NFL Draft

Top 10 tight-ends in the 2018 NFL Draft:

We have come to the final three positional rankings, leading up to the draft. This week I’m going to talk about the tight-ends and safeties, before finishing up with the quarterbacks. Let’s start with the big pass-catchers.

Talking about this position group is always interesting, because there are so many different types of players. You have the true Y-tight-ends, who play in-line and are big parts of a team’s rushing attack, or what basically are big slot receivers nowadays, who don’t want to block at all, plus everything in-between.

There are six tight-ends, who I believe are worthy of a selection through the first two days of the draft and one, who I have a late first-round grade on.


Hayden Hurst 2

1. Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

This young man was drafted into the MLB in 2012. Following two years of pitching in the Gulf Coast League, Hurst walked on at South Carolina to get back into football. After a freshman season with low impact, Hurst jumped onto the scene with 50 touches for 625 yards as a sophomore and put up similar stats in 2017, while being named first-team All-SEC. Now he is looking to be the first tight-end off the board and possibly hearing his name called on Thursday night of the draft.

Hurst is much bigger than he looks like at first sight, when you watch him on TV, as he has more of the body physique of a defensive end. He wins as a run-blocker with great effort and hand-placement. The Gamecock tight-end comes out of the H-back spot to be a lead blocker, loop around and kick out the D-end or just blocks down at the point of attack. When he arrives at contact, he comes in with some thump. As an indication of his versatility – he returned punts in 2016 at 250(!) pounds. That’s unheard of. He also ran a bunch of shovel passes and TE reverses, as well as pure hand-offs on zone-runs. The South Carolina coaches demanded a lot from the versatile offensive weapon. I mean he was even tasked to protect against some of the top edge rushers, like Michigan’s Rashan Gary, occasionally.

The 6’4’’ pass-catcher works with good leverage on inside-breaking routes. His toughness and soft hands stand out on tape. He can make difficult catches in traffic and uses his big frame very well to shield the ball from defenders. Hurst also has strong hands to hold onto catches through contact and lays out for some balls, that are thrown behind him or low to the ground. While he ran a bunch of flat-, drag- and dig-routes, you see Hurst stretch the field vertically on occasions and do so with great success. He uses his hands very well to avoid contact with defenders and has wide receiver-like RACability with a more physical style of running. I also really like the Gamecock tight-end on pivot routes, where he gets low into his break and quickly changes directions.

The junior caught 92 passes over his last two seasons, but only for three touchdowns, which leads me to question his ability to be an asset in goal-line situations. Hurst just disappears in some games, with one catch for -2 yards in the season-opener versus N.C. State and zero grabs against Vanderbilt. He still has to learn the nuances of the position, like working head- and foot-fakes to keep safeties off balance. As a blocker, he needs to work on continuing to use his footwork to create better positioning. Depending on how much that concerns GMs, the SC tight-end will be 25 once the season rolls around.

Hurst looked like the most natural tight-end in terms of running routes and catching the ball, when I watched all the guys at the position go through on-field drills at the combine. Similar to what he did in college, he will be lined up all over the formation and just be asked to make plays. With only one drop compared to 100 career catches, he should become a reliable target early on for his team’s quarterback and develop into a Pro Bowl-calibre player.

 

Dallas Goedert 2

2. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

You won’t find anybody at the position coming into the draft with more production. Goedert amassed just under 3000 receiving yards at the FCS level in his collegiate career, with 2400 of them coming over his last two years, which included 18 touchdowns. He offers a great body-type and unbelievable hands at the tight-end position.

Goedert has the speed to terrorize linebackers and safeties running down the seams with him, creates instant acceleration out of his breaks and therefore separation to his defender. He sits down in-between zones over the middle and his ability to track the ball over his shoulder or leap for high balls is outstanding for a big body like him. His quarterback wasn’t hesitant to put the ball over his pads on throws over the middle, because that guy knew Goedert would go up and grab it, as well as having the frame to not allow defenders to go around him. He made a crazy one-handed snag versus Villanova two years ago, which I’m still stunned by. At 6’5’’, 255 pounds, he will definitely be a weapon in red-zone situations.

