<
>

Two potential first-rounders at tight end

9/14/2012

LOS ANGELES -- Did Lane Kiffin mean the old first day or the new first day?

That was the natural question after the USC Trojans' coach said this week that he thought his top two tight ends, Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer, were both future first-day NFL draft picks.

Considering what both have done through just 14 career games, their eventual selection among the top 100 of the 2014 or 2015 NFL drafts wouldn't be terribly surprising. They both have the frames, athletic ability and skill set to be starting tight ends at the next level.

But the draft stopped going three rounds on its first day a few years ago. Now, the first day is on Thursday, and it only goes 32 picks. Did Kiffin essentially say he thought both his tight ends were NFL first-round potential?

In a word: yes.

"I think they'll eventually be first-round, first-day picks, or right there," Kiffin said Thursday when asked to clarify his original comments. "Now, obviously they have to continue to develop, but they have the potential to do that.

"I think if you ask any scout when they come out there and watch them practice and watch them play, I think you'd hear a lot of the same."

Telfer is ranked in the top five of most 2015 tight end rankings. Grimble's not quite as highly thought of, but with his strength, it's easy to see an NFL team needing a blocking tight end taking him high when he does declare for the draft. Both players are redshirt sophomores.

Of course, the next natural question is whether the two will take away from each other's ability to develop in college.

In a word, Kiffin's answer to that question: no.

“They push each other," Kiffin said earlier in the week. "They’re great kids. I’d say Randall was probably ahead at one point, and then Xavier really matured and rounded out his entire game."

It's an interesting time to discuss the tight end position, too -- with the Stanford Cardinal boasting three NFL types at the spot last year and two this season now that Coby Fleener went 34th overall to the Indianapolis Colts in April's draft.

The Cardinal's combination of Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz is one year older than USC's Grimble and Telfer.