Friday, March 24, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Prospectus: Tight Ends

1st Round
OJ Howard, Alabama
David Njoku, Miami

2nd Round
Gerald Everett, South Alabama
Evan Engram, Mississippi

3rd Round
Adam Shaheen, Ashland
Jordan Leggett, Clemson

4th Round
Jake Butt, Michigan
Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
Jonnu Smith, Florida International
Michael Roberts, Toledo
Cole Hikutini, Louisville

5th Round
Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas
Blake Jarwin, Oklahoma State

6th Round
Eric Saubert, Drake

7th Round
Anthony Auclair, Laval (Canada)

Taylor McNamara, USC
Pharoah Brown, Oregon
Johnny Mundt, Oregon
Evan Bayliss, Oregon
Billy Freeman, San Jose State
Connor Cella, Rice
Josiah Price, Michigan State
Sean Culkin, Missouri
Tyrone Swoopes, Texas

OJ Howard, Alabama
6-6, 251
Howard was a four year player at Alabama, although he could have gone to the draft a year ago. As a freshman, he put up a line of 14-269-2, and averaged 19.21 yards per reception.
As a sophomore, He caught 17-260-0, and averaged 15.29 YPR. He came in as a junior and doubled his production, posting 38-602-2, averaging 15.84 YPR on the season.
As a senior, He posted 45-595-3, and averaged 13.22 YPR.
The Good
One of the most athletic players in the draft, and probably better than some of his early numbers may suggest. He is a rare first round lock for a TE, and is one of those immediate impact types of players.
Very fast for a TE, with first rate hands, and has length to go get most passes.
Tracks the ball like a WR.
Cannot be defended in the passing game by a LB, and DBs have match up issues with him.
Very creative in space, and can break a long gain on any given play.
Excellent body control, and can readjust on bad throws high or low.
Rare pass catching TE who can also block  like a pro.
The real deal.
The Bad
He is a pretty straightforward receiver, and does not string many moves together.
Can lack aggressiveness at times.
Needs more reps on the field, as Alabama under used him in 2016.
Some question his competitive nature.
Final Overview
I don't get how anyone would question his overall competitive nature, but I will say that Lane Kiffin rarely used him properly. Howard is an absolute first round talent who can be one of the best in the league once he gets his bearings. He is probably one of the prospects in this draft that I am personally most excited about.

David Njoku, Miami
6-4, 246
Njoku played just two seasons at Miami after redshirting as a freshman to transition from WR to TE As a freshman, he posted 21-362-1, and averaged 17.24 YPR in 13 games. As a RS Sophomore in 2016, he dropped a line of 43-698-8, and averaged 16.23 YPR.
The Good
Despite his overall size, he can still play outside at WR when needed.
Has room on his frame to bulk up further, which could improve his overall game as a blocker.
Very precise, sharp cuts on routes.
Creates separation easily, and creates major mismatches.
A major creator in the open field, and excels in YAC.
Major leaping ability to go get after the high throw.
Knows where the seams are against zones and finds the soft spot, will camp out there.
First rate hands.
He can line up anywhere on the field and excel.
Plus blocker.
The Bad
Severely limited sample size, as he only started in nine games in two years.
Still learning how to play TE, and thinks like a WR too much.
Footwork on blocking is still a work in progress, and may be a better receiving option than straight up blocker.
He can lose focus on some plays, leading to drops.
Still learning route tree from TE perspective.
Lacks lower body explosion, needs more on his frame.
More raw than anything else, depends on being a freakish athlete over knowledge of what he is doing.
Final Overview
As a pass catching TE, I think that Njoku, despite his lack of overall experience, could be a nice, late first round addition for anyone needing a TE who is not the best as a pure blocker in the trenches. Get him wide, and let him run, and allow him to block downfield as a decoy, because that is where he will excel right now. He will learn the rest later, but he has amazing talent potential, and could develop into being a star.

Gerald Everett, South Alabama
6-3, 239
Everett is a former high school basketball player who only picked up football as a senior in high school. He attended Hutchinson CC to further learn the game, and then transferred to UAB, but was focred out when the Blazers cut their program, which eventually landed him at South Alabama, a program that has had luck with traditional TEs in their short history.
Everett was the leading receiver for the Jaguars in 2015, as he posted a line of 41-575-8, with an average of 14.02 YPR. As a senior in 2016, he posted 49-717-4, with an average of 14.63 YPR.
The Good
Very athletic with solid bust off of the line.
Can get deep and past safeties who are sitting in zone coverage, and gets good separation off of the snap. He can run for a big guy.
Creates easy mismatches with his size and athletic ability, and demands DB coverage. LBs cannot cover him well.
Works well over the middle and against zone schemes.
Has first rate hands, and turns several catches into longer gains.
Solid blocker on screen pass plays.
Solid moves, and can create in the open field. Hard to tackle.
Very aggressive player.
The Bad
Inexperience is still an issue. Has not played the game for very long.
He does not run routes well, and just tends to roam into position.
Despite his size and burst, he still gets jammed sometimes.
Final Overview
If you are looking for overall value, and cannot get Howard or Njoku, this is your guy. He will need some coaching, but the physical traits are there. He runs like a pro, can catch the ball, and blocks like an angry beast. Any of the mental parts that may be missing are only due to inexperience, so he just needs to be coached and to get on the field. He has success written all over him.

