Tight Ends Analysis
By Dave Te Thomas
Cream Of The Crop | Best Of The Rest | Most Underrated | Most Overrated
First Day Possibilities | Second Day Possibilities
Teams looking for tight ends are pleasantly surprised about the overabundance of talent that they will find in this year's crop. Thanks to several high profile underclassmen opting to turn pro, this is the richest talent base of tight ends in recent memory. After a solid showing at the Combines, topped off my a sensational running performance back on campus, many feel that Jeremy Shockey has inched ahead of Daniel Graham for the top spot at this position. If you are one looking for a pass catcher only, Shockey is your man, but Graham is more adept as a blocker than the Hurricane is.
The talent level begins to dip a bit after that. Randy McMichael has come up with some big catches in his time, but along with Ryan Hannam, Jones, Josh Norman and Chris Baker, they are all built along the lines of H-back types, lacking the true size you look for in a tight end.
Pass catchers like Derek Smith and Tim Stratton disappointed the scouts with their poor 40-yard dash times, while Ivory McCoy put up the most impressive agility numbers. McCoy has never been more than a second tight end at Michigan State, giving way to the equally athletic Chris Baker when the starting gun sounds. Jerramy Stevens is as talented as any in the elite group here, but carries more baggage than a porter for his slew of off-field infractions.
Former basketball standout Keith Heinrich is an interesting late round type, as is the flaky Chris Luzar, a Fred Dryer off-the-wall character who creates sculptures using a chain saw and has definite surfer's mentality. The best blocker in this class is John Owens, but he may also have some of the better hands. The problem was, Notre Dame barely ever throws the ball to their tight ends, so that area of his game has yet to be seen.
Mark Anelli, Mike Banks, Justin Peelle and Robert Royal are others that could get a call late in the draft.
MAKING THE GRADE…B+…The addition of juniors Jeremy Shockey, Randy McMichael and Derek Smith certainly helped upgrade this position. Senior Daniel Graham will battle with Shockey for the right to be the first tight end taken. The deepest this position has been in years.
Cream Of The Crop
Positives: Has good upper body strength and leaping ability, with the frame to carry more weight…Positions himself well and plants his feet firmly in pass protection and gets strong leg drive off the snap when leading the way on sweeps…Runs well after the catch and runs precise pass routes…Has impressive blocking balance…Displays the cutting ability and explosive acceleration to freeze defenders after the catch…Settles in the soft spot of the zone well, showing a smooth release off the snap and aggression as a blocker…Effective in motion, shuffling across the formation like an H-Back…Intense competitor who shows explosiveness in and out of his cuts.
Negatives: More effective working the short area, as he does not have the hip swerve and wiggle to elude turning upfield…Has to improve his blocking technique upfield, as he looks a little stiff trying to gain leverage on the quicker defensive backs…Rounds his routes somewhat… Needs to develop a stronger swim move in order to escape press coverage…Little stiff and weak in the lower body, lacking the strength to consistently sustain blocks…Has taken an abundance of weight addition supplements (creatine) prior to the Combines.
One of the nation's finest tight ends, Jeremy emerged as a national star in 2001…Was one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award, recognizing the finest tight end in college football…He has demonstrated his exceptional athletic ability by consistently running for extra yardage after the catch…Finished his career ranked sixth on the school's career-record list for tight ends with 61 receptions for 815 yards…Only Bubba Franks (12, 1997-2000) had more touchdown catches than his ten scores among tight ends who have worn a Miami uniform.
REMINDS YOU OF… Wesley Walls, ex-Panther. Shockey has that sudden burst needed to stretch the defenses and is the best pass catcher in this class.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Will probably be the first tight end taken, but his lack of blocking ability makes him not worth a first round pick. I'm a little concerned about the supplements taken to add so much weight to his frame this year.
Best Of The Rest
Positives: Has a frame with the potential to add at least fifteen pounds without any loss of quickness…Shows the strength to muscle his way through press coverage…Very physical going over the middle and will not shy away from contact…Good inline blocker who keeps his feet flat-footed and uses his hand jolt to sustain and get movement to wall off and turn his man…Catches with his arms extended and makes proper body adjustments to compete for the high pass…Very good at going vertical for the ball and times his leaps well in order to gain advantage over the defender…Strong legs allow him to power through and drag defenders after the catch…Excellent downfield blocker who delivers punishing blocks.
