- Christopher Harris, Fantasy
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I am in the business of hype. Most everyone at ESPN is.
We're here to get excited about stuff; what fun are sports if you can't get excited? We love to rank the best performances, the best players, the most crushing defeats, the silliest mascots. When it comes to the NFL, everything is the greatest, the craziest, the wildest. And when the NFL draft arrives, it's our job to imagine how franchises will turn on a dime because of an influx of new talent. "This guy is special! This guy can rewrite the record books!" And indeed, the whole draft process -- from this past weekend's combine all the way through early May -- is a lot of fun.
But every year can't be 2012.
You'll recall that two seasons ago, rookies Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris and Trent Richardson shook the NFL to its foundation, and won fantasy titles to boot. Maybe that changed the conversation, and convinced many folks that rookies should be immediate stars (and stat compilers). But 2013 served as a reminder that heaping major expectations on skill-position rookies is a scary game. No rookie QB finished higher than 20th in fantasy points at that position. Only one rookie runner (Eddie Lacy) finished among the top 14 fantasy RBs. And Tavon Austin had the highest average draft position (79th) of any rookie wideout since '05 (I don't have official ADP data from before then), and proceeded to finish 54th in WR fantasy points. (That's right, Austin was drafted higher than A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson were in their respective rookie years.)
Don't get me wrong, some rookies contributed last year, but I do think it's fair to say that hype exceeded impact for the Class of '13. And for as much as we enjoy watching these millionaires-to-be run around in their skivvies in Indianapolis, that does tend to be the rule. I continue to believe that you'll rarely go broke in fantasy football if you just avoid rookies altogether. Paying draft-day premiums for them tends to be a losing game.
That said, several first-year players will contribute right away. Plus, many of us are in dynasty leagues, where we're more interested in players' career upsides. So let's have some fun, but also dig through the hype a little bit, and look at the most interesting skill-position rookies through the lens of the 2014 NFL draft combine:
• '13 Rookie Review: Last year, only EJ Manuel was drafted in the first round, and he threw 11 TDs and nine INTs, missed six games because of injury, and proved he's got a long way to go as a thrower and a reader of defenses. Geno Smith started all 16 games for the New York Jets but threw a whopping 21 picks and also has miles to go in his read progressions. Mike Glennon was the third QB taken and wrested a starting job away from Josh Freeman, while perhaps showing he's got more career promise than his classmates. But it's hard to imagine the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have etched his name in stone as their helmsman of the future. As for Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Matt McGloin, Jeff Tuel, et al, suffice it to say I'm pretty sure we won't look back on '13 fondly as the year they "busted out."
• Like most of the other top QB prospects, Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) didn't throw at the combine, but he didn't do anything else, either. Oh, well. Anyway, you'll hear different draft experts choose different favorites among the first three signal-callers, and I understand the argument for each, but in a vacuum I like Bridgewater best. If I ran the Houston Texans, I'd take him. I admit Bridgewater might not have the highest ceiling; his arm is probably no better than slightly above average. But to me, he's just so solid. His athleticism is good, he played in a pro-style offense in which he made advanced reads, he handles the blitz well, he's cool and accurate and doesn't make the big mistake. In the right situation (i.e., surrounded by decent talent), I think Bridgewater wins in the NFL right away. Comparable: As a prospect, Bridgewater isn't going to be viewed as an instant savior, nor should anyone in this draft. You get some "taller Russell Wilson" comparisons from scouts. But I'll go into the wayback machine and say Bridgewater reminds me of the reinvented Rich Gannon of the early 2000s: smart, good athlete, enough escapability, and tons of moxie.
• Blake Bortles (UCF) is out of central casting. He's 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, and he flashed a good arm and quick release at this weekend's combine. He also isn't merely a statue in the pocket, even occasionally running the option. His biggest lingering question is his level of collegiate competition, though I must say he didn't look out of place in this game against South Carolina. He made a few mistakes in that contest, and all were related to his footwork and how he dealt with pressure. But he also showed in-pocket mobility and a willingness in his best moments to step up and lean into his throws (even if his mechanics did sometimes fall off). If NFL teams believe Bortles can transition to a system where he reads the entire field, it won't be a shock to see him go No. 1 overall. Comparable: Bortles has some Andrew Luck to him, but his footwork and pro-style inexperience scare me off from that kind of high praise. At the same time, I think Bortles is a better throwing prospect than Jake Locker, though in terms of physical tools those guys are close. Ryan Tannehill seems like a fair comp.
• After a long weekend of Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) talk, all I'm really left with is the incessant discussion about his hands. They're big! Russell Wilson's are big, too, and he just won a Super Bowl! Awesome! You know who else has huge hands? Scott Tolzien. The real question on Manziel is how well his incredibly exciting runaround style will translate to the NFL. Manziel's ability to keep plays alive is perhaps unmatched in NCAA history, but professional defenders will give him less space. Negative plays seem likely for Manziel, especially to start his pro career. But he's also such a wild card that it's not difficult to imagine some great fantasy weeks for him, too. Don't confuse him with the great sprinters who've come into the league at this position lately (he ran a 4.68 at the combine), but he's one of the world-class improvisers. Comparable: There are basically two examples of successful QBs under 6 feet tall in the 2000s: Wilson and Drew Brees. But Manziel is more of a freelancer than either of those guys. In terms of style and attitude (if not size and arm strength), Brett Favre comes to mind. But I'll say Jeff Garcia, a somewhat undersized athlete who made big plays but also sometimes made you scratch your head. (Or, you know, if you want to make him a Hall of Famer, I guess you could say Fran Tarkenton.)
