Thursday, April 30, 2015

Top Tight Ends for 2015 Draft

by Justin Rasile

1) Maxx Williams, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Height: 6’4          Weight: 249
40 Yard Dash: 4.78
Vertical Jump: 34.5 inches
Career Stats: 61 catches, 986 yards, 13 TDs

Maxx is one talented player.  The big tight end from the University of Minnesota is a great blocker as well as a great receiver but it troubles me that I heard bad things about how he interviewed while he was at the combine.  Williams can do it all as he controls and contorts his body well towards the ball, has great awareness of the sideline, and is strong.  Sport Science ran studies on him and when he launches off the line, he pushes out over 1100 pounds of force and then has the ability to hurdle a four and a half foot obstacle.  That is an impressive display of athleticism.  My favorite stat about the tight end is that 80% of his catches last year resulted in either a first down or a touchdown.  Every time he touches the ball, something happens.  His understanding of route running is very impressive as he knows the subtleties of running certain routes, specifically his flat routes.  He knows to get enough distance from whoever is defending him so that he has time to catch the ball and then make a move up the field to avoid the defender.  I love his strength.  There are not many players that have the raw power to drag 300 pound defensive linemen an extra five yards to pick up the first down.  I have heard Jason Whitten comparisons as his ceiling and I do see some of that in Williams.  Blocking is such an underrated and overlooked part of a tight ends game and if the player has the ability to block and catch, he can be on the field for all three downs.  If the reports of him sounding disinterested during interviews are true, that’s sad because he clearly hurt his stock.  It is THE biggest job interview of your life.  All you have to do is be as humble as possible and not come off as a moron.  You cannot sound like you are too good to be there because word gets around and then you lose millions of dollars.

2) Mycole Pruitt, Southern Illinois
Height: 6’2          Weight: 251
40 Yard Dash: 4.58
Vertical Jump: 38 inches
Career Stats: 221 catches, 2601 yards, 25 TDs

Another small school guy here that I love.  Pruitt was extremely productive at the Football Championship Series as noted by his 81 catches, 861 yards, and 13 TDs in his senior year at Southern Illinois University.  While some may say that he did not play against any tough competition, and this may be true, he did play against Purdue this past season and managed to catch ten passes for 136 yards in the game.  Pretty impressive as the only threat on offense.  Purdue had to stop him and they couldn’t.  Pruitt moves extremely well and once the ball is in his hands, he has great field awareness and football IQ.  He constantly knows where the endzone and first down markers are.  While he may not be the fastest on a football field, he moves very well for a big man.  Pruitt’s forty yard dash is deceptive though because he may have a time of 4.58 but he does not play that fast.  Although, with a vertical of almost forty inches and the fact that he knows where he is on the field, Pruitt could turn into a pretty productive tight end.  He is already a built and strong man but an NFL weight room can get him even bigger and stronger.  His blocking is already pretty good and that can help him see time early on in his career.  Just like with most tight ends nowadays, Pruitt has lined up all over the football field, including off the ball and away from the offensive line.  This allows him to be more of a receiver and concentrate on making a play on the ball instead of having to avoid or run through linebackers.  As a tight end, making tough catches has to be a routine and this kid has done plenty of that as he constantly makes catches with defenders draped over him or with hands in his face.  These small time guys come into the league with big chips on their shoulders, I hope my guy Pruitt does just that and shows what the FCS level guys are capable of.

3) Nick O’Leary, Florida State Seminoles
Height: 6’3          Weight: 252
40 Yard Dash: 4.93
Vertical Jump: 30.5 inches
Career Stats: 61 catches, 986 yards, 13 TDs

There is something special about Nick O’Leary.  Time and time again, this kid found a way to make big plays in big moments at Florida State.  Being a Florida Gators fan, I am ecstatic this kid is gone because he killed my team.  One way or another, the no gloved tight end will make an impact in the NFL.  He is strong and plays faster than his forty-yard time would appear.  O’Leary has great sideline awareness and his route running and spatial recognition is phenomenal.  If there is an open area in the zone, the former Florida State Seminole will find it.  His versatility is apparent as he can be a three down tight end in the league.  He lined up all over the field: next to the offensive line, out at wide receiver, and in the backfield as an H back.  His ability to line up and play everywhere will bode well for him getting playing time as a rookie and beyond; especially considering he hardly ever drops the ball.  O’Leary is one tough sumbitch.  He was on a motorcycle two years ago and crashed, thus sliding roughly a hundred feet on the road and he still walked away unharmed.  Not many people can say that.  Not too many people can also say the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, is their grandfather.  So I’m sure Nick can play some golf with whoever his quarterback is and establish a good rapport.  However the draft pans out, I could see Nick O’Leary playing ten years in the league and be the model of consistency. 

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