April 5, 2011

Running Backs and Tight End Prospects

Last week we took a look at the Safeties and the PREADTOR! But enough of the defense as we move onto the offensive players that we could be targeting in the draft. This week it is Running Backs and Tight Ends. Also tomorrow is D-day for the lockout as it goes to court, so we may have an injunction and then FA and trades will begin, we can only hope. Been meaning to post my thoughts on the CBA but been too busy and these prospect pieces take time, so I will throw them up here. I thought that the deal the owners proposed at the end of mediation was a good deal, but the Players want more and are pushing for more. The owners did the smart thing and locked them out. If there is no injunction tomorrow I think the owners have won. They can keep the players locked out and as the season rolls around the players will start to crack. We know they will, there are some really competitive players and some really dumb players who will say things that will split the players about. The owners then will divide and conquer the players. The players then will sign any deal put in front of them, which will be worse than the original offer.

If the players win the injunction I think they are then in for the victory, the owners lose all their cards effectively and will probably get screwed in the deal and have to give into the players.

Unfortunately I don’t see any middle ground. One side will get way more than they should. If it is the players I think it could be really bad for the NFL as a league going forward. The owners will be struggling to cover all expenses, we know the Broncos will, or it could be good for the owners as they tighten up their businesses and run them more effectively. Who knows really, there are so many ramifications from this deal. If both groups were smart they would play it safe and find a middle ground.

On to this week’s prospects and first up are the running backs. Oh and this week I came across the profile pages at NFL.com that include a grade that the website has given each player. The rating is out of 10, but the top rating this year for guys like Daerus, Peterson and Green is 8.6. I have included the grade for these players below.

Running Backs

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
Height: 6-0. Weight: 227.
Arm Length: 32 5/8 in
Hand Size: 9 ½ in
Date of birth: March 30, 1990 (age 20)
Combine 40 Time: 4.59 official, 4.56 unofficial
Bench: 21 Vertical: 38. Broad: 10-2.
3-cone: 6.82secs
Projected Round (2011): 1-2.
Grade: 7.3

With some improvements on third down, Leshoure has the size, athleticism and competitiveness to develop into an every-down back. Displays very good burst and quickness for a big back, can get the corner and make defenders miss, but does not have elite speed. Possesses the power to break tackles, push the pile and find the end zone near the goal line, but needs to do a better job of staying low. Has the size and mentality to become an effective pass blocker and the athleticism to turn into a weapon in the passing game but is currently raw in both areas. Leshoure is a second-round prospect.

Leshoure has the size and speed of an NFL load back. Runs hard. Productive around the goal line. Has enough burst to get to the perimeter and has good agility for a big back. Can shake defenders in the box and run through arm tackles. Willing pass protector and flashes receiving potential.

Vision is solid and improving but needs to get better at finding his holes. Will spend too much time dancing in the backfield. Lacks the top-end speed to get the seam and go for six. Needs to improve his route-running and do a better job catching away from body. Pass-blocking technique needs improvement.

Inside running: Powerful back, gets behind his pads when running inside. Runs with lean, and has a small strike zone for which opponents to get a square hit. Good vision to cut away from traffic, very smooth in his cuts. Keeps legs moving after initial contact. Can jump over piles near the line. If the line provides a big hole, he has an elite burst to hit second level at full speed. Excellent ball security, keeps it high and tight. Must avoid stopping to run outside when defenders penetrate, instead taking the couple of yards behind his line. Usually uses his fullback when in the I-formation, but must trust him in short yardage situations. Sells fake handoffs.

Outside running: Thick upper- and lower-body build but he has the vision and quick feet to bounce outside as if he were a smaller back. Exceptional burst makes him capable of turning the corner to break off chunks of yardage. Has patience and vision to take a pitch and find a cutback lane and explode through it. Keeps his pad level low outside, which combined with a low center of gravity and strong legs, make him tough to tackle. Not afraid to push a pile or carry a defender a few yards after initial contact. Does not go out of bounds right away, willing to lower a shoulder to get a couple of extra yards.

Breaking tackles: Very strong runner who is difficult for one defender to bring down. Effective stiff-arm, especially against oncoming defensive backs. Runs over would-be tacklers in the open field due to his strength and forward lean. Can sidestep in the backfield, though he's best as a north-south runner. Lacks great elusiveness in short areas, but can juke a lesser defender in the open if he has some space.

