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GGN Big Board: 2013 NFL Draft- Tight Ends & The Jets

We have a look at the Tight Ends entering the 2013 NFL draft and ask the question – “Which one fits with the Jets?”

Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

We are weeks away from the NFL draft, which means everyone is evaluating the talent on their team and discussing where the biggest area of need is. For some teams that is a short conversation, the likes of the 49’ers and the Broncos can pick just the one or two positions and be done. Unfortunately for other teams like the Jaguars and the Jets it’s a much longer conversation. So we are going to look through each position, highlight the players who are currently on the roster and then give it a need score out of 10. Also looking at some players we can look at come late April. In the fourth edition, we look at the Tight End position.

8/10 – Need Factor

Current players on the roster: Jeff Cumberland, Konrad Reuland and Hayden Smith

This will be Jeff Cumberlands 4th year in New York and 2012 represented his best statistical performance to date. He started 12 games, caught 29 passes for 359 yards and 3 scores. He has a big body and ran a 4.45 before being drafted. His problem is staying on the football field and making the most of the talent that he has. There is reason to be optimistic with Jeff, he does have talent and he has been playing with a sub-par quarterback. With a full off-season as the starter, getting all the reps with the 1’s, he could have his break out year. Konrad Reuland won’t offer you much and Hayden Smith is still managing the transition from Rugby to the NFL, in short he is a complete unknown. Like Cumberland he has the size and promise, but doesn’t have the experience or track record – both could break out, but just as easily, both could flop. There is a reason I put a need factor at 8/10 for this position and the depth chart above shows why.

Draft Options

The draft gives the Jets reason for optimism, it is deep and the talent to be had at the top is intriguing. First up is the Notre Dame tight end and only first round talent in this draft, Tyler Eifert. The last tight end to come out of Notre Dame was Kyle Rudolph in 2011 and last season he broke out with 53 receptions for 493 yards and 9 touchdowns. Tyler has the capability to do the same thing. He has excellent hands, good body control, a lot of toughness, good footwork and a lot of strength to beat press coverage. Oh he can also block too which is never a bad thing. He doesn’t possess elite straight line speed or the quickness in and out of breaks but he’ll be a very good tight end at the next level. Unfortunately he’s likely to go in the 20-30 range and unless we trade down (or up in the 2nd) we won’t be seeing him as a Jet.

So we move on to Tight End #2, Zach Ertz from Stanford. Who I have around the 30-35 range in the draft, could get up into the first but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him taken in the first couple of selections in the 2nd. He has good quickness, nice speed, he’s tough and wins contested catches more often than not. He has excellent hands and is very reliable. He can line up in-line, out wide or even in the slot, he also has an excellent work rate. I would be delighted to get Ertz, he does need to get stronger at the point and his routes need to be crisper and not rounded but his negatives are minor and can be worked out with coaching, his positives can’t be taught. Unfortunately he won’t be there when we select in the 2nd in my mind, so if we want him we’re going to have to trade up to get him. While I think he will be a great talent, if you continue reading you’ll see why I’m in favour of waiting it out at this position.

Now we move into the 2nd-4th round talent. Top of that list for me is Travis Kelce from Cincinnati. He’s joined by Jordan Reed from Florida, Vance McDonald from Rice and Gavin Escobar from San Diego State. Most people have McDonald and Escobar going in the 2nd and Kelce going in the 3rd, but in my mind Kelce is the better player. He has quickness and although it doesn’t show in timed 40 yard dash, good speed. He is very fluid and smooth going in and out of breaks and doesn’t struggle to get separation. As a former QB recruit he sees the field well and always works back to the ball. Best part is his blocking, he is exceptional at the point and finishes every single block. Plays with immense intensity and always aware of his assignment. He will likely go around the late 2nd, early 3rd range. For me I would have no problem selecting him in the 2nd round if we thought he was our man, but If we could manage to snap him in the 3rd then fantastic. Vance McDonald played in C-USA so there are questions about his competition faced. He catches the ball cleanly and he has excellent size and speed, but he will need to work on his in-line blocking at the next level. Escobar is similar and played mostly out of the slot in college, also ran a poor 40 time during workouts (4.78). Reed is fluid and has good athleticism but he lacks ideal size and is very inconsistent receiving and blocking.

Now we move to low 4th to 6th round talent. The likes of Jake Stoneburner from Ohio State, Dion Sims from Michigan State, Mychal Rivera from Tennessee, Nick Kasa from Colorao, Chris Gragg from Arkansas and a whole host of others. So lets start with Stoneburner who I think will go in the 5th round, he is a good athlete who makes the tough catches, but he is a little lost when it comes to blocking and he’ll Mulligan you with penalties more often than not. Dion Sims has some serious talent, good size, great speed, top hands and a tank when he gets the ball in his hands. Unfortunately his career in high school and college has been plagued by injuries and he missed the 2010 season due to a felony charge. Mychal Rivera is another tight end who lacks the proto size but he has excellent hands and great body control, much more of a receiving tight end than an all around player. The same could be said for Arkansas tight end Gragg, see Mychal Rivera who plays a little quicker.

Now to the bottom of the draft, the 6th and 7th round. Here we have one of my favourite guys in Joseph Fauria from UCLA. We also have Lucas Reed from New Mexico and Levine Toilolo from Stanford. Fauria is 6’8, 250lbs and runs around the 4.75 mark. He has soft hands and good flexibility for a man his size. He is extremely rough with not much starting experience in college, but he has a lot of potential and at the moment he would be a very attractive red-zone target. Reed has the size and toughness but his route running leaves a lot to be desired. If you don’t want Fauria, then Toilolo is exactly the same with incredibly size, but for his size he should know how to use his body better and despite his size, he really doesn’t do a good job at the point of attack.

My Big Board

1- Tyler Eifert – 1st Round

2- Zach Ertz – 1st-2nd Round

3- Travis Kelce- 2nd Round

4- Vance McDonald- 3rd round

5- Gavin Escobar – 3rd Round

6- Jordan Reed- 4th Round

7- Chris Gragg- 4th Round

8- Nick Kasa – 4th Round

9- Dion Sims – 4th Round

10- Mychal Rivera – 5th Round

11- Jake Stoneburner – 5th Round

12- Ryan Otten- 5th Round

13- Michael Williams – 6th Round

14- Jack Doyle – 6th Round

15- Zach Studfeld – 6th Round

16- Joseph Fauria – 7th Round

17- Justice Cunningham- 7th Round

18- Levine Toilolo – 7th Round

19- Lucas Reed – 7th Round

20- T.J Knowles - 7th Round