Cards Prospect Q&A: Pass-catching Tight End

While the Cardinals have solidified the tight end position, GM Rod Graves could target a developmental prospect in the later rounds of the draft. This year's class lacks elite tight ends, but there are plenty of capable players available. Brad Wilbricht lands an interview with a possible late-round dark-horse in this exclusive.

University of Pittsburgh TE Darrell Strong is a tremendously gifted prospect who shows great potential in the NFL. Strong features excellent size (6'5", 260 pounds) and outstanding athleticism. His leaping ability and soft hands allow him to routinely catch balls in traffic. In addition, Strong plays with a mean streak and excels gaining yards after contact.

Strong began his college career as a wide receiver, but was moved to tight end after his freshman season. His ability to line up outside causes matchup problems for opposing defensive backs.

Strong has plenty to prove heading into the draft. He displayed character issues earlier in his career, but showed improved maturity during his senior season. Strong's blocking skills have also been questioned, something he emphasized at his recent Pro Day.

"I wanted to show that I can block," he said. "I think I proved that I can block at the next level."

The draft process has presented Strong with many new experiences. He's relied on former teammates to guide him through the process and has gathered valuable insight regarding his draft preparations.

"I've had recent teammates help me," he said. "I've been enjoying the draft process, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Although the Cardinals have four tight ends on the roster, none are proven downfield targets. Leonard Pope showed flashes last year, but is coming of a season-ending ankle injury in 2007. Free agent pickup Jerame Tuman is primarily a blocking tight end and will be used sparingly in the passing game. Furthermore, Ben Patrick and Troy Bienemann have been inconsistent.

Strong was underutilized in the Pittsburgh passing game and has yet to realize his full potential. He would provide the Cardinals with a vertical passing target and a capable blocker in the running game.

Strong's versatility would also supply the Cardinals with an additional playmaker on offense. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has a flair for the exotic, and Strong's throwing ability could be used on trick plays. He threw two touchdown passes during his college career.

Strong could certainly boost an average group of tight ends. If he is available late on day two of the draft, GM Rod Graves might pull the trigger.

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