Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Prospectus: Tight Ends

2014 NFL Draft Prospectus

Tight Ends


If you need a TE in this draft, you had better grab one early, because after the top four in this group, the talent level drops off considerably. There are two first round talents, and two that could drop to the second. After that group, it falls to 4th round talent. The TE position has been devalued in the spread offense, but teams who are winning are getting it done with quality players at this position. The Patriots seemed to make the TE cool again, with the Colts, Ravens, and 49rs joining suit. TE is a valuable position still, and to balance out the offense (this means you, spread teams), you have to have quality here. Unfortunately, there isn’t a bunch of depth in 2014.


Top 5

Eric Ebron, North Carolina

Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Washington

Troy Niklas, Notre Dame

CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa


Most Overrated

Arthur Lynch, Georgia


Most Underrated

Rob Blanchflower, U Mass


Best Small School Prospect

Joe Don Dixon, Dixie State


Eric Ebron, North Carolina

6-4, 250

4.60 40 Time

Projected Pick: 7-15

Ebron was a three year, early entry player at North Carolina. In 2011, he played in 10 games, posting a line of 10-207-1, while averaging 20.7 yards per reception. He took on a bigger role in 2012, and posted 40-625-4 in 11 games, averaging 15.6 yards per catch. As a junior in 2013, Ebron lined up 62-973-3, averaging 15.7 yards per catch.

Pros: Ebron is an amazing athlete who has the ability to stretch the field and keep a defense honest. He has decent speed for a big TE, and will beat LBs in coverage, and can get past some slower Safeties in coverage as well. Has excellent fluidity for a man his size, and will dominate small corners when split out wide. Uses his frame well when catching the ball. Ebron basically plays TE like an oversized WR.

Cons: Ebron has only been a starter for two years, and still has some things to learn in the route running department. As physical as he is, he too often waits for the ball rather than going to the ball, allowing balls to get away from him. He is anot always as physical as he should be, and plays the game with a WR mentality rather than using his frame to dominate as a blocker. He sometimes will rely a bit too much on his raw athleticism. His blocking is a bit suspect, and will be until he sheds that WR mentality.

Final Grade: A-

Final Assessment: If Ebron could start playing the game more like his position should indicate, meaning learning how to power block, then Ebron would have earned a solid A, if not an A+. Like Sammy Watkins at WR, Ebron is a freakish athlete, but he still has a bit more to learn before he becomes a dominant top flight TE in the NFL. I think that the Falcons would be foolish to bust out a top ten pick on him, but all the mocks are pointing to Ebron going to Atlanta with the number 7 selection.


Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

6-5, 265

4.74 40 Time

Projected Pick: 35-40

Amaro was a three year player at Texas Tech, entering the draft a year early. In 2011, Amaro posted just 7-57-2. His role was increased slightly in 2012, but he played in just seven games, where he posted a line of 25-409-4. He averaged 16.4 yards per catch that season, a career high at Tech. In 2013, in a return to the Air Raid days, Amaro exploded by catching 106 passes for 1352 yards and seven TDs, averaging 12.8 yards per grab and 104 yards per game.

Pros: Amaro is another high production TE in the passing game. You can throw out his first two seasons, because the offense was not geared to what he can do. He has great size, and a long frame, and has excellent athleticism in running the field. He reminds some of a pre-prison Aaron Hernandez, as he can line up and devastate in the slot, or he can line up wide and use his size against smaller DBs. Uses his body perfectly in traffic, and shields the ball well. Amaro is also an excellent receiver downfield across the middle, as he can go up and get the football away from smaller safeties. He has great hands and overall control. His blocking isn’t perfect yet, but he is really coming along in that department.

Cons: If there is one area of concern, it is that he has not matured as a blocker yet. He is still learning how to block, and he may not be an ideal fit with traditional power run teams. His speed is not great, so he will never outrun anyone. When asked to play a more traditional role in 2011 and 12, he seemingly was non-existent.

