runs a sub 4.6 40 (his official 40 time was 4.61 but when they juxtaposed him with Eric Ebron’s 4.60 he was clearly ahead of Ebron so he likely ran a 4.55), jumps out the gym (’39 vertical is elite for a WR) and is a hard nosed, tough player. I LOVED watching Lyerla play and think that he could be one of the steals of this draft if taken by a team that has a strong coaching staff and veteran locker room. The Seahawks, 49ers, Patriots, Steelers, Broncos or Saints would all be good fits for him both stylistically and culturally. He isn’t a fit for most teams but in the right setting he could make a GM look like a genius. Late 4th round as my #8 TE who only drops from the late 2nd/early 3rd round area due to a large number of red flags 3/6/14.

9. Trey Burton Florida 6’2 1/8 224 Sr.

Comparison: Anquan Boldin

Stats: SEC

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2013

38

445

11.7

1

2012

18

172

9.6

1

2011

19

149

7.8

1

2010

32

210

6.6

1

Combine: At 6’2 1/8 and 224 lbs he’s essentially a WR. At 4.62 in the 40 he’s essentially a slow WR. That being said he still excites me with his versatility and I honestly think he could be an Anquan Boldin type as a slot receiver. Good hands on in route drill. Very good on corner route drill-quickest out of break.

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6021

224

31

9.38

4.62

 

30

904

4.32

7.14

Strengths: He’s maybe the most versatile player in this draft as he’s played TE, H-back, RB, WR and QB. He is too quick for most linebackers and too big for most DBs. He was an integral part of their offense and when Florida didn’t get him involved they stagnated. He was productive despite having some atrocious QB play. He was always a team player and when Urban Meyer left, ruining his chance at becoming a full time QB in the Tim Tebow mold, he stuck it out instead of transferring like many players would. For his size he had good quickness drill numbers which shows up on film. He has great hands and could become a solid possession receiver if a team had to pigeonhole him in one spot.

Weaknesses: Is he versatile or did he just get moved around to a lot of different spots. His size insinuates that he’s simply a WR and, as such, he isn’t a great athlete with his 4.62 40 and explosion drills all being below average. He isn’t an experienced receiver due to moving around to multiple spots and isn’t strong enough to play TE. A team that doesn’t use him creatively will make him look like a bust.

Overall: Burton is an interesting player as he was a productive player on a bad offense due to his versatility and unique skill set. For the past 3 years I’ve thought he fit perfectly on a team like the Patriots as he could be a solid TE, slot receiver, H-back and wildcat QB. If you had to put him full time in one spot though I think slot receiver as a possession receiver would be his best fit as he reminds me of Anquan Boldin in frame and style. Boldin is more physical but they both are 220 lbs with good quickness, great hands and poor long speed. Boldin was a former QB coming out of Florida State and Burton is a former QB coming out of Florida so the comparison continues in that regard. I like Burton but understand how some teams would be hesitant on him as he’s the classic tweener and a team without a plan of how to use him should probably just not draft him. In the right system he could be a playmaker as a versatile weapon that excites a fan base. In the wrong system he could be this year’s version of Denard Robinson who already looks like a bust for the Jaguars. Late 4th round as my #9 TE who could be a WR or H-back 4/22/14.

10. AC Leonard Tennessee St. 6’2 3/8 252 Jr.

Comparison: Dustin Keller

Stats: SEC in 2011, Ohio Valley Conference in 2012-2013

Year

Rec

Yards

Avg

TD

2014

 

 

 

 

2013

34

441

13.0

5

2012

51

733

14.4

6

2011

8

99

12.4

0

Combine: He x-ferred to Tennessee State where he was a 2nd team FCS All-American and ran a 4.50 40 at the Combine (1st among TEs). Triple catch on speed out drill. He’s one of the most ripped TEs out there. Good hands on in route drill. Very impressive looking on in/hitch drill. Good on wheel route drill.

HGT

WGT

Arms

Hands

40

Reps

Vert

Broad

Shuttle

3 Cone

6023

252

33

9.25

4.50

20

34

1008

 

 

Strengths:A blue chip prospect out of HS (#1 ranked TE, #61 Overall). 2nd Team FCS All-American in 2013. He has elite speed as his 4.50 40 was the best for a TE at this year’s Combine but also the 3rd best (behind James Hanna’s 4.49 in 2012 and Dorin Dickerson’s 4.40 in 2010. In his 2nd to last game at Florida he had his best game in the SEC with 3 catches for 65 yards (21.7 average!).

Weaknesses: He began his career at Florida yet pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery charges against his girlfriend (February 2012), (she) “told police Leonard shoved her to the ground and dragged her through an apartment by her hair.” They had been dating for a year and a half and living together for about a month. In May 2012 he was arrested for driving with a suspended license. I think this kid is a legit thug and I wouldn’t put him in the “young kids doing stupid things” category. He has great speed but the 3 fastest 40 times in the past 5 years (Dorin Dickerson, James Hanna and Chris Gragg who tied him with a 4.50) all have done nothing so pure speed isn’t as big of a factor for TEs as some think. He had a down year in 2013 compared to 2012 and should have had an even better year than 733 yards against the weak competition he faced.

