Heady Tight End Enjoys Dual Meetings with AZ

Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has indicated that, despite the arrival of Jerame Tuman, drafting a tight end remains a possibility. Following up on that notion, AZRedReport.com's Samantha Fillerup profiles a tight end prospect who spoke with the Cards at the Combine and his Pro Day.

Kansas tight end Derek Fine (6'3", 245 pounds) is coming off a strong senior season in which he tallied 46 catches for 394 yards and four TDs. Fine also played on special teams for the Jayhawks, only adding to his value in the eyes of the Cardinals.

Fine has good size and mobility, allowing him to line up as a traditional tight end or an H-back. He is reliable, tough, hard working and always aware. He runs precise routes and rarely drops passes.

Not everything is fine with this intriguing prospect, however. He lacks ideal size for an in-line blocker and has difficulty getting off the line when threatened by linebackers. He also lacks elite speed, running a 4.83 in the 40-yard dash.

The Cardinals met with Fine in Indianapolis, although that could just be Arizona coaches doing their due diligence. Whisenhunt has said he is comfortable with the progress of holdover tight ends Leonard Pope, Troy Bienemann and Ben Patrick.

Pope finished the 2007 season with 23 catches for 238 yards and five TDs before bowing out with an ankle injury. Bienemann had seven catches for 46 yards and one TD, while Patrick recorded seven catches for 73 yards and two scores.

The Cardinals need more production from their tight ends in the coming year to supplement the rest of the offense if they expect to go to the playoffs for the first time since 1998.

Fine is a smart player who is motivated to get the job done. He is also a team leader and puts in excellent effort wherever he plays. The Cardinals could use another player who is versatile and ready to for a challenge.

In preparation for the draft, Fine is working to gain strength and prepare himself for Mini Camps. He is not particular about what team drafts him; he wants to go where he is needed.

"I want to go somewhere I will fit into the system. I want to go where the coaches like and want me," he said.


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