The freak of the 2014 draft class was of course South Carolina Gamecocks edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney. At 6’6″, 266 pounds, he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and had a 37.5-inch vertical leap. His bench press wasn’t so good at 21 reps of 225 but a man that size being that athletic is freakish.
Right now, it looks like the freak of the 2015 draft class is going to be Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Jesse James. James is 6’7″, 272 pounds, has been clocked at 4.6 in the 40 and seen bench pressing 225 pounds 27 times. He’s also been seen performing an insane 12 reps of 495 pounds on the dead lift.
James’ teammates and coaching staff speak in reverent tones when talking about his physicality. Fellow tight end Adam Breneman told Josh Moyer of ESPN, “Jesse is just a freak of nature. I don’t know how else to describe him.” Penn State strength coach Dwight Galt also got in on the gushing over the freakish ability of James.
He told Moyer, “He’s a freak… Athletically, talent-wise, there’s not another tight end in the country better than him, for sure. He’s got speed, he’s got strength, he’s got agility, he’s got size, he’s got everything. Then of course, there’s no one better than his quarterback to chime in on James’ freakishness.
And Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberge said, “He’ll surprise you every day. You never know what’s coming with Jesse. It’s actually interesting when you get out there with what he does, just how good he is and how fast he is and how strong he is.”
And when you look at him on tape, he’s every bit as freaky as how they all describe him. He has blazing speed for a man his size so he will get down the field to make big plays. He also has great hands, runs good routes and when running after the catch, he’s a man playing with boys as it often requires at least four to tackle him.
Speaking of man playing with boys, it’s the same deal when he’s blocking as he controls his man, driving him back. I know it’s risky to compare him to players that are already established in the NFL but Rob Grokowski comes to mind. Galt takes it even further when comparing James to the best tight ends in the NFL.
He said to Moyer, “To get a guy that big to do what he does, I haven’t seen that. I’ve been really lucky. I had five tight ends in the NFL at one time, including Vernon Davis and Dan Gronkowski, Rob’s older brother and I’ll tell you what—I’ll put Jesse James up there with any of them. The kid is really athletic and that good of a player.”
Yet most draft boards don’t have him too high as they don’t even have him as a Top-5 tight end. I guess it’s the fact that he only had 38 catches for 396 yards and only three touchdowns. So most draft projections have him available in the fourth round but after the combine, he should be on the radar.