Blocking: Willing blocker who plays with better attitude than technique. Thick and strong, should be effective in blitz pick-up with some coaching, making him a three-down back. Provides a pop when giving linemen help inside.

Receiving: Bigger than a typical college receiving back, but is reliable enough to be lined up outside to create positive matchups. Runs inside and outside routes fairly well, but needs to make hard cuts consistently instead of rounding off. Can make a quick cut to avoid a defender or run over a cornerback. Catches the ball with his body on non-swing passes, but has some ability to adjust to wide passes.

Intangibles: Suspended for September 2009 matchup against Illinois State for violating team rules. Suffered broken jaw in 2008, losing 17 pounds, reportedly during a fight with teammate Jeff Cumberland. Looks to have matured, however, changing eating habits and putting in weight room work to be lighter and stronger for the 2010 season.

My Take:
Is the perfect fit for what Fox wants out of his RBs, has the size and decent speed that Fox uses in his RBs. Is a very solid back, doesn’t amaze and blow people away but he does a lot of things good. I think he is definitely a target in the 2nd.

Shane Vereen, RB, California
Height: 5-10. Weight: 210.
Arm Length: 30 5/8 in.
Hand Size: 9 in.
Combine 40 Time: 4.5 official, 4.47 unofficial
Bench: 31. Vertical: 34. Broad: 10-1.
3-Cone: 6.95 secs.
Projected Round (2011): 2-3.
Date of birth: March 2, 1989 (age 22)
Grade: 5.4

Vereen emerged from Jahvid Best's shadow to have breakout season in 2010 and he could be an effective weapon on third down at the next level. Vereen lacks the size and speed to be an every down back, but he is terrific pass catcher out of the back field that will keep the chains moving. He has very good vision and could be very effective in a zone blocking scheme. He also has the hands and enough lateral agility to contribute as a returner. Vereen has a limited ceiling but he is a quality back that could sneak into the third round.

Vereen is a compact runner with a low center of gravity. Patient back that shows the ability to find holes and cutback lanes. Runs hard and fights for extra yards after contact. Possesses great hands and instincts as a receiver. Can split out wide and shows good effort and technique in pass protection.

Lacks explosiveness and is more of a speed builder. Undersized back that does not run with great balance and will not break many tackles or push the pile. Does not have the foot quickness to make sharp cuts and make people miss in the open field. Has had some issues with ball security.

Positives: Has a short, compact build well suited to the running back position. Possesses very good lateral agility and balance to elude, but is a surprisingly efficient north/south runner who attacks the line of scrimmage. Good burst to and through the hole. Very good vision for cutback lanes as he gets to the second level. Elusive ballcarrier with an explosive burst to accelerate and gain yardage in chunks. More powerful than his frame would indicate. Runs low in short-yardage situations, lunging through the gaps to sneak through for first downs and at the goal-line. Keeps his legs churning, body spinning and shows good leg drive to run through tackles. Bounces off a lot tackles in this manner. Carries the tradition of Cal running backs who are stout pass blockers. Is willing to take on the hard-charging linebacker, showing good technique and power for a back of his size. Soft hands and very good body control as a receiver out of the backfield. Used on a variety of routes in this offense. Experienced and productive kick returner.

Negatives: Has a tendency to allow the ball to get away from his body as he attempts to elude at the second level, leading to fumbles. Doesn't wrap both hands around the ball consistently enough. Operated out of a spread scheme where his burst and speed were emphasized. May lack the bulk and strength to be an every-down back in the NFL.

My Take:
I see Vereen as a 3rd down back, a lot like Bucky was for us this year at the end of the year. Can produce in a limited round, but I don’t see us taking him.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-0. Weight: 213.
Arm Length: 32 in.
Hand Size: 9 ¼ in
Combine 40 Time: 4.41 official, 4.38 unofficial
Bench: 21 Vertical: 34.5. Broad: 10-4.
Projected Round (2011): 3-4.
3-cone: 7.28 secs.
Date of birth: February 12, 1988 (age 23)
Grade: 6.1

Murray is an explosive athlete that has a chance to develop into a featured back in the NFL, but he has a lot of miles on his tires. He runs very well and has an extra gear to take it to the house when he gets a seam. His high cut frame gives him the look of a wide receiver and his precise route running and soft hands make him a weapon on third down. He does not have the power to push the pile, and has missed a lot of time due to injury. Murray will probably be a second day pick.

