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Unheralded draft prospects part IV: Seahawky tight ends and wide receivers

Which under-the-radar players entering the 2016 draft fit Seahawks positional prototypes? My examination of assorted pass-catchers details an array of notable figures.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Parts one, two, and three of this five-part series covered sleeper draft prospects on the defensive side of the ball. Now it's time to preview some lesser-known college players entering the draft on offense, starting with tight ends and wide receivers.

As with the rest of this series, criteria for these prospects include relatively little media coverage, the expectation that they'll last into day three (rounds 4-7) of the draft or go undrafted, and enough of the unquantifiable concept known as "upside."

In these articles I refer to SPARQ, an acronym for Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness, the name for a formula developed by Nike to assess overall athleticism in several sporting fields. Zach Whitman over at 3sigmaathlete has effectively reverse-engineered the formula (referring to it as "pSPARQ") for American footballers and has done a great job compiling all the figures and explaining what those mean.

(Note that height is expressed in the following standard format: the first digit is feet, the next two digits are inches, and the fourth digit is fraction of inches in eighths—so 6013 equals 6’1 3/8", 5117 equals 5’11 7/8", and so on. Also note that some of the player highlight vids have explicit lyrics, so mute as needed.)

Tight ends

Regardless of Jimmy Graham's recovery timetable after suffering a ruptured right patellar tendon in 2015, I expect Seattle to take one tight end somewhere on day three of the draft and snag at least one more in the undrafted free agent pool.

On the current Seahawks roster, these players are listed at tight end: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Cooper Helfet, Brandon Cottom, and Ronnie Shields. Graham-Willson-Helfet form the 1-2-3 trio in depth, though Graham's status has to be considered shaky considering the seriousness of his injury. Helfet is on the final year of a 3-year deal and might not be back in 2017, Cottom is more of a fullback, and Shields, signed as an undrafted free agent, caught only 15 passes for 114 yards and zero TD his entire collegiate career at Kentucky.

Although this is considered an especially weak draft for tight ends—partly due to the diminishing number of true blocking TEs—there's a good assortment of solid, high-upside guys to be had in the later rounds of the draft and beyond. Seattle values quickness and pass-catching in tight ends (Graham, Willson), but also likes (and needs) tight ends who can pass- and run-block.

Beau Sandland, Montana State

Sandland had a tortuous route as a player in the college ranks. The Southern California native was the top-rated junior college tight end in 2012, then transferred to Miami (FL) where he saw limited playing time. Looking for more opportunity as a player, he moved cross-country to Montana State in Bozeman, where he redshirted in 2014 before enjoying an excellent 2015 campaign in which he caught 37 passes for 632 yards and 9 touchdowns. His best game came against Montana in the Brawl of the Wild: 7 receptions for 162 yards and 2 TD.

So what does Sandland bring to the table other than a nice 2015 season? Physically, he looks the part—to go with a shredded physique, he has the size and length (6'4 1/2", 253 lbs, 34 1/4" arms), big hands (over 10"), and very good strength (23 reps at 225 lbs on the bench). He tested as the third-most athletic tight end in this draft. He shows the quickness and suddenness to get open and pick up yards after the catch, and has experience run-blocking.

Sandland might need a year or so to develop in a pro system, but he looks like one of the more complete tight end packages coming in to this draft, and projects as a round 5 or 6 talent.

Sandland's combine summary:

Height, weight: 6044, 253
Arm length: 34.25"
40-yard dash: 4.74 seconds (1.67 10-yard split)
Short shuttle: 4.33 seconds
Three-cone: 7.1 seconds
Vertical jump: 35"
Broad jump: 10'4"
Bench press reps @ 225 lbs: 23

Ryan Malleck, Virginia Tech

Over the past two seasons at Virginia Tech, Malleck was TE #2 behind Bucky Hodges, one of the nation's top tight ends who could've entered the draft but will play for another year at VT. Malleck had an unspectacular-but-solid college career, and earned a spot on this list due to being such a complete package with very good athleticism.

