In-depth look at Bills TE Nick O'Leary

Adding Nick O'Leary in the sixth round was considered as "good value" to Jason Staples of Nole Digest. Staples gives Bills fans an in-depth look at their newest tight end.

Nick O’Leary arrived at Florida State in 2011 as a four-star prospect from Palm Beach Gardens and was FSU’s most heralded tight end recruit since Brandon Warren (2006) and lived up to the expectations, shattering every FSU receiving record at the position.

Awaiting Image
Nick O'Leary
Florida State / 6'3 / 252 lbs
  • TE
  • [6] #18

Some guys are great athletes but not great football players, and others are the opposite. O’Leary is closer to the latter. He’s not an elite athlete for the position, but he’s a very good football player of the throwback variety. He loves contact and is committed to his craft. He came to college at an undersized 230 pounds and worked very hard to add weight and strength and will be known for his excellent work ethic around the Bills’ facilities.

O’Leary twice crashed his motorcycle while at FSU, narrowly avoiding disaster in the summer of 2013 and missing more time after a second minor crash in the spring of 2014. The Bills will want to include a motorcycle clause in his contract. Oh, and have you heard about who his grandfather is?


O’Leary was Jameis Winston’s security blanket, particularly in 2014. Whenever FSU needed a key play in a clutch situation, Winston looked for O’Leary. And when Sean Maguire started in place of a suspended Winston against Clemson, Winston told Maguire to rely on O’Leary and receiver Rashad Greene when in doubt.

Winston trusted O’Leary so much that he actually got in trouble at times forcing the football to the tight end with about a third of his interceptions in 2014 due to over-keying on his security blanket. O’Leary almost never drops a football—I’m pretty sure you can count his career drops at FSU on one hand. The one real lack on his resume in terms of production is big plays down the field—as a rule, O’Leary didn’t stretch the defense from the tight end spot.

Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2011 13 12 164 13.7 1 12 164 13.7 1
*2012 13 21 252 12.0 3 21 252 12.0 3
2013 14 33 557 16.9 7 0 0 0 33 557 16.9 7
*2014 14 48 618 12.9 6 0 0 1 48 618 12.9 7
Career 114 1591 14.0 17 0 0 1 114 1591 14.0 18
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/30/2015.

Scouting Report


Very good option route runner. Outstanding against zone coverage and reads defenses quickly on the move. Uses contact to create separation very well. Understands how to present himself to the QB and creates a sure target. Maybe the best hands in the draft. Can high point the football in the red zone and can turn and find it against tight coverage. Uses body well to shield against the defender. Became a reliable blocker by the end of his career and fights through the whistle. Great feel for finding space when play breaks down. Good pass blocker.


Below-average measurables for the position. Stubby build with short arms. Tight in the core and lower body and lacks dynamism and bend. Not a vertical threat and lacks the size and speed to stretch the defense. Lacks suddenness and struggles to create separation against man coverage without contact. Will likely struggle to get open against man coverage in the NFL, particularly if matched against safeties. Not an overpowering in-line blocker and works better from off the LOS. Frame lacks room for much more weight.

Combine/Pro Day Results

Combine Results















9 3/8








O’Leary’s speed and explosion numbers were likely affected by the torn hamstring injured before the Rose Bowl against Oregon, but the film suggests that even healthy he would have been unlikely to run sub-4.8, which is still below average for a 6’3, 252 pound TE.

The vertical and broad jump further reinforce the explosive limitations visible on tape (though again the hamstring was a factor), though his short shuttle time is actually reasonably good for a tight end. Overall, here is how he stacks up versus his peers:


On the high end, O’Leary could continue to grow as an in-line blocker and become a reliable starting tight end who excels at option routes and can be used in a variety of formations, including lining up in the backfield and flexed in the slot.

In terms of floor, O’Leary projects as a reliable offensive utility player and blue-collar special teamer on return and coverage units.

Overall: Projected Impact with Buffalo Bills

The Bills got a good value with O’Leary, who I thought projected around the fourth round. Thanks in part to that torn hamstring, his testing numbers pushed him further down the board, and the Bills are sure to get their money’s worth from a player who is better than the sum of his physical attributes.

I don’t think O’Leary will overtake Charles Clay as the TE1 in Buffalo anytime soon. Instead, I expect to see the Bills use O’Leary more as an H-Back/utility player and in multi-tight end sets. If I were on the Bills’ coaching staff, I would be interested to see how he looked lined up as a fullback, as he is a good cut blocker and would be a terrific option on flat routes out of the backfield. With time, O’Leary could grow into something more than that, thanks to his versatility, outstanding hands, and instincts as a receiver. He’ll be more than happy to do the dirty work as well. Bills fans should also expect to see him on the various kicking units and to hear his name called on coverage units as a rookie.

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