Outside of his huge frame and natural pass-catching skills, I really like the fact Goedert secures the ball right after the catch before rumbling downfield. The Jackrabbit tight-end was motioned in and out of the backfield, caught shovel passes and was used in the screen game. In a tied game versus Illinois State, his coaches even trusted him to attempt a pass in his own end-zone off a lateral pass. Instead of making a dumb decision, Goedert tucked it down and fought his way down to the 11-yard line from being two yards deep into the end-zone. The young tight-end puts in the effort as a blocker and will only get better in that department with better technique, in terms of using a wider base, bending his knees and keeping his hands inside the frame of the defender. Goedert has a ton of natural power to become an excellent run-blocker.

However, at this point, his hands are all over the place as a blocker. He rounds off some of his routes and gives defenders a chance to undercut throws that way. Goedert also needs to learn how to use leverage in his breaks and different gears as a route-runner. Right now, he uses a mis-step getting into his routes, which costs him some time, and takes his eyes down, which costs him vision on the field. In addition to that, he had some concentration drops and carries the ball too loosely, which enables defenders to knock it away from behind.

I would have really liked to seen more of Goedert down in Mobile, but he was limited to interviews with teams, after limping away from the first practice with a hamstring injury. He will certainly still have to prove he can get the job done against a higher level of competition and he needs to work on the details of becoming a better route-runner and run-blocker. I thought he looked a little slower and less dynamic last season compared to 2016, but he has all the measurements and athletic tools to become a weapon in the NFL.

 

Mike Gesicki

3. Mike Gesicki, Penn State

Gesicki is an incredible athlete at the tight-end position. He is a former star volleyball player and his high school’s all-time leading scorer in basketball, where he showed off some serious hops. Gesicki is a fast and tall target, who recorded 105 catches for 1242 yards and 14 touchdowns in last two seasons at Penn State.

This guy has some moves now. He works head-fakes and creates separation early as well as late in the route. Gesicki generates instant acceleration out of his stance and is a long strider. He kind of reminds me a of Tyler Eifert. The former Nittany Lion offers an enormous catch-radius with his 6’6’’ frame and leaping ability. I don’t think there’s anybody in this draft class, who can go up and pick balls off the heads of defenders or hurdle them downfield quite like Gesicki. He also catches the ball through contact and made some tremendous grabs while taking hits in last year’s Ohio State game. Moreover, he makes seamless adjustments to poor ball-placement, with excellent flexibility in his upper body.

The former three-sport standout does a good job slipping under charging defensive ends on flair-out routes coming across the offensive line. On deep-out and corner routes, he creates major separation out of his breaks and wins almost every single time. Gesicki reduces his shoulder to avoid linebackers, who are looking to contact him, and doesn’t let that hold him up at running free. The PSU tight-end was tasked with skip-pulls as an H-back and put hands on defensive tackles. He didn’t really move them, but he wasn’t scared of doing those jobs.

Unfortunately, Gesicki presents a rather slim and lanky body-build for the tight-end position. He definitely needs some work on his blocking at the point of attack and barely does anything after initiating contact. He fails to roll his hips into the block and struggles to get his hands inside the frame of defenders. Gesicki won’t be able to avoid contact quite like he did in college and will have to learn to counter a physical brand of play. Moreover, he is a little late getting his head around to find the ball, instead of just snapping it out of his cut, and with his frame, some defenders can wrap around him, to knock passes down. The high leaper was pretty much shut down in the Iowa game and doesn’t quite play as fast as he times.

This guy has been rising in the pre-draft process similar to Evan Engram a year ago. At the Senior Bowl, Gesicki posterized some defensive backs or just basically could stop the rep when the ball came out, because he already enough separation that he didn’t even have to worry about a defender contesting the catch. He just looked a step ahead of the competition all week long down in Mobile. After that, he crushed the combine with a 4.55 in the 40 and a 41 ½ inch vertical. Gesicki will never be a true Y in the NFL, but if you detach him from the line and find mismatches, he could be an offensive weapon at the next level.