Evan Engram, Mississippi
6-3, 234
Engram was a rare four year player at Ole Miss, and was one of the most productive players in the nation during his time with the Rebels.
As a freshman, he missed a month with an ankle injury, but still managed to post a line of 21-268-3, averaging 12.76 YPR. As a sophomore, he put up a line of 38-662-2, averaging 17.42 YPR. His numbers dipped a bit as a junior, as he posted 38-464-2, with a 12.21 YPR average, but returned for his senior season, when he exploded for a line of 65-926-8, with a YPR of 14.25.
The Good
Freakish athlete with a major explosion off of the snap. Incredibly fast.
Efficient runner with very little in the way of wasted movement.
Very good footwork while running.
Excellent body control, and gets to the ball everywhere.
Will kill in the seams, and can get deep.
LBs will not be able to cover him due to his speed and athleticism.
Can line up in the slot and go to work.
Has immediate impact written all over him.
The Bad
Is not a first rate receiver against the zone, and does not know where to find the soft spot against it just yet. Has to be hit on the move, and does not have first rate ability in reading of defenses.
Does not do a solid job of protecting the ball with his body.
Smallish for a TE, and is kind of a tweener.
Has had focus issues, and has been known to have some drops.
Does not always get to the ball with his hands, and sometimes uses his body too much.
Is not a first rate blocker.
Final Overview
As far as pass catching TEs go, Engram is pretty solid, and is part of a loaded upper half of the draft at this position. He is not, however, a complete package end who can do it all. He is not a blocker, and you have to use him as a motion TE to get out and run routes. If you can afford a pass catch only TE, he could be the guy you want.

Adam Shaheen, Ashland
6-6, 278
Shaheen was a former basketball prospect who attended Pitt-Johnstown out of high school to play hoops. After one season, he transferred to D2 Ashland to play football. As a sophomore, he was the third string end, and posted 2-85-0. As a junior, he broke the all time D2 record for the TE position by posting 70-803-10. He posted 57-867-16 as a senior in 2016.
He is a two time AFCA D2 All-American.\
The Good
The obvious is his size. He is built like a moving mountain, but does not look over sized.
Displays good footwork, which comes from having played hoops.
Excellent moves, and cuts very well.
His speed defies his size.
Smart player who wastes little unnecessary movement.
Has played all over the field.
Solid body control, and was a red zone threat.
Reads defenses quite well pre snap.
The Bad
Still learning as a run blocker, and has not mastered it yet.
Level of competition may be a factor in his success.
 Despite his size, he can still get jammed at the line.
Is more mechanical than natural at times.
Is still learning to work in space as a runner.
Final Overview
Right now, he is a super sized pass catcher with some amazing traits, especially in the red zone. He will get coached up in terms of blocking. In terms of what he brings to the table right now, I ignore any shortcomings and will wait until he gets to work with an NFL staff, and I will take the chance. He just has too many intangibles to be ignored.

Jordan Leggett, Clemson
6-5, 258
Leggett was a four year player and starter for the Tigers, and has appeared in two national title games, winning one. As a freshman, he posted a line of 12-176-2, and averaged 14.67 YPR. As a sophomore, he posted 14-161-1, averaging 11.5 YPR. He started a total of nine games his first two seasons.
As a junior, he started in all 15 games, and posted 40-525-8, and averaged 13.13 YPR. He was part of the national championship team of 2016, and posted 46-736-7, with a YPR average of 16.
He was an All-ACC selection and Mackey award finalist in 2016.
The Good
His size is the thing of legends when it comes to the TE position.
Has lined up all over the field.
Dependable receiver, has not had drop issues in college.
Solid body control, works very well in tight space, and knows how to find the seams in zone coverage.
Works well over the middle of the field as a receiver.
Can break the big play on occasion, and plays his best against the best competition.
The Bad
Will not sell out as a blocker, and effort is not always there.
Has called himself lazy in the past.
Does not always give consistent effort from one game to the next, and does not turn it on for the smaller games.
Is not a great route runner, and seems mechanical when asked to work in a specific role.
System guy, and may not see the same numbers on the next level in a traditional set.
Despite having decent speed, he lacks explosion off of the snap.
Gets knocked off routes easily, and can get jammed with lack of effort.
Will not get to every football, so you had better get it in the right spot on the pass.
Poor ball security after the catch.
Shows limited to zero aggression.
Final Overview
Leggett is a pass catch only TE who is completely useless as a blocker. He has a hero/big play syndrome, where he only shows all effort when he is the center of the play. He has had some solid production, but he has got to get it together in the pros, or he will be eaten alive quickly. He will need some coaching up, and he also needs a good boot in his ass to get his head where it should be. He has all of the intangibles, but nobody is sure about the head. If he wakes up, he will be a steal. If he continues to loaf, he will flame out quickly.

