Under-Radar TE: Bowling Green's Bayer

Bowling Green standout Alex Bayer is by far the most versatile tight end in this year's draft. Just how versatile? We tell you in the latest predraft exclusive.

Alex Bayer is like everyone else.

"I'm glad it's over. I'm ready for this weekend," he said on Tuesday.

Of course, Bayer has more at stake than most of us. The Bowling Green tight end, who has flown under the media radar for most of the scouting season, hopes to be drafted. He's taken three predraft visits and worked out for seven tight end coaches. He's projected as a seventh-round possibility by NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas; another scout thought Bayer could go as soon as the fifth or sixth round in a relatively weak class of tight ends.

Bayer has good size (6-4, 257) and athleticism (4.77 in the 40; 31.5 inch vertical jump). He is a two-time all-MAC third-team selection with an intriguing array of skills. Not only can he block and catch, but he can long snap and hold for kicks, as well.

During his redshirt season at Bowling Green, the coaches started grooming him to be the heir to the long-snapping job, which was held by a junior at the time. That all changed during Bayer's redshirt freshman season.

"The following year, our regular holder had two or three bad holds and I went up to the coaches, because they were asking around," Bayer recalled. "I was the holder in high school so I told them I could do that. So, they started working me out there. A week or two later, the holder had another bad hold and it became my spot, and it stuck for the rest of the year and the rest of my career."

Bayer was back to snapping at the East-West Shrine Game and started working with Justin Snow. Snow snapped for the Colts for 11 seasons and the Redskins for part of a 12th.

"That was a lot of help because I had never really been coached at long snapping," Bayer said. "We had a coach there (at Bowling Green) but I don't think he really had any experience at it."

Bayer knows the most direct path to a roster spot for a late-round pick is special teams. So, the more ways he can help a team, the better his chances of sticking around into September and beyond.

"I feel like I can do a lot to help a team," he said.

The same goes for offense. In a draft in which the top tight ends (Eric Ebron, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Jace Amaro) are known for their receiving skills and the next wave of tight ends (Troy Niklas, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Arthur Lynch) are known for their blocking, Bayer projects as a player that could stay on the field for all three downs.

"That's what I'm telling teams," he said. "I feel confident running routes, I feel confident blocking in a stance, I feel confident motioning or being in the backfield. Whatever a team needs, I feel confident because I've done it all four years."

The three-year starter caught 37 passes for 593 yards and four touchdowns as a senior, and finished his career with 115 receptions and 10 touchdowns. In 2013, he played a key role in running back Travis Greene's record-setting 1,594-yard season.

"I take a lot of pride in (blocking)," he said. "In high school, I played tight end just a little; I was a little skinnier and played wide receiver. When I got to college, the first couple of years, I didn't take too much pride in it. These last two years, the weight room's been a huge help. I've made my biggest gains and that's carried over to the field. Our tight end room, that's something that we've gotten a lot better with and for me, personally, too. I thought I had a chip on my shoulder the last couple years because that's all I've heard through my career: That I was just a receiving tight end. This past year and the year before, I feel like I really opened up some eyes blocking."

Playing professional sports has been Bayer's dream for as long as he can remember. He grew up thinking baseball would be his ticket until the scholarship offers for football began arriving during his junior and senior years in high school.

"It's always been a dream of mine," he said. "It's funny. One of my really good friends on the team — he's a sophomore — he asked me, ‘Are you going to cry if you get your name called? Are you going to get emotional?' I said, ‘You know, I haven't really thought about it.' I don't know. I don't know what's going to run through my head if I do get that call, whether it's drafted or an opportunity to sign a free-agent deal. I'm sure it's going to be pretty emotional because not a lot of people get to experience this. It's humbling to have the opportunity."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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