Negatives: Has quickness coming off the snap, but lacks that explosive first step you would want at this position…Very raw in his route running, tending to round his cuts and needs to be more aware of the seam openings in the zone…Can run after the catch, but does not show the uncovering awareness needed to separate…Not used on deep routes due to a lack of vertical speed…Lacks that quick twitch needed to escape in his routes…Could use an overall muscle refinement.
One of the top players in the nation and recipient of the John Mackey Award, established to honor the country's top tight end, he bacame the fifth player in school history to earn unanimous All-American first-team honors (2001)…By winning the John Mackey Award, he bacame the eighth player in Colorado annals to garner a national postseason trophy… Also won the Zack Jordan (overall MVP) and John Mack (Offensive MVP) Awards…Known as a tremendous blocker, he also excelled as a receiving target…Finished his career with 106 receptions for 1543 yards (14.6 avg) and eleven touchdowns…His 106 catches rank seventh and his 1543 yards rank sixth on the school's career-record list…Both figures established new career records for Colorado tight ends.
REMINDS YOU OF… Marcus Pollard. Improving blocker, but it is his natural receiving skills that stand out. Too bad he did not have Shockey's size.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… If he had Shockey's frame, he'd be a first round. Still, this is one of the toughest catchers you will find here and my favorite to be the most productive.
Positives: Physical receiver who turns his hips smoothly and explodes off the line to neutralize the linebackers…Very tough runner after the catch…Slides well laterally and has good acceleration across the middle…Shows the speed to turn and race downfield after the catch… Shows excellent hand quickness and snap release for punts and field goals…Uses his hands properly to combat press coverage and shows a good feel for keeping his feet inbounds near the sidelines…Gets his hands positioned when facing up to shut down the blitz and stays at a low pad level to effectively cut block upfield.
Negatives: While he has good power, he will shy away from contact over the middle…Has problems adjusting to the ball in flight on deep routes, especially going for balls coming over his shoulder…Added bulk has brought about stamina problems late in games…Needs to develop better lower body strength in order to maintain position as a blocker.
Joined the Cougar program as a quarterback, moving to tight end as a redshirt freshman… Comes from a sports-oriented family, as his father played in the National Football League for the Lions and Seahawks while his brother played in the St. Louis Cardinals baseball organization…A reserve until midway through his senior year, he still managed to finish his career with 52 receptions for 768 yards (14.8 avg)…Doug made the most of those limited catches, as eleven resulted in touchdowns.
REMINDS YOU OF… Chad Lewis, Philadelphia Eagles. Former quarterback who may be better suited for H-back, as he does not have that run after the catch ability.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Moved into the draft's first day, but still needs technique refinement. Playing in BYU's pro style offense greatly helped him develop the pass catching skills he displayed in 2001. The problem is, he won't put up much of a fight as a blocker.
Positives: Physical route runner with the power to dominate larger defensive lineman and the quickness to separate from linebackers on pass routes…High intensity player who seals the corner with authority and has the range to get out and lead on sweeps…Runs precise routes, getting downfield with an effortless, gliding motion…Bends his knees and keeps his feet moving shuffling back in pass protection…Uses his size to his advantage when going over the middle, doing a nice job of shielding the defenders from the ball… Has natural hands, extending his arms to catch away from the framework…Maintains good body control tracking the ball in flight and makes defenders fight for the ball as he uses his impressive reach to haul down the pass at its highest point.
Negatives: Has had a long, long history of off-field problems that leaves one questioning not only his maturity, but his character…Charged with two counts of assault (reduced to a misdemeanor) as a true freshman, followed by a positive test for marijuana that saw him serve three weeks in jail (assault violation). He then had a sexual assault charge dropped for lack of evidence in 2000, only to be charged with reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident in 2001…His questionable attitude also reflects on the field, as he is known to take several plays off when he is not involved in the action…While he has the power to dominate as a blocker, he tends to "go through the motions" when asked to cut block upfield…Little stiff in his turn-&-go after the catch, lacking the elusiveness needed to gain extra yardage…Does not get a good push off the snap, as he prefers not to combat, but rather elude the defenders to get into his routes…Durability is also a concern, as he lingers with minor ailments.
