All in the family: Tight ends

The tight ends in the draft have several impressive family connections of football lineage, but perhaps the most famous of the pro athlete predecessors was one of the greats in baseball who allowed several sons to become adept at football.

Joe Don Duncan: Dixie State College Red Storm

His brother, Jake, was a teammate and starting linebacker at Dixie State (2009-12), and the two also played football together at Notre Dame High School.

C.J. Fiedorowicz: Iowa Hawkeyes

C.J.'s father, Gary, was a power-lifter who got C.J. interested in weight training in the eighth grade. His sister, Paige, also attended Johnsburg High School, where she was a three-sport standout athlete excelling in volleyball, basketball and track. She left Johnsburg as its all-time career scoring leader among both the boys and girls team and later starred for the women's basketball team at Marquette (2008-11).

Crockett Gillmore: Colorado State Rams

Crockett's older brother, Austin, was a teammate at Colorado State (2010-12) as a reserve tight end and had previously played at West Texas A&M and Bushland High School.

Xavier Grimble: USC Trojans

Xavier's cousin, Jalen Grimble, is a junior defensive lineman at Miami (Fla.), recording six tackles during the 2012 season.

Jake Murphy: Utah Utes

Jake is the son of former major league baseball player Dale Murphy. Perhaps his father should have kept a few more bats, balls and baseball gloves around the house while his seven sons and one daughter were growing up. Dale was a former standout catcher, outfielder and first baseman who played for three teams in the major leagues, but is noted for his time with the Atlanta Braves.

Murphy won consecutive National League Most Valuable Player Awards (1982–1983), the National League's Silver Slugger Award four straight years (1982–1985), and the National League's Gold Glove award five straight years (1982–1986).

Three of his sons went a different route in their sport of preference. Jake's older brother, Shawn, lettered twice as an offensive guard for Utah State (2006-07), earning All-Western Athletic Conference honors as a senior. He spent some training camp time with the Denver Broncos before going on to play for the Miami Dolphins in 2008. He ended his NFL career after spending the 2009 campaign with Tampa Bay.

Jake's younger brother, McKay, was his teammate at Utah in 2013, red-shirting as an incoming freshman while performing on the scout team, going head-to-head with his brother's offensive unit while performing on the defensive line. Jake spent three seasons as a member of the Utes' football team after first serving on church missions to Sydney, Australia and later with his family in Boston, Massachusetts.

Troy Niklas: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Troy's brother, Austin, was senior linebacker at Air Force in 2012, making 128 tackles to lead the team and earning honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference. Troy's uncle, Bruce Matthews, was an All-American offensive lineman, selected in the first round of the 1983 draft, taken with the ninth pick by the Houston Oilers. Bruce spent his entire 19-year career with the same team, moving with the Oilers to Tennessee, where he would later serve as an assistant coach. He was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, the most in NFL history, a record shared with Merlin Olsen.

Bruce's son, Jake Matthews, is a two-time All-American offensive tackle at Texas A&M and is expected to be an early first-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. Jake's oldest brother, Kevin, was also an offensive lineman for Texas A&M. He was not drafted coming out of college in 2010, but suited up for both Tennessee and Washington the last three seasons. Back on the Aggies' campus is Kevin and Jake's younger brother, Mike, a sophomore who started on the same line as Jake at center last season.

Richard Rodgers, II: California-Berkeley Golden Bears

His father, Richard Rodgers, Sr., is a former University of California football player who was prominently involved in "The Play" in the 1982 Big Game (given credit for calling "The Play" and making the final of five laterals), and went on to play in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League. Richard Sr. served as Carolina's interim special teams coordinator for the final seven games in 2012 after starting the year as special teams assistant. He was recently named the Panthers' special teams coordinator.

During those last seven games, Rodgers had a positive effect on the special teams' play, helping the Panthers improve from 31st to 14th in the NFL in punt return average and from 18th to 10th in punt coverage. Rodgers' unit also led the league in opponents' kickoff return average following a 30th-place finish in 2011.

Rodgers came to Carolina with 23 years of college experience. He coached at Holy Cross from 2005-11, spending his last six seasons as the defensive coordinator after handling the secondary in 2005. Rodgers developed the Crusaders into one of the top defenses in the Patriot League. Five players from his unit earned All-Patriot League honors in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

From 2001-04, Rodgers tutored the secondary at New Mexico State. During his tenure, the Aggies pilfered 45 interceptions, while lowering their passing yardage allowed in each of his final three seasons.

Previously, Rodgers worked four years at Portland State from 1997-2000. He oversaw the Vikings' secondary and special teams in addition to serving as the team's strength and conditioning coordinator. Prior to Portland State, Rodgers had a two-year stint at San Jose State, working with the secondary and special teams from 1995-96.

He started his coaching career as an assistant at Diablo Valley Community College from 1989-94. Rodgers also gained valuable exposure to professional football along the way. He participated in the NFL's Minority Internship Program with the Oakland Raiders during training camp in 1996 and then was the defensive backs coach for the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe in 1998.

Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Rodgers played linebacker and wide receiver for three seasons in the Arena Football League. He appeared in the league's first championship game in 1987, catching a 32-yard touchdown for the Denver Dynamite in Arena Bowl I.


Dave-Te' Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft.

Scout NFL Network Top Stories