New England’s dynamic tight end pairing of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez has created a knee-jerk reaction by NFL draft gurus.
According to all the mock drafts and analysis saturating the web, teams are flocking to Stanford’s Coby Fleener because of his athleticism, which became evident at his pro day.
He ran an unofficial sub-4.5 forty time and put up 27 reps on the bench. Just like that, he bypassed Clemson’s Dwayne Allen as this year’s top tight end prospect.
Fleener is a great prospect and possesses all of the flashy athletic qualities that teams are now looking for in pass-catching tight ends. He’s big, strong, fast and has great hands.
But depending on where he goes, will he be utilized enough to justify the high pick?
Remember, Gronkowski was selected 42nd overall (second round) and his partner in crime, Aaron Hernandez, went 113th overall (fourth round).
Green Bay’s Jermichael Finley went 91st overall (third round) and New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham went 95th overall (third round).
Fleener, meanwhile, could go as high as the 20s in Round 1. For a tight end who still needs to hone his blocking and route-running skills, that is really high.
This all might suggest that teams have learned from letting these types of players drop in the draft. But on the other hand, it also shows that these are luxury types of players who must be properly utilized in their respective systems in order to showcase their unique skills.
It’s safe to say that Bill Belichick, Sean Payton and Mike McCarthy are all well-respected and intelligent offensive-minded coaches who use strategy just as much as player strengths when it comes to fully utilizing these players.
Based on all of this, Fleener is likely to be over-drafted, while some of the more underrated tight ends that could be just as productive in the NFL (Allen, Ladarius Green, Michael Egnew) could slip and be available in the later rounds.