One of the best tight ends in the nation and a semi-finalist for the 2000 John Mackey Award, given to the top collegiate tight end, Jerramy suffered through an injury-plagued 2001 campaign…Athletic and quick for his size, he can create match-up problems in passing games… He is another in a long line of sensational tight ends produced at Washington in recent years, following Mark Bruener, Cameron Cleeland, Ernie Conwell and Aaron Pierce, all who went on to stellar pro careers…Finished his career with 74 receptions for 953 yards (12.9 avg) and nine touchdowns while starting 22 of the 27 games he appeared in…Among Washington tight ends, only Rod Jones (75, 1984-86) and Mark Bruener (90, 1991-94) had more receptions while his 953 yards rank fourth on the Huskies' career-record list (for tight ends).
REMINDS YOU OF… Erron Kinney, Tennessee Titans. He has the size, the speed and the pass catching ability to be the best there is here. Unfortunately, his off-field exploits are too hard to ignore.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… Severe character flaws are what hurts his draft stock. I wold not put him in the Lawrence Phillips class there, but he's close enough to scare away the more conservative teams.
First Day Possibilities
Positives: Physical position blocker who has nimble feet and does a nice job escaping the jam to get into his routes…Has excellent lateral agility and uses his hands well to lock on and ride the defender wide…Catches well in the short area…Has an explosive initial burst off the snap… Decisive moving out to neutralize the linebackers…Stays low while trying to out-muscle defenders…Good in-line battler who has the quickness to hook defensive ends inside on sweeps…Extends his arms to catch away from the framework… Maintains balance when engaging defenders…Has the short area speed to line up in a variety of slots.
Negatives: Has limited starting experience…More of a finesse blocker, lacking explosion behind his hits…Will lean into the defender and waist bends at times when trying to recover.
Began his career as a quarterback at Texas A&M…Brother, Aaron, was a standout defensive end for the Horned Frogs before being chosen in the second round by Buffalo in the 2001 draft… Performed as a wide receiver earlier in his TCU career and also saw action as a fullback, H-back and tight end…Finished his career with 27 receptions for 378 yards (14.0 avg) and five touch-downs…Also served as the team's holder for placements and field goals.
REMINDS YOU OF… Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens. Schobel has the agility to get out into the flats quickly, much like Heap.
GAZING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL… The numbers he's put up do not indicate he will go in the draft's first day, but his athletic ability is impressing quite a few teams.
Positives: Has a big frame with good agility and body control…Uses his quickness and strength to escape the jam…Has the speed needed to stretch the field…Shows good field awareness and can separate after the catch…Has fine snatch ability, extending for the high passes and breaking off his route to come back for the underthrown ball…Will combat defenders in traffic and has the leg drive to break tackles…Maintains balance and keeps a wide leg base when positioning in pass protection…Can shake the defenders on his dig routes and can split cover two…Very hard to bring down at the point of attack… Has a quick swim move in his release and shows patience as a runner going through the zone…Reliable underneath target who is especially effective on drag routes…Bends his knees, extends his arms and takes good angles to pop the linebackers upfield.
Negatives: Has a history of anterior cruciate knee problems…While he can separate, he has to gather himself before picking up speed…Knee problems resulted in a lack of lower body strength, which causes him to buckle when blocking vs. the edge rush…While he does display good hand usage, he does not generate enough power to be anything more than a finesse blocker…Seems to be a count behind once the ball is snapped…Durability is a concern, as he still favors his leg…Can lock on and steer as a drive blocker, but does not get back quick enough to sustain blocks vs. the blitz.
The son of former Green Bay Packers standout, Terry Jones, Sr., Terry has successfully battled back from a series of knee surgeries…A great underneath target, he was chosen team captain as a senior…He appeared in 38 games, catching 31 passes for 480 yards (15.5 avg) and three touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
REMINDS YOU OF… Dwayne Carswell, Denver Broncos. Jones has not had many opportunities to display his pass catching skills, but he's a willing blocker with a large frame, quick feet and soft hands to get to the ball in the short area.
