NFL Combine: Climbing The Ranks at The Tight End Position

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NFL Combine: Climbing The Ranks at The Tight End Position

Despite going to a football factory in USC, David Buehler has emerged from obscurity by blowing up the NFL Draft Combine. 

An impressive 25 reps on the bench press makes him the fourth-strongest tight end in this year’s draft. His 40-yard time of 4.56 seconds makes him the second-fastest player at the tight end position. 

Critics are quick to point out that Buehler lacks ideal height and size as he measured in at 6-foot-2 and 227 pounds. This is roughly three inches short and twenty pounds shy of the majority of his pass-catching peers that line up alongside offensive tackles.  However, the biggest concern surrounding Buehler is the fact that he’s a kicker. 

Buehler first appeared in games for USC as a “strong-leg” kicker who only took the field in long field-goal situations. Starting as a senior, his 48 touchbacks on kickoffs led all collegiate kickers. When he first arrived at USC, his position was undefined. Over the next few years, his decision to be a kicker became resolute.  “This is what I want to do,” said Buehler of being a kicker in a 2008 Los Angeles Times article.

Yet with so much attention being given to defensive linemen with fast 40 times potentially being moved to outside linebacker in 3-4 schemes, versatility is taking the spotlight in many combine discussions. Certainly a player with Buehler’s skill set needs to be considered as providing a dynamic choice for one of the invaluable 53 spots on an NFL team’s active roster.

Buehler’s marketability is increased by the fact that he might make some tackles running down kick returners. He might be good for a couple fake field goals over the course of a season. He might even be a two-position prospect like West Virginia’s Pat White, who is trying out for teams at both quarterback and wide receiver? 

Whether a team drafts Buehler, or picks him up as an undrafted free agent, it can be suggested that during training camp somebody might want to throw the guy a ball.  As strong of a showing as he has had at the combine there have got to be a few scouts asking, “Can he catch a football?”
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