Position Analysis: Tight ends

This year, there aren't any surefire tight ends in the draft. Some are raw, some are one-dimensional and some have character or injury concerns. The Vikings are in the market for some young blood at the position, so what do each of the draft-valued prospects hold for skills and where are their deficiencies?

POSITION ANALYSIS – The tight end position has become one of note in recent years. Perhaps no position has become more relevant on draft weekend. Stars have been made at the position with the advent of a pass-happy NFL. Whether they succeed or not, just about every season sees one or two tight ends coming off the board in the first round, including very high draft picks like Vernon Davis of the 49ers. This year, however, there is no sure-fire first-round draft pick. In fact, Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame, who has a significant "red flag" injury history, may well be the only tight end that comes off the board in the first two rounds. There are a lot of specialists – receivers, H-back hybrids, blocking TEs, etc. – in this group that will stock the shelves of NFL teams with projects and hopefuls. But, as far as lead-pipe locks, there isn't a tight end in the group that gets a unanimous seal of approval from scouts, which makes it a down year to be a tight end draft enthusiast.

VIKINGS TIGHT ENDS – Visanthe Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser, Jeff Dugan.

VIKINGS' NEED – There may be a higher level of need at this position than may be perceived. All three are under contract for 2011, but it is the final year for all three. Shiancoe is a quality starter who can be an in-line blocking tight end – a role he was forced into as Jeremy Shockey's caddy – or a pass-catching threat. While he would be highly paid to return to the blocking role – unlikely as it is – it's an option and the Vikings never overlook their options. Kleinsasser was a second-round draft pick in 1998, when guys like Rudolph and the rest of the 2011 draft were by and large either in second or third grade. He has earned a reputation as a tenacious blocker, but the light at the post-NFL tunnel is getting brighter all the time. Something needs to change at some point soon. Shank seems to like it in Minnesota and has come out of his shell. He will likely be re-signed. But Kleinsasser is likely in his last year and the Vikings could face the potential of a 2012 free-agent season without a tight end under contract. If there is a wild card to the 2011 draft, it might be a tight end they covet in the early rounds (if they get their third-round pick back). At a minimum, expect a tight end or two to be brought in, whether in the draft or a post-draft signing.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame, 6-6, 265 –
Third-year junior…Two-year starter who made starts in 15 of 16 games, catching 61 passes for 692 yards and six touchdowns in that span…Prior to the 2010 season had left shoulder surgery and his season was cut short after hamstring surgery needed because two tendons holding the muscle in place ripped from the bone…Ideal intangibles and upside…One of the hardest workers on the field at all times…Has great body control and catches just about everything thrown his way, even bad passes down the seam…Has good speed and runs like a big wide receiver instead of a tight end…Excellent route runner…Never a big offensive weapon – career highs were 33 receptions, 364 yards and three TDs in a season…Doesn't have a mean streak when it comes to blocking…Durability is a big concern given his history of significant injuries…Doesn't have deep speed to stretch the seam…Doesn't make people miss when they close in…Didn't work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: The best tight end in this class, he doesn't have the intangibles that will make him a first-round pick. Some teams will drop him because of his injury history, but he has the potential to be a big-play tight end in the right system.

D.J. Williams, Arkansas, 6-2, 236 – Fourth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 147 passes for 1,761 yards and 10 touchdowns…Won the 2010 Disney Spirit Award, given to college football's most inspirational figure, for his campaign for domestic abuse awareness; he came from an abusive childhood for which his father is serving a pair of 25-year sentences in state prison for separate convictions…Quick to release off the line and get upfield…Excellent hands catcher who keeps the ball away from his body…Has very good strength and athletic ability…Good straight-line speed…Gets in and out of his cuts quickly…Is short by NFL tight end standards…Doesn't have the bulk strength to be an in-line blocker at this point…Doesn't have the agility to get rid of defenders…Ran a 4.59 40 at the Combine with 20 reps of 225 pounds, a 33½-inch vertical jump and a 9-3 broad jump.
PROJECTION: A high-character player with a chance to be an aggressive receiver in a tight end-friendly offense (a poor man's Dallas Clark), but, until he adds more muscle mass, he will be a situational tight end, which usually means late second- or third-round talent.