Final Grade: B+

Final Assessment: If not for lacking speed and blocking finesse, Amaro would be one of the best prospects in the draft. He is an eager student of the game, and he will seemingly do what it takes to win and learn. He would fit perfectly with the Patriots, or any team that runs a similar spread or west coast type offense. If a good coach gets hold of Amaro, he could turn into a super weapon on Sundays.


Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Washington

6-5, 262

4.75 40 Time

Projected Pick: 40-45

Sefarian-Jenkins was yet again another early entry plpayer after having spent three seasons with the Huskies. He started immediately in 2011, posting 41-538-6. In 2012, He played in 13 games, and posted 69-852-7. IN 2013, as a junior, He posted 36-450-8.

Pros: Great size for a TE in any year. He is one of the best scorers at TE in the class, having scored 21 career TDs at UW. He uses his body well in traffic, and is an excellent underneath receiver. He will play the middle of the field fluidly, and will dominate with his size. Unlike Ebron and Amaro, He is a polished blocker, who plays with excellent leveredge and power. Picks up blitzes and power rushers off of the edge with certainty.

Cons: Sefarian-Jenkins has a character flag, as he was hit with a DUI before the 2013 season. As capable a blocker as he can be, he often will take a play or two off, and not always delver the bell ringing blocks you would like. He sort of pushes his target around, rather than flattening him. He won’t be able to play off of the line too often, and does not possess solid speed. He has some injury issues to consider, but nothing that locked him out of action for too long.

Final Grade: B-

Final Assessment: Sefarian-Jenkins is an elite athlete at times, and just slightly ok at others. You have to look at the DUI thing with some deep concern, as he came back from it and really under produced as a junior, and then bolted afterward, making me wonder where his focus is. I believe that he can go on Sundays for the right team and coach, but he may need someone up his ass a bit for the first few seasons, or maybe forever. It’s a shame that he has a questionable motor and maturity, because he can certainly play the game.


Troy Niklas, Notre Dame

6-6, 270

4.84 40 Time

Projected Pick: 50-55

Niklas is yet another three year player at Notre Dame who left early. He appeared in 12 games in 2011, but never caught a pass. In 2012, Niklas caught just 5 balls for 75 yards and one score. In 2013, he posted 32-498-5.

Pros: Niklas is built like a small tackle, or a large one from the 80’s. He moves well for his size, and has soft hands in the receiving game. He won’t wait for the ball to get to his body when catching it, and will reach for it. His blocking skills are solid, as that’s all he did for two years.

Cons: Major inexperience as a receiver in my book. He has caught just 37 passes in three years, and looks more like a big H-Back or block only TE to me. He is as slow as they come at this position. While a solid blocker, his technique needs some work, especially when it comes to using his lower half.

Final Grade: C

Final Assessment: I am being kind with his grade, because I just don’t see it in Niklas. He under produced at Notre Dame, and maybe that was just the offense that Brian Kelly ran, but he certainly has opportunities. Everyone likes him for his overall athleticism, but he just doesn’t blow me away as a guy who should be picked in the first two days of the draft. Niklas looks like more of a developmental project to me, and I am not sure he’ll ever be a star.


The Next Group

CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa: Solid blocker, but not much of a game changer as a receiver.

Arthur Lynch, Georgia: Ceiling is as a number two. Not much impresses me about him.

Crockett Gilmore, Colorado State: Solid pass catcher, but lacks first rate blocking skills. A specialist.

Xavier Grimble, USC: Underwhlemed at USC after being highly rated as a recruit. Mid-round guy at best.

Joe Don Duncan, Dixie State: Our two time D2 TE of the Year. Just gobbles up yards as a receiver.

AC Leonard, Tennessee: Character flags abound. Maturity ruins solid talent.

Colt Lyerla, Oregon: Character issues, as he was kicked out of Oregon after being busted on cocaine charge.

Rob Blanchflower, U Mass: High motor guy on a bad football team. May be solid developmental project.

Richard Rodgers, California: Played WR for Sonny Dykes last season. May be a tweener.

Marcel Jensen, Fresno State: Not a great receiver, but could be solid number two on a power run team.

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