Top Five 2015 NFL Draft Prospects- Tight End
These guys will be asked to be blockers in the run game and pass catchers for quarterbacks. Today I rank the top five tight end prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.
1. Devin Funchess, Michigan
Bio: In three years at Michigan, Devin Funchess spent time at both wide receiver and tight end. He tallied 126 catches for over 1,700 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career as a Wolverine.
Strengths: Tall and athletic frame with smooth muscle tone throughout. Long arms and big hands to create a large catching radius. Snatches the ball away from his body and attacks with his hands. Ideal leaping ability to float and attack jump balls. Not easy to bring down as a ballcarrier with his size to bounce off tacklers. Nice job finding soft spots over the middle. A matchup nightmare, too fast for linebackers and too physical for defensive backs.
Weaknesses: Needs to build up strength to be a blocker. Lacks focus in key situations which result in drops. Not reliable as the game goes on and thinks more about what he does after the catch before he makes the reception. Doesn't play up to his size and often braces before contact.
Projected Round: 1-2
2. Maxx Williams, Minnesota
Bio: In two years playing at Minnesota, Maxx Williams displayed the ability to be the next great tight end. He had 61 receptions for just under 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in his Gopher career.
Strengths: Athletic body control and large catching radius. Lining up inline and in the slot. Possible superstar with his combination of size, build and athleticism for the position, using his route acceleration to get open down the seam and the physicality to be a bruiser after the catch. Shows soft hands and terrific hand-eye coordination. Ability to extend and adjust his body to attack the ball while being aware of the sideline.
Weaknesses: Body must get stronger to handle NFL hits. Unproven as a blocker for his size. Lacks ideal quickness and release to get off the line. Needs to work on hand work to avoid being pressed at the line. Has to prove he has the speed and route running ability for the NFL game. Needs to be consistent with route running and be able to stretch the field vertical. Must learn to create separation consistently and shield the ball away from defenders in the air.
Projected Round: 1-2
3. Clive Walford, Miami
Bio: Clive Walford was a constant force during his four years at Miami. He recorded 121 receptions for over 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns as a Hurricane.
Strengths: Impressive acceleration off the line to challenge down the seam. Quick, athletic receiver with the ability to catch the ball in stride and create mismatches with his athleticism, or line up wide and beat corners with his size and catch radius. Reliable hands with the ability to climb the ladder and utilize his skill set.
Weaknesses: Lean lower body build. Has struggled with mental mistakes over his collegiate career. Needs to work on sinking hips in breaks and avoid rounding off routes to keep defenders from breaking on the ball. Struggles as a blocker and has been plagued by drops in the past. Play speed is to inconsistent and must be fixed.
Projected Round: 2
4. Nick O'Leary, Florida State
Bio: In four years at Florida State, Nick O'Leary recorded 114 catches for over 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. He won the John Mackey award as a senior as the nations top tight end and was a consistent red zone target for Jameis Winston.
Strengths: Excellent hands. Doesn't wear gloves and possess incredible hand eye coordination and focus. Possesses good initial quickness off the ball and is a consistent and reliable route runner who recognizes the holes in zone coverage and settles to present a target to his quarterback. Ideal H-back, red zone target, and good run blocker.
Weaknesses: Not the massive target or speedy seam threat of today's tight end. Doesn't explode out of his breaks nor does he possess the straight line speed to keep defenders on their heels. Not shifty after the catch and isn't strong enough to plow through defenders. Doesn't have the speed to run swat from defenders.
Projected Round: 3
5. Ben Koyack, Notre Dame
Bio: Ben Koyack continued the tradition of great Notre Dame tight ends. In his career, he recorded 44 catches for over 500 yards and five touchdowns.
Strengths: Possesses desired size and athleticism for the position. Sinks hips and plays with twitch into and out of breaks. Strong hands with great concentration in a crowd. Excels as run blocker with unique understanding of leverage and hand placement. Mirrors and stays engaged when walling off and hustles to get his man turned when responsible for play-side block. Has potential to be left alone in pass protection. Tough competitor.
Weaknesses: Needs to work harder to get open and help his quarterback when the play breaks down. Not elusive after the catch. Could use a little more girth if used as tight end. Only one season as full time starter. Less game experience and targets than any of the top tight ends in this draft. Too mechanical in his route running.
Projected Round: 3-4