Jake Butt, Michigan
6-5, 246
Butt was a four year player for the Wolverines, and finished as a second team All-American two times.
As a freshman, he played behind Devin Funchess, and posted 20-235-2, and averaged 11.75 YPR. As a sophomore, Butt became the number one TE, and finished with a line of 21-211-2, with a YPR average of 10.05.
As a junior, Butt really started finding his way, as he posted a line of 51-654-3, and he finished with 12.82 YPR. He continued his strong play as a senior, posting 46-546-4, with a YPR of 11.47.
He ended up finishing his senior season with a torn ACL against Florida State in the Citrus Bowl.
The Good
Has the requisite size for an NFL TE, and has the hands to go along with it.
Tough working in traffic and over the middle. Will move the chains.
Protects the ball well in traffic, and uses his body as a shield while catching it.
Works hard to get off the snap cleanly, and has several moves to help him get free.
Expert zone reader, and finds the seams and soft spots.
Very aggressive runner after the catch, runs with a purpose.
The Bad
Not very athletic, and can look a bit lumbering in his routes. Not a fluid athlete.
Not very fast in the open field. Hits first gear and gets stuck there.
Will not force mismatches on the field in the passing game, as he is strictly traditional.
Slow to kick out in blocking against faster edge rushers.
Is a good, but not great blocker.
Will have to be coached up in run blocking in the NFL.
Final Overview
The combined scouting services average him out as a fourth round pick, but had he not torn up the knee in the bowl game, he would have probably received a second round grade. Butt is a high character guy who will work his tail off for anyone who takes the chance on him in the draft. If you like traditional, bull in a china shop typed ends, this guy is your guy. He will not let you down, but don't expect a super athlete, because he is not that guy.

Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
6-6, 257
Hodges was a three year player for the Hokies, and started all three seasons as well after making a move from QB.
Hodges started as a freshman, and finished with a line of 45-526-7, and had an average of 11.69 YPR. He finished second on the team in receiving that season.
As a sophomore, he posted 40-530-6, and averaged 13.25 YPR. He finished third on the team in receiving that season.
He came back as a junior in 2016, and posted 48-691-7, and averaged a career high 14.4 YPR, and again finished third on the team in receiving.
The Good
Solid size/speed combo, and plays more like a WR than a TE. Competes with first rate game speed.
Excellent leaping ability as a receiver, and can get to the high throws.
Can line up outside, and also excels across the middle of the field.
Will be able to be used all over the field as a receiver on the next level.
Deep play threat, and can beat LBs in coverage with ease. Gets to the next level against safeties.
Solid moves, and excellent tracker on long throws. Can break the big play.
Excellent downfield blocker.
Understands defenses, and knows how to read them.
The Bad
Is still learning the position, as he has only played TE for three years.
Can get jammed at the line.
Does not run crisp routes, and can get lost in traffic.
He lets the ball get to his body too often, and does not extend for the catch enough.
Does not extend plays after the catch well, and is easy to bring down.
Is not aggressive or powerful enough to be a dependable blocker at the point of contact just yet.
Final Overview
Hodges is another super athlete at the TE position who can excel as a receiver, but is still very raw as a blocker. Some teams prefer this kind of player here, but that is only on teams who use the spread. Hodges is coachable, and is a smart athlete who will pick things up in time, so if you have the ability to get him in the mid rounds, take a shot. He should develop nicely down the line.

