Ladarius Green has quickly overtaken Orson Charles as the No. 3 tight end on my draft board. I have been extremely high on the small school prospect throughout the entire NFL draft process since the start of January.
He possesses the skill sets that teams look for in the new breed of tight ends at the next level. Green is going to be a matchup nightmare as a hybrid threat moving forward.
With that said, there are some limitations to his game as is the case with most prospects in the draft. This article is going to focus on seven strengths and weaknesses of this sleeper tight end prospect.
As you will see in the embedded video Ladarius Green does a great job catching the ball away from his body and not letting it eat him up. This is something that even some of the most talented tight ends in the National Football League struggle with.
Green will not drop many passes, provides a line for the quarterback to throw the ball and can be counted on to catch everything thrown in his direction.
Teams looking for that consistent threat between the hashes and on the outside need not look any further.
This is one thing that disables my ability to say that Ladarius Green is a complete tight end. He doesn't utilize great blocking technique, lacks the strength to engage at the point of contact and isn't too willing to engage in the first place.
We see this with young tight ends a great deal coming out of college. It is definitely something that needs to change in order for the Louisiana-Lafayette product to make an immediate impact as an every down player in the National Football League.
It is also something that can be fixed in short order.
Because of his frame (6'6", 238) and leaping ability (34.4" vertical), Ladarius Green should make an instant impact as a red zone threat on the offensive side of the ball.
The NFL has started going towards more corner fades in these situations, which helps out bigger targets a great deal. This also gives the quarterback a safety valve to rely on with second and third reads when the initial read doesn't open up.
We saw this a great deal with both Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski last season. Without comparing Green to those two, he does possess this ability.
This has a great deal to do with playing in a less than dynamic offense at Louisiana-Lafayette than anything else. Ladarius Green wasn't asked to run a wide array of routes in college, which will cause issues in regards to his learning curve to the next level.
The routes that Green did run in college were iffy at best. He still tends to fade off of the line on certain routes, which causes some issues in regards to connectivity with the quarterback.
Green definitely needs to hone his route running skills, making them much more tight on a consistent basis in order to be an immediate impact rookie.
This is one of the primary reasons that I have Ladarius Green with a second-round grade. I absolutely love the matchup problems that he causes on the football field.
He actually reminds me a great deal of Vernon Davis and Jimmy Graham in this aspect of his game. As you can see in the embedded video Green can line up at wide receiver on the outside, in the slot, at tight end and even as a h-back.
Cornerbacks are too small and not physical enough to matchup with him on the outside. Safeties and linebackers are not going to be able to cover him in man between the hashes either. Short of shifting their entire coverage in his direction teams are going to be seeing the ball thrown to Green with consistent throwing lanes and open spots.
While level of competition shouldn't be a determining factor in a team making a decision on drafting a prospect, it still holds some ground.
There is something to say about the fact that Orson Charles went up against SEC defenses at Georgia and Coby Fleener had to pair up against PAC-12 defenders at Stanford. Meanwhile, Ladarius Green was going up against the likes of North Texas and Western Kentucky.
Some will say that the NFL is going to be too big for Green. I don't agree with this assessment, but it is a fair point to make.
I had previously mentioned Ladarius Green's 6'6" frame, which is as imposing as they come. What I have not covered yet is the fact that he is as athletic as any tight end in the 2012 NFL draft.
Green's athleticism sets his offense up for success going down the field between the hashes. He has a tremendous leaping ability, which causes major issues for defenders attempting to climb the ladder in order to deflect a pass.
Moreover, Green is going to be outstanding in jump ball situations and can stretch the field a great deal. He averaged 18 yards per reception with Louisiana-Lafayette, which is a huge number for a tight end.
This leads me to believe that Green might be one of the two most productive tight ends in the 2012 NFL draft five years from now.