Versatile TE Koyack feeling prepared for NFL

Ben Koyak’s numbers don’t pop out at Notre Dame, but the tight end believes he is good enough in the run and pass game to be a complete-package NFL tight end.

MOBILE, Ala. — Ben Koyack is confident Notre Dame prepared him for the NFL, although it’s obvious from his college numbers that the tight end didn’t get to touch the ball much.

He evidently showed enough with the Fighting Irish to be ranked favorably on most NFL Draft mock boards. Koyack caught just 44 passes for 532 yards and five TDs in his college career. Much of that production was as a senior, when he had 30 receptions for 317 yards and two scores.

“I have confidence that I can be out here with these guys and competing,” he said of participating in the Senior Bowl. “The best thing I can do is just be myself out there, make plays when I can make plays, and keep showing guys I’m capable of doing that.”

He arrived with the singular focus of wanting to show scouts that he can be a three-down tight end. He can run or pass block and catch the ball, so pro teams won’t need to substitute for him based on specific packages.

“We run an offense that includes a little bit of everything,” he said of Notre Dame. “No matter what offense I’d be playing in, I have some idea of what I’m doing, whether it’s zone, whether it’s gap schemes, every team in the NFL runs ‘em. Run game, I’ll be prepared. Pass game, we ran a little bit of everything, too. I feel like they prepared me for anything that I’ll face in the future.”

The 6-foot-4, 261-pound tight end is from Oil City, Pa., which meant growing up with an affinity for Pittsburgh Steelers, including tight end Heath Miller.

Now the goal is join Miller in the pro ranks.

“I still watch him,” Koyack said of Miller.

Koyack was smooth in pass-catching drills as well as 11-on-11 scrimmages during practice. The opportunity to catch the ball down the field didn’t present itself much, but he caught a few deeper passes down the seam. The tight end appears to have good hands for a guy his size and looks the ball in, especially when near a defender.

“I’d say my strength is just being versatile, being able to be plugged into different spots,” Koyack said. “If someone wants to use me a run blocker, I have confidence in my run blocking and my pass blocking. I believe I can run (pass) routes against a lot of guys and beat most guys. And I have confidence in my pass-catching abilities as well.

“My advantage is you don’t have to sub me in and out on different packages. You can use me for everything.”

When asked about the opportunity to play in front of NFL scouts, Koyack said he approaches every game the same.

“Whenever you’re putting the pads on,” he said, “it’s another opportunity to prove yourself. Putting the pads on and going against some of the greatest guys in the country, I’m just trying to show all the other people here and the guys on the field that I belong with them, too.”

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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