Overall: AC Leonard is a 3rd round talent in terms of pure athleticism, on field production, etc. Where he will actually go though is anyone’s guess as he is battling with Colt Lyerla for the title of “baddest dude in the draft.” Leonard is a bit short for a TE but at 252 lbs with 20 reps on the bench he isn’t just an H-Back and legitimately can play as an in-line TE. That’s impressive considering he ran the 3rd fastest 40 time of any TE at the Combine in the past 5 years. Add to that the fact that he has good hands, was an elite prospect out of HS and can jump out of the gym (10’8 broad is elite) and you have a legit talent on your hands. Each team will decide whether he made one very bad mistake as a young kid or if he’s just a thug and trouble will follow him throughout his career. For the team that decides to gamble on him I worry for them but the talent is there for him to be a starting TE and a contributor. 5th round as my #10 TE who I want no part of but who still gets a draftable grade as some team will overlook his off the field incidents 3/9/14.

 

 

Late round types:

Xavier Grimble USC #86 Sr. Redshirted in 2010. In the 2011 Minnesota game I noticed his huge frame as a blocker. He needs to add some weight as he is only listed at 6’5 245 and looks it as he is very lanky but his frame is massive. Bobbled then dropped a wide open catch that would have been +20 yards as he had plenty of running room (12:15 3rd). Ranked #31 in ESPN 150 for ’10. In the 2012 Stanford game he had a nice block, open for 20 yd catch in middle, beat by DE Trent Murphy on rush for sack and FF. In the 2012 Arizona game he had athletic looking 15 yd out-had to jump for it. In the 2011 UCLA game he had a tough catch on slant vs. tight cov. In the 2012 Georgia Tech game he was beat on inside by LB Jeremiah Attouchu for pressure. Combine: He had the worst vertical of any of the 22 TEs and the 4th worst broad jump and did no other drills. Word is he’s still not 10% from injuries. Good catch on ball behind him on in/hitch drill. Solid on corner route drill. He’s a kid who isn’t fully healthy, didn’t have a good season in 2013 and is likely to go undrafted but he still gets a draftable grade by me due to the fact that 2 years ago he played like a 4th rounder. 6th round as my # TE 3/9/14.

Crockett Gillmore Colorado St. 6’5 7/8 260 Sr. 1st Team MWC in 2013. He has good size (6’5 7/8 260) including 33 ¾ arms and the biggest hands of any TE (10 3/8) so he’s a legit in line blocking TE but he still looked painfully slow with a 4.89 40 (2nd worst among 22 TEs) and a 7.42 3 cone drill (3rd worst). He looks like a career #3 TE if that. Good extended hands catch on in route drill. 6th round as my # TE 3/9/14.

Joe Don Duncan Dixie St. 6’3 268 Sr. He was in college 6 years and went to 3 different colleges. He’s a unique body type for a TE as it’s usually big and strong or small and quick (H-back). Duncan is short and stocky as he’s only 6’3 but put up 35 reps on the bench (7 more than anyone else). He had a foot injury so he couldn’t run the 40. An intriguing H-back as he’s just a behemoth and has good athleticism. A true diamond in the rough type that some teams will have off their draft board due to character concerns. 6th round as my # TE 4/22/14.

Jacob Pedersen Wisconsin 6’3 ½ 238 Sr. In the 2011 UNLV game had a wide open short TD catch (10:28 3rd) and coaches are big fans of him and convinced him to stay after he thought about quitting to be a mortician. 1st team Big 10 in 2012. COMBINE: He had a really bad Combine as a guy with his lack of size (6’3 ½ 238) needs to run better than a 4.89 40 (worst among 22 TEs) and needs to do better in the vertical (28 ½-2nd worst), broad (9’3-worst), shuttle (4.40-6th worst) and 3 cone (7.55-2nd worst). There is a chance he doesn’t get drafted after this poor performance 3/1/14. Outstanding hands catch on poorly thrown ball well away from his body on in route drill. The best of the group on wheel route drill catching it in stride over his shoulder. Early 7th round as my # TE 3/6/14.

Asante Cleveland Miami #82 Sr. He barely played in 2013 (less than 20 catches and less than 200 yards) but has all the skills as a project. In the 2013 NFLPA practice he had a nice jumping catch on a 15 yd out and then maybe the play of the day with a 27 yd TD jumping high to catch it in the end zone-had a step on the LB. 7th round project type 1/19/14.

 

Free Agents:

Asa Watson NC State 6’3 240 Won the starting job going into the 2012 opener. In the 2012 Tennessee game he had a nice +15 yd seam route showing superior speed to backup TE Mario Carter, dropped easy 4 yd dump off. In the 2012 Vanderbilt game he had back to back intermediate catches yet fumbled the 2nd one for TO. He reminds me of a slower Jared Cook as he’s very skinny and almost WR like for a TE. In the 2013 NFLPA game he had a nice block and release dump off play for +10 yds showing good speed in the open field. 7th round 1/20/14. He measured in smaller than I thought he would which drops him to free agent status 3/9/14.