Second Day Possibilities
Positives: Solid, thickly proportioned frame with thick hands and legs…Flashes power coming out of his stance, able to blast through the jam to get back into his routes…Very aware route runner with the effective acceleration needed to break suddenly into the open…Alert enough to uncover and makes proper body adjustments combatting defenders for the ball in the short area…Uses his big hands to pluck, snatch and secure the ball upon contact…Very assertive running with the ball and has that deep burst to separate and explode in the seam…Shows excellent flexibility reacting to the high passes and has the hip swerve to adjust to the over-the-shoulder grabs…Stays low in his pads to run with strong function power after the catch…Has the quick feet and knee bend to be effective cut blocking at the second level…Shows quickness on seam routes…Has a solid work ethic…Finds the holes well and has natural upper body flexibility going for the ball in traffic…Gains on his breaks when running option routes.
Negatives: Sometimes is a little late getting off the snap…Gathers at the top when attempting to separate…Inconsistent as a blocker, showing only adequate strength to sustain…Needs to keep his leg base wider when blocking in pass protection and also must show better hand delivery, as he only makes glancing contact with the defender, rather than delivering a strong hand punch… Has to get a little more assertive blocking upfield, as he does not want to "crush" his opponent on every play…Despite his foot speed, he does not have that sharp burst needed to elude after the catch (uses power rather than speed)…Lacks a variety of moves (shake and wiggle) in his routes…Gets good position on the ball, but lacks the leaping ability to get to the pigskin at its highest point… Has to build up speed rather than burst suddenly after the catch.
Four-year letterman with 47 consecutive starts…Boasts a string of 24-straight games with at least one reception…One of the premier short area pass catchers in the collegiate ranks, he set school career-records for tight ends with 133 receptions for 1705 yards (12.8 avg) and 13 touchdowns, topping the previous mark 107 catches by Mark Brammer (1976-79)…Overall, only Courtney Hawkins (138, 1988-91) and Andre Rison (146, 1985-88) had more catches in a career for the Spartans…His 1705 yards set a career-record for tight ends and rank tenth overall…His 13 scoring grabs were the most ever by a tight end and tied for ninth overall in school history.
Positives: Has the frame that can add fifteen pounds without a loss of speed…Has that quick initial burst to gain advantage coming off the snap…Gets his hands up quickly to maintain position and sustain his blocks…Avoids under-coverage on the route stem with his quick release off the line…Runs crisp patterns, using his arms effectively to gain leverage…Creates separation after the catch with his strong upfield burst…Extends his arms with hands out front going for the ball in traffic…Maintains concentration on the ball as he absorbs punishment catching in a crowd…Makes proper body adjustments to keep track of the ball in flight…Has the leaping ability to catch outside his framework…Runs hard after the catch and fights tough to get into the end zone…Shows proper leg drive and hand punch as an in-line blocker, staying at a low pad level…Effective getting to the second level to cut block and wall off the linebackers.
Negatives: Has adequate muscle definition and is a little too soft in the mid-section…Can create movement, but does not have the quickness to elude…Runs hard, but lacks the second gear needed when heading upfield…Has good power, but is inconsistent driving defenders off the ball with force.
Continued the school's long line of standout tight ends who have been integral part of Oregon offense…Possesses good size and speed which allowed him to be a major factor in Ducks' passing and running games, and has developed into solid team leader…Master at understanding the squad's offense, it aided his ability to find seams in the secondary…The four-time Pac-10 Conference Academic Team selection overcame injury problems earlier in his career to finish with 63 receptions for 944 yards (15.1 avgt) and 14 touchdowns while appearing in 42 contests.
Positives: Lanky receiver with long arms and legs…Fluid open field runner with impressive body control…Competes for the ball in traffic, using his long arms to easily extend for the ball…Shows sharp, sudden moves coming out of his stance and is very quick to escape the jam…Uses his hands properly to push off and separate from the linebackers in the short area…Has the flexibility to smoothly turn on the ball and make adjustments to get to the off-target tosses…Maintains balance in the open and has the leg drive to break tackles…Natural receiver who has the hand/eye coordination to keep track of the ball…Very assertive going for the pass in tight quarters.
