Scouting Combine Research: TE, Part 1

The first half of our tight end breakdown includes the two most-prolific players in this draft: Texas Tech's Jace Amaro and North Carolina's Eric Ebron.

Jace Amaro, Texas Tech: Early entrant. Amaro (6-6, 260) is coming off a big year that saw him catch 106 passes for 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns. In NCAA history, the yardage total ranks first and the reception count ranks second among tight ends. In his previous two seasons, he caught 32 passes for 466 yards. The consensus All-American wasted no time declaring for the draft, announcing his intentions to go pro immediately following Texas Tech's bowl win over Arizona State. He is the latest in the new wave of tight ends. Between the end of the season and the draft, Amaro interned for the San Antonio Express-News in sports media. "I'll be on the other side of interviews; these athletes are going to mumble and stumble a bit like I did."

Rob Blanchflower, Massachusetts: Blanchflower (6-4, 260) ranks eighth in school history with 109 receptions and 15th with 1,164 yards; the yardage figure is tops among tight ends. He was a midseason addition to the John Mackey Award watch list despite missing his first three games due to injury. He finished the season with 27 receptions and three touchdowns. It was a disappointing year for Blanchflower in terms of production but that did not stop his coach, Charley Molnar, from heaping praise on him. "He reminds me of Jay Novacek." Molnar said, "No. 1, Rob has always been a team player first. That's a fact. He never talks about ‘get me the ball,' or how many catches he gets." Blanchflower was a two-way player in high school. During his senior season at St. John's High in Massachusetts, he totaled eight sacks on defense to go with 110 receiving yards and two touchdowns on offense. 

Trey Burton, Florida: Burton (6-3, 228) is a versatile player who started 29 games in his career, and was elected a team captain by his teammates at the beginning of 2013. Despite moving to wide receiver after playing multiple positions during his first three seasons, he projects as a tight end in the NFL. With Burton at wide receiver and his younger brother, Clay, at tight end, Trey Burton finished his final season with 38 receptions and one touchdown. Burton was a dual-threat quarterback in high school. At Florida, he played four positions -- quarterback, fullback, wide receiver, tight end -- and was on the kickoff team. He finished his career with 720 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 141 carries and 107 catches for 976 yards and four touchdowns. During his first game as a quarterback during his freshman season, his grandmother was so overwhelmed with joy that she passed out after his first carry, a 2-yard touchdown. 

Anthony Denham, Utah: Denham (6-4, 222), a junior-college transfer, played receiver for the Utes. He caught 24 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns as a senior. Denham was a three-sport athlete in high school, wearing four letters in football, two in basketball and one in track. A coach in high school compared the long-striding Denham to Randy Moss. Denham was taken away from his mother and put into foster care when he was 11. Hilda Montano, who had taken 37 foster children into care when Denham was profiled by the Los Angeles Times in 2008, became his legal guardian. Dunham told the Los Angeles Times that he was blessed to be taken in by Montano. He said, "I stayed in school, and my cousins went down the wrong path and started gang banging."  

Joe Don Duncan, Dixie State: Duncan (6-4, 270) was elected a first-team Associated Press Little All-American and Division II All-American after a senior season in which he caught 71 passes for school records of 1,045 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2011, Duncan caught 64 passes for 949 yards and a then-school-record nine scores but sat out 2012 to repair a broken leg sustained while a freshman at Sacramento State. After starting his season at Sacramento State and two years at a junior college, Duncan chose Dixie State because he wanted to play on the same team as his brother, Jake Duncan. Duncan considers Jason Witten his role model, despite being a Detroit Lions fan growing up. Duncan's favorite band is Swedish House Mafia, and listens to music from Elton John before every game. 

Eric Ebron, North Carolina: Early entrant. Among tight ends, Ebron (6-4, 245) is the school's single-season record holder with 55 receptions for 895 yards and career record holder with 105 receptions for 1,727 yards. His 895 yards in 2013 broke the record held by San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in 2005. Ebron ranked second nationally among tight ends in catches and yards behind Texas Tech's Jace Amaro in 2013. Ebron is passionate about football, and was described as a "thorn in his side" by North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson. 

C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa: Fiedorowicz (6-7, 265) is coming off his most prolific season, with his six touchdowns as a senior surpassing his total from the previous three seasons combined. At the end of his senior season, Fiedorowicz had tallied at least one reception in 31 straight games. He was first-team all-Big Ten as a senior with 30 receptions for 299 yards and his team-high touchdown total, and he played in the Senior Bowl. "He blocks like an offensive lineman," Ohio State tackle Jack Mewhort said at the Senior Bowl. "Big and powerful. He just cleans dudes up." Fiedorowicz took some advice from the brother of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. 

Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State: Gillmore (6-6, 255) was voted first-team All-Mountain-West after registering 47 receptions for 577 receiving yards. Gillmore shifted back to tight end from defensive end during his sophomore season after converting to defensive end during his freshman year. During the Senior Bowl, Gillmore, who played for the South squad, had planned a celebration with CSU teammate center Weston Richburg, who was playing for the North. Gillmore, however, was too excited after scoring and he forgot to find his teammate for the celebration, and both ran off the field. 

Xavier Grimble, Southern California: Early entrant. Grimble (6-5, 250) won the starting job as a junior and responded by catching 25 passes and two touchdowns while playing through injuries. In three seasons, he caught 69 passes with five touchdowns. "I think Xavier is going to be an All-Pro in the NFL," interim coach Ed Orgeron told "He has unusual body size for a tight end that looks like a left tackle. He can block, run and catch, and he's a great young man." Grimble's cousin, Jalen, is a defensive lineman at the University of Miami. Grimble was committed to USC, but wavered a little on his decision after Pete Carroll became coach for the Seahawks. Ultimately, he chose to stay with the Trojans.  

Nic Jacobs, McNeese State: Early entrant. Jacobs (6-5, 260) caught 32 passes for 453 yards and four touchdowns in his only season at McNeese State to earn all-Southland Conference honors. Among those was a 78-yard touchdown in his first game. Jacobs started his career at Louisiana State but transferred to McNeese State after only tallying five receptions in two years. Jacobs missed the last four games during his tenure at LSU due to a violation of team rules.

Marcel Jensen, Fresno State: Jensen (6-6, 270) finished his final season at Fresno State with 26 receptions and three touchdowns. An injured abdominal muscle sidelined him at the Senior Bowl during his first practice. He blocked three kicks in 2011 and another in overtime in 2012 against San Diego State. Jensen was originally a defensive end, but switched to tight end after his redshirt season in 2010. Jensen and his wife, Che'mique, were married in 2012 and had a son, Josiah, in March 2013.

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