The 2011 combine drills began today with the offensive lineman, kickers and tight ends. There really were no big surprises for the offensive lineman, but it was a slightly different story for the tight ends.
While Virgil Green of Nevada stole the show with his 42.5" vertical and 10'10" broad jump, many other players showed they were more than capable of providing a team with a receiving threat at the position.
Also, some of the higher ranked tight ends did not have such a good day catching the ball and running routes. Let's take a look at some of the best and worst showings at the tight end position. Feel free to let me know what you agree with or what I might have missed.
1. Rob Housler (4.53 6'5" 248; Florida Atlantic)
Very good receiving TE; ran fastest 40 time; fluent route runner; 37" vertical
Housler was a very pleasant surprise at the position. He began his day running the fastest 40 of all the tight ends followed closely by an impressive 37" vertical which was good for third best. He went on to effortlessly run crisp routes, came in and out of breaks quickly and caught almost everything that came his way.
2. Jordan Cameron (4.59 6'5" 254; USC)
Not afraid to take lead; smooth, good breaks, good speed, needs a little more time to polish route running; good potential; 37.5" vertical
Jordan Cameron had the second fastest time in the 40 at 4.59 and second best vertical at 37.5". He also ran great routes, made quick crisp breaks, and showed very good hands. He was also the first tight end to compete in many of the drills, showing that he's not afraid to take the lead.
3. D.J. Williams (4.67, 6'2", 245; Arkansas)
Caught almost everything, good in breaks; very good route runner; 33.5" vertical; slightly slower with less vertical jump than top two TE's; Best TE coming out of breaks
Going into the combine, D.J. Williams was ranked as the fourth best tight end in the draft by Mike Mayock, and he did not disappoint. He ran a 4.67 in the 40 and finished with a 33.5" vertical. He was by far the best route runner of all the tight ends and caught just about every pass thrown his way. However, his slightly worse 40 time and vertical lands him in third.
4. Charlie Gant ( 6'4", 252; Michigan State)
Will Virgil Green's impressive Vertical and Broad Jump performance translate to NFL success?
Smooth; fluent in breaks; not extremely fast, but looks very comfortable running routes and catching the ball 30.5" vertical
Charlie Gant did not impress with his 40 time or his vertical, but when it came to passing drills, he showed up. He was very fluent running his routes and coming out of breaks. He also had some of the best hands amongst his peers.
5. Virgil Green (4.64, 6'3", 249; Nevada)
Very good broad jump and vertical; dropped a few passes; ran a little stiff 10'10" broad jump; 42.5" vertical; needs more polishing and needs to learn to breathe
Green started the day off with the best vertical and broad jump at the combine. He also ran a good 40 with a 4.64. After that, he began to fall short. Although he's a quick runner, he seems to run a little stiff and dropped quite a few passes.
He often seemed to be holding his breath which made him seem very stiff at times. Mayock kept saying that he is very raw, and I would have to agree. However, with a little work and some lessons on breathing, he should prove to be a decent tight end at the next level.
1. Cameron Graham (6'3" 244; Louisville)
Runs stiff; late looking for ball; 5.11 in 40; very slow, sloppy in breaks; better be a good blocker or will have short career; 31" vertical
There really was two tight ends that looked absolutely horrible in most of the passing drills. One of those guys was Cameron Graham. He ran very stiff, looked for the ball too late and didn't show great ability to explode out of his breaks. Running an extremely slow 40 of 5.11 and only reaching 31" on the vertical doesn't help either. Let's hope for his sake that he's an extremely good blocker.
2. Zack Pianalto (4.87, 6'3", 256; North Carolina)
Slow; dropped many passes; 32" vertical
Zack Pianalto was equally as bad as Graham at catching the ball and running routes. He did however have a slightly better 40 time at 4.87 and vertical at 32". Hopefully he too has some very good blocking skills.
3. Charles Clay (4.73, 6'2", 245; Tulsa)
Decent runner but slow in breaks; late looking for ball. Many have been talking that he might be moved to fullback.
Clay just looked a little out of place all day. He seemed very uncomfortable in all the drills. He was late all day looking for the ball and was a little slow coming out of his breaks. He's not terribly slow, amassing a 4.73 in the 40. There has been some talk about him being evaluated more as a fullback than a tight end. A position move might be in his future.
4. Luke Stocker (4.79, 6'4", 258; Tennessee)
Very stiff hands; slow, stiff movement; 33" vertical; strictly blocking TE; not great coming out of break
For what was supposed to be one of the best tight ends in the draft, I was extremely disappointed in Stocker. He ran a slow 40 at 4.79, ran stiff all day and dropped more passes than expected. If he is indeed a good blocker, look for that to be his primary job at the next level.
5. Lance Kendricks (4.75, 6'2", 243; Wisconsin)
Slow; dropped passes; 34.5" vertical; strictly blocking TE
Kendricks, like D.J. Williams, couldn't afford a bad combine measuring at only 6'2". He had a decent vertical at 34.5", but that was his best showing of the day. He finished the 40 with a slow (especially for his height) 4.75. He also dropped a lot of passes and wasn't impressive coming out of his breaks. Hopefully, he's a better blocker than he is a receiver.