 

Mark Andrews

4. Mark Andrews, Oklahoma

This guy was labelled as ‘College Football’s Gronk’ by some people and for good reason. At 6’5’’, 255 pounds, Andrews was the biggest mismatch in the Big XII, which stresses speed to cover against 11 personnel and plays a ton of quarters coverage. He already received first-team all-conference honors as a sophomore, but doubled his receiving yards and reception numbers in 2017 and won the John Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight-end, as well as being named first-team All-American.

Andrews is a big red-zone target with nice speed and wiggle for a guy his size. He can line up in-tight and out wide. He certainly has the ability to stretch the seams, but he can also sit down against zone or work towards the sideline on out-routes. I like how Andrews plays the ball at the highest point. While he only caught 50 balls over his first two seasons at OU, 14 of those went for touchdowns and he averaged over 16 yards per reception. Last year he surpassed those totals with 62 catches for 958 yards and eight TDs. Despite seeing a much higher target-share, Andrews still averaged 15.5 yards per grab.

I thought Andrews really showed improvement in his route-running in 2017 and was more involved between the goal-lines after primarily being an option in scoring-range. The big Sooner pass-catcher was a complete mismatch in a pass-happy Big 12, in which coaches look to put speed on the field to keep up with those explosive offenses. Andrews owns the middle of the field and doesn’t give defenders a chance to make a play on the ball. The Sooners’ big receiver makes a bunch of would-be-tacklers miss and if they do have an angle on him, he often just pushes or shrugs them off. He also does a good job of putting hands on people in the screen game.

Nevertheless, I would have liked to see him release against press and if he can dominate in a similar way at the pro level, when those athletes get in his face. The few times I saw defenders put hands on him, he didn’t look quite like the same player. Andrew is way too tall getting into his blocks and doesn’t look to move people in the ground-game. He has a blocker’s body, but he just lacks aggressiveness and effort when asked to do so, deferring to simply getting his big frame in front of them. In addition to that, he is a little slow getting upfield after catching the ball on out-breaking routes or those, where he comes back to the quarterback. He also takes some time to decelerate and wins more with pure size and power rather than route-running and quicks.

Even though he plays fast, Andrews 4.67 at the combine was a little discouraging to me. He has been basically uncoverable at the college level for large stretches and I saw Kansas State basically put two defenders in front of him, asking him to just run through them. Unfortunately, due to his unwillingness to get involved as a blocker, his role will be limited to being a big slot receiver and goal-line option.

 

Troy Fumagalli

5. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin

Fumagalli is a former walk-on at Madison and he still plays with that chip on his shoulder. He lost his left index finger as a child due to a birth defect, but didn’t let that crush his dreams of playing professional football some day. He recorded 93 catches for 1127 yards and six touchdowns over his last two seasons and is now looking to be one of the first tight-ends off the board.

While he’s not a super-flashy athlete, Fumagalli uses his body well to box out and very reliable catcher of the ball with huge hands, to snag the ball out of the air. He was the best and most consistent piece of the Wisconsin passing offense over the last two years, coming up with huge catches on third down and overall in crucial moments. Fumagalli was part of a run-heavy attack, that counted on their tight-end as the primary target on passing downs. The 250-pounder will never create huge separation, but he gets enough of a step on defenders and if quarterbacks just throw it to a spot or give him a chance to use his big frame, he will come down with the ball. That was the case especially when the Badgers needed him most in big moments of big games.

The 6’6’’ body is not really an in-line tight-end, but he can work some wham-blocks, despite playing detached for most of his snaps. I thought Fumagalli became a more technically sound blocker in 2017, with a better understanding for angles, and he looked faster as well. He can wrap around the O-line and kick out edge defender or seal the edge on outside runs. The big target gets in and out of breaks much better than his size would indicate. He also does a great job of initiating contact with a defender and then using the chicken-wing to create a throwing window. Fumagalli adjust his routes according to the coverage and the leverage of linebackers. Once he secures the catch, he becomes a physical runner. At the Senior Bowl, I thought Fumagalli showed natural, strong hands all week long and he didn’t look slow at any point of practice.

