2013 NFL Combine - Tight End Analysis
Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert
Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert
Posted Feb 21, 2013

Pre-Combine quick looks at the tight ends invited to Indy.

2013 NFL Pre-Combine

Top Ten TE Rankings

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 - 2013 CFN Pre-Combine TE Rankings, No. 11 to 25 

1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame 6-6, 251 Proj. 1
Positives: Like a big wide receiver in the body of a prototype tight end. Moves like a smaller player and handles himself well. He fits the mold. … Can get open with his quickness as well as his strength. Battles well to get into the clear and doesn't get shoved around. … A decent enough blocker to get by. He's not going to flatten anyone, but he's not a total liability.

Negatives: He's just not a big-time blocker. He's fine at walling off his man when needed, but he's a big wide receiver. … He still has room to grow into his frame. If he adds ten more pounds of muscle, will that affect his speed and quickness? His game is about athleticism, not power. … He'll get muscled by the stronger linebackers and defenders. He'll have no problems against corners, but linebackers should be able to knock him around a bit.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? He'll be a dangerous pass catcher who'll be a prime fantasy pickup for the next decade.

2. Zach Ertz, Stanford 6-6, 249 Proj. 1
Positives: Tall with a wide receiver's body. Fluid without any wasted motion as a nearly perfect route runner. He's great at finding ways to get open and finding the holes. … Great hands. Doesn't fight the ball at all, sucking in almost everything that comes his way. He'll put a few on the ground, but throw it in his direction and he'll get it. … Physical for his size. He's a willing blocker who gets low for his height and isn't afraid to jack someone up.

Negatives: This might be about as big as he'll get. He might add a few more pounds, but he's always going to be a tall, lean receiver. … He's a willing and capable blocker, but he's not that good at it. He'll come up with a big block here and there, but his job is to catch passes. … Not a blazer. He's a good athlete, but he's not an elite one.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? He'll be used purely as a receiver, and he'll thrive as a key part of a passing attack.

3. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State 6-6, 255 Proj. 3
Positives: A go-to receiver who took to the role of being the main man for the passing attack. He was keyed on but he still produced. … Fast. Has a nice blend of size and speed with the ability to get vertical and make plays in the middle of the field. A matchup problem. … Excellent size. Has the frame to get a little big bigger, but he's not a thin target.

Negatives: On okay blocker, but nothing special. He'll do what's needed to get his man pushed off the ball, but he won't bury anyone. … Disappeared at times. He was the team's leading receiver, but he was taken out of the game plan by defenses a bit too often. He's a good pass catcher, but he's not quite the receiver some of the other top tight ends are. … Need route running refinement. He's good, but he needs to be crisper.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? He'll be a rock-solid starter for several years. He'll be a cheap mid-round alternative.

4. Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn 6-5, 250 Proj. 4
Positives: Most of the pieces are there to be special. He has the size, the hands and the talent. There was a thought early in his career that he'd grow into a smaller Rob Gronkowski. … Fights to get open and will demand the ball. Throw it his way and he'll beat up his man to get it. … A blocker. Can be used for the running game and he'll open up the hole.

Negatives: A good athlete but not an elite one. He's better in short spaces than he is down the field. Far better in the red zone than he is at midfield. … Injuries. He was never healthy over the last two years and wasn't able to show what he could do. … Still a bit of an unknown. Between the injuries and the bad quarterback play, he wasn't able to reach his potential.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? If he can stay healthy, he'll be fantastic. That's a big, giant if.

5. Travis Kelce, Cincinnati 6-6, 260 Proj. 2
Positives: Prototype look with the right frame and the right body. Doesn't need much room to grow and is ready right out of the box. … A good all-around receiver. He can make the big play down the field and runs a wide receiver route tree. … Fantastic blocker. Efficient and effective at moving the pile for the running game. Wants to hit.

Negatives: Okay athletically, but a bit limited. He showed big play flashes at times, but for the most part he's not going to be able to shake most NFL cornerbacks. … A few question marks after being suspended for the 2010 season. There aren't major problems, but it's enough of a red flag to be on everyone's radar. … Not the best technical route runner. He can do a little of everything, but he's not always sharp.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? He'll last a long time as a do-it-all tight end. He might not have the big-time upside, but there's little bust potential for someone who can block like he does.