THE NEXT LEVEL

Luke Stocker, Tennessee, 6-5, 255 –
Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 81 passes for 945 yards and seven touchdowns…Very good hands and long arms and rarely drops passes thrown his way…Ideal size and can add more bulk and mass…Good body control to track down bad passes…Will go up over the middle to pull in a pass…Intelligent team leader…A willing and effective blocker…Played in a pro-style offense…Is not a polished in-line blocker and will need a lot of reps…Doesn't sustain blocks well in run support…Doesn't have ideal burst to get separation down the seam…Has difficulty shaking defenders in man coverage…Ran a 4.68 40 at the Combine with a position-best 27 reps, a 33-inch vertical jump and a 9-7 broad jump.
PROJECTION: The most prototypical TE of the class – size, skill, durability, experience – but he is the jack of all trades and master of none. He had nominal college production in an offense conducive to getting him more passes and, while he has good potential for teams in need, will likely be on the board into the third round.

Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin, 6-3¼, 240 – Fifth-year senior…Two-year starter who caught 72 passes for 1,019 yards and eight touchdowns in that span…Was arrested twice in 2008 for underage drinking, including an embarrassing moment of being arrested for DUI while riding a moped with a blood alcohol level of .19…Already graduated and working on a second degree…Very athletic and looks the part…Has good speed and can shake off defenders hitting his routes…Best route-runner among TE class…Plucks the ball with ease and gets headed upfield quickly…Respected team leader…A solid blocker who knows his role on every play…Undersized and has a skinny frame for an NFL tight end…Has alligator arms too often over the middle…Needs to improve his bulk strength to be an effective in-line blocker at the next level…Doesn't have great body control when asked to track-and-react…Ran a 4.65 40 at the Combine with 25 reps, a 34½-inch vertical jump and a 10-2 broad jump.
PROJECTION: An undersized tight end who needs to be in a system that doesn't require him to be an every-down blocker. Specialists like that usually fall to Day Three of the draft.

Rob Housler, Florida Atlantic, 6-5½, 239 – Fifth-year senior who was granted a non-medical redshirt in 2009…A one-year starter who caught 39 passes for 629 yards (16.1 yards per catch) and four touchdowns…Married with one child…Ideal size and good arm length…Excellent straight-line speed…Good upper-body strength to beat the jam at the line…A good route-runner who gets in and out of his breaks quickly…Can catch the ball in a crowd…Creates matchup problems with linebackers and safeties…Team leader with high character…Doesn't have great lower-body strength and will struggle in run-blocking assignments…Ends up on the ground too much in his blocking assignments…Drops too many catchable passes…Marginal production considering that the offense was geared to get the ball to TEs…Ran a position-best 4.46 40 at the Combine with 22 reps, a 37-inch vertical jump and a 9-9 broad jump.
PROJECTION: Has a lot of things going in his favor, especially his speed, but his lack of in-line blocking skills will likely force him to be a situational tight end or H-back hybrid.

Jordan Cameron, USC, 6-5, 245 – Fifth-year senior who redshirted at Brigham Young in 2006 and spent 2007 season at Ventura (Calif.) College in 2007 after transferring…Only started one game as a senior, catching 16 passes for 126 yards and one TD…Very athletic and has the type of body capable of adding 15 pounds without sacrificing speed…Extremely good vertical jump to catch passes…Versatile, played both TE and WR at USC…Good route runner…Consistently finds soft spot in defensive zones…Undersized and not overpowering in blocking aspect…A raw receiver who caught just 16 passes in three years with the Trojans…Needs work to refine many of the finer aspects of his game…Extremely limited production or film to gauge his talent…Ran a 4.53 40 at the Combine (second among TEs) with 23 reps, a 37½-inch vertical jump and a 9-11 broad jump.
PROJECTION: Cameron is a physical talent that could blossom at the next level, but, as a converted wide receiver who has extremely limited production and added 10 pounds in between the East-West Shrine Game and the Combine to make himself more marketable, he is a Day 3 project that may stay on the board longer than where we have him rated.

