NFL Draft 2002: TE Update 2

Those who don't want a TE shouldn't seize on the fact Jeremy Shockey couldn't beat CB coverage from a player faster and nearly as tall as himself.

After watching him demolish Nebraska in the National Championship game I went back to watch Jeremy Shockey (Miami, Fla) against Virginia Tech in a much more competitive game. Shockey wasn't as dominant as a receiver in this game after a typically explosive start on the first couple of drives where he made all four of his receptions and scored a TD. However, credit should be given to the Hokies defense who, after getting murdered last year trying to cover him with an LB one-on-one instead switched their coverage to bracket him with an LB underneath and a safety behind or cover him man-to-man with a tall, fast CB. Shockey still beat the bracket at times with his crisp route running but the QB couldn't get the ball to him.

Those who don't want a TE shouldn't seize on the fact he couldn't beat CB coverage from a player faster and nearly as tall as Shockey is because the Giants own Jason Sehorn was used in a similar way against the best receiving TE in the NFL, Tony Gonzalez, and the CB won that battle most times too. Besides, forcing the defense to cover him in that way is actually a huge plus as it means that safeties are covering receivers one-on-one and the offense should be able to find a way to take advantage of that.

Apart from his route running, the thing that stands out about him as a receiver are how quickly he releases into the secondary, smoothness into and out of cuts, ability to run away from LB's and his huge flypaper hands. He dropped a slightly high overthrown fade at the back corner of the end zone he tried to one-hand in before he went out of bounds but otherwise showed terrific concentration in making his grabs away from his body with both hands, pulling it in without breaking stride and turning up field. He runs over would-be tacklers with the best of them too. While he does hot-dog it a little after a big-play, the players on his team certainly seem to appreciate his enthusiasm and I see that as a huge positive because the crowd feeds off the excitement of the players and vice versa.

Of great interest in this game was seeing how Shockey's blocking would hold up against an aggressive and fast front 7. Far from being the liability his reputation suggests, he actually appeared to be doing a solid job! Was he blowing people off the ball? No. But I haven't really seen ANY of the top TE prospects do that consistently this year. He was asked to take on the DE in a double team with the OT at times and did a good job walling him inside. He was also asked to block the OLB on the end of the line of scrimmage a few times and he did that well too, actually opening a hole for a first down on one occasion. Mostly, he was asked to get to the second phase and hit the LB's or safeties well off the LOS and on one occasion he got the FS moving backwards, ran through and over him and scored a pancake block!! Mostly he ran interference blocks but that's better than the whiff's you see from some of the TE's alleged to be good blockers in this draft. Shockey isn't powerful (his 16 reps of the 225lb bar at Miami's Pro Day shows that), but he doesn't shy away from blocking and uses his size/arm length to keep opponents out of the lane and away from the ball. I even saw him on a couple of occasions in blitz pick-up or fanning out wide and blocking with the OL on a QB roll-out! Strangely, the weakest part of his game appeared to be downfield blocking when another receiver caught the ball as he stood around rather than trying to block downfield. The one thing I didn't see asked of him was to provide blocking on sweeps to the wide outside, often being aligned at the opposite side to where the play was going. The Giants ask their TE's to do that, I just don't know that he can execute that block.

In my mind there is no doubt that Shockey rates within the top 10-15 players in this draft, though whether the Giants feel he is a good enough blocker to be an effective two-way threat in our system at this time will probably only be known on draft day itself.

I also got around to watching Terry Jones (Alabama) against Tennessee's smaller LB's. As with his performance against Auburn, he did a fine job blocking in-line and showed some ability to find the open spot in the defense. However, he didn't do a good job blocking wide as he let his man play off him too much to the outside and was guilty of allowing up field penetration on more than one occasion resulting in the play being ‘blown up' and the tackle made for a loss. What really stood out though was the fact that he simply cannot catch high passes! Sure, the balls thrown to him were difficult but he had his hands on at least 3 passes he failed to even come close to hauling in. I personally don't believe that comparisons to former Giants TE Howard Cross stand up (Cross was always a fantastic blocker when the play went wide) and certainly don't believe that Jones would prove an upgrade even over Campbell. As such, though he may get drafted on the first day, I don't want it to be by the Giants.

Though from a small school, Keith Heinrich (Sam Houston State) is starting to get a little press, especially with his QB Josh McCown drawing interest from scouts. At 6'5 ½", 255lb's he has the size to be a good blocker but is best known as a receiver (45-595 and 7 TD's with a long of 57) and opened eyes at the Combine with his performance there doing 21 reps on the bench press, clocking a respectable 4.77 in the 40 yard dash, a position best 10' broad jump and a solid 35" vertical jump. While considered a bit stiff in his routes, he also clocked extremely high amongst his peers in the shuttle and 3 cone drills so his body control can't be that bad. He reportedly impressed at the Blue-Gray game as a receiver, though he struggled with his footwork when blocking, falling off after contact too easily for a player of his dimensions. Though raw, he may be one to keep an eye on towards the end of the first day or early in the second.


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