Kory Sperry (6-foot-5, 238 pounds) boasts an outstanding blend of size, speed and hands. He was a three-time All-Mountain West Conference honoree, as he and fellow Chargers rookie Gartrell Johnson ignited a potent offense at Colorado State.
Sperry looks to take advantage of the recent releases of tight ends Scott Chandler and Jerimiah Wurzbacher and play his way onto the active roster.
"Sperry is a big, talented player with athletic ability, adequate hands and some point-of-attack skills," Marino said.
TE Kory Sperry
Sperry showcased his pass-catching skills with the Rams, racking up 141 receptions for 1,763 yards and 20 TDs during 40 career games at Colorado State.
However, Sperry lacked consistency, which was a red flag for Marino.
"He looked like an OK receiver in the under zones, but based on my exposure, I didn't think he caught the ball cleanly," Marino said. "He was best in the under and red zones. I didn't see him as a big tackle-breaker, nor did he show much creativity or run instincts. He may be a little high-hipped and I didn't think he finished with any degree of consistency."
Another red flag is Sperry's injury history. He tore his ACL three games into his junior season, which raised questions about his durability and derailed a terrific start to the '07 campaign.
Sperry was a highly ranked player leading up to the 2007 season and fired out of the gates, catching 10 passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns in the three games prior to the injury.
He worked hard to rehab and picked up where he left off after returning in 2008, bringing in 38 receptions for 492 yards and six touchdowns. But despite respectable stats, Marino is not convinced Sperry was ever at 100 percent.
"Early on in 2008, he didn't look as smooth, didn't finish consistently in-line nor did he show much in the way of route-running skills," he said. "An additional year post-op should improve his chances."
Sperry hopes to follow the path of TE Antonio Gates, who rose from the ranks of undrafted free agency to become one of the most dominant tight ends in NFL history.
Marino doesn't see a Gates-like rise to stardom in the cards for Sperry, although he believes the rookie has enough skills to challenge for a backup position.
"I saw him early versus Colorado, later against California and against Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl game and he looked like a free agent. He's a big sucker and he has a chance to make it in a backup role, in my opinion," Marino said.