However, he is a rather average athlete, who doesn’t beat defenders with quickness or pure speed. Fumagalli doesn’t get a lot of stride with his steps and is a little tight in terms of changing directions. In addition to that, he ducks his head into blocks and comes in with a lot of forward lean, which can be taken advantage of by defenders. I think he could use some work in the weight-room to become more powerful in that department.

Even with the fact he won’t create huge separation at the next level either, Fumagalli is so used to catching the ball with defenders right on his back, he could still be a valuable pass-catcher and possibly blocker down the road. The big guy doesn’t mind going over the middle and catching balls around people, looking to take his head off. He’s not the type of vertical threat down the seams Gesicki or Andrews are, who I just mentioned, but he is a reliable target and you know what you’re getting from him.

 

Ian Thomas 2

6. Ian Thomas, Indiana

This young man had a very unique journey to the NFL draft. By the time Thomas turned ten years old, both his parents had passed away. Leaving high school as a three-sport athlete, his grades didn’t make Thomas eligible for college, so he had to prove himself at community college. Of the few D1 scholarship offers he received after his sophomore campaign, he chose Indiana. Therefore, Thomas only has two years of college football experience, but he made use of his targets as a sophomore, catching 25 passes for 376 yards and five scores.

Thomas presents a pretty stocky body-type despite being 6’5’’. He possesses 34-inch long arms and enormous 11 ½-inch hands. The two things that stand out to me about him are his size and aggressiveness. I remember him driving Virginia safety Quin Blanding a couple of yards back with a stiff-arm right up his facemask. He is still learning, but he has already shown flashes of being a valuable blocker in-line and out of the slot. However, what intrigues scouts are his athleticism and ball-skills. Thomas made three catches against Penn State on balls thrown behind him in the first quarter alone, with one of them, where he had to snag it with one hand, while spinning around to get upfield.

Overall, he tracks the ball extremely well downfield and has the speed to run away from DBs. If you need any indication of the fact Thomas can stretch the field vertically – he scored on a 71-yard touchdown versus Georgia Southern, where he ran past one safety squatting underneath, and dragged the other one 15 yards into the end-zone. He turned around some defenders, who covered him on double-moves, like flat-to-wheel routes. Thomas also knows how to adjust his routes and bend them to get around safeties. He displays good flexibility for his size and can reach down for low balls. He runs away from people on some flat-routes, motioning across the formation or out of the wing-spot.

Thomas is still extremely raw at this point. He gets a little wild with him hands as a blocker and lacks the reps to run routes without having to think about every step he takes. He also rounds off his routes way too much, especially when running posts. The Indiana pass-catcher was only asked to run a very limited route-tree for the Hoosiers and he will need to take on a larger role in the pros. I also thought he looked uninspired on some routes, where he didn’t expect the ball going his way, and when he thinks he can’t win anymore.

At 260 pounds, Thomas ran a 4.74 at the combine and caught the ball extremely well with his finger-tips. He should only get better going forward. According to the people down in Bloomington, he always was a humble and focused kid, who really started translating what the coaches taught him onto the football field last year. I believe his work ethic and passion for the game will lead to production at the NFL level in a couple of years down the road.

 

Dalton Schultz

7. Dalton Schultz, Stanford

This guy is looking to fall in line with a bunch of tight-ends coming out of Stanford in recent years. Despite totalling just 55 catches for 555 yards and five touchdowns, Schultz was an honorable mention for the All-Pac-12 team in 2016 and made first-team all-conference last year in the Cardinal’s run-heavy offense. Now he is looking to take his blocking talents and pass-catching potential to the next level.