Murray is tall with a muscular build. Possesses great burst and the top end speed to break the long one. Strong runner that consistently finishes runs and falls forward. Excellent receiver that can get big chunks of yards after the catch. Very capable blocker in pass protection.

Does not have the vision to consistently find open lanes and looks to bounce the ball outside too soon. Runs a bit high and lacks the power to get the difficult yards between the tackles. Lacks the agility to always make the first man miss in the hole. Has struggled to stay on the field.
Has had ankle and hamstring injuries.

Bench presses 265 and squats 465 pounds … Has a vertical jump of 39 inches … Has been clocked at 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash …

My Take:
Murray has come in for a work out and fits the mold that Fox likes. Has a very tall build though, odd frame for a guy his size. Has surprising speed for a guy his size and can run away from people, but I was disappointed in his 3-cone, may suggest he lacks the hips to make effective cuts and moves in space. Has the speed to get away from guys and could be a steal in the 3rd or 4th. Injury history is a bit scary though.

Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia
Height: 5-8. Weight: 179.
Arm Length: 29 ¼ in
Hand Size: 8 5/8 in.
Projected 40 Time: 4.36.
Pro Day 40 Time: 4.26.
Bench: 24. Vertical: 35.5. Broad: N/A
Projected Round (2011): 3-5.
Date of birth: February 16, 1988 (age 23)
Grade: 3.4

Devine can be a human highlight film, but his diminutive stature may limit his ability to make an impact at the next level. Quicker than fast, he is always at full speed and has plenty of wiggle to make defenders miss in the open field. He is also an asset in the passing game with reliable hands and terrific short area quickness. His size will prevent him from being a load back at the next level, however, given the success of smaller backs like the Patriots' Danny Woodhead, he could be an effective change-of-pace back. Overall, Devine will likely be a Day 2 selection unless teams are scared off by his difficult past.

Devine is an electric back capable of going the distance on every carry. Displays very good vision and patience, finds running lanes quickly, and reaches top speed in an instant. Possesses reliable hands and is a nightmare to tackle in the open field due to excellent change of direction skills.

Does not have the size to be an every-down running back in the NFL. Lacks the lower body strength to battle for tough yards up the middle and will not break many tackles at the next level. Stumbles frequently because he runs with an exaggerated forward lean. Has character concerns.

Inside running: Not a power back by any measure, but is difficult to find behind and between 300-pound blockers. Has the vision and acceleration to find a hole inside, cut to it and shoot through to make a big play. Stronger than expected given his height/weight numbers and gets carries between the tackles, around the goal line and in short-yardage because he's not often tackled squarely. Willing to lower his pads to charge forward after contact once past the line but won't push a pile. Bounces outside instead of lowering his pads to get what he can get if the designed route closes, sometimes making a play but often getting caught in the backfield. Will dance or lose his balance trying to weave through traffic inside. Must sell fake handoffs with more commitment to make misdirection and bootlegs more effective.

Outside running: Explosive runner in open space when healthy, with elite quickness and straight-line speed. Turns the corner easily. Very difficult for defenders to read his angle once near the sideline. Often used on east-west runs -- portending success in a cutback or zone system -- uses his low center of gravity to plant and cut quickly and accelerate through a hole. Gets a lot of yardage avoiding defenders coming into the hole with a quick cut, will have less room to run at the next level. Could be more consistent switching the ball to the outside hand. Has improved his ball security (two fumbles, none lost in 2009; 4-2 in 2008), generally getting four points of pressure but gets loose with the handle when trying to get the extra yard or make a cut. Not nearly the same runner when nicked up, becoming very average.

Breaking tackles: Very elusive in the open field with vision and cutting ability. Stronger than his measurables indicate; has a very muscular upper and lower body. NFL-caliber defenders can close and wrap up on him or knock him down or off-balance when in close proximity, however; their problem comes in getting the hand on him. Effective stiff-arm against oncoming defensive backs. Spins off piles inside with good balance to keep moving forward.

Blocking: Diminutive frame makes him a liability in pass protection. Tries to cut block and can stop the progress of some defenders, but NFL linebackers will use their hands to defeat him. Going into the flat as a safety valve is his way of alleviating pass rush on second- or third-and-long. Willing to make blocks downfield for his scrambling quarterbacks, is strong enough to push a cornerback out of the way.