THE BEST OF THE REST

Weslye Saunders, South Carolina, 6-5¼, 271 –
Fourth-year senior who played three seasons before being dismissed from the team in 2010 for lying to coaches about taking gifts from an agent…One-year starter who caught 32 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns in 2009…Extremely good size and creates big matchup problems…Has the strength expected of NFL tight ends…Has good hands and doesn't allow passes to get into his body…Has excellent concentration in traffic and will take the big hit to make a catch…Is a solid blocker in run support…Doesn't have an aggressive streak and will have trouble sustaining blocks…Doesn't have a second gear and slows down into and out of his breaks…Not a sharp route runner and rounds off too many routes…Maturity and commitment are huge questions after getting kicked off the team and coming off as a selfish "me first" type of player…Ran a plodding 4.81 40 at the Combine with 19 reps of 225 pounds, a 33½-inch vertical jump and a 9-8 broad jump. To complicate matters, he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot at some point during the Combine workouts.
PROJECTION: If not for missing all of his senior season after being thrown off the team, he would be rated much higher, but, for a player who had the world in front of him, he blew it and that lack of character and commitment may come back to bite him on draft weekend.

Mike McNeill, Nebraska, 6-3¾, 232 – Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 81 passes for 1,047 yards and 10 touchdowns in that span…A high school teammate of Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin…Had left shoulder surgery after his redshirt season of 2006…Played for three different position coaches in four years with the team…Has good release from the line and can challenge the seam of the defense…Very good hands and catches almost everything thrown his way, including the difficult catch…Has good track-and-react skills over the top on deep balls…Good route-runner…Hits full speed quickly…Doesn't have elite top-end speed…Needs to add more bulk to be more than a pass-catching tight end only…Doesn't have good lower-body strength and will need to greatly improve to be on the field when asked to in-line block…Has had problems maintaining weight, which will make it difficult to add bulk strength…Did not work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: McNeill was a valued third-down receiver, but questions about his ability as a blocker will pigeon-hole him as a poor man's Dallas Clark clone in the middle rounds.

Andre Smith, Virginia Tech, 6-5, 271 – Fifth-year senior…Didn't become a starter until his senior season, catching 20 passes for 195 yards and five touchdowns…Lost his mother to leukemia in his senior year of high school…Had right shoulder surgery following the 2008 season…Durable three-year starter…Excellent body size with long arms to help in run blocking…Is a red zone receiving threat who scored seven career touchdowns despite not catching many passes…Solid special teams contributor…Doesn't have good flexibility…Very limited production in the passing game…Will have trouble getting separation from linebackers at the next level…A little slow to react off the snap…Doesn't always play with good technique…Did not work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: Arguably the best blocking tight end in this year's draft class, players like that are valued commodities, but don't come off the board until the fourth or fifth round at best.

Charlie Gantt, Michigan State, 6-5, 248 – Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 65 passes for 951 yards and nine touchdowns…Has hearing problems and wears a hearing aid…Has natural hands and can make difficult catches look easy…Is at his best stretching the seam in the deep passing game, averaging almost 15 yards per reception…Durability isn't a question…Has good blocking technique and sinks his hips to control DEs…Doesn't have good speed and isn't sure-footed – will stumble and fall too often…Is a very raw route runner and doesn't look natural in many pass situations…Struggles against hard-charging defensive ends…Ran a 4.85 40 at the Combine with a position-best 27 reps of 225 pounds, a 30½-inch vertical jump and a 9-0 broad jump.
PROJECTION: A solid college TE for a big-time school, but his athletic limitations will prevent him from coming off the board before the draft's final day.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Virgil Green, Nevada, 6-5, 240 –
Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 72 passes for 939 yards and 11 touchdowns…Named a team captain as a senior, relatively rare for tight ends…Production increased each year…Excellent timed speed and has the ability to make plays deep down the seam…Excellent production and a finisher who scored a lot of touchdowns (more than one for every seven career receptions and one in six the last two years)…Versatile player who can line up as a tight end, H-back or motion fullback…A team leader who has a passion for the game…Raw in terms of his transition to the NFL…Doesn't have bulk or strength to be an effective in-line blocker on a consistent basis…Too often comes to a complete stop to make receptions…Doesn't have field speed to match his timed speed…Doesn't have ideal on-field awareness…A project type receiver who showed he belongs in the NFL at the East-West Shrine Game, but likely will remain on the board into the fourth round or beyond.

