In today's NFL, the position of tight end is more important than ever, especially if you can find a tight end like Oklahoma's 6'4" 243-pound James Hanna.
In his four years at Oklahoma, Hanna started 27 of the 54 games he played as a Sooner, accumulating 52 catches for 720 yards and nine touchdowns. His senior season was his best, as he earned second-team All-Big 12 after a season where he had 27 catches for 381 yards and two touchdowns.
Hanna is a tremendous pass-catcher who can catch anything thrown his way. He can adjust to even the most poorly thrown passes even when his man his covering him, which is a godsend to many a quarterback in the NFL. Hanna's size is also a huge benefit as he can run over safeties after making the catch. He also has very good awareness as to where he is on the field.
However, Hanna isn't the best route-runner you will find. At times he struggled with that while in college. Hanna also isn't a very fast player, nor is he very athletic off ball. His blocking leaves much to be desired. He also has a tendency to struggle when he is hit at the line by a bigger linebacker who can disrupt his route-running and prevent him from getting into space. Finally, Hanna tends to avoid big hits even when he's in a position to catch a pass.
NFL.com's Mike Mayock had this to say about Hanna when scouting tight ends:
“He doesn’t block anybody, but when you’re talking about a 252-pound kid who can run a 4.45, that’s rare. Because of that, he’s going to get pushed up. I think he’s going to go in the fourth round, and I think it’s going to be somebody who’s going to say, ‘I know he’s not a blocker. But we’ve already got a blocking tight end. He’s going to be more of a move guy that we’re going to develop.’ If you’re a team that already has a base-blocking tight end and you’re looking for a vertical threat to pair with him, this is the kind of kid you draft."
Hanna's chances to stick in the NFL will depend on his ability to toughen up and diversify his game.
James Hanna's time in the Big 12 will serve him well in Dallas. Presumably under Jason Witten's wing, Hanna's beastly size will do wonders for Dallas' offense in the NFC East.