Receiving: Dangerous weapon on screen passes and check-down throws to the flat, using elusiveness, short-area burst and straight-line speed in the open field to make big plays. Reliable hands on shorter passes, but must improve adjusting to high or wide throws. Not a deep threat unless matched up against slow linebacker on wheel route. Needs to prove he has the hands to be a kickoff and punt returner.

Intangibles: Not limited to being a return specialist, Devine has shown the toughness to participate in almost every offensive play from scrimmage. Had a left ankle injury late in 2009 and a toe injury in 2010 (making durability a legitimate question). Difficult childhood; one of nine children, both parents died of AIDS by the time Devine turned 11. Lived with parents of a Pop Warner teammate soon after, but fathered two children and found trouble while in high school. Former NFL star Deion Sanders attempted to adopt Devine but he decided to go back to Florida to be at home. Pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery from March 2008 incident outside Morgantown nightclub; was not suspended by WVU coaches.

My Take:
I like Devine very much, I think he has cleaned up in the last few years but there is that character concern. Played with a toe injury last season, which meant he wasn’t as explosive or effective, but he still produced. Devine I believe is better than McCluster was last year. McCluster was the cleaner prospect but Devine is a powerhouse for a small guy. Did more reps on the bench then pretty much every other RB though giving up 30-40 pounds to them. Barry Sanders is one of his idols and he has a little bit of Barry in him, is elusive and makes people miss. Once on the outside it is see you later. I like Devine later in the draft, if there in the 5th or 6th I say jump all over him, we need to add speed to our team.

Mario Fannin, RB, Auburn
Height: 5-10. Weight: 231.
Arm Length: 30 ¾ in.
Hand Size: 9 ½ in.
Combine 40 Time: 4.38.
Bench: 21. Vertical: 37.5. Broad: 10-1
3-cone: 6.99 secs
Projected Round (2011): 4-6.
Date of Birth: December 4, 1987 (age 23)
Grade: 2.0

Fannin has the tools to become a reserve running back who contributes on third downs. However, he has not shown the endurance, running power, and vision to be a fulltime starter at the next level. Flashes some redeeming rushing qualities; has good bulk, can get to the edge, and runs with intensity, but has some ball security issues, doesn't pick up enough yardage after contact and needs to show better awareness. Provides value in the passing game. Catches balls outside his frame, comfortable tracking the deep ball, can make plays after the catch, and is a willing blocker. Fannin's a Day 3 prospect.

Fannin possess good size and speed. Flashes the ability to get to the perimeter. Breaks arm tackles and runs pretty hard. Versatile player who has lined up in the slot. Experienced in the passing game. Adjusts to poorly thrown passes and tracks the ball well over his shoulder. Good effort in pass pro.

Doesn't have experience carrying the load. Inconsistent vision and patience as a runner. Doesn't always allow his blocks to develop and misses the cut back lane at times. Does not possess homerun speed or top elusiveness in space. Needs to improve pass blocking technique. Has an injury history.

My take:
I added Fannin to the list because his size and speed combination interest me. But this guy is an athlete not a football player, doesn’t play anywhere close to the burst and speed that he should. Would be a project, but I don’t think he is for us.

Tight Ends

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
Height: 6-6. Weight: 259.
Arm Length: 34 in.
Hand Size: 10 ¾ in.
Projected 40 Time: 4.62.
Projected Round (2011): Top 40 Pick.
Date of birth: November 9, 1989 (age 21)
Grade: 7.5

Rudolph missed the final seven games of 2010 after undergoing hamstring surgery, but he has the potential to develop into a weapon in the passing game at the next level. He is fast and has the hip fluidity to separate in and out of his breaks in man coverage. He has tremendous hands and shows a knack for coming down with the ball in traffic. He lacks the strength and bulk to be an effective run blocker, but he works hard to sustain and keeps solid position. Rudolph is a very good receiving tight end and could be a steal in the second round.

Rudolph is tall with a monster frame. Possesses an explosive first step and has the speed to stretch the field. Fluid in transition to separate in man and shows a good feel for finding soft spots in zone coverage. Has excellent hands and the body control to win jump balls. Tough kid that always finishes the play.