Negatives: Must show more dedication in the weight room to add much needed bulk to his frame…Marginal blocker, at best, frequently ending up on the ground as he overextends and lunges coming off the ball…Lacks the intensity to consistently stay with the defender and is almost passive in his feeble initial hits on linebackers upfield when pretending to offer run support.
A clutch receiver for the Bulldogs, he started 21 of 32 games he played in before opting for the pro ranks as an underclassman…Finished his career with 90 receptions for 1213 yards (13.5 avg) and five touchdowns…His 1213 yards rank ninth on the school's career-record list.
Positives: Has the frame to add at least twenty pounds without a dropoff in speed…Quick to gain advantage over the linebackers when sustaining his blocks…Shows a sharp burst through his routes…Finds the seam in the zone and is very effective on shallow crossing patterns…Breaks off his routes squarely…Backup long snapper…Will sit down and come back for the low passes… Natural pass catcher who effortlessly adjusts when making the over-the-shoulder grabs…Very tough, showing a willingness to catch in a crowd, making it an art form catching the ball with defenders draped all over him…Shows suddenness heading upfield after the grab…Will break down and combat the defenders, giving good effort as a blocker…Excels at keeping his feet in down near the sidelines.
Negatives: Has that lean basketball player-type body with only adequate strength…Can be shoved around quite a bit by the larger defenders when trying to block, but will always stay with his man…Needs to add strength and bulk to his frame to prevent defenders from holding him up…Has to extend his arms with more force to eliminate defenders getting their hands all over him…While he can find the empty spot in the zone, he lacks the wiggle to shake off defenders effectively…Can get open, but is not that smooth of a runner.
The two-time John Mackey Award (top tight end in the country) semi-finalist excels both on the field and in the classroom, garnering numerous academic honors…Finished his career as the school record-holder for tight ends with 1150 yards receiving, topping the previous mark of 1045 yards by Junior Miller (1977-79)…His 58 receptions rank second in school annals among the tight ends…Played in 45 games, making 24 starts.
Positives: Well-built with a massive chest and thick thighs…Very explosive getting off the line…Finds the seam quickly and is agile cutting in the open…Has the ability to hook his hips and turn defenders…Has large, natural hands, catching away from the framework of the body…Turns and seals well, maintaining contact with his arm extension…Very effective working out of the slot, causing problems for the small defenders…Has the short area quickness to elude linebackers turning upfield…Fast enough to outrun safeties in the zone to get to the second level…Uses his arm swipes to keep defenders off his body… Catches well in traffic and is a terrific hand fighter, using his arms forcefully to escape the jam…His sudden burst is evident when he stretches the defense.
Negatives: Despite his size and power, he makes passive attempts to face up and sustain his blocks…Looks hesitant when dropping back in pass protection, getting his hands up too late… Loses leverage at the point of attack, needing to add strength to his lower body frame…Falls off blocks in tight quarters…Needs route refinement, as he will round his cuts…Lacks the vision to spot the seam in the zone…Spends too much time battling the defensive backs at the line, causing him to be slow to get into his routes, at times.
Prototype tight end with the size and quickness to excell on deep routes…Two-year starter who finished his career ranked tenth on the school's all-time record lists with 89 catches for 1224 yards (13.88 avg) and nine touchdowns.
Positives: Thick-framed with long arms and solid thighs…Aggressive blocking technician who catches the ball well in traffic, has good speed & the strength to break tackles…Keeps his feet moving when engaging defenders & has the body control to make the twisting catches in traffic…Can fluidly swing his hips & square off vs. the defenders…Has good balance weaving through traffic after the catch.
Negatives: Seems to labor getting into gear after the catch…Has problems with the edge rush, as he tends to not extend his arms properly…More comfortable near the line of scrimmage, as he loses balance trying to get to the second level to neutralize the line- backers…Battles too high coming off the line, allowing the defender to get his hands into his chest too much.
The starter at tight end and one of the top players in the Big Ten, if not the country, at his position…Has size, speed, hands and great athletic ability, and is very coachable…Started for the first time in 2000 and wound up as the Buckeyes' second leading receiver…Became the Buckeyes' "money receiver" down the stretch, repeatedly making clutch catches in pressure situations…In 36 games (23 starts), he caught 42 passes for 474 yards (11.3 avg) and nine touchdowns.
