It was a hard decision that the Gators red-shirt freshman knew he had to make. A man of his word, Gerald Christian stood by his commitment to play for the University of Florida, even though the coach he was hoping to play for, Urban Meyer, decided to leave the program. He spent the 2010 red-shirting and performing on the scout team, feeling his performance would warrant considerable playing time with the varsity in 2011.
Christian signed his national letter-of-intent to play football at the University of Florida. He also strongly considered offers from Tennessee, South Florida, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Boston College and Florida International. After spending the 2010 campaign on the scout team, he appeared in all thirteen games with the field goal unit, but was limited to seven appearances on offense, where he was used mostly in the goal-line package. He finished his only season with the Gator varsity catching four passes for 72 yards and one score.
Granted his release from Florida, Christian enrolled at Louisville, but under NCAA transfer rules, he was ineligible to play for the Cardinals in 2012. The tight end would become an integral part of the team’s passing game over his next two seasons. As a junior, he started eleven games, catching nearly everything thrown his way, pulling down 28-of-36 targeted passes (77.78%), as five other passes were overthrown by Cardinals quarterbacks. He gained 426 receiving yards (15.21 ypc) and scored five times.
Christian followed his junior campaign with another solid performance in 2014. He started all but one of the thirteen games he appeared in, collecting 32-of-55 targeted tosses (58.18%), good for 384 yards (15.0 ypc), reaching the end zone five times.
Christian has a growing frame, built more for speed than power, but he won’t embarrass himself in the strength department. He is a smooth open field runner whose experience as a standout prep basketball player is evident by the way he can torque his frame and elevate for the high passes. He shows good quickness off the line to uncover, as he is a sudden mover with above average speed and decent strength for his position.
The first thing you notice on game film is that Christian has large, soft hands, good change of direction agility, quickness and hand/eye coordination. . He is still learning to use his size to shade a defender, but is capable of handling that task with more reps. He has the acceleration to create mismatches vs. linebackers and slower safeties, but lacks that second gear to climb into the deep part of the field. He appears to understand leverage and just needs to learn how to sit in the zone.
Christian runs with good knee bend and a low pad level. He shows good thrust moving up field once he escapes the line of scrimmage, using his body well to shield defenders from the ball. He comes off his plant foot with good precision and is smooth in and out of his cuts, showing the balance and flexibility to drop his weight to separate. His route running is generally crisp vs. man coverage, with a good stem, stick and leverage for this position.
As a blocker, Christian shows good balance to get out and strike down field, but seems to lack effort to perform in that area. He shows little or no aggression when asked to block in-line and does not like to initiate contact. You can politely call him a “finesse” blocker, but there are times you have to question his courage. He is a decent second level blocker when he gets position in space, but he is never going to rock a defender back on his heels.
Gerald Christian NFL Scouting Combine measurables
6-3/244 (4.87 forty)
32 1/2-inch arm length
10 3/4-inch hands
30.5-inch vertical jump
112-inch broad jump
7.66 3 cone drill
4.70 20 yard shuttle
12.66 60 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
SCOUT.COM DRAFT RANKINGS
Position: QB RB FB WR TE OT OG C DT DE OLB MLB S CB K P LS