6. Jordan Reed, Florida 6-3, 225 Proj. 3
Positives: Extremely athletic. A former quarterback who knows how to get open and is great at making things happen with the ball in his hands. He could end up being an emergency quarterback. … Moves well. Is quick with power. He's built like a tall running back, and he runs and cuts like one. … A nice receiver. Natural. Doesn't have a problem making the difficult grabs.

Negatives: Not a blocker. He needs a ton of technique work just to become competent. … Not a polished receiver. The skills are there, but the plays aren't. … Needs to show that he has the right frame of mind after having problems with the coaching staff late in his career.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? He'll be a devastating No. 2 tight end. A great receiving prospect, but just don't ask him to block.

7. Levine Toilolo, Stanford 6-8, 265 Proj. 6
Positives: Huge. He's a power forward playing football with tremendous bulk and the strength to outmuscle anyone for the ball. He's a matchup nightmare. … Nice athleticism for his size. Moves well and efficiently. No laboring for a 6-8 tight end. … Could be devastating around the goal line. He'll destroy defenders on jump balls. It'll be like he's grabbing a rebound.

Negatives: Needs a lot of work and refinement. He has a ton of tools, but he needs coaching on the finer points of his game. … Needs to be a better, strong route runner and he has to be more decisive. He needs to be far sharper. … Blocks tall. He can't get low and he's in trouble if he can't get his hands on a defender right away.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? A nice project. He won't be ready right out of the box, but there's too much upside. He has too many skills to not take a chance on. He could become a game-changer in time.

8. Dion Sims, Michigan State 6-5, 285 Proj. 4
Positives: Really, really big. He could be used in jumbo packages and be like a third tackle. If he gets a fire lit under him, he could turn into a great all-around blocker. … Great hands for a player of his size. Get the ball to him and he'll make the grab. … Moves well in a small space. He might not be a blazer, but he cuts well and he's great at getting open against mediocre defenders.

Negatives: Not a natural athlete. He's not exactly smooth when it comes to making plays for the ball. Fights passes a bit too much. … Not as physical as he should be considering his size. Yes, he's like another tackle, but he doesn't always hit like it. … Doesn't have a huge pass catching radius. He has to have the ball thrown right at him.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? There are enough good parts to his game to make him a good mid-round flier. He has a good blend of skills to become a strong second tight end.

9. Ryan Otten, San Jose State 6-5, 245 Proj. 5
Positives: A tough player who makes things happen. He's a strong receiver with nice hands and route running ability. … Nice pass catching radius. Get it to a large area and he'll go grab it. He attacks the ball and has everything stick to his hands. … Does whatever is asked of him. Extremely coachable. He'll do all the little things.

Negatives: Not an elite athlete. He can move well on the field, but he's not going to blow past anyone and he's not going to be the most athletic of tight ends in the draft. … Not exactly quick against the faster pass rushers. He's a good blocker, but he can be beaten off the snap. … Not huge. He needs to pack on a little more weight and fill out his frame a little bit.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? He'll be a tough cut. He'll make a roster and coaches will love him, but he won't have the tools to be a special part of a passing game.

10. Michael Williams, Alabama 6-6, 269 Proj. 5
Positives: A driving run blocker. He's great when he gets his hands on a defender. A good first down tight end. … Decent enough hands to be used on short range passes. He'll never be a main option, but he can be good for a few catches here and there. … Physical. Doesn't have any problems mixing it up to get the ball.

Negatives: Not much of a receiver. He isn't a liability in the passing game, but he's not going to wow anyone. … Just isn't all that athletic. He can't play a variety of roles and needs to be used mainly as a blocker. … Not fast off the ball. He can be beaten by quicker pass rushers who can get to the outside in a hurry.

Really, What's He Going To Do In The NFL? A specialist. He's not going to be a No. 1 tight end, but he'll be good in two tight end sets for the running game. 

 - 2013 CFN Pre-Combine TE Rankings, No. 11 to 25