We talked about the tight end position in the last couple of weeks - Thomas first with his piece "Zach Miller, John Carlson and the Value of Chip-and-Release," then I addressed it as well later, with my roster analysis on the position. I think the main gist of both of our articles was that though maybe considered a 'luxury' signing, neither of us would be against bringing back the former Golden Domer, Carlson, on a new contract (or even as a frachised player). If that doesn't happen, the Seahawks have high-potential, but unproven assets in Anthony McCoy and Cameron Morrah that flash athleticism and versatility, but haven't proven much in game-action.
With the amount that the Seahawks use tight ends in their offense and going off of some Pete Carroll quotes this offseason about finding more 'touchdown makers' and how much he'd like to have Carlson back in order to pair him with Zach Miller, let's surmise that perhaps the Seahawks will be looking at tight end this year in the Draft. Churn, churn, churn. Maybe?
The inimitable Mike Mayock has pronounced his preliminary top-five at each position and today I'm going to focus on his most highly rated tight ends.
For some reason I feel like the tight end class this year is pretty understated and no name outside of Dwayne Allen really stands out to me. Let's talk about them, shall we?
1. Dwayne Allen, Clemson. 6'4, 255
Matt Waldman, a football writer that I have a great deal of respect for, recently wrote an article entitled "Blocking Clinic: Clemson TE Dwayne Allen":
Yesterday, I watched Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen put on a blocking clinic. The fact that Allen has the physical skills and hands to become a productive move-tight end or hybrid player already places him atop most teams' positional boards. The fact that he demonstrated the skill to execute a full complement of blocks gives him star potential.
Waldman then goes on to describe, in intimate detail, exactly why he opened with those words, particularly 'star potential'. He finished up his excellent scouting report with this:
I could show you more, including a fourth-quarter play where Allen leads the way on a 23-yard gain by blocking the SS on the edge of a jet sweep to right end. The Clemson tight end closes the gap two yards past the line and drives the defender backwards literally 10 yards down field before turning the opponent's back to the sideline just as the RB runs past for another 13 yards to the Virginia Tech 17.
I could also show the red zone play on a QB draw where Allen is visibly upset with himself because he let the linebacker get away from him and make the tackle on the ball carrier that limits the run to a seven-yard gain - a run Allen opens to that side by sealing that defender inside. But I think I've shown you that Allen cares about blocking because he does the dirty work in a variety of ways.
This, to me, sounds like a Tom Cable type of player and I'm instantly very intrigued at the prospect. He's pretty unanimously ranked as the number one tight end in the class (at least, by Mayock, Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and Rob Rang), so that puts him somewhere in the end of the first round or into the early 2nd round, most likely. The Seahawks are almost surely not going to use their first or second pick on a TE, but weirder things have happened so watch the following videos:
2. Coby Fleener - Stanford. 6'6, 245:
There is no doubt that Luck's ability to recognize weaknesses in the defense and deft passing touch have contributed to Fleener's statistics, but it would be a mistake to write off the 6-6, 248 pounder as simply a by-product. Fleener isn't a thumper as a blocker, but he does have surprising foot speed, agility and leaping ability for a player of his size, making him a legitimate threat down the seam.
This makes me think of John Carlson, or even more interestingly, a guy like Jimmy Graham.
3. Orson Charles - Georgia: 6'3, 242.
Kris Durham's former teammate. Said to be an athletic freak and remains in the first round discussion. Had 44 catches, 572 yards, and five touchdowns last year for the Bulldogs.
4. Ladarius Green - Louisiana-Lafayette: 6'6, 237.
Small school guy with 18 yards per catch in 2010. Scouting report here.
5. Michael Egnew - Missouri: 6'5, 251.
Another former basketball/track type guy in the mold of the 'new TE' prototype in the NFL. Scouting report here.