Lee Smith, Marshall, 6-6, 269 – Fourth-year senior…Three-year starter (started 27 of 37 games final three years) and, in that span, caught 73 passes for 782 yards and three touchdowns…Father Daryle played six years in the NFL…Married with two children…Two-time team captain…Has good hands and plucks the ball away from his body…Has a mean streak and plays with emotion…Has good sustained speed when taking players deep down the seam…Team leader…Doesn't have good burst off the line and takes too long to get up to fill speed…Lazy route runner who rounds off routes too often…Gets knocked down far too much…Inconsistent blocker…Has all the tools to develop into a solid pro and has the bloodlines, but needs to improve in all areas to make an impact.

Daniel Hardy, Idaho, 6-4, 235 – Fifth-year senior…One-year full-time starter who caught 32 passes for 545 yards and one TD in eight games…A team walk-on who earned his stripes…Suffered a lacerated kidney in 2009 and broke his left forearm in 2010…Averaged more than 17 yards per reception for his career…Has the speed and agility to get open downfield and make big plays…Has good body control to adjust to poorly thrown passes…Runs sharp routes…A hard worker who led by example…Doesn't have great strength and is viewed as too small to be an in-line blocking threat…A finesse player who needs to add a mean streak…Didn't face top competition…Used many ways in Idaho's offense, which will intrigue enough teams to take a chance on him in the late rounds.

Julius Thomas, Portland State, 6-4½, 251 – Fifth-year senior…Played basketball for PSU for four years – setting school records for games played and field goal percentage – before moving to the football team, starting one of 11 games, catching 29 passes for 453 yards and two TDs…Prototype size and arm length…Productive player who averaged 16 yards a catch…Great burst off the snap…Has good ball-tracking skills…Didn't play football until last year and is extremely raw…Doesn't have bulk strength or lower-body power to serve as an in-line blocker…Inconsistent hands and route running…After basketball players like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez transformed the TE position, players have tried to make the change ever since. Thomas is the latest in that group. He will get drafted late, but is far from a guarantee despite an impressive upside to his game.

Kyle Adams, Purdue, 6-4½, 250 – Fifth-year senior who was granted a medical redshirt in 2008 with an injured left knee that required surgery…Two-year starter who caught 65 passes for 493 yards and no touchdowns…Has good size and soft hands…An experienced leader who played in 46 games and started 27 of them…Will fight for the ball in traffic and doesn't get alligator arms over the middle…Marginal speed for the next level…Has difficulty maintaining blocks when asked to sustain…Doesn't gain a lot yards after the catch…Is viewed by many as an overachiever who has maxed out his potential…He played fullback, running back and tight end for the Boilermakers, so his initial contribution will be on special teams. In the right system, he could develop into a solid No. 2 tight end, but isn't likely to be a starter because of his physical limitations.

Edward Barham, North Carolina, 6-3, 260 – Fifth-year senior…Two-year starter who, in four seasons, caught just 20 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown…Has the strength to develop into a devastating blocker…Was asked to be an additional offensive lineman and learned to neutralize DEs on a regular basis…Is a good run and pass blocker…Very limited production – just 20 career catches in four years…Doesn't have burst off the line and slows down into and out of his cuts in the passing game…Will struggle to be a receiving threat at the next level…Will be viewed as a blocking TE only and, while there is value to being a dominant blocker, in the passing era we are currently in, such players lose value. As a result, Barham may end up being an undrafted free agent brought in for goal-line plays and special teams.

