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NFL Draft 2012: Scouting Oregon TE/H-Back David Paulson

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Our own Scott Enyeart ran the following interview for SB Nation Seattle but I figured it would be interesting for Seahawks fans as well so I'm publishing parts of it here as well. With Michael Robinson and John Carlson in free agent limbo, the need for a TE/H-back type potentially increases going into next season for the Seahawks. Whether or not Robinson and/or Carlson are re-signed will likely impact the draft and free agency for this franchise, and if both move on it's safe to say the Seahawks could look at building depth at the fullback and tight end position.

David Paulson is an H-Back/tight end hybrid that was, interestingly, voted co-MVP for the Ducks offense by his team after catching 30 passes for 428 yards and six touchdowns in 2011. He's lauded for his blocking ability and general versatility and dependability, and Oregon used him across formations in a number of different roles. He's a mid to late round projection at the moment, and the Seahawks were one of the many teams he met with in Indianapolis. Here's what he had to say, with regards to the Seahawks and the NFL Combine, with Scott's questions in bold/italics. You can read the entire interview here.


Tell me a little bit about your NFL Combine experience, how did it go?

It went pretty well, it's definitely a new experience having all the teams around. The medical experience was probably one of the weirdest; each team kinda gets a shot at checking every joint on you, and making sure you don't have any injuries, so that was pretty interesting. I got to meet with quite a few tight end coaches from different teams, I thought that went well. With the drills and running, it went pretty well for me, I was hoping to run a little better in the 40, but everything else went pretty well.

(Paulson, at 6'3, 246, ran the 40 in 4.93, the short shuttle in 4.4 seconds, the 3-cone in 7.18, and registered a 32" vertical jump).

What teams did you meet with?

I actually met with quite a few, probably about 25, mostly tight end coaches.

Were the Seahawks one of them?

Yeah, that was one of the teams.

What's the one thing you can tell fans that they wouldn't know about the combine from watching it on TV?

All the stuff happens before the drills and everything. I got there on a Tuesday. Wednesday we spent the day at the hospital kind of doing pre-evaluation - tests, x-rays, taking blood, stuff like that. The next day you go through all these different rooms, and the different teams check you out and do their own little physicals to make sure you don't have any injuries. So, really I was there a few days before I got to do any on-field testing. Finally bench was on Friday, and then Saturday was the last day I was there and that's when I got to do all the stuff that fans see on TV. Then there's also interviews every night with all the different teams. It's a longer process then I ever really knew about from just watching on TV.

You mentioned you met with a lot of teams at the combine, how'd those interviews go?

Most of them asked a lot of basic info about me, my family background, school, that sort of stuff. They asked me to draw up some plays, just to kind of see my knowledge of the game. Most of them said similar things - they liked me, but they had no idea where I'd get picked, if it was them or someone else. I think at this point, it was them just getting all their information that they needed. They asked when my pro day was, so we'll see who shows up to that and takes another look at me.

So on that note, when is your pro day?

March 15th.

What are you hoping to show at pro day that you feel you didn't show at the combine?

I am hoping to improve on my 40. The other numbers, I thought I did a decent job with, so I'm thinking I might just keep what I did at the combine, because I don't know how much that would improve in a couple weeks. And then just really focus on the football part of it, the drills they'll run me through that day. So hopefully they'll get a better look at me one-on-one in those drills.

What 40 time are you hoping to run?

I am hoping to run in the 4.7's, I've ran that before, and I feel like I can run that again.

You're a Seattle native, I remember you mentioned when we talked at PAC-12 Media Day that you're a Seahawks fan. What would mean for you to play for the Seahawks?

I grew up a huge Seahawks fan. I remember going to my first game in first grade. My teacher gave me tickets, and my dad took me to the game. Ever since then I've been a huge Seahawks fan, for a while my family actually had season tickets. I remember going to games in the Kingdome, and then we went to games at Husky Stadium, then even in the new stadium. So, I've been a big fan for a while. If I had the opportunity to play there, that would be awesome to play for the team I grew up following and been a big fan of.

You played pretty much every position at Auburn Riverside High School, including quarterback your senior year. Since you played HS QB, that automatically makes you an authority on the position. As an expert on QB-play, and as a Seahawks fan, who would you like to see as Seattle's QB in 2012?

That's a tough one. I know there's some great ones in the draft this year, I don't know if they're going be around late enough for the Seahawks to pick them up. Both RGIII and Andrew Luckmight be gone by that time, but I know they're both really good players. I think they'll be able to pick somebody up who can come in and least compete for that job.

How did playing at Oregon, in a nontraditional offense, and the way you were used, prepare you for the NFL?

I will say it's not exactly the same offense as what I'll see in the NFL. But a lot of these offenses are starting to move their TE's around, trying to get mismatches. If you watched the New England Patriots play this year, they played with a lot of 2 TE sets, and one of them would kind of move around and try to find mismatches, so I think that's kind of the new thing in the NFL that we'll start to see more of. And in that regard I think I am pretty well prepared. I moved around a lot in our offense. I played in the slot, I played in the backfield, i played as a true TE, as an H-back, a little be of everything. So, I am used to moving around and playing in different spots, I think that's helped prepare me for the next level.

It would appear like you're a good fit for the way the position seems to be trending in the NFL, don't you think?

Yeah, definitely. You'll still see some end-line guys. But I feel like most teams are going where they have an end-line guy, they have a move-guy, and they just have different types of players at the tight end position, not all one type.

What NFL tight end do you think you most closely compare to?

Owen Daniels, down with the Texans, I think has a pretty similar style of play. He's probably the main one. I like the way Dallas Clark from the Colts plays. They kind of move him around, he's a great receiving tight end. Kind of a combination of those two.

What's one thing you want NFL teams to know about you, that they might not be able to tell from just watching film?

That I am a good teammate on and off the field. That I'd be a great representative of their team. During my college career I was a team captain, my teammates voted me Most Outstanding. I think that shows they respected me on the field and off the field.


Check out some scouting tape and a few quotes from analysts after the jump.

You can see Dan Kadar's scouting report on Paulson over at Mocking the Draft. In it, Kadar describes Paulson as solid in several facets of the game, both in releasing vertically as a pass catcher and at blocking. He offers the following bold statement:

"Paulson will never be an NFL team's No. 1 tight end, but he's a versatile No. 2 who can catch and block. He's even lined up some as an H-back."

Tom Melton covered the East West Shrine Game, which the Oregon TE took part in, and offered this analysis on Paulson:

I am really high on David Paulson and I seem to be one of the few in that respect, but I don't mind that. He may not be the biggest, the strongest or the fastest but as I have said over and over I value players that make big plays when their teams need them the most. Paulson doesn't have a great track record of statistical production and only had 31 receptions, 438 yards and 6 touchdowns this year, but many of those moved the chains and extended drives for Oregon.

There are plenty of explosive playmakers on that Ducks roster so Paulson isn't the primary or secondary target by any means. However, he was the glue guy that Darron Thomas could locate if he needed someone to make a catch and I think that value applies to the NFL. I think Paulson can threaten defenses vertically despite not being a freak athlete and he has very reliable hands. I fully expect him to be a riser this week and I think he definitely deserves to be drafted.

I have been singing Paulson's praises for a long time and while he wasn't a stud today he did make a few nice catches on high throws, and I don't think I saw him drop a pass. He's underrated, and while he doesn't project well as an in-line TE he can definitely contribute to a NFL passing game at TE or H-Back. He's consistent and catches the ball when it comes his way, that's all you can ask.