-Proverbial “killer” as a blocker with strength, punch and a nasty attitude
-On-the-line player that can consistently be relied upon to block defensive ends
-Speed & ball skills combo give him potential in passing game, but not an agile guy
-Not necessarily a high focus player, will make mental mistakes during the game
-Blocking technique needs work, especially hand placement & keeping head up
Trends in college football have led teams away from utilizing guys that are still commonly given playing time in the NFL. Brad Herman is, to me, one of the kind of players that falls victim to these trends.
Herman is built well with broad shoulders, thick thighs and a compact frame at 6’4” and 255 lbs. He was not a Combine invite, nor did he attend any of the major All Star games. His Pro Day will be on March 19, and there we will get to see how he measures and runs.
His speed timing will be interesting, because on film I believe I saw legitimate vertical speed that could time in the low 4.7’s or maybe even better.
Brad is a good old-fashioned slobber knocker. I watched him play in 2010 against the likes of 6’7” and 290 lbs defensive end Tyler Hoover, and consistently match him strength on strength. You can see him in both 2010 and 2011 acting as a pass protector against defensive ends like Hoover and Pittsburgh’s Brandon Lindsey and holding his own like an offensive tackle.
This is one of the few tight ends you see coming out nowadays that you are comfortable consistently matching on a defensive end from an on-the-line position.
In 2010, when he played next to Allen Reisner (who made the Minnesota Vikings’ roster this year), there was no question that Herman was the more physical, physically impressive, stronger blocker.
His blocking has weaknesses. By 2011, you would have hoped he would have cured his habits of getting his head too far down trying to lay into a defender, but you could still see that at times. This tendency especially came out in space.
He also continued to have trouble with initial hand placement as he attempted to explode into a target. Against Pittsburgh, he was benched in favor of Zach Derby because he made too many mental errors.
On one play, he blocked the wrong pass rusher and let a player get inside him for a sack. On another, he forgot the snap count and released early for a false start. Inconsistent timing of the snap count was an issue for him on multiple occasions.
I believe his strengths and potential outweigh the weaknesses. He has the legitimate strength to match blow for blow with any NFL defensive ends or linebackers. He possesses a killer mentality to keep blocking a guy until he’s buried.
He possesses strong hands to jerk and steer a player when he does get his hand placement right and is able to lock on.
When you get right down to it, his underrated athleticism plays a factor in his blocking potential at the next level, as he has the athletic ability to engage key cut-off blocks on zone plays, and to mirror properly with faster players at the second level.
This is not just some guy with 5.1 speed that people conveniently place into the pool of blockers simply because they have nowhere else to put him.
His route running and pass catching obviously need work. He is vertically fast when he gets on the hoof and he can threaten the seam with speed, size and physicality.
He possesses the speed to beat linebacker coverage even from much smaller and quicker players as he crosses the formation on crossing patterns.
In the games that I watched, he actually showed very good hands and the ability to catch the ball high, low, and even to fight aggressively back to an under-thrown ball, out-muscling a defender for it.
He has technique problems, as he will get a little too physical at times at the jam point, where he should be focusing on getting to his spot as quickly as he can in order to get good timing with the quarterback. He is not especially quick off the line and will labor when asked to make quick lateral moves right off the line.
The bottom line with Brad Herman is, to me, he is an NFL player. I cannot say that about every tight end in this class. That is why he makes my list of Top 10 tight ends.
One of Jim Harbaugh’s philosophies at Stanford with respect to the tight end position was that the guys you pick must be really good at something, either blocking or in the passing game. He did not want guys that were mediocre at both.
To me, Herman should end up really good at blocking once he has received some more full-time coaching at the position, while having the potential to more productive in the passing game in the pros than he was in college.