Charles Clay, Tulsa, 6-3¼, 239 – Fourth-year senior…Started 43 of 52 career games, catching 189 passes for 2,544 yards and 28 TDs…Chose Tulsa over full-ride offers from Arkansas and Miami…Extremely productive – caught 69 passes for 1,024 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman…Has very good body control to adjust to bad passes…A durable, versatile, experienced team leader…A skinny frame for his size and doesn't have great strength…Doesn't gain a lot of yards after the catch and doesn't make defenders miss…Competition was suspect…Not a good blocker…An H-back in the Tulsa offense, he could become a Chris Cooley type of H-back/TE hybrid in the pros, but he looks to be a man without a position since he wasn't used often as a pure blocker and, when he was, he didn't seem focused on it. He may be a late-round pick.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"The tight end position has become one of note in recent years. Perhaps no position has become more relevant on draft weekend. Stars have been made at the position with the advent of a pass-happy NFL. Whether they succeed or not, just about every season sees one or two tight ends coming off the board in the first round, including very high draft picks like Vernon Davis of the 49ers. This year, however, there is no sure-fire first-round draft pick. In fact, Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame, who has a significant \"red flag\" injury history, may well be the only tight end that comes off the board in the first two rounds. There are a lot of specialists – receivers, H-back hybrids, blocking TEs, etc. – in this group that will stock the shelves of NFL teams with projects and hopefuls. But, as far as lead-pipe locks, there isn't a tight end in the group that gets a unanimous seal of approval from scouts, which makes it a down year to be a tight end draft enthusiast. Visanthe Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser, Jeff Dugan. There may be a higher level of need at this position than may be perceived. All three are under contract for 2011, but it is the final year for all three. Shiancoe is a quality starter who can be an in-line blocking tight end – a role he was forced into as Jeremy Shockey's caddy – or a pass-catching threat. While he would be highly paid to return to the blocking role – unlikely as it is – it's an option and the Vikings never overlook their options. Kleinsasser was a second-round draft pick in 1998, when guys like Rudolph and the rest of the 2011 draft were by and large either in second or third grade. He has earned a reputation as a tenacious blocker, but the light at the post-NFL tunnel is getting brighter all the time. Something needs to change at some point soon. Shank seems to like it in Minnesota and has come out of his shell. He will likely be re-signed. But Kleinsasser is likely in his last year and the Vikings could face the potential of a 2012 free-agent season without a tight end under contract. If there is a wild card to the 2011 draft, it might be a tight end they covet in the early rounds (if they get their third-round pick back). At a minimum, expect a tight end or two to be brought in, whether in the draft or a post-draft signing. Third-year junior…Two-year starter who made starts in 15 of 16 games, catching 61 passes for 692 yards and six touchdowns in that span…Prior to the 2010 season had left shoulder surgery and his season was cut short after hamstring surgery needed because two tendons holding the muscle in place ripped from the bone…Ideal intangibles and upside…One of the hardest workers on the field at all times…Has great body control and catches just about everything thrown his way, even bad passes down the seam…Has good speed and runs like a big wide receiver instead of a tight end…Excellent route runner…Never a big offensive weapon – career highs were 33 receptions, 364 yards and three TDs in a season…Doesn't have a mean streak when it comes to blocking…Durability is a big concern given his history of significant injuries…Doesn't have deep speed to stretch the seam…Doesn't make people miss when they close in…Didn't work out at the Combine. The best tight end in this class, he doesn't have the intangibles that will make him a first-round pick. Some teams will drop him because of his injury history, but he has the potential to be a big-play tight end in the right system. Fourth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 147 passes for 1,761 yards and 10 touchdowns…Won the 2010 Disney Spirit Award, given to college football's most inspirational figure, for his campaign for domestic abuse awareness; he came from an abusive childhood for which his father is serving a pair of 25-year sentences in state prison for separate convictions…Quick to release off the line and get upfield…Excellent hands catcher who keeps the ball away from his body…Has very good strength and athletic ability…Good straight-line speed…Gets in and out of his cuts quickly…Is short by NFL tight end standards…Doesn't have the bulk strength to be an in-line blocker at this point…Doesn't have the agility to get rid of defenders…Ran a 4.59 40 at the Combine with 20 reps of 225 pounds, a 33½-inch vertical jump and a 9-3 broad jump. A high-character player with a chance to be an aggressive receiver in a tight end-friendly offense (a poor man's Dallas Clark), but, until he adds more muscle mass, he will be a situational tight end, which usually means late second- or third-round talent. Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 81 passes for 945 yards and seven touchdowns…Very good hands and long arms and rarely drops passes thrown his way…Ideal size and can add more bulk and mass…Good body control to track down bad passes…Will go up over the middle to pull in a pass…Intelligent team leader…A willing and effective blocker…Played in a pro-style offense…Is not a polished in-line blocker and will need a lot of reps…Doesn't sustain blocks well in run support…Doesn't have ideal burst to get separation down the seam…Has difficulty shaking defenders in man coverage…Ran a 4.68 40 at the Combine with a position-best 27 reps, a 33-inch vertical jump and a 9-7 broad jump. The most prototypical TE of the class – size, skill, durability, experience – but he is the jack of all trades and master of none. He had nominal college production in an offense conducive to getting him more passes and, while he has good potential for teams in need, will likely be on the board into the third round. Fifth-year senior…Two-year starter who caught 72 passes for 1,019 yards and eight touchdowns in that span…Was arrested twice in 2008 for underage drinking, including an embarrassing moment of being arrested for DUI while riding a moped with a blood alcohol level of .19…Already graduated and working on a second degree…Very athletic and looks the part…Has good speed and can shake off defenders hitting his routes…Best route-runner among TE class…Plucks the ball with ease and gets headed upfield quickly…Respected team leader…A solid blocker who knows his role on every play…Undersized and has a skinny frame for an NFL tight end…Has alligator arms too often over the middle…Needs to improve his bulk strength to be an effective in-line blocker at the next level…Doesn't have great body control when asked to track-and-react…Ran a 4.65 40 at the Combine with 25 reps, a 34½-inch vertical jump and a 10-2 broad jump. An undersized tight end who needs to be in a system that doesn't require him to be an every-down blocker. Specialists like that usually fall to Day Three of the draft. Fifth-year senior who was granted a non-medical redshirt in 2009…A one-year starter who caught 39 passes for 629 yards (16.1 yards per catch) and four touchdowns…Married with one child…Ideal size and good arm length…Excellent straight-line speed…Good upper-body strength to beat the jam at the line…A good route-runner who gets in and out of his breaks quickly…Can catch the ball in a crowd…Creates matchup problems with linebackers and safeties…Team leader with high character…Doesn't have great lower-body strength and will struggle in run-blocking assignments…Ends up on the ground too much in his blocking assignments…Drops too many catchable passes…Marginal production considering that the offense was geared to get the ball to TEs…Ran a position-best 4.46 40 at the Combine with 22 reps, a 37-inch vertical jump and a 9-9 broad jump. Has a lot of things going in his favor, especially his speed, but his lack of in-line blocking skills will likely force him to be a situational tight end or H-back hybrid. Fifth-year senior who redshirted at Brigham Young in 2006 and spent 2007 season at Ventura (Calif.) College in 2007 after transferring…Only started one game as a senior, catching 16 passes for 126 yards and one TD…Very athletic and has the type of body capable of adding 15 pounds without sacrificing speed…Extremely good vertical jump to catch passes…Versatile, played both TE and WR at USC…Good route runner…Consistently finds soft spot in defensive zones…Undersized and not overpowering in blocking aspect…A raw receiver who caught just 16 passes in three years with the Trojans…Needs work to refine many of the finer aspects of his game…Extremely limited production or film to gauge his talent…Ran a 4.53 40 at the Combine (second among TEs) with 23 reps, a 37½-inch vertical jump and a 9-11 broad jump. Cameron is a physical talent that could blossom at the next level, but, as a converted wide receiver who has extremely limited production and added 10 pounds in between the East-West Shrine Game and the Combine to make himself more marketable, he is a Day 3 project that may stay on the board longer than where we have him rated. Fourth-year senior who played three seasons before being dismissed