Name: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Size: 6'6, 275 lbs
Expected Round: Top 50
Strengths: Junior already shows exemplary overall ability. Athletic and played basketball his freshman season (41 receptions, 538 yards, 6 TDs). After his sophomore year, he had school records in total receptions, yards, and touchdowns by a tight end. Fluid athlete in a straight line. Plays inline, in the slot, and outside. Willing and above average blocker. Big hands. Unselfish player. Big body and can hold the point of attack inline. High points the ball. Flexed to play some fullback as a sophomore. Does not go to the ground on a body hit (needs to be gang-tackled or wrapped up). Awarded the Mackey Award for best tight end in football.
Weaknesses: DUI in the March before his junior year. Broken pinkie finger prior to 2013 season led to decrease in statistical performance (missed season opener vs Boise State [also suspended for his DUI], reduced role vs Illinois. After that, he had same pace as his freshman season). Does a terrible job selling play fakes. Ran a fairly simple route tree (seams and out routes, mostly). Wouldn't be considered "explosive" or "quick"- would say he lumbers when moving laterally. Wasn't able to overcome teams scheming to remove him from the game. Doesn't drive the defenders back while run blocking.
What is their role? Clear back-up for Rob Gronkowski. Provides blocking skill to be brought on for running downs. Adds flexibility to move anywhere on offense (in, out, slot, fullback). Provides insurance in case of Gronk injury and adds enough value to be on the field, regardless of Gronk's health.
Will it change from year 1 to year 2? If he can develop his receiving skills to be more dangerous in his own right, then his role will change from TE2 to TE1b. His blocking skills can become more polished and he can become another versatile chess piece in the offense.
How many downs can he play? Four down player. He can block, he can catch, and he can be on special teams.
Which current player will he beat out? Michael Hoomanawanui, Matthew Mulligan, D.J. Williams, James Develin.
What’s his ST value? He can be a blocker in the kicking game and can also provide kick return protection.
Does he have positional versatility? He can line up anywhere on offense. He can help create mismatches.
Why the Patriots? The Patriots need a tight end and they need one badly. ASJ not only provides the ability to back-up Gronk, but he adds an additional level of athleticism that can get him on the field alongside Gronk. ASJ can catch, he can block, and he be a team player. He seems like he could be this draft's Gronk as a "complete tight end" if he is placed in the right environment. While some tight ends thrive at receiving, and others are pure blockers, ASJ provides the best balance of the two.
Why not the Patriots? ASJ will likely be gone in the top 50 picks of the draft. The Patriots would have to maneuver the rounds to get into an appropriate range to pick him. Knowing the Patriots needs that can be filled in the first round, as well as the depth in the mid-rounds, it's very unlikely the Patriots are going to find themselves in a position to take him. Additionally, his skill set might be considered too similar to Gronk's to warrant taking him so early- the Patriots may/should favor a tight end who can add a deeper element to the offense.
Verdict: While I believe that ASJ fills a need and would make the Patriots happy, I feel like another team is going to like him even more and he'll succeed for a different franchise. I don't believe that he is the best at what the Patriots will be looking for in a tight end (new skills for the offense) and his value is too great, when compared to the talent and value of other positions around ASJ's draft position (read: defensive tackle). When, not if, the Patriots take a tight end, it should be a weapon to make the offense more versatile than it currently is.