Schultz works the middle of the field very well on curl routes or other stuff coming back towards the QB, where he uses his body to push off and create separation, opening up throwing windows for his passer. He instantly makes himself a target on flat- or crossing routes and isn’t afraid of running into defenders on his way. Schultz has excellent hands, which he showed off when bailing out Stanford’s number three QB on a horrible throw into the end-zone versus UCLA, where he had to completely reach behind himself and put a hand between the ground and the ball. The Stanford tight-end ran a few shovel options, doesn’t mind catching the ball through traffic and he really fights for extra yardage.

The 6’6’’ junior as a great understanding of angles and how to shield defenders from getting to the ball-carrier as a blocker, which was crucial as a piece to Stanford ground attack. I think he is a tremendous overall blocker, who can ride his man down, pull around to kick out the edge defender, get his hands on linebackers on the second level and also stay in tight on passing downs, to help out the protection. His hand placement to start a block and ability to sustain it is as good as anybody’s in the draft at the position. Moreover, Schultz has some nasty demeanor in himself to finish plays, whether he has the football in his hands or he pushes a teammate from behind.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t really know how to deal with contact in his routes and the struggles in general with creating separation against man-coverage. Schultz doesn’t excite you a lot as a route-runner and doesn’t show a feel for the nuances of getting defenders leaning or using head-fakes and different speeds. The former member of the Cardinal won’t scare safeties over the top and the defenders, who cover him, can pretty much sit on short and intermediate routes. The one thing he has problems with as a blocker is the fact he ducks his head and overextends at times.

While his receiving numbers won’t help anybody pound the table for Schultz, it is his blocking prowess that will make coaches want to add the Stanford tight-end to their roster. I think he could still add some mass and be a true Y-tight end, who helps a team’s ground attack in the NFL. He won’t be a major vertical threat from that spot, but he will be a dependable target in-between the numbers and in underneath areas.

 

Adam Breneman

8. Adam Breneman, UMass

This young man is a former five-star recruit for Penn State. After a little more than a year, Breneman retired due to knee problems. With a finance degree and a political campaign running, it took another year for him to eventually be cleared by doctors to play. When he arrived at UMass in 2016, he made his mark felt immediately, leading all tight-ends in the nation with 70 catches for 808 yards and then put up similar numbers as a senior, which earned him second-team All-American honors.

Breneman bursts off the line and is at full speed almost instantly. He is dynamic getting in and out of his breaks, while snapping his head around simultaneously. I truly believe he is as natural a pass catcher as there is in the draft. Breneman has softer hands than about 90 percent of the wide receivers in this draft. He reaches behind himself or over his head with such ease to make catches. The measurements say he is 6’4’’, but he plays like he’s 6’8’’, as he can go up and make some incredible grabs off the ground.

The 250-pounder can get in front of defensive backs downfield and shield them from the play. He was even involved as a blocker on rollout protections at times. When UMass played South Carolina in 2016, Breneman was clouded by defenders and still came up with 9 catches for 94 yards and two TDs. In his lone season with the Nittany Lions, he scored on a 68-yard touchdown versus Wisconsin. According to PFF, Breneman didn’t drop a single of his 64 catchable targets last year.

Breneman got rocked by some outside linebackers in the run game and doesn’t get into anybody’s grill as a blocker. He is just not very aggressive or determined in that area and doesn’t hold onto blocks. While he probably will never be an asset in the run-game, the main concern with Breneman are his chronic knee issues, I don’t have any medical report on him, but I think this could not only decide his draft position, but more importantly the chances of him having a career in the NFL.

While I think he will be limited to one dimension on offense, it is his injury history that have me unsure where a team will pull the trigger. There are a couple of pure pass-catching tight-ends in this draft class, who will still hear their names called early on. If Breneman can stay healthy going forward, he can be as good or even better than any of them.

 

Durham Smythe

9. Durham Smythe, Notre Dame

Smythe wasn’t on anybody’s radar a couple of year ago, but he worked hard on himself to become an NFL prospect. He recorded only 28 catches for less than 400 yards in his career with the Irish. However, more than half of those numbers came last year, despite being part of the run-heaviest offense in the country outside of the triple-option teams, Khalil Tate’s Arizona Wildcats and Lane Kiffin’s FAU Owls, who just stomped the Conference USA competition.

