As we all know, Tony Gonzalez is coming back for another season. But, this does not fill the void at tight end the Falcons are soon to have after the legend leaves. Some of you believe Chase Coffman can be an efficient piece of the offense once Tony leaves. I expect the Falcons to draft a tight end, but with the holes at cornerback, defensive line, and linebacker may be too large to overcome after drafting a tight end in the first round. So without further ado, here are the tight end prospects to look at in the draft.
Tyler Eifert: Notre Dame
Weight: 250 lbs.
40 yard dash: 4.68 seconds
Bench Press: 22 reps
Vertical: 35.5 inches
Arm Length: 33 1/8th inches
Hands: 9 1/8th inches
NFL Comparison: Greg Olsen
Recieving: Eifert is an exceptional pass catcher, he has long arms and very strong hands that he uses well to fight for the ball in traffic. He has good agility that helps him seperate from linebackers early and also has long strides off the ball. There arent many linebackers with the coverage ability and speed to cover the speedy, lengthy tight end so he causes nightmares for oppossing defensive cordinators, pairing him with the Falcons weapons already here and the sky is the limit. When the ball is in the air, he has very good body control and makes great adjustments mid-air to the football. But, other than lining up at a traditional tight end position, he has also performed well lining up at the H-back, slot and even outside reciever. (But, I think we all know we have outside reciever covered)
Blocking: This is Eifert's main weakness but has become a better blocker as his college career went on. He uses his speed to get off the ball well and his arm length and good hands help him get good positioning on defenders. He sometimes is beat by faster defensive ends, but with better angles can fix this. But, on passsing plays does a good job of blocking downfield after the catch, the hustle is appreciated by fans and players.
Analysis: Wore the "C" on his chest for Notre Dame, along with everybodies favorite story of the college football season, Manti Teo. I among probably some others, are in love with the idea of Eifert joining the likes of Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Steven Jackson. As a college recruit, he was a 215 pound guy with not many offers, he is a hard worker and can only improve mentoring under Tony G. He is one of the only tight ends I have been excited about as a 1st rounder in some time, that being said I'm not sure if even with the defensive holes the Falcons can let him pass by.
Zach Ertz: Stanford
Weight: 249 lbs
40 yard dash: 4.76 seconds
Bench Press: 24 reps
Vertical: 30.5 inches
Arm Length: 31 3/4 inches
Hands: 9 3/4 inches
NFL Comparison: Jason Witten
Recieving: Ertz has used deceptive speed to get passed defenders, and runs good routes. He gets his head around quickly and has good strong hands. He needs to show he can run faster than his 40 time to get into the 1st round but will probably go early in the 2nd round. He like Eifert can make alot of plays with with their size and speed. But, Ertz hands are not as good as Eifert's as he will have a drop almost every game, and sometimes can't come down with the ball in traffic.
Blocking: Ertz beats Eifert in this category but not by much. He is stronger than Eifert but his arm length seems to hurt him in the leverage battle. He always gets out to block downfield, but will miss some blocks downfield because he lunges instead of getting in position to block.
Analysis: He is a Stanford guy and a hard worker. His smarts show when he finds the soft spots in coverages and does a good job anticipating. I wouldn't spend a first round pick on Ertz, because I think Eifert is the only tight end worthy of a 1st round pick. Some team may reach for him in the 1st but I don't think the Falcons will and he will be gone before the Falcons pick round 2.
Jordan Reed: Florida
Weight: 236 lbs
40 yard dash: 4.72 seconds
Bench Press: 16 reps
Vertical: Did not participate
Arm Length: 33 inches
Hands: 10 inches
NFL Comparison: Aaron Hernandez
Recieving: Reed is an average pass catcher, unlike the two guys listed above but that is why he could be a late 3rd round pick. He struggles with some routes, and has bad hips breaking in and out of his cuts. But once he does get the ball, he is a YAC machine. Does a nice job of knowing when to use his hands and when to take it in to his body in tight coverage. He also has lined up in many positions on the field including running back. He was used to run the ball on occassion in the Florida offense. He fits the same mold as Aaron Hernandez, in the Florida offense and we see how Tom Brady is using him.
Blocking: For an undersized tight end, he does a good job of blocking for his size. Unfortunately it may be a problem in the NFL. He doesn't get good leverage on alot of plays and that causes him to lose his footing. Struggles with stretches at times.
Analysis: He is undersized and I don't like him taking over for Tony next year, so I think the future is a huge factor here also. I wouldn't mind if the Falcons drafted him in the late 3rd but I would rather get a Swope if he was there with that pick if they go offense. He can be used like Aaron Hernandez in New England and I think the Falcons will have a Patriot like 2 tight end set with whatever tight end they end up with whether it be the draft or stick with Coffman.
