Olsen -- Worthy of High Ranking?

Former University of Miami tight end Greg Olsen is widely considered the No. 1 tight end prospect heading into this month's NFL Draft. A likely first round pick, Olsen still has doubters.

Greg Olsen will likely be the first tight end taken in the NFL Draft later this month. And he'll likely go somewhere in round one.

However, many people -- Hurricanes fans included -- wonder why he didn't always play like one in college.

At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Olsen always had prototypical size. As a senior at Wayne Hills High in New Jersey, Olsen had scholarship offers to play just about anywhere. He picked Notre Dame but soon left after his brother, Christian, lost the quarterback job to Brady Quinn.

Olsen transferred to Miami, where he had a very good career.

However, he rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as former Miami All-American tight ends like Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, or Kellen Winslow.

A lot of it points to the supporting cast around him. When Franks was catching balls, he had Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne on the field with him. When Shockey, who helped lead Miami to the 2001 national championship, was at Miami he had Clinton Portis and Santana Moss around him. And when Winslow began tearing through opposing defenses, it helped having guys like Willis McGahee and Andre Johnson on the same offense.

Ever since Olsen was inserted into the starting lineup, the Hurricanes have struggled tremendously on the offensive side of the football. Inconsistent quarterback play, the lack of a game-breaker at running back, and very few difference makers at the receiver position were three reasons why opposing defenses could put so much attention on the talented tight end.

Sure, Roscoe Parrish, Sinorice Moss, and Frank Gore were quality players but they weren't the players who surrounded the tight ends who played here before Olsen.

Look no further than the 2005 season. After an All-American type performance against Florida State in the season opener, defensive coordinators realized that Olsen was far and away the best offensive weapon for the Hurricanes so he got all of their attention. The rest of his 2005 season, because of that, looked average on the production side. 2006, with just one touchdown, wasn't much better.

However, the bottom line is that Olsen's a big time football player whose numbers didn't blow anyone's socks off because opposing defensive coordinators knew he was by far the best player on offense for the Hurricanes every time they took the field.

Scout.com NFL Draft Scout, who worked in the NFL for over 30 years, talked about why Olsen will be such a high pick.

"(Greg) is a very impressive looking athlete," Marino said. "(He) runs extremely well and has the ability to pose a legitimate vertical threat at the professional level. (He) has outstanding, soft hands to catch, adjust, and secure the football. (He) has quick cutting skills. I really liked the way he got in and out of a route. (He) minimizes moves when working against zones. (He) has a real knack and feel for adjusting on the run."

While Olsen may not have made an impact like the previous tight ends at Miami did, Olsen was still a big time talent. He still needs work on his blocking skills to become a complete player, but Marino believes Olsen has a huge upside.

"(Greg) is a very smooth athletic tight end prospect, with growth potential and speed. (He) eats up turf on his open releases (got exceptional quick depth), and when he caught the ball was a real threat to advance it down the field. As a receiverm (he) is already at or near the standards as the top receiving tight ends in professional ball."

Coming from the same school that produced three of the best young tight ends in football, Olsen is actually drawing comparisons to other players.

"(He's) Similar to Todd Heap or Heath Miller in playing style, although is not near either player at the same stage as a blocker," Marino said. "(He has) lots of athletic potential and physical tools to work with and develop. Overall, I believe with added strength and the proper mindset, Greg will become a complete tight end at the professional level. (He) has mid to late top (first) round league draft potential. (He is) a near perfect fit in a "West Coast" lateral underneath passing offense."

The answer to the original question, as NFL people will likely agree with later this month, is yes.

This year's NFL Draft starts on April 28. For more draft coverage on former Hurricanes and all other prospects, check out Scout.com's NFL Draft Site for the latest.

Canes Time Top Stories