Stanford's Coby Fleener used the draft process to separate himself from the rest of the tight end class. He's wowed scouts with this impressive pro-day workout, where he posted a 4.51 40-time, according to Pro Football Talk. This display of athleticism instantly pushed Fleener into the first-round discussion.
The other top tight end prospects all had some sort of negative attention rise during the process. Georgia's Orson Charles was cited for a DUI and Clemson's Dwayne Allen ran a very unimpressive 40-time at the Combine.
All the above factors and following slides play a role in Fleener's ranking as my top tight end prospect.
At 6'6" and 247 pounds, Coby Fleener towers over most defensive backs and linebackers. His size and bulk make him a real mismatch problem for the defense. However, it's his ability to control his body that allows him to effectively use his size.
Fleener knows how to position himself to box out the defender, making it difficult for them to make a play on the ball. He also does a good job to gain balance right before he attacks the ball at its highest point. There isn't many players who possesses his type of size and are able to properly use it to their advantage.
The defense will have a very tough time finding players capable of matching up against Fleener. He's someone the opposing team must game-plan for each and every week.
It would be inaccurate to peg Coby Fleener as a poor blocking tight end. His all-around blocking ability is actually above-average for the position. However, he struggles to consistently drive defenders off the line of scrimmage. Fleener is more of a turn-and-seal type of run blocker.
Teams who employ a power-running game and are looking for a road-grader tight end shouldn't consider adding Fleener, and his overall value is still his ability to make plays in the passing game.
This category is classified under a weakness, but I felt I must discuss the positives of his blocking. Fleener gives 100 percent effort when it comes to contributing to the running game. He fights to gain inside hand placement and is strong enough to turn the defender from the play. I am comfortable stating that Fleener is an above-average run blocker.
Coby Fleener has great explosiveness and size for the tight end position. His 4.51 40-time at his Pro Day confirmed what he showed on the field. Fleener has both excellent long speed and two-step quickness. His ability to quickly reach full speed helps him create separation.
The current gold standard for the tight end position is Rob Gronkowski. At 6'6" 265 pounds, Gronkowski ran a comparable 4.68 40-time. Measurables are only part of the equations, but Fleener backed up his workout numbers with great production at Stanford.
His speed makes him a threat to attack the deep part of the field. Opposing defenses must respect his ability to attack the seam. He's both an excellent deep threat and possession target. His short-area burst helps him gain separation out of his breaks.
In the six-plus games I viewed, Fleener didn't show any issues remaining focused on the football. However, it's possible he registered a poor game or two that I was unable to view. Todd McShay and Scouts Inc. feel that Fleener lost concentration at times and it stopped him from making some easy catches: "Dropped a few more passes in 2011 than expected, most due to apparent lapses in focus."
The ability to catch the football is as much about focus as it is about natural ability. Taking your eyes off the ball for even a second could result in a dropped pass. Unlike college, most NFL games are closely contested, making one dropped pass a major issue.
As I mentioned, I didn't notice any issues with Fleener's concentration. The views from McShay and company may have been a stretch to find a fault in Fleener's game.
Coby Fleener has tremendous hands, catching just about everything in his area. He typically remains focused on the ball, despite what's reported by Scouts Inc. Fleener always attacks the football at its highest point. His aggressiveness combined with this size helps him make plays other players are unable to make.
Fleener's athleticism and body control also allows him to make plays away from his body. He can drop his pad level and reach balls thrown in the dirt. His vacuum-like ability will instantly make him the favorite target for whatever quarterback has the honor of throwing him the football.