Positives: Huge target over the middle…Moves gracefully for a player his size…Bends his knees and keeps his feet moving while delivering punishing blocks for the ground game…Natural hands catcher who runs crisp underneath routes, using his arms properly to break tackles…Skilled at making the tough catches with defenders on him…Turns upfield in an instant after the catch… Sustains blocks in space and is very smooth firing low off the line, showing the speed to get to the second level to neutralize linebackers…Also performs on the basketball team (evident by his leaping ability)…Can swim over and fight through jams with power…His body lean and weight transfer allows him to snap off his breaks and separate…Has the acceleration needed to threaten the deep seam…Can reach low or behind to make the adjustment catch…Makes a concentrated effort to catch the ball…Has active feet, getting good leverage to get on the defender quickly in pass protection…His speed allows him to flank out, causing mismatches on the smaller defenders.
Negatives: More comfortable blocking upfield rather than in-line, as he does not have the base and leg drive to sustain and "short arms" too much to gain leverage…Has a good short area burst, but labors to get into gear after the catch…His inability to get a solid hand jolt coming out of his snap causes him problems releasing vs. press coverage… Over-extends and lunges at blockers when asked to trap block…Has concentration lapses when working in traffic, dropping some easy passes.
Big, athletic tight end that LSU used to stretch the defense…Effective pass catcher with an impressive burst heading upfield…A solid route runner, he also lined up at flanker, thanks to his short area quickness and ability to plant and jump for the ball…Finished his career with 59 receptions for 707 yards (12.0 avg) and seven touchdowns while starting 24 of 42 games…His reception and yardage totals rank third in school history among tight ends while his seven scores rank second.
Positives: Solid blocker with a muscular, compact frame…Quick to get his hands up on a defender…Has quick feet and plays with an aggressive nature…Does a fine job of getting to the second level to cut off and neutralize the linebackers…Has an explosive release off the line… Maintains his balance while absorbing the hits in traffic…Shows suddenness in and out of his breaks, displaying good concentration going up for the ball…Quick to extend his arms to haul in the high pass…Natural receiver who works hard to get open… Has the agility to sink his hips and turn upfield rapidly after the catch…Shows the leg drive and upper body power to break tackles and the acceleration to separate from the defender running down the sidelines…Knows how to use his hands to escape the press at the line of scrimmage…Does a nice job of working back towards the ball and can find the seam on deep routes.
Negatives: Slightly undersized and could be used more as an H-back…Has problems "keeping his leg" underneath him when trying to maintain position vs. the larger defenders… Needs to develop better hand usage as a blocker, as he tends to try and wrestle with his opponent.
Returned to his "roots" as a senior…Began his collegiate career as a tight end before shifting to defensive end as a junior…Returned to the offensive side of the ball in 2001, establishing himself as one of the finest athletes in the Fighting Irish program.
Positives: Well-built athlete with excellent body control…Uses his hands with force to escape press coverage…Shows excellent boundary awareness and is a vertical threat with his ability to get into second gear upfield…Makes proper body adjustments extending his arms to haul in the high pass…Shows intent as a blocker and has the lower body base to effectively hold his ground at the point of attack…Adept in sliding his feet back and moving laterally to pick up the blitz.
Negatives: Gets a little upright in his stance, at times, which allows defenders to get their hands into his chest…Needs to stand more flat-footed coming off the snap to maintain balance and leg drive when pulling…Not a deep threat, as he is generally more effective on hooks and curls…Not explosive or quick in his movements off the line and can't generate enough speed to separate from linebackers in the open…Can be buckled up at the line, as he tends to try to use his body to outmuscle defenders, but lacks the leg drive to be consistent in those efforts…While he shows good intent as a blocker, he needs to show better angle awareness, as he will fall off some of his hits (overextends)…"Gentle Ben" type that needs to develop more aggression in his game (not a warrior)…Health issues need further evaluation (weak ankles, back problems).
Former quarterback who emerged as one of the premier short area targets in the collegiate ranks…The two-sport star also excels as a forward on the school's basketball team…Made 89 catches for 1050 yards (11.8 avg) and nine touchdowns on the gridiron during his career…His 1050 yards set a school career-record for tight ends…Only player in South- land annals to play on conference championship teams in both football and basketball.