To me, Malleck looks and plays like a slightly lesser version of Beau Sandland—Malleck is almost identical in size (same height, a few pounds less), and tested just below Sandland in almost every category. Both have good, strong hands and offer a nice balance at the position. Malleck's senior-year stats aren't as impressive as Sandland's (21 catches, 289 yards, 2 TD), but he has more experience at the NCAA level (52 career games played vs. Sandland's 24) and faced tougher defenses, including the likes of Ohio State, Duke, North Carolina, and Miami.

If Sandland is a round 5-6 talent, Malleck is more of a round 7 or priority undrafted signing.

Malleck's combine summary:

Height, weight: 6044, 247
Arm length: 32.5"
40-yard dash: 4.81 seconds (1.62 10-yard split)
Short shuttle: 4.33 seconds
Three-cone: 7 seconds
Vertical jump: 34.5"
Broad jump: 10'1"
Bench press reps @ 225 lbs: 18

Link to Malleck's combine workout

Hakeem Valles, Monmouth

Hakeem Valles, the older brother of Buffalo Bills linebacker Max Valles (selected in the 6th round of the 2015 draft), has accrued 40 receptions, 491 yards, and 3 TD since converting from WR to TE for the 2014 season. This was a smart move for Valles, who never saw action as a receiver but played well enough as a tight end to earn a private workout with the Seahawks this month.

Valles, who was named team captain for the 2015 football season, plays with assertiveness, excellent speed (faster than any TE tested at the combine), and seems to have very good hands. He looks like a solid free agent signing.

Valles' regional combine/pro day summary:

Height, weight: 6034, 242
Arm length: (no data)
40-yard dash: 4.63 seconds (1.64 10-yard split)
Short shuttle: 4.46 seconds
Three-cone: 7.28 seconds
Vertical jump: 33.5"
Broad jump: 9'10"
Bench press reps @ 225 lbs: 15

Ben Madon, Eastern Kentucky

Madon (pronounced "maiden") is a converted wide receiver who became a full-time tight end in 2015, so it's not a surprise that he profiles as more of a pass-catcher than a traditional inline blocker. Though he's on the smaller end of the tight end spectrum (6'4", 233 lbs), he's strong (24 bench reps at 225 lbs), and brings plus speed, athleticism, and good hands. He led Eastern Kentucky in receiving yards in 2015, with 34 catches for 456 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Madon brings an extra dimension to a team as a backup punter, a skill that might come in handy the next time Jon Ryan tries his ninja moves on frozen turf. He projects as an undrafted free agent who'd likely spend a year or so on the practice squad before getting any reps in a game.

Madon's summary:

Height, weight: 6037, 233
Arm length: (no data)
40-yard dash: 4.66 seconds (1.64 10-yard split)
Short shuttle: 4.36 seconds
Three-cone: 6.89 seconds
Vertical jump: 34.5"
Broad jump: 9'11"
Bench press reps @ 225 lbs:

Wide receivers

Though not a pressing need for the Seahawks with Jermaine Kearse coming back on a 3-year deal and the emergence of Tyler Lockett, Seattle will look to bolster their WR core in the draft and create competition in training camp. Look for them to pick up a couple of bigger receivers from the draft and free agent pool, guys with size who can stretch the field.

Mitch Mathews, BYU

By now, many of us have heard about über-prospekt von Deutschland Moritz Boehringer, who showed off super-soldier-like ability at his pro day: 4.45-second 40, 39" vertical jump, 10'11" broad jump, 4.1-second 20-yard shuttle, 6.65-second 3-cone, all at 6'4" and 227 pounds. What if I told you that there was a taller version of Mo-Bo with similar athleticism, but with more polish and from a major college program?

His name is Mitch Mathews, and he's nearly 6'6", has 10.5" hands, and played four seasons at BYU. He wasn't invited to the combine, though he did shine at his pro day. Mathews saw little playing time as a freshman (just 2 rec for 27 yds), started stepping up as a sophomore (23 rec, 397 yds, 4 TD), and broke out his junior (73, 922, 9) and senior (54, 737, 11) seasons. That's over 150 career receptions and 2,000 yards, 24 TD, and 13.7 yards per reception.

If Mathews makes you think of big 'n' lanky 4th-round bust from 2011 Kris Durham, that's fair—they're about the same size and their combine test numbers are quite similar—but Mathews looks like a more skilled receiver, enjoyed a far superior collegiate career, and plays with more passion.