from the team in 2010 for lying to coaches about taking gifts from an agent…One-year starter who caught 32 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns in 2009…Extremely good size and creates big matchup problems…Has the strength expected of NFL tight ends…Has good hands and doesn't allow passes to get into his body…Has excellent concentration in traffic and will take the big hit to make a catch…Is a solid blocker in run support…Doesn't have an aggressive streak and will have trouble sustaining blocks…Doesn't have a second gear and slows down into and out of his breaks…Not a sharp route runner and rounds off too many routes…Maturity and commitment are huge questions after getting kicked off the team and coming off as a selfish \"me first\" type of player…Ran a plodding 4.81 40 at the Combine with 19 reps of 225 pounds, a 33½-inch vertical jump and a 9-8 broad jump. To complicate matters, he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot at some point during the Combine workouts. If not for missing all of his senior season after being thrown off the team, he would be rated much higher, but, for a player who had the world in front of him, he blew it and that lack of character and commitment may come back to bite him on draft weekend. Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 81 passes for 1,047 yards and 10 touchdowns in that span…A high school teammate of Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin…Had left shoulder surgery after his redshirt season of 2006…Played for three different position coaches in four years with the team…Has good release from the line and can challenge the seam of the defense…Very good hands and catches almost everything thrown his way, including the difficult catch…Has good track-and-react skills over the top on deep balls…Good route-runner…Hits full speed quickly…Doesn't have elite top-end speed…Needs to add more bulk to be more than a pass-catching tight end only…Doesn't have good lower-body strength and will need to greatly improve to be on the field when asked to in-line block…Has had problems maintaining weight, which will make it difficult to add bulk strength…Did not work out at the Combine. McNeill was a valued third-down receiver, but questions about his ability as a blocker will pigeon-hole him as a poor man's Dallas Clark clone in the middle rounds. Fifth-year senior…Didn't become a starter until his senior season, catching 20 passes for 195 yards and five touchdowns…Lost his mother to leukemia in his senior year of high school…Had right shoulder surgery following the 2008 season…Durable three-year starter…Excellent body size with long arms to help in run blocking…Is a red zone receiving threat who scored seven career touchdowns despite not catching many passes…Solid special teams contributor…Doesn't have good flexibility…Very limited production in the passing game…Will have trouble getting separation from linebackers at the next level…A little slow to react off the snap…Doesn't always play with good technique…Did not work out at the Combine. Arguably the best blocking tight end in this year's draft class, players like that are valued commodities, but don't come off the board until the fourth or fifth round at best. Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 65 passes for 951 yards and nine touchdowns…Has hearing problems and wears a hearing aid…Has natural hands and can make difficult catches look easy…Is at his best stretching the seam in the deep passing game, averaging almost 15 yards per reception…Durability isn't a question…Has good blocking technique and sinks his hips to control DEs…Doesn't have good speed and isn't sure-footed – will stumble and fall too often…Is a very raw route runner and doesn't look natural in many pass situations…Struggles against hard-charging defensive ends…Ran a 4.85 40 at the Combine with a position-best 27 reps of 225 pounds, a 30½-inch vertical jump and a 9-0 broad jump. A solid college TE for a big-time school, but his athletic limitations will prevent him from coming off the board before the draft's final day. Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who caught 72 passes for 939 yards and 11 touchdowns…Named a team captain as a senior, relatively rare for tight ends…Production increased each year…Excellent timed speed and has the ability to make plays deep down the seam…Excellent production and a finisher who scored a lot of touchdowns (more than one for every seven career receptions and one in six the last two years)…Versatile player who can line up as a tight end, H-back or motion fullback…A team leader who has a passion for the game…Raw in terms of his transition to the NFL…Doesn't have bulk or strength to be an effective in-line blocker on a consistent basis…Too often comes to a complete stop to make receptions…Doesn't have field speed to match his timed speed…Doesn't have ideal on-field