For all the talk of where the Minnesota Vikings have added players in free agency, where they have lost them and which positions still need to be addressed, one that has flown somewhat under the radar is tight end.
Rhett Ellison was signed away in free agency and the Vikings could be looking for a new breed, one that has more versatility in the passing game to complement what Kyle Rudolph brings. That is likely why the team pursued free-agent tight end Jared Cook so diligently and why former Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett was among the Vikings’ interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine.
He was one of only six tight ends at the NFL Scouting Combine that was at least 6-foot-5 and one of only four weighing more than 255 pounds.
He is an ideal blend of size and athleticism, which is why he could be so successful lining up at numerous positions in the Clemson offense.
“I feel like it’s definitely beneficial being in Clemson’s offense, going from split all the way out, outside in a two-point stance as a wide receiver, slot receiver, being back and also attached to the line of scrimmage. I feel like it’s definitely helped me tremendously being one of the more complete tight ends and having done it all,” Leggett said.
“I feel like I’m honestly strong in all of it. Going to the next level and going up against guys that are faster, stronger, bigger than me, I’m going to have to get better at every aspect of my game.”
Among the 19 tight ends at the NFL Combine, Leggett ranked in the top six in arm length, hand size and broad jump, but he didn’t run most of the sprints there.
NFLDraftScout.com ranks Leggett seventh among tight ends in this draft class and a third-round value.
As a junior, Leggett hauled in 40 passes for 525 yards and eight touchdowns, then improved to 46 catches for 736 and seven touchdowns as a senior as the Tigers claimed the National Championship. In his first two years, he started an eight combined games and had only 26 combined receptions.
He has admitted in the past to being lazy at times, but he said that is in the past.
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“That was just when I was young. I was a very immature person. I didn’t see the field as much and I kind of wanted to blame others than blame myself. After my sophomore year, I turned it around and got to work and that went away,” he said.
“I was just immature. I put it on myself. Ever since my sophomore year, it’s not stuck with me.”
Blocking is considered a weakness, but he has the versatility to line up in-line, out wide and even in the backfield. As a former wide receiver, he has good speed for a tight end but some analysts see him getting knocked off his routes too easily.
Still, some of his best games came against the stiffest competition. Against Florida State, he hauled in five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in a three-point win. In the National Championship against Alabama, he had seven catches for 95 yards in a four-point win.
“You look back at the season and, just for me, I definitely seemed to show up in the bigger games – Louisville, FSU. It was definitely special,” he said. “I knew I was going to have a lot of opportunities that game, just with the defensive scheme Alabama ran. I just had to make the most out of every opportunity when they did decide to throw me the ball.”