2014 Positional Evaluation - Tight End
Disclaimer - I do my best to evaluate the prospects by what I believe is the best fit for the Patriots. How they performed in college, in a different system, doesn't always translate to what the Patriots do, or how the NFL works.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins 6'6 276 Draft Ranking - #1 My Ranking - #3
The most physically gifted of all the TEs in this year's class.
My concerns are not for his physical skills, but his mental toughness, his focus and maturity, and his ability to step up in big games. His DUI most are well aware of, you can choose to ignore this... or make note of it, not all college kids drink and drive, some are more mature and make better decisions.
In my research I came across plenty of tidbits like:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins - The All-American looked nearly invisible for most of the game again (though he was great in run blocking), as he was rarely targeted and then he had a crushing drop on third down when he was finally needed. Will we ever see the Seferian-Jenkins of old return? Or will he simply be a solid supporting player in the passing game in what is assumed to be his last year as a Husky? Oct 9 Source: UWdawgpound
... Both Seferian-Jenkins (tight end) and Williams (wide receiver) are legitimate early round NFL prospects but the juniors struggled to make impactful plays for most of the night....
And what I start to notice, is that Austin shines against lesser talents and teams, but when UW and he were matched up against teams that had equal talent, Austin disappeared, or was ineffective.
ASJ is a physical specimen much like Jermaine Gresham was coming out of college, able to dominate against lesser talent, his measurables will put him ahead of the rest of his class at the combine, but once he reaches the NFL where he will regularly face top talent, will he be merely an OK pro like Gresham is?
Arthur Lynch 6'5 260 Draft Ranking - #4 My Ranking - #1 True TE
Lynch will not be a prospect that outshines ASJ at the combine, or in the pre-draft hype, and that I believe could prove a good thing for the Patriots. ASJ will be the first TE selected in the draft, just like Gresham was the first TE selected in 2010. And just like with Gresham, the TEs that were taken after him (Gronk, Graham) will prove out to be more productive NFL players.
Everything I can find about Lynch, from clips like this, to quotes like this:
"I actually saw Artie on the way out as he walked underneath the stadium," Bobo said. "All he could talk about was that drop. I said, ‘Hey, son, that’s over. We won that game with an eight-minute drive at the end. That’s something you can be proud of right there.’ He was kind of beating himself up about it. But that happens. You’ve got to move on."
Tells me this kid gets it. He studies the game, he works on mastering his trade, he cares about how well he does, and he understands his role in relationship to how the offense functions. He wants to win, he wants to do good, he cares, and he doesn't want to let his team down.
He is exactly the kind of player you want to fill your locker room with.
Even better for the Patriots, his comprehension of blocking schemes and his blocking ability is second to none in this year's draft class, he is better at it already than some pros ever get... this puts him ahead of the power curve as far as being a rookie who could come in and see a significant amount of snaps right at the start of the season, if they can trust him to protect Brady, that's a big plus.
Lynch reminds me a bit of Gronk in his blocking abilities, but is more of a Dallas Clark or Dennis Pitta type of receiver. More of a timing, get in space type of TE... less of a beast, force of nature TE that Gronk is.
Eric Ebron 6'4 244 Draft Ranking #2 My Ranking - #1 Flex TE
Ebron is to Lynch and ASJ, what Hernandez was to Gronk. In fact, if the Patriots are focused more on finding a replacement for Hernandez and his versatility, over another all-around exceptional TE like Gronk, then Ebron would likely be #1 on their list.
Ebron isn't a great blocker, and he doesn't have the size to be the force on the line players like Gronk, ASJ and Lynch can be. He is athletic, and can be split outside to post-up against smaller corners, he can be used to shift and create mismatches much the way Hernandez was.
He has good hands, can make acrobatic catches, and has the body control and strength to shrug off smaller defenders and accelerate past larger/slower ones. While he can make some incredible catches, he has some drop issues, similar to what we have seen from Dobson early this year, makes the hard catch while at times dropping the easy one.
He was used on rare occasion as a DE/OLB Pass Rusher, an interesting bit of versatility that would only be a plus in BB's evaluation of him.
C.J. Fiedorowicz 6'6 265 Draft Rating #5 My Ranking - #4
Has the ability to come off a down block to get past defenders as a receiver. Decent body control and hands. Fiedorowicz isn't as flashy as ASJ, but he's just as big and almost as fast (in a straight-line). He isn't as polished a route runner or blocker as Lynch, but is probably more powerful. If you wanted ASJ or Lynch and they were gone, CJ is the next best thing.... but maybe not much better than what you could find further down in the draft.
Jace Amaro 6'5 257 Draft Ranking #3 My Ranking - #5 (or lower)
Athletic for his size, he catches the ball well, a solid route-runner.
Some noted maturity and attitude issues that are a bit more concerning than any of the other TEs listed here. Worst blocker of the group, least aggressive of the group, often times seen milling around on the field as the play develops, or half-stepping if it appears to go away from him.
"I think I’ve always had the physical attributes out there," Amaro said before his senior season. "I just don’t think my mental state of mind was the best it could have been. That’s one thing I really meditated on this summer and what I really fixed this summer." ... sure, ok, sounds good ...
Amaro faced charges in a credit card abuse case. He suffered a spleen injury. He punched an opposing DB and got a suspension... if you are looking for a particular type of flag, be it onfield hot-head or off-field bone-head or health issues... Amaro has just about all of them covered.
For another opinion/analysis of the TE prospects in this year's draft, check out Richard Hill's TE evaluation