Almost always flexed out and needs more experience lined up in-line. Must fill out his frame as he lacks the lower body strength to generate a good push in the running game. Does not have the wiggle to make people miss in the open field after the catch. Missed most of the 2010 season with a hamstring injury.

Release: Gets off the line well for his size, whether lined up with his hand down or standing up. Gets up the seam in a hurry if unchecked at the line. Flexible enough to run around traffic off the line to get into his route, but must prove he can handle physical NFL linebackers.

Hands: Generally reliable move-the-chains receiver who also makes plays down the field. Keeps his hands in front of his body to snatch passes, even when facing the quarterback. Able to reach the ball forward with one hand for scores or first downs. Makes the circus catch in traffic. Adjusts much better to high passes than those thrown low or behind him. Will drop the occasional "head scratcher" when feeling a hit or trying to run before securing the ball.

Route running: Runs like a receiver, stretching the field vertically and pressing safeties and linebackers before stopping on square-ins. Lines up with his hand down, in the slot and in the backfield. Often used on short outs to move the chains. Gets his head around quickly to see the ball. Sells jerk routes with head fake to move safety inside or outside, though his movements are not sudden. Tough matchup down the seam because of his height and ability to grab passes above his head. Runs a lot of rounded and straight-line routes.

After the catch: A bullish runner, he gives good effort to get yards after the catch. Not in the Tony Gonzalez category in terms of athleticism and elusiveness, but flashes the ability to make the first man miss with a stiff arm or quick stop. Churns his legs to keep moving forward after contact; does not break as many tackles as you would expect and his height makes him lose the leverage battle.

Blocking: Has the size to be an effective in-line blocker at the next level. Capable of firing off the ball to seal defensive ends. Widens his base on the edge, uses long arms to hold off college defenders. Needs a lot of technique work as an open-field blocker. Gives some effort when engaged, but does not sustain or win battles as often as he should given his size. Stays too upright when approaching defenders and seems uncertain of his target, misses the inside man too often.

Intangibles: Solid locker room presence; has the work ethic and intelligence to succeed at the next level. Had surgery on a separated left shoulder before the 2010 season, another surgery on a right hamstring avulsion, which means the muscle detaches from the bone.

My Take:
Let me put it to you this way, his leg injury scares me a lot. Otherwise this guy would be a top pick. I think we over look Rudolph and go after one of the later round prospects who are similar.

Jordan Cameron, TE, USC
Height: 6-5. Weight: 254.
Arm Length: 33 ½ in
Hand Size: 9 ¾ in
Combine 40 Time: 4.59 official, 4.55 unofficial
Bench: 23. Vertical: 37.5. Broad: 10-1.
3-cone: 6.82
Projected Round (2011): 2-4.
Date of birth: August 7, 1988 (age 22)
Grade: 5.0

Cameron is a very raw prospect with a lot of upside potential. Will attract teams with his outstanding combination of height, speed and hands but overall awareness, blocking, and tenacity are not adequate. Is a threat to get vertical up the seam and can rise up for the tough catch but needs a lot of development as a route-runner on short-to-intermediate patterns and while locating soft spots in the zones. At this time, profiles strictly as a flex-out tight end or H-back. Does not show the strength or power to provide value as an in-line blocker. Cameron's a boom-or-bust late-round prospect.

Cameron possesses a great developmental frame and excellent speed for a tight end. Can gain separation with his athleticism. Will catch passes when covered using his huge catch radius and leaping ability. Displays soft, confident hands. Plucks and snatches away from his frame. Height, speed and hands make him a big-play threat.

Needs to add bulk but has the frame to do so. Is not an effective in-line blocker. Does not get movement or sustain. Lacks instincts in pass protection. Has a long ways to go as a route-runner. Needs to become sharper in-and-out of breaks and more adept at sitting down against zone coverage.

Positives: Long, lean muscular frame with prototypical upper- and lower-body shape and proportion. A versatile athlete who has played both wide receiver and tight end at USC. Displays quick, light feet and nice agility to shake defenders and create separation coming out of his breaks. Can stretch the field with good straight-line speed and second gear. A former USC basketball player, Cameron possesses great leaping ability, body control and timing to catch the ball at its highest point. Extends his arms to catch balls thrown outside his frame, and is a natural, soft-handed pass catcher. Turns upfield quickly after the catch and shows good acceleration to pull away from defenders. Could add 15-20 pounds of bulk without sacrificing speed or agility. Aggressive, fearless competitor who isn't afraid of contact. Still developing as a tight end after making the switch from receiver just before the 2010 season.