awareness…A project type receiver who showed he belongs in the NFL at the East-West Shrine Game, but likely will remain on the board into the fourth round or beyond. Fourth-year senior…Three-year starter (started 27 of 37 games final three years) and, in that span, caught 73 passes for 782 yards and three touchdowns…Father Daryle played six years in the NFL…Married with two children…Two-time team captain…Has good hands and plucks the ball away from his body…Has a mean streak and plays with emotion…Has good sustained speed when taking players deep down the seam…Team leader…Doesn't have good burst off the line and takes too long to get up to fill speed…Lazy route runner who rounds off routes too often…Gets knocked down far too much…Inconsistent blocker…Has all the tools to develop into a solid pro and has the bloodlines, but needs to improve in all areas to make an impact. Fifth-year senior…One-year full-time starter who caught 32 passes for 545 yards and one TD in eight games…A team walk-on who earned his stripes…Suffered a lacerated kidney in 2009 and broke his left forearm in 2010…Averaged more than 17 yards per reception for his career…Has the speed and agility to get open downfield and make big plays…Has good body control to adjust to poorly thrown passes…Runs sharp routes…A hard worker who led by example…Doesn't have great strength and is viewed as too small to be an in-line blocking threat…A finesse player who needs to add a mean streak…Didn't face top competition…Used many ways in Idaho's offense, which will intrigue enough teams to take a chance on him in the late rounds. Fifth-year senior…Played basketball for PSU for four years – setting school records for games played and field goal percentage – before moving to the football team, starting one of 11 games, catching 29 passes for 453 yards and two TDs…Prototype size and arm length…Productive player who averaged 16 yards a catch…Great burst off the snap…Has good ball-tracking skills…Didn't play football until last year and is extremely raw…Doesn't have bulk strength or lower-body power to serve as an in-line blocker…Inconsistent hands and route running…After basketball players like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez transformed the TE position, players have tried to make the change ever since. Thomas is the latest in that group. He will get drafted late, but is far from a guarantee despite an impressive upside to his game. Fifth-year senior who was granted a medical redshirt in 2008 with an injured left knee that required surgery…Two-year starter who caught 65 passes for 493 yards and no touchdowns…Has good size and soft hands…An experienced leader who played in 46 games and started 27 of them…Will fight for the ball in traffic and doesn't get alligator arms over the middle…Marginal speed for the next level…Has difficulty maintaining blocks when asked to sustain…Doesn't gain a lot yards after the catch…Is viewed by many as an overachiever who has maxed out his potential…He played fullback, running back and tight end for the Boilermakers, so his initial contribution will be on special teams. In the right system, he could develop into a solid No. 2 tight end, but isn't likely to be a starter because of his physical limitations. Fifth-year senior…Two-year starter who, in four seasons, caught just 20 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown…Has the strength to develop into a devastating blocker…Was asked to be an additional offensive lineman and learned to neutralize DEs on a regular basis…Is a good run and pass blocker…Very limited production – just 20 career catches in four years…Doesn't have burst off the line and slows down into and out of his cuts in the passing game…Will struggle to be a receiving threat at the next level…Will be viewed as a blocking TE only and, while there is value to being a dominant blocker, in the passing era we are currently in, such players lose value. As a result, Barham may end up being an undrafted free agent brought in for goal-line plays and special teams. Fourth-year senior…Started 43 of 52 career games, catching 189 passes for 2,544 yards and 28 TDs…Chose Tulsa over full-ride offers from Arkansas and Miami…Extremely productive – caught 69 passes for 1,024 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman…Has very good body control to adjust to bad passes…A durable, versatile, experienced team leader…A skinny frame for his size and doesn't have great strength…Doesn't gain a lot of yards after the catch and doesn't make defenders miss…Competition was suspect…Not a good blocker…An H-back in the Tulsa offense, he could become a Chris Cooley type of H-back/TE hybrid in the pros, but he looks to be a man without a position since he wasn't used often as a pure blocker and, when he was, he didn't seem focused on it. He may be a late-round pick. 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