2003 Draft: Tight Ends Sweat for the Scouts

Sunday at the combine is always reserved for the quarterbacks and receivers. This year there was a twist as the tight ends also took part in the pass catching drills. With the Cleveland Browns still looking for the definitive answer at the position, this group is of particular interest. Here is an in-depth look at what tight ends did after the stopwatches were put away.

As has been the case every year, this is the hardest working group of the week and it is rare any prospect leaves the field not dripping in sweat. It was a bit disappointing that there weren't blocking drills for these prospects, so you never really got a good idea about their feet or abilities to shuffle and slide.

While there were several nice performances, no one stood out or really improved their draft grade.

Dan Curley of Eastern Washington is a fine athlete who ran excellent routes and displays speed. While he worked hard, Curley needs a lot of improvement on his overall game. He lacked balance, did a lot of body catching, and showed himself to be just an average receiver. That said, Curley still offers a lot of tools to work with.

Mississippi State's Donald Lee had one of the better sessions of the afternoon. He practiced with speed, caught the ball well and displays nice overall strength. His route running must improve but it was a good effort with positive results.

"Inconsistent" is the best way to describe Robert Johnson's day. The Auburn junior is an awesome specimen on the field and easy to pick out. Athletic, he was fluid and smooth moving around the field and made several tough acrobatic catches. Seemingly going 75% at times on the dome turf, Johnson must improve his overall focus on details of the game. All afternoon, he'd make one great play and then look rather ordinary for the next two.

Mike Pinkard caught the ball well all day and looks like a nice athlete. Lacking a sense of timing, he was not always ready to catch the pass and did a lot of fumbling around.

Gabriel Reid, the other tight end from BYU, had an excellent session. He ran solid routes, displayed soft, consistent hands and caught the ball well all afternoon. Reid also showed the ability to contort and make the one-handed grab. One more thing; he did a fine job long snapping. Reid really improved his draft ranking and outplayed his more-heralded teammate, Spencer Nead.

Rutger's John L. Smith practiced with great speed, ran terrific routes and caught everything thrown in his direction. Factor in 26 reps on the bench and a 4.67 hand-timed forty and Smith improved his grade by at least 30-45 slots.

Aaron Walker consistently caught the ball well but must improve his route running.

After not taking part in the forty, Bennie Joppru caught the ball well and also had a nice session long snapping.

Washington's Kevin Ware is a good athlete with some strength but dropped a few passes, ran sloppy routes and proved he needs a good amount of work.

Oregon junior George Wrighster is a fluid, smooth athlete and natural receiver. He extends, adjusts and plucked the ball out of the air but looked very small compared to the rest of the tight ends on the field.

Another junior, Jason Witten of Tennessee, may not be the swiftest or quickest but is just a terrific football player with strong hands, a good sense of timing and excellent focus. Slow and a poor route runner, Witten will be downgraded accordingly due to a lack of pure speed but gave everyone the idea he'd start as a rookie.

Morgan State's Visanthe Shiancoe had a fine athletic workout displaying both strength and speed, but needs a lot of work on his pass catching skills.

More: Earlier Report - Workout Numbers 

Tony Pauline


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