Negatives: Limited time on the field and late position switch has made it difficult to gauge development. Didn't catch a single pass until his senior season. May need to add some bulk in order to be an effective run blocker and get a consistent release against NFL linemen and linebackers. Inconsistent route-runner who tends to round off his patterns. Iffy run blocker who comes off the line too upright and struggles to seal off his edge.

My Take:
Outside of Rudolph most of these guys are project tight ends, all have an aspect to their game that really needs to improve. For Cameron it is his experience, hasn’t played the position long and will need to learn to block, but I like his size and speed, would be an interesting prospect we could look at.

Julius Thomas, TE, Portland State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 248.
Arm Length: 33 in
Hand Size: 10 ¼ in
Combine 40 Time: 4.68 official, 4.63 unofficial
Bench: 16. Vertical: 35.5. Broad: 10-1
3-cone: 6.96 secs
Projected Round (2011): 4-6.
Grade: 3.8

Thomas is a raw prospect who was a basketball player until his senior season of college. Could develop into a reserve pass-catching tight end or H-Back. Is not a refined route-runner but has the physical tools to improve. Does a good job in his stem, can separate from man coverage, and get vertical up the seam, but rounds off routes and lacks the experience to get open against zone. Flashes the natural hands needed to extend but will drop the easy reception. Must improve as a blocker. Lacks power in the running game and polish in pass protection. Late-round prospect.

Thomas possesses excellent size coupled with enough speed for the NFL. Displays some savvy and athleticism setting up defenders in his stem. Tough matchup for linebackers in man coverage. Has very good ball skills. Plucks and snatches away from frame and adjusts to poorly thrown ball. Can get up the seam for big plays.

Very limited football experience. Blocking is not adequate. Lacks the lower body power to get movement. Lacks the upper body power needed to sustain blocks. Very raw in pass protection. Displays hip stiffness cutting out of his stem. Still developing his awareness against zone coverage. Drops the occasional pass.

My Take:
Thomas is a guy we are looking at. Limited experience but I have seen him make some really good and effective blocks in his games. Shows willingness to that side of the TE position, to get dirty and block people. Doesn’t catch many balls, but I think he will be effective enough at that because of his basketball background. I like Thomas late in the draft.

Rob Housler, TE, Florida Atlantic
Height: 6-5. Weight: 248.
Arm Length: 34 ½ in
Hand Size: 9 ¾ in
Combine 40 Time: 4.55 official, 4.51 unofficial, has run as quick as a 4.46
Bench: 22. Vertical: 37. Broad: 10-1
3-cone: 6.9 secs
Projected Round (2011): 4-6.
Grade: 4.7

Housler is a weapon in the passing game, but he needs to add bulk and improve as a blocker to be an every down tight end. He is quick off the ball and does not lose speed in transition which allows him to get open against man coverage. He also has a large catching radius and uses his body to box out defenders and make grabs even when he is covered. He does not have the power to generate a push in the running game and is not exactly the most willing blocker. Housler is a skilled pass-catcher and could be a third-day pick.

Housler is long with good top end speed. Explodes off the ball and can stretch the field down the seam. Fluid athlete that can separate against linebackers in man coverage. Possesses reliable hands and the body control to make difficult catches in traffic. Fearless going across the middle.
Needs to add bulk to play in-line at the next level. Does not have the lower body strength or mentality to be an effective run blocker. Not the smoothest route runner and he will not always find holes in zone coverage. Lacks the lateral agility to make defenders miss in the open field after the catch.

Positives: Prototypical height and speed for the position. Has better upper-body strength than his frame would suggest and does a nice job of gaining a quick release from the line of scrimmage. Has the speed to challenge the seam and shows crisp footwork and good balance as a route-runner. Understands where the holes are against zone coverage and presents a good target to the quarterback. Reliable hands. Can extend and pluck the ball out of the air. Shows some elusiveness after the catch. Lacks the bulk and strength teams are looking for as an in-line blocker, but gives good effort and is surprisingly well-schooled with his technique. Rare maturity. Sat out the 2009 season at the team's request due to a logjam at tight end. Dedicated himself to the practice squad (served as the scout team spread quarterback) and weight-room and was the team's starter throughout 2010.