Look for Mathews to be taken somewhere on day three of the draft.

Mathews' pro day summary:

Height, weight: 6055, 222
Arm length: 33" (10 3/8" hand size)
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds (1.57 10-yard split)
Short shuttle: 4.25 seconds
Three-cone: 6.99 seconds
Vertical jump: 36"
Broad jump: 10'9"
Bench press reps @ 225 lbs: 12

Chris Moore, Cincinnati

Moore is one of the more underrated receivers in this draft, a long (6'1", 33.4" arms), tough, and highly athletic pass-catcher with soft hands who's capable of taking the top off a defense. He's a big-time playmaker (26 career TD) who fits the Seahawks mold for a receiver, including attaining one of the best yards-per-catch figures in college football in 2015 at 21.8. He had a great combine, jumping 37" in the vertical and 10'10" in the broad; his 6.76-second three-cone drill was one of the fastest in his group.

Four times in 2015 Moore totaled more than 100 receiving yards, including a stellar 6-catch, 140-yard, 2-touchdown effort against Houston, which featured William Jackson III and one of the best secondaries in the nation. Though he's never hit 1,000 yards or had more than 45 receptions in a season, Moore has been consistent, averaging 38 rec, 729 yds, and 8 TD over the last three years.

I think Moore is a 3rd or 4th round talent, but I don't expect him off the board until the 4th or 5th round.

Moore's combine summary:

Height, weight: 6010, 206
Arm length: 33.4" (9.4" hands)
40-yard dash: 4.53 seconds (1.58 10-yard split)
Short shuttle: 4.2 seconds
Three-cone: 6.76 seconds
Vertical jump: 37"
Broad jump: 10'10"
Bench press reps @ 225 lbs: 10

Jay Lee, Baylor

Lee, who completed a degree in health, kinesiology and leisure studies (something I kinda wish I had studied in college, at least the leisure part), was the big-body threat in Baylor's three-headed receiver monster in 2015 (Corey Coleman and KD Cannon were the other two). He's on the Seahawk radar and had an official visit with the them earlier this month.

Lee is a marginally bigger and slightly less athletic version of Chris Moore; both are long-armed, larger-than-average receivers who excel at stretching the field and making big plays. Moore averaged 21.8 yards-per-catch in 2015, while Lee averaged 20. Over his last two seasons, Lee totaled 79 receptions, 1391 yards, 14 touchdowns, and one touchdown pass for 53 yards.

After watching a fair amount of film on both players (including a number of complete games in 2015), I prefer Moore to Lee, but not by a huge margin. Lee looks like a 5th or 6th round selection.

Lee's pro day summary:

Height, weight: 6016, 215
Arm length: 33.5" (9 5/8" hands)
40-yard dash: 4.53 seconds (1.59 10-yard split)
Short shuttle: 4.28 seconds
Three-cone: 6.75 seconds
Vertical jump: 33.5"
Broad jump: 9'11"
Bench press reps @ 225 lbs: 13

Dom Williams, Washington State

I'm not a Coug, but I'll root for Wazzu as long as they're not playing my Huskies. I'm certainly rooting for Dom Williams, a big, freakishly athletic and underappreciated receiver who amassed 30 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 receiving yards at the collegiate level.

Williams seems like a likeable fellow who happened to post eye-popping numbers at Wazzu's pro day. His 40 time (4.4 seconds) and vertical jump (40.5") would have been in the top 4 at the NFL Scouting Combine for wide-outs, and both of those numbers tie what Corey Coleman achieved. Williams is also tall (6'2 1/2"), has very good body control, and excels at getting yards after the catch.

The caveats with Williams are that his terrific production came in a high-volume air-raid offense, and that he had his share of drops, but he's a low-risk, high-reward developmental prospect who should be available as an undrafted free agent.

Williams' pro day summary:

Height, weight: 6025, 198
Arm length: 32"
40-yard dash: 4.4 seconds (1.58 10-yard split)
Short shuttle: 4.28 seconds
Three-cone: 7.04 seconds
Vertical jump: 40.5"
Broad jump: 10'5"
Bench press reps @ 225 lbs: 11


The last installment in this series will look at offensive linemen, running backs, and one or two quarterbacks.