If any franchise was hoping to grab a tight end in the 2011 NFL Draft, the outlook is not good from the senior class. Just ten seniors were given draftable grades and many of them are marginal prospects. Here’s a breakdown of the senior grades.
1) Luke Stocker/Tennessee: Two tight ends received grades of 5.8, Stocker being one of them. We like his overall game as a blocker and pass catcher and think he has starting potential for a team which does not make the tight end position a priority in the passing offense. 3rd/4th Round
2) Robert Housler/Florida Atlantic: Housler also received a 5.8 and his computer numbers, 6053/238/4.54 (all verified) are terrific. His pre-season wonderlic was also impressive. 3rd/4th Round
3) David Williams/Arkansas: We just finished a boatload of Arkansas film work and don’t agree with the grade handed Williams, 5.6. Williams shows no strength as a blocker and is inconsistent catching the ball. At 6022/241 a move to H-back or possibly fullback could be in the offing. 3rd/4th Round
4) Mike McNeill/Nebraska: Grade, 5.4 5th/7th Round
5)Weslye Saunders/South Carolina: A bit of a surprise here as Saunders gave serious thought to entering April’s draft, where he was projected to be a mid round pick. Saunders is a slimmed down version of Jason Peters; a college tight end in a tackles body who catches the ball well. 5th/7th Round
6) Lee Smith/Marshall: We wrote about Smith last summer opining that he was a better NFL prospect than his teammate Cody Slate, who many thought was a mid-round pick. Smith will be one of the top pure blocking tight ends in next April’s draft. 5th/7th Round
7) Charles Gantt/Michigan State: Many have high opinions of Gantt yet he does nothing to excite us. 5th/7th Round
8) Greg Smith/Texas: Smith is another outstanding blocker at the tight end position. 5th/7th Round
9) Lance Kendricks/Wisconsin: This is a head scratcher. Kendricks reminds us of a lesser version of former Badger Travis Beckum, drafted in the third round of the ’09 draft by the NY Giants. We feel he’s a much better NFL prospect compared to Garrett Graham, now with the Houston Texans. Kendricks grade of 5.2 is significantly lower than the 5.8 received by Graham last year. 5th/7th Round
10) Kyle Adams/Purdue: Grade, 5.0 5th/7th Round
* Projected rounds are the equivalency of the grades given to senior prospects as per National’s grading scale.
Notes: Ben Guidugli of Cincinnati was given an undraftable grade of 4.9, which we think is fair. Oft-injured Konrad Rueland of Stanford was given one of the lowest grades handed out to any prospect, in large part due to his injury history.
How does this stack up to last year? Not well. Jermaine Gresham led the way with a grade of 6.6 followed by Edward Dixon with a 5.8. All told last year had 13 seniors graded as draftable prospects.