Jordan Najvar Baylor Sr. He began career at Stanford and x-fer to Baylor. He impressed on Day 1 at the East-West Shrine game practice showing great size/speed ratio and solid hands. At 6’6 +250 lbs he’s a legit TE and not just a flex out guy. In the East-West Shrine game he had a nice extended hands diving catch on a seam route. COMBINE: He surprised me with a poor 40 (4.93-worst among the 22 TEs) as he seemed explosive at the East-West Shrine game. The rest of his drills were average but he did impress with a 6’5 7/8 frame that had 256 lbs on it. He’s a legit TE in size/weight. Nice catch on low ball on speed out drill. Dropped low ball on in route drill. No burst showing, just one speed throughout on corner route drill. The kid has potential but he has almost zero statistics and ran a poor 40 time. Free Agent 3/9/14.

Richard Rodgers California He has solid size (6’4 257) but had a poor 40 (4.87-4th worst among 22 TEs), poor bench (16-3rd worst) and was mediocre in the other drills. Solid hands on in route drill. Good athleticism on wheel and on corner route drill. He didn’t time fast but he looks fast. Free Agent as he looks like an athlete and he has solid film but didn’t wow me at anything 4/22/14.

Chris Coyle Arizona St. 6’2 5/8 243 Sr. In the 2012 Navy game he had a great extended hands diving catch for 12 yds on a seam route-set the team record for catches by a TE on that reception. H-Back type. In the 2013 NFLPA Practices he surprised people how good he was as a blocker. 3rd team Pac-12 in 2012. 2nd team Pac-12 in 2013. He had a terrible Pro Day with a 4.95 40, 16 reps, 30 ½ vertical, 9’0 broad and 4.46 shuttle which all would have been near the bottom among TEs. Free Agent as his film was very good but he lacks NFL size and athleticism 4/22/14.

Marcel Jensen Fresno St. 2nd Team MWC in 2013. He had a mixed bag as he showed good size (6’5 3/8 259) to go along with extremely long arms (34 7/8-longest of the 22 TEs) yet a below average 40 (4.85) and a terrible shuttle (4.60-worst) hurt more than a great vertical (’35-2nd best) helped. Free Agent who I didn’t notice on tape too much, likely due to their elite WR corp 4/22/14.

Nic Jacobs McNeese St. He measured in well (6’5 269 with 34 1/8 arms and 10 hands) yet only did the bench and was the worst of any of the 22 TEs on it (surprising due to his size). Incomplete but also somewhat bad since he’s expected to be a blocking TE and showed no strength. Free Agent 3/9/14.

Alex Bayer Bowling Green Sr. At +250 lbs he still looks and moves like a WR. In the East-West Shrine game practices he had a number of big plays and looked good as a pure receiving TE. Free Agent 3/9/14.

Blake Jackson Oklahoma State Sr. WR at OSU but only played in 5 games in 2013 due to injury. The NFL thinks he’s a TE and he’s working out as such leading up to the draft. At the East-West Shrine game practices he was terrible with missed blocks and drops. Camp invite 2/20/14.

Anthony Denham Utah Soph Redshirted in 2011, 11 catches in 2012 and 24 catches in 2013 yet came out two years early? His 40 time wasn’t particularly impressive (4.77) yet looked pretty darn good. He was a WR in 2013 but bulked up enough to move to TE. I don’t know why he came out early. Barely a camp invite 3/9/14.

Justin Jones East Carolina 6’7 5/8 277 Sr. Had a very solid ’10 (21 211 5 TD) for a freshman and I noticed him numerous times in the ’10 Military Bowl vs. Maryland as he pancaked a MLB (3:20 3rd) and had a solid game (4 60 1 TD). His frame is absolutely massive (6’8 252) and he could become a star if he can gain 20 lbs over the next 3 years and become a solid receiver 1/4/11. He was ruled ineligible to play in 2013 and enters the 2014 NFL Draft with no momentum so he likely will go undrafted. He added the weight I was hoping he would and has a reported ’37 vertical but at this point he’s barely a Camp Invite 3/9/14. I’d actually consider bringing him in and bulking him up further to be an OT.

Reggie Jordan Missouri Western He came in too short and small to be a TE (6’2 7/8 240) and then proceeded to run a bad 40 (4.77) and show mediocre hands. He looked like a WR running around out there and wideouts with 4.77 speed aren’t in the NFL. Undraftable 3/2/14.

Nehemiah Hicks Texas A&M 6’4 250 Sr. I saw him for the first time against Oklahoma St. and can already tell after the 4th game into his freshman year that he will be drafted 9/30/10. Has great size, good hands, and nice mobility for a man that big and while he isn’t really a flex out option he does appear to have enough wiggle to avoid tacklers. Should continue to gain weight and strength and become a legit 2 way TE, am very excited to see him develop. He started his career off with a bang (11 catches for 141 yards as a freshman) yet ended it with a dud (2 catches for 6 yards as a senior). Undraftable 3/9/14.

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