He presents an excellent frame at 6’5’’, 257 pounds. Smythe ran an enormous amount of quick out-routes and he still averaged 16.3 yards per catch last season. He is not afraid of going over the middle and taking shots by safeties or linebackers. The Notre Dame tight-end can catch the ball mid-air and through contact, plus lays out to attempt some tough catches downfield or low to the ground. Smythe keeps both hands wrapped around the ball as a runner and is looking to go through defenders.

Smythe definitely puts in the work as an in-line blocker. He can block down, reach edge defenders, pull around and kick out guys and protect the passer. He can also put hands on targets in space, coming out of the slot. No matter which of those tasks you ask him to do, he is technically sound in terms of taking the proper angles, keeping a wide base, staying inside the chest of the defender with his hands and keeping those legs moving. Plus, when he doesn’t have anybody right in front of him, Smythe will find somebody he can get a shot at and he is looking to finish blocks.

However, as a contributor to the passing game, he needs some time to build up speed. Smythe is a little late to get his head around and shows some wasted movement as a route-runner. There a few blocks he whiffs on, where he takes his head down and the defender just makes him miss. Overall, Smythe just isn’t one of those “wow” athletes and lacks any type of quick-twitch, which allows defenders to undercut his routes.

You know what you’re getting if you draft this young man. He is definitely one of the most complete blockers at the tight-end position coming into the draft. I’m not sure how much of a vertical role he will have at the next level, but he is dependable as an underneath target in the passing game and won’t let you down even if you lead him into a linebacker. What he does without the football will get him on the field early and should keep him a role for years to come.

 

Chris Herndon

10. Christopher Herndon, Miami

Herndon presents a strong build at 6’4’’, 250 pounds. His numbers increased all three years down in Miami and with David Njoku gone to the NFL, Herndon came close to 500 yards on the 2017 season, despite missing their final three games. Herndon probably was the Canes’ most consistent producer on offense and now decided to take his talents to the next level.

The next Miami tight-end prospect in line, Herndon is a long strider, who picks up yardage quicker than you’d anticipate. He displays good quickness into his routes and working his cuts. He is a threat down the seams, yet he ran multitude of flat-routes earl on and often was more of a check-down option, but when he got the ball, he turned upfield and made things happen after the catch. Herndon packs a mean stiff arm and won’t go down without a fight, even if a defender is hanging on his back. So when the dynamic pass-catcher started to show what he can do with the ball in his hands, the Miami coaching staff started utilizing him more in the fashion they did with the freaky Njoku. He ran slant routes out of the slot and was on the receiving end of some bubble screen.

Herndon does a good job adjusting his routes according to the underneath coverage, in terms of flattening or inclining his path, and he secures the catch immediately. He has experience blocking in-line and protecting the passer, while turning the shoulder pads of defender, he is tagged with. In 2016, the U lined him up at fullback on some occasions as well and he didn’t hesitate to jump in as a lead-blocker. Once he sees one of his teammates catch the ball, Herndon immediately becomes a blocker. His best game last year might have come versus Syracuse, when he recorded 10 catches for 96 yards and a TD.

The big target is more of a body-catcher, even though I think this might be more of a technical issue, since I’ve seen him make some nice one-handed grabs. However, he isn’t always ready to make catches and is late getting his hands up. Herndon overextends at times as an edge blocker and lacks anchor strength to hold his own at the point of attack against defensive ends consistently. He is coming off a season-ending MCL injury and when he’s back to 100 percent, he will need work on refining his route-running.

Herndon shows flashes of being a great contributor to an offense, but he didn’t run a lot of complex routes down the field and was used more as an option to make plays after the catch. Nevertheless, he still has room to grow. His athleticism and no BS approach are what stand out to me and the reasons I think he could be a good pro with NFL coaching.

