Tuesday, April 3, 2012

NFL Draft Breakdown: Tight Ends

Coby Fleener, above, really impressed scouts at his pro day. (Photo: sbnation.com)
Today, I will be analyzing the top three tightends in this years draft. Like usual, the depth at the tight end position is not that great. This year, however, it is unclear as to whether or not there will be one taken in the first round. Much like the tight ends and running backs, the top prospect is virtually in a class of his own.

Coby Fleener (Stanford)
In his senior season for the Cardinal, Fleener had 34 receptions for 667 yards and 10 touchdowns. Standing at 6-6 and weighing 240 pounds, Fleener is a pretty good sized tight end.

When watching Fleener on film, I am amazed by his speed and agility. He does not run like a traditional tight end. He cuts in and out of his routes like that of a tight end. He can really stretch the field with his ability to run and cut. His unofficial 37 inch vertical is also an added bonus. He has the ability to go up and over cornerbacks with ease thanks to this. He is also physical with his hands at the line to get open.

At just 240, Fleener might get pushed around when he is blocking for a running back. Whoever drafts Fleener would get the most out of him at the slot position. I picture him being more like a Gronkowski in the NFL.

Orson Charles (Georgia)
At 6-3 and weighing 241 pounds, the Bulldog is not as big as Fleener. He caught 45 balls for 574 yards and five touchdowns.

Personally, I don't see Charles drafted until the third round. When watching him on film, I don't really see anything that wows me. Some positives that I saw were his feet. When running his routes, he breaks clean and has the ability to leave linebackers spinning in the open field. He also does a decent job at finding the hole in the zone. He knows where to go and where to sit in order to be in the sweet spot for the quarterback.

Charles isn't going to be the teams best blocker. When gets beat, he essentially gives up. At times he blocks right into the ball carrier. His feet are almost too crisp for himself to handle. He falls down during a route. He also has a tendency to drop one or two throughout the course of the game.

Dwayne Allen (Clemson)
Standing at 6-4 and weighing in at 255 pounds, Allen is the heaviest of these three. This past season for the Tigers, he had 50 receptions for 598 yards and eight touchdowns.

Simply put, Allen is a big and physical tight end. When he is running his routes he really plants hard on his outside foot when cutting. He goes up and grabs the ball at it's highest point. He doesn't just catch the ball, he grabs it. Drops are not really a problem with him. He has sure hands and you can tell that the quarterback feels confident when throwing him the ball.

Blocking is an issue with him. He rises up after contact and doesn't do a very good job of running his feet after the initial hit. He needs to stay low and power through the guy he's blocking. NFL defensive ends will run right through him if he rises up.

I would not expect any of these three tight ends to be taken in the first round of the draft. While they all posses the skills they need to be great receiving tight ends, they all lack the ability to block. Look for all three of these guys to be taken off the board by the time the fifth round rolls around.