Jonnu Smith, Florida International
6-3, 248
Smith was a four year starter at TE for the Panthers, and was the team's leading receiver for his first two seasons.
As a freshman, he finished with a line of 39-388-2, with an average of 9.95 YPR. As a sophomore, he finished with 61-710-8, with a YPR average of 11.64.
He missed four games as a junior as a result of a knee sprain. He managed to post a line of 36-397-4, with a YPR average of 11.03. He played in just eight games that season.
He recovered from his injuries to return as a senior, as he posted 42-506-4, with a YPR average of 12.06. He missed one game that season due to a domestic incident where his girlfriend doused him with a pot of boiling water because " he was not spending enough time with her".
The Good
Smith is a solid pass catching Tight End who plays with aggression and burst.
He can hit the seams and get open on the second level when covered by LBs.
Plays with solid game speed.
Overall speed is good.
Will gain YAC and make short gains longer with solid moves.
Solid strength as a blocker.
The Bad
Has had some drop issues, and can be a body catcher.
Does not do a good job of coming back to the football.
Needs work when shielding the football on receptions.
Is not a great route runner, just kind of roams into pass routes.
Is maxed out on frame size.
May not be big enough to be an in line blocker.
Final Overview
Smith, overall, is a decent pass catching option, but will never be a front line blocker. He may be more suited for H-Back work rather than being a traditional TE, and he definitely needs work on route trees, progressions, and his hand work. He has some intriguing tools, but is not a lock down instant impact player based on the issue for finding a place to have him work comfortably on the next level. He has enough to get drafted, but he is not for every system or scheme.

Michael Roberts, Toledo
6-4, 270
Roberts was a four year player for the Rockets, but really only developed into a front line starter as a senior in 2016. Roberts grew up with several issues but overcame his problems to eventually work his own way into Toledo without a scholarship, and he eventually earned one.
He played as a freshman, but did not record a reception.
As a sophomore, he posted some numbers with a line of 4-65-2.
He got more involved as a junior, posting a line of 21-234-4, and he averaged 11.14 YPR.
As a senior, he really exploded onto the scene to be named first team All-MAC. He posted a line of 45-533-16, and averaged 11.84 YPR.
The Good
Nothing has ever been handed to this guy. He has worked for everything he has.
Over 80% of his career receptions have gone for 1st downs, and 35% of his receptions in 2016 went for scores.
Has a wide net for catching the football, and decent body control for a big guy.
Has excellent red zone skills, and became a favorite target in that area in 2016.
Excellent lower body power.
Works zone defenses very nicely.
The Bad
Has only one real season of major production in college.
Not a great runner, and lacks top flight speed for a TE.
Sloppy blocker. Will over pursue on blocks and whiff. Edge rushers can beat him. He does not adjust well, and needs targets right in front of him to win the blocking game with consistency.
Final Overview
Roberts came out of nowhere in 2016 to have a major season for the Rockets, but that means we have a limited sample size to gauge what he can be. On paper, he shows all of the necessary credentials to do well on the next level, and his blocking issues tend to be his areas of most needed attention. If that can be ironed out, he could be on his way to eventually working his way into a starting job in a couple of seasons, but he needs some work to get there. Once he gets a shot, he should do just fine. This kid has been through some things, and he knows how to work through them. This should be no different.

Prospects Rounds 5-7
Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas: A developmental target who is good in the red zone, and underneath against the zone. Was popped for shoplifting at a Belk department store, and was suspended for the bowl game in 2016. Good at a lot of things, but not really great at any.
Blake Jarwin, Oklahoma State: Can be used anywhere, but finding a spot for him will be tough as he played a hybrid position in college. More of an H-Back multi-tool than a standard Y TE in the NFL.
Eric Saubert, Drake: Two time All-American on FCS level, with 17 TD receptions in last two seasons. Solid NFL build, with serious red zone skill. Still has focus issues, and will drop the football. A real developmental prospect that needs some serious work.
Anthony Auclair, Laval (Montreal): A top prospect out of Canada, he showed excellent skill at the East West Shrine Game, and checks all the boxes for the position. He is a real diamond in the rough, and may be a huge surprise on the next level.

UFA Prospects
Taylor McNamara, USC: Numbers were not great in college, and he has a long way to go.
Pharoah Brown, Oregon: Off-field incidents and on field injuries derailed apromising career.
Johnny Mundt, Oregon: Never saw much time until his senior season.
Evan Bayliss, Oregon: Has some skills, but saw limited action with Ducks.
Billy Freeman, San Jose State: Had one eye popping season as a junior, then disappeared as a senior.
Connor Cella, Rice: 44 receptions over final two seasons as an Owl.
Josiah Price, Michigan State: Solid blocker, has 11 scores over last two seasons.
Sean Culkin, Missouri: Mainly a blocking option as an H Back, does not score.
Tyrone Swoopes, Texas: Former QB moving to TE for NFL shot. Athletic, but very raw. 

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