Negatives: Simply lacks the bulk to compete as an every-down in-line tight end. Gives good effort, but can be knocked backward by bigger, stronger defenders as a run blocker. Can get hung up at the line of scrimmage against a physical jam. Operated in a scheme designed to feature the tight end and thus, his numbers are a bit inflated. Questionable level of competition.

My Take:
Reminds me of the TEs that play for the Patriots, even Tony Scheffler. Comes off the line real well and gets on top of the safeties fast. But is only a pass catching TE at this point in his career. Terrible on the blocking side of things, gets pushed over and struggles to seal the edge. Would need to improve this greatly to be effective in Fox’s system, may need to add a bit of bulk. But as a receiving TE he is one of if not the best in this draft.

That is it for this week, next week will be Offensive Tackles, then my mock will go up, then the draft competition is back! ~ Aussie.


  1. Also heard a rumor Tebow will be traded to the Pats, I bloody well hope not.

  2. DON'T SAY THAT!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Quit putting those rumors on here especially about Tebow. I don't even want that thought in my mind. Pats would screw him up... plus they don't need him they already have their "Mr. Perfect" in Brady. According to them, he'll last forever. lol

    As for what you said about the CBA, you nailed it. I will be shocked if both sides compromise and reach a middle ground. The players and their damn union are too stubborn. All they want is money, money, money. Its sick really. Don't get me started, I'll never shut up about this. lol But like you said, if the players "win", it will be real bad for the future of the NFL. This is just ridiculous we're even having to talk about this.

  3. Yeah I think EFX would be stupid to trade Tebow, and I don't think it will happen, I hope it doesn't.

    As for the CBA it can only really get worse from here I think. Will be interesting to see what goes down tomorrow.

  4. Hey
    Tebow's not going anywhere. Don't worry. It's just the offseason rumor mill. It seems like Bronco fans always bring the rumors on themselves because they bite. Hook, line and sinker. Why is he not going anywhere? How do I know? Same thing Ash was just talking about. Money. He's worth to much the franchise. To me that should say right there, he is the franchise. Truth is though I really think Elway is telling us the truth that TT is not ready. I'm thinking lately maybe we should keep Orton to start the first 4 games and then go to TT. I wish to heck I was more confident in what we have with B.Quinn.

    New (pretty much the same again) coming out soon.

  5. Sorry G. Kind of blew off the good job you did on RBs and TEs. Never checked out Fannin, so thanks. I like Cameron or Thomas as a TE prospect. I really hope we address both these needs in FA though, if we ever have it.

  6. I just don't like seeing or hearing those kinds of rumors, don't want that thought in my head at all. I don't they are that stupid to get rid of Tebow. While he may not be 100% ready, which is true, he IS the future of this franchise. Would be the worst move in the NFL, period. I think its very plausible to have Orton & Tebow compete for the starting job cuz I have no doubt that Tebow will rise to the occasion. All the doubt that's been cast on him only makes him work harder. He WILL be ready when the time comes, mark my words.

    This CBA thing is just too out of control for me. Just come to a compromise and play some damn football already! Bunch of babies.

  7. Haha thanks Digger, I have enjoyed going over the prospects and finding knew things out about them and guys I never heard of. I will check out the mock.

    And yes agree, Tebow not going anyway, I don't think EFX would be so stupid to do something like that. And I think Orton vs Tebow in training camp is the best.

  8. My boy JJ Watt:


  9. Looks like the NFL & players are in mediation talks but over the phone... can't even agree on where to talk in person. Could they be anymore childish? I'm just glad they are talking at all but this is only getting more pathetic by the minute. Like I said earlier, out of control!

    Boy I hate off-season, nothing to talk about regarding football. So quiet. Some of the so-called "experts" on nfl.com have us taking Marcell Dareus with our #2 pick, one of them though has us taking Bowers. Any thoughts on that? I don't remember you (Aussie) or Digger say much about Dareus. He sounds like a good pick... gonna have to keep me up to speed about all the prospects. lol

  10. They do question his stamina & endurance though. Every player has his drawbacks though.

  11. Oh and just went on to DB to check things out (first time I've been on there in months, so uncharacteristic of me, lol) and saw our home & away opponents IF we have a season. ahaha, looks like we get to host Butler & the Bears. That will be interesting and dramatic. He's gonna get boo'd big time!

