Skills are broken down from a ++ to --. ++ are complete skills, pro ready. -- are glaring weaknesses. The kind of faults that can fell an otherwise top talent.
Route Running: Very fluid route runner in a demanding system. Crisp cuts, clean lines and excellent field awareness.
Conditioning: Maintains high level of play into 4th quarter.
Hands: Snatches the ball away from his body and quickly secures it. Consistent receiver who can make some hard catches.
Release: Gets off the line quickly and fights off the press effectively. Works his way through traffic and adjusts route for defenders.
Overall Athleticism: Smooth, no hitches in his run even when changing direction. Can lose his feet from under him.
Agility: Maintains speed into and out of cuts. Knows how to add a little speed when entering the soft spot in a zone or when shedding a defender.
Zone Awareness: Adjusts routes to zone coverage, consistently finds openings.
Blocking: Surprised? I was. A tenacious and spirited blocker when he engages, Carlson too often misses his assignment, losing position or being run around. Has the foundation of an excellent blocker, but exits college more of a support blocker.
Overall Speed: Speed tops out quickly. Doesn't look significantly faster after 10 yards than he does after 5.
RAC: Brings the fight to the defender, but isn't bruising. Lacks the agility to be much of a force in the open field in the NFL. Will not run away from NFL defenders.
Boxing Out Defenders: This could be the product of late throws, but I watched Carlson allow way too many defenders to make a play for the ball from behind. Needs to improve his ability to use his body position to remove the defender from the play.
Summary: Carlson is a good, well-rounded tight end. He's a good blocker and steady force underneath. Many of his skills are pro ready, but an inability to run away from or box out defenders might limit his deep ability. The later may also limit his viability as a red zone target.