 


 

Just missed the cut:

 

Will Dissly, Washington

Dissly switched from defensive end to tight-end in 2016 and still has the same body-type at 6’4’’, 265 pounds. He is probably the best true in-line blocker in the draft and a nasty finisher, who won’t let anybody off the hook. The former Huskie does a good job moving people in the screen game as well and excels in pass-protection – something not a lot of college guys offer. Dissly wasn’t heavily used as a pass-catcher, only catching 21 passes for under 300 yards and just two TDs in lone full season on offense. However, he has a feel for sitting down in-between zones and finds voids in the seams. He also gets very physical with defenders, who want to initiate contact with him, plus he has much better hands and ball-tracking skills than he gets credit for. Once he secures the catch, he fights his way through tackles and won’t look to dance around anybody, often carrying defenders on his way downfield. Unfortunately, Dissly won’t scare anyone running downfield and it feels like forever until he crosses the entirety of the field on drag routes. He simply isn’t the type of athlete, who outjumps or outruns anybody. The big Washington tight-end is still learning how to run routes and takes too many extra steps. Dissly won’t jump out on you on tape, but he does everything pretty well and is extremely coachable. He should see the field early on thanks to his blocking abilities and catch some dump-offs.

 

Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan

In 20 games over the last two years, Conklin amassed 1064 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns as the primary weapon in the CMU passing game. He missed the first five games of last season with a serious foot injury, but came back with a bang, catching ten passes for 136 yards and two scores against Ohio. Conklin is a big body, but can move pretty well and cut across the grain with huge strides. He is used to lining up out wide as the single receiver, where he embarrasses cornerbacks, who try to wrap him up off quick hitches, by just shrugging them off. He can run slant routes from that spot and is tough at going over the middle. He also gets his head and hands ready on routes coming back to the quarterback. Despite winning a lot with physicality, Conklin has wide receiver hands and isn’t just limited to drag and spot routes. Conklin knows how to avoid underneath defenders, who are trying to redirect him on his routes. He posterizes some of those smaller DBs on the perimeter, made some crazy highlight-reel catches. He even some balls through pass interference, can make the first defender miss and is a big man to bring down. The big target has a great feel for how to get in front of defenders in space, but he’s not ready to take on blocking duties in the box. More importantly, he displays a ridiculous amount of wasted movement getting into his routes and doesn’t fool any well-schooled DBs with his stutter-steps. Instead, he allows his man to sit in a chair and just react to his breaks, plus they can go through him on the way to the ball and doesn’t consistently attack the ball at its highest point. I think he could develop into a big slot receiver, who can help you as a blocker on screen plays and make some contested catches.

 

Cam Serigne, Wake Forest

Serigne comes in with a thick, strong body-build. Wake Forest used him a lot in that Rob Gronkowski-type role with that big frame and the problem he presents for defenders. He amassed 2075 yards and 21 touchdowns throughout his career with the Deacon Demons. Serigne can flex out and run routes like a wide receiver, line up tight and block people in the run game and is just a mismatch downfield for anybody covering him. When he catches the ball on crossing routes, he immediately turns upfield and makes them a turns them into bigger gain. The 250-pounder was asked to pull around and kick out D-ends as well as get to the second level. However, his effort after first contact isn’t what you dream about. While he swipes away the hands of a lot defenders, who are trying to initiate contact with him, he can also get held up by some of them. Serigne can shake linebackers on stick-nods, but he rarely burns defenses on straight vertical routes. Once the ball is in the air, he absolutely lays out for some catches. Serigne carries the ball high and tight, keeps his feet moving through contact and is a load for tacklers to bring down. At only 6’3’’, he is one of the smaller guys at the position. Yet, I think he will find a spot in the league and line up in multiple spots, like he did in college.

 



 

The next guys up:

 

Jordan Akins (UCF), Ryan Izzo (Florida State), Jordan Thomas (Mississippi State), Noah Fant (Iowa), Ethan Wolf (Tennessee)

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