Travis Kelce: Cincinnati
Weight: 255 lbs
40 Yard Dash: Did not participate
Bench Press: Did not participate
Vertical: Did not participate
Arm Length: 33 3/4 inches
Hands: 9 5/8 inches
NFL Comparison: Rob Gronkowski
Recieving: Kelce is a good reciever that can make almost every catch. Like the other tight ends in the draft, he also is a versatile guy that can play many different positions. He unlike Reed will more likely run throught the tackle than run around it. He is a good athlete for his size and uses it wisely. His speed is a little questionable but his catching ability somewhat makes up for it.
Blocking: Kelce is probably the best blocking tight end mentioned so far and is very explosive off the line. He is very physical and uses his legs and hips well in the blocking game. Will not be as good of a blocker downfield because of his speed. Very well developed blocker.
Analysis: I like Kelce in the 4th to 5th round range. He is going to be a solid blocker in the league and won't be a liability in the passing game. Now the hard part, he has only had one season of real production after getting kicked off the team in college for a season for not following team rules. And as we all know the Falcons don't do the off the field issues, but he could have too much upside to not pick in the later rounds.
Gavin Escobar: San Diego St.
Weight: 254 lbs
40 yard dash: 4.84 seconds
Bench Press: Did not participate
Vertical: 32 inches
Arm Length: 33 5/8 inches
Hands: 9 3/4 inches
NFL Comparison: Jacob Tamme
Recieving: As a reciever, Escobar is probably the most NFL ready pass catcher. He shows great, strong hands and can take a hit and hold on. He does a great job of locating and adjusting to the football and can make the catch over the shoulder look easy. He has the speed to burn linebackers down the seem and even beat cornerbacks on occassion. But, he doesn't break many tackles after the catch, and doesn't try any shake and bake moves.
Blocking: To put it plainly, Escobar is a terrible blocker. He doesn't get physical and is soft off the line. He doesnt get his arms out well and it kills him. He leads with his shoulder or elbows routinely on blocks. He was such a bad blocker he didn't play in some games in college because of it.
Analysis: Escobar would be a great wide reciever if he wasn't so big, but he is so he has to be a tight end. His blocking is a huge liability for a guy his size so he isn't a long term option. I think the Falcons have an Escobar like player in Coffman but Coffman is a better blocker. I wouldn't draft him unless its very late.
Gavin Escobar Highlights Dont ask about the music on this one...
Vance McDonald: Rice
Weight: 264 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.69 seconds
Bench Press: 31 reps
Vertical: 33.5 inches
Arm Length: 34 3/8 inches
Hands: 10 1/8 inches
NFL Comparison: Todd Heap
Recieving: Vance is a huge guy with long arms, and big hands. He is a good route runner, but doesn't adjust to the ball well if he is thrown off his route. He plays all over the field and alot of times in the slot. He makes good hands catches, and will make the catch in traffic. Once he gets the ball he is a great athlete and can put a move on a defender. Makes the most out of every play and fights for yards.
Blocking: A better blocker than Kelce, he is probably the best blocking tight end in the draft. He is a very powerful blocker and uses his long arms to his advantage. He holds his block even after he is shook on first contact, and is routinely seen making more than one block on a given play. Although he is built as an inline blocker he struggles with this at time but, I think can be coached to be better in this area.
Analysis: Other than Eifert, this is my favorite tight end in the draft. I think he would be a huge pick up in the 4th round where I think the Falcons could snag him. He will be an effective blocker and pass catcher, and went to Rice so he has to be smart and he is a hard worker. Can learn alot from Tony Gonzalez and can be a long term replacement with his skill set. With the Falcons wholes on defense I see them passing Eifert if he is there in the draft, I hope not but I see it happening, and picking McDonald later. The most promising late round tight end in my eyes.
Dion Sims: Michigan St.
Weight: 262 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.75 seconds
Bench Press: 22 reps
Vertical: 35.0 inches
Arm Length: 33 1/8 inches
Hands: 10 1/2 inches
NFL Comparison: Scott Chandler
Recieving: Dion has soft hands, and a massive body so he is a QB's favorite target. Uses his body to box out defenders from the football. He isn't blazing off the ball but gains speed as he starts to get downfield. But, he doesn't adjust well to the ball and has a hard time making cuts with bad hips.
Blocking: He has goot feet run blocking. Quick with his feet in pass blocking. But, despite his size he isn't a mauler. Routinely with his hands inside the defender, and lunging at his assignment. Blocks with his head down alot.
Analysis: Sims is a decent prospect in a loaded class, so he falls to the later rounds. Could be a solid pick up if Vance McDonald is gone late. I like his size and hands and with some work he could be good as a blocker. Doubtful he is a long term answer but can be a good stop gap for the long term guy.
What do you think the Falcons will do with the tight end situation, and if they draft a tight end, who will it be and when? Discuss.