    Obviously I'm bored and deprived of no football and its getting to me. lol I'll shut up now.

  12. Why BP. You could stay and talk to yourself some more. LOL. Hard to have your free time coincide with someone elses to actuall talk on the blogs like we used to. The bigger blogs you can, but then it usually ends up in an argument with someone. I prefer to stay on ones where I know people will remain civil.
    You are right on about Dareus. He would be a great pick. He was in a 3-4 NT at Alabama, but should be a good run stuffing DT in a 4-3 too. Big boy. I could be happy with any defensive pick at #2, but prefer Fairley or Dareus.

  13. LOL, yeah I could have. Maybe next time I will. No one ever comes on here anymore so yeah its real hard to make a simple conversation on here coincide with someone else. You know I'm civil the majority of the time but I also don't shy away from an argument. I'll encourage confrontation half the time. ha

    From what I read, Dareus does sound like a great defensive pick. But like you said, at this point I'd be happy with almost any D pick we make. Going offense shouldn't be an option at all in the first 2 for sure.

  14. Agree with Digger, Dareus is solid, Fairley has more upside. Bowers I think is a no for us.

    And Princess I understand your frustrations on the CBA who doesn't.

    And at this time of year there isn't many on the blogs, maybe some more closer to the draft but there is always some in the background. Is a bit busier during the season though.

  15. I KNOW ROTOWORLD HASN'T CHANGED RECENTLY(SORRY CAP LOCK), but I find the BayBay thing funny everytime I read it. The DP confirmed DT will be out till mid-season. What, when the FO said it we shouldn't have believed it? Now that the DP has confirmed it, now we can believe the validity?

  16. I am super curious to see if the management team is just trying to keep everyone guessing, but I really hope we don't draft another QB. we can wait a few years surely and beef up our D. I would like Dareus or Peterson. I guess Failrley would be my fourth choice. Third would be trade down a few spots and pick Von Miller. Thats just me.

  17. Jazzy! Haha I knew you were around there somewhere. Agree I doubt we need another QB, I don't see the upgrade or the advantage of getting another one. Yes lots of picks on D are needed. And you are on the same wave length as everyone else. Those four Dareus, Peterson, Fairley and Von Miller are the ones I think we pick. Or we move down. How about a surprise pick, an OT Smith? Or WR Green?

    Digger I think that was funny, FO said it but DP has to confirm it? haha. I also was surprised, with that sort of injury I didn't think Thomas would be back at all this year. Mid way through this season would be great.

  18. Found this:

    However, interior pass rushers have become more important. If a defensive tackle can penetrate, either through power or quickness, he can force a quarterback to adjust even on a well executed short drop that’s intended to yield a quick pass. “Because the ball comes out so quickly so you have to be able to push into the quarterback, take away his ability to step up and force him to stay deeper in the pocket,” said one head coach who is considering taking a defensive tackle very high in the draft. “So an explosive pass rusher, whether it’s a three technique or nose, who can give you inside push has become more important.”

    Could that be Fox?

  19. Yes sir-eeey,
    I am always around. I read all your articles and everyones posts, I can do that from my ipod or phone while holding a baby, I just don't post that often. Good stuff you found there. I really hope that was fox. And I hope tebow shuts everyone up with his game. The man can play! They better be for sure about someone if they do a surprise pick, cause elway said himself, we can't afford to gamble and miss.

  20. I know Jazzy, I think you told me that before that you are always here but always glad to have you about, how is the little man by the way?

    I have a feeling it was either him or Rivera that said it.

    And I agree, I can see Tebow blowing everyone away with his play, if there is a training camp he will be able to demonstrate his talents.

  21. The little man is a beast, primed for football. He is 10 weeks old and he is already 15 pounds. Docters say he would be in the top 95% in size for babies his age. Man, I can't wait for the draft. Gets me all excited for football season. knock on wood.

  22. Wow, sounds like he could play on the line instead of at quarter back haha.

    And yeah the draft and usually the offseason gets me all primed and pumped for the coming year. Though at the moment it doesn't look promising. Hopefully with Judge Nelson's guidence they will be able to come to a deal sooner rather than later.

  23. Some interesting info to check out:




  24. This also useful: