Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Football [Print without images]

Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Scouts Inc. on tight ends

Scouts Inc.

Dominating tight ends are becoming less of a luxury and more of a need for strong college programs. A tight end who stretches the field in the passing game always adds to the potency of an offensive attack.

The ideal tight end prospect has the versatility to go deep, force teams into mismatches and make defenses account for him in both the run and passing game. Much like the fullback position, if the tight end is one-dimensional, it forces the offense to be more predictable, and defenses will respond accordingly.

If you can't find a prospect with ideal speed, he must be smart and have a great feel for the passing game and the savvy and work ethic to get it done as an interior blocker. These tight end prospects don't necessarily stretch a defense in the vertical passing game, but they know how to get open, use their bodies well to shield defenders from the ball and find the open seams in the defense – especially on third down.

Many high school wide receiver prospects enter college with great athleticism, but lack overall speed or gain a significant amount of weight, forcing them to move to tight end. The same holds true with less athletic tight ends entering college, and many of those players will make the move to offensive tackle.

Tight End Grading System
Scouts Inc. will evaluate the tight ends on the following criteria:

1. Hands: How is their overall concentration on easy and tough catches? Do they have soft hands? Do they body catch too often? Can they snatch the ball when thrown outside their frame?

2. Patterns: Are their cuts sharp and crisp? Do they show good body control or do they look awkward?

3. Receive long and short: Do they have the ability to accelerate to the ball in the air? Do they have the ability to find soft spots and use their body to be a possession receiver? Can they stretch the field and go deep?

4. Run after catch: Are they a threat to score every time they touch the ball? Do they make catches in stride? Are they elusive in tight and open space?

5. Blocker: Are they willing to block? Do they finish and get good results? Do they sustain their blocks on the backside? Do they look to block in the open field?

6. Release: Can they avoid the jam at the line of scrimmage? Are they often held up or thrown off their routes? Are they physical?

7. React to ball and crowd: Can they come over the middle and catch the ball in traffic and when defended well? Are they tough enough to hang on to the ball and take a hit? Will they extend to catch the jump ball?

8. Initial quicks: How is their acceleration? Can they get off ball and kick it into an extra gear?