The 2013 NFL draft is said to be rather weak at the tight end position. But as there are generally two types of tight ends in the NFL, blocking and receiving, we focus on perhaps the best of the latter variety.
Projected as a middle-to-late-round selection, Chris Gragg of Arkansas will be an instant weapon in the right offense. Gragg's 4.5-second 40-yard dash (per NFL.com) at the NFL Scouting Combine last February proves that he can run—he posted the fastest time among tight ends.
A blocker he is not, however, so buyer beware.
At 6'3'' and 244 pounds, he doesn't have the overall mass and strength to do much in the running game. These traits could place him in more of an H-back role in the NFL.
If given time to develop and clean up some bad habits—such as holding the ball away from his body—Gragg will be a potential weapon for some team that already has a starting tight end that is both a good blocker and pass-catcher.
On this play, Gragg demonstrates his ability to go where he needs to be and patiently wait for his opportunity.
As quarterback Brandon Allen tries to locate an open receiver, the play begins to break down and Gragg is waiting in the flat, somehow uncovered. His following catch-and-run, almost a touchdown, shows terrific speed after the catch.
Not all tight ends have the speed to create plays like this, but Gragg is one that certainly can.
Gragg obviously can exploit zone coverage anywhere on the field.
This time, he is found by Tyler Wilson deep down the middle after the pass rush fails to reach its target.
Gragg's speed not only allows him to find soft spots in zone coverage, but also enables him to get deeper than many tight ends who don't run like he can.
Putting linebackers on Gragg is almost useless.
On this play, he takes advantage of play action as the defense freezes to defend the run. Quarterback Wilson goes right down field knowing that Gragg's defender won't have a shot.
Gragg has his defender beaten by close to five yards as he makes a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab for a touchdown.
On this play, Gragg again takes advantage of a modest play-action fake by Wilson.
Despite the linebackers coming up and reacting quickly, Gragg easily seperates from a defender and turns a short catch into a huge gain.
Blocking may not be his strongest area, but running with the ball certainly is. Without help from the deep secondary, that slim margin of space created at the line of scrimmage would have resulted in a touchdown.
If nobody holds Gragg up at the line, it's instant trouble.
Given a free release off the line, he reaches the flat almost instantly for a short catch that turns into chain-moving reception.
Gragg creates a dilemma for opponents. They can risk run defense by assigning a linebacker to him or they can allow short pass plays that safeties, generally much smaller, have to bring to an end.The latter is never a good option for a defense.
Gragg is not a very heavy tight end, but he's more than big and strong enough to break the tackle of any secondary player.
While it's true that Gragg is a bit undersized for tight end in the NFL, it doesn't mean that he won't have a role.
On this play, Gragg is lined up as an H-back. Off the play-action fake, he is able to run straight upfield with no obstructions.
The result is another big play turned in by Gragg, most likely a future H-back in the NFL