Philip Lutzenkirchen Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Auburn TE
Whether or not the Auburn tight end gets drafted late or not at all, Lutzenkirchen possesses more than a few attributes that could aid him in developing a nice NFL career.
The tight end spot was not the main focus of the Auburn offense, so Lutzenkirchen had to learn how to be a solid blocker from his H-back spot. He gained plenty of notoriety in the Cam Newton-led offense during the 2010 championship run by being one of the best blockers on the team.
Lutzenkirchen does have good, soft hands despite not getting many looks with the Tigers. He has shown the ability to make the tough play on badly thrown balls and readjust his body to make the reception. His big frame allows him to box out smaller defenders, which he uses to his advantage in the red zone. He scored 14 touchdowns in a four-year career.
Lutzenkirchen will have to develop a niche at the next level because he lacks the elite speed that many NFL tight ends current showcase. He is a bit stiff when running routes, but he still runs them efficiently. A quicker linebacker will likely be able to stay with him and make a play on routes over the middle of the field.
He needs to learn to stay with blocks. Lutzenkirchen is an above-average blocker around the line of scrimmage, but struggles to “improvise block” on plays that develop downfield.
Lutzenkirchen also dealt with injury issues his senior year, which cut his season to only six games.
Lutzenkirchen does not have elite size like a few tight end prospects in the class possess, but he still stands solid at 6’3” and 260 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash at Auburn’s pro day on March 6 at a clip of 4.93, which will not win him any favors with NFL teams. His 40 time confirms the lack of speed shown on tape.
He had no recorded issues at Auburn. Lutzenkirchen was named as a finalist for the Senior Class Award, which was ultimately received by Manti Te’o.
Lutzenkirchen was primarily used as an H-back coming out of the backfield. He is a little big as a prototypical fullback—a position that is just about dead in NFL offenses—but he could play a James Casey-type position in the NFL.
Lutzenkirchen has an initial good burst, which will benefit him on short routes. However, he does not have enough long-lasting speed to effectively run down the field consistently. He does have a good release as a lead blocker out of the backfield.
He runs good routes when called upon, but there is not enough college tape on him running a full route tree. Due to the fact that he was more of a red-zone weapon, there are still questions about his route-running ability in the open field.
Lutzenkirchen has a good pair of hands. He can make the tough catch and shows good timing on balls that look like they will be out of reach. He also outmuscles defenders on 50/50 balls in the end zone.
He shows nice adjustments on tougher plays. Lutzenkirchen has a good awareness as to where the ball is at all times and then has explosive jumping ability to go over the top of a defender.
Run After the Catch
He will never be a yards-after-the-catch guy at the NFL level. Once Lutzenkirchen makes the catch, he will hold on to it, but he will not get very far upfield. He is strong enough to bowl through a tackler or two, but long plays are limited.
Auburn 2012 awards: Philip Lutzenkirchen (Ken Rice Award for best blocking lineman), Onterio McCalebb (Pat Sullivan Award - Offensive POY)— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) April 20, 2013
Lutzenkirchen is superb as a lead blocker for his back, but he still needs more experience as an in-line blocker. He analyzes matchups well out of the backfield, but can get lost in the open field once a big play has broken out. He is big and strong at the point of attack, which makes him an effective H-Back.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Lutzenkirchen will be a solid depth player as an occasional blocker in running situations. He could blossom into a good pass-catcher over the middle with time, but he has not been called to do so since high school.
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