Most people are talking the joker tight ends so far into the ground, they are not really all that interesting to me at this point. What is interesting is the fate of the full service tight end. Four in this year’s crop stand out: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Troy Niklas, Arthur Lynch and C.J. Fiedorowicz. In a league that is enamored with the oversized receiver style, I am intrigued to see where these guys end up going.
All four of them can block and be an asset in the running game while being able to be a nice option as a receiver. They have all showed they can be a red zone threat and someone who can move the chains because of their size and hands. All of them seem to have been underutilized at their respective collegiate programs as well.
Fiedorowicz was an outstanding blocker at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, which was expected. He looks like a lineman in person (even if he was shocked I thought it) but he looked good in receiving drills. Fiedorowicz showed length and some nice burst that demonstrated some intriguing potential in the passing game, which makes him an intriguing weapon at the next level. I have not gotten to delve into his senior tape yet, but cannot wait to see it.
Lynch was as advertised. He worked as a blocker and looks like he should be able to step in and help there right off the bat. He was virtually unstoppable in the 5-7 yard range both at Georgia and in Mobile. It felt like stealing. He did a nice job using his body to box out the opponent, frame the catch and can pick up some yardage. Lynch did everything I saw him do on tape and I would not blame anyone for taking him in the second round. He may not go that high, but I would not blame a team for taking him there.
I have not gotten to watch Jenkins this year yet, but he is just a monster. He looks like a power forward, can be a great blocker and high point the ball well based on his past tape. It is all about consistency with him and determining just how badly he wants to be great. If he does, he could be a big time player in the NFL.
Lastly, Niklas is the rawest of the group but his talent is undeniable. He has a lot of refining to do as a blocker and pass catcher but his upside is huge with his size and athleticism.
Two trains of thought could see all four of these guys gone in the top 100 picks. First, a team has their oversized receiver and want a balanced option who can give them more options in the running game and play action. Secondly, with so many defenses going smaller to defend the pass and the NFL being cyclical, loading up on road graders who can pave the way for the running game is the response as well as go out and catch passes.
It will be interesting to see how and where teams value the so-called Mark Bavaro style tight end that seems to thoroughly populate this year’s draft.