• Derek Carr (Fresno State) is the younger brother of former No. 1 overall pick David Carr, but don't let that completely scare you off. This Carr won't be playing for an expansion team, and almost certainly will never be sacked 76 times in a season as a result. But yeah, if you're evaluating the younger brother, you can probably look at the older brother for some guidance. They're the same size, they both have above-average straight-ahead foot speed, they both have large throwing arms, and they both played at Fresno State. In Derek's case, that fact creates more questions, because the Bulldogs run the spread, so Carr has taken most of his collegiate snaps from the shotgun. That concern, along with non-elite competition and a crummy bowl effort this winter against USC, is enough to make me think Carr is at least a couple years away from being an average NFL starter. Comparable: It's lazy. It's easy. It's David Carr.
• Other names to know: AJ McCarron (Alabama) was a winner in college and is a smart and savvy player, but the arm just isn't there. He can be a system QB in the NFL, but he's always going to be limited. ... Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) broke Tony Romo's school records running a spread offense that perhaps exaggerated his productivity but hid his arm talent. At the combine, he ran slow but showed off the quick delivery that makes some folks think of Romo. ... Zach Mettenberger (LSU) and Aaron Murray (Georgia) are both coming off torn ACLs and neither participated in the combine, and neither is likely to play much in '14. I'm also skeptical either will be a pro starter, though Mettenberger has prototypical size. ... Tajh Boyd (Clemson) might've been a first-round pick if he'd come out as a junior, but after a season that highlighted inconsistent mechanics and a disastrous Senior Bowl week, Boyd is no longer considered a likely NFL starter. ... Jeff Mathews went to Cornell. That alone makes him awesome.
• '13 Rookie Review: No RB was drafted in the first round for the first time in the common draft era, but that doesn't mean all the rookie ball carriers were useless for fantasy. Giovani Bernard was the first rusher taken and he carved out a significant role as a pass catcher and occasional big-play threat. Le'Veon Bell had to overcome a sprained foot that cost him three games, but he established himself as a volume runner and TD maker. Eddie Lacy was the fourth RB drafted, and was fantasy's Rookie of the Year, easily eclipsing fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin in Green Bay. And fifth-rounder Zac Stacy vanished last summer but reemerged as a Frank Gore clone who could challenge for top-10 status this year. On the disappointing side, Montee Ball blew a massive opportunity and lost out to Knowshon Moreno, a middling talent who became a fantasy stud behind Peyton Manning's record-setting attack. Christine Michael flashed in a huge way during the preseason but couldn't beat out Robert Turbin for backup duties in Seattle. And Joseph Randle proved unready for the big stage when DeMarco Murray suffered his annual injury.
• In a class without superstar RBs, my nominee for the best all-around guy is Ka'Deem Carey (Arizona). At 5-foot-9 and 207 pounds, Carey isn't a long-speed player (he ran 4.70 this weekend), but he was so productive in college. Generally speaking, it's fair to be wary of RBs in Rich Rodriguez's spread system, but this isn't some waterbug skittering through massive holes. Watch Carey's tape, and you'll see a player who likes contact, and whose per-play determination is off the charts. Perhaps most importantly for his potential '14 value, Carey is expected to be ready in pass protection. Is he a thumper who'll be guaranteed goal-line work? No. But he ended his college career with 16 straight 100-yard rushing games, 13 of which saw him carry it at least 25 times. The guy had 52 career college TDs. He's legit. Comparable: Bernard is fresh in my mind; I'm not sure Carey catches it like Gio, but his toughness, vision, balance and burst are close. I think Ahmad Bradshaw might also be a fair comp. (Realize that Carey does have some off-field character questions.)
• The 2013 season was like a dream for Tre Mason (Auburn), who wasn't on the draft radar screen this time last year. Then he compiled 1,816 rushing yards with 23 rushing TDs on a team that made the BCS title game. Now, these numbers did come out of the power-spread, a "trickeration" system that doesn't fly in the NFL. But watch Mason play, for example, in the SEC title game, and you don't come away thinking "gimmick." He's powerful, he's physical, his pads are low, and he just keeps pounding. Honestly, Carey and Mason are similar. They're the same size, they were both workhorses, they'll both face some questions about their durability as it relates to being an NFL feature back, and I believe in the right scenario, each can excel. Comparable: Everything I said about Carey. The only reason I give Carey the slight nod is he did it for two seasons at Arizona, and he's further along as a pass blocker. Mason needs work there.
• Carlos Hyde (Ohio State) fits the Bell mold of a player I don't necessarily think is uniquely talented and who might never wow us with his per-carry average, but who's big enough (6-feet, 230 pounds) to warrant a ton of totes and score close-in TDs. He doesn't make defenders miss and hasn't shown much yet as a pass catcher, but when you can put a team on your back like Hyde did at times during his senior year, and when you're as punishing as Hyde can sometimes be, much is forgiven. Do I think he always runs as physically as he did in that Northwestern game? I don't. (Hyde pulled his left hamstring running the 40 this weekend and couldn't participate in drills, and he also has had off-field issues.) Comparable: I'm afraid I can't go with the Lacy stuff. Though they're similarly sized, I just didn't see Lacy's kind of acceleration from Hyde. But neither am I going to curse Hyde with comparing him to LeGarrette Blount, someone of whom I'm not a fan. I'll split the difference and go back in time, and say Stephen Davis. Remember when Davis scored 69 career NFL TDs?
• Sometimes Bishop Sankey (Washington) looks great on tape, because he's so gifted athletically and because for a 209-pound person, he can really scoot. (Sankey is roughly the same size as Carey and Mason, but is faster.) But there are other times when he gets east/west, trying to make a big play and misses upfield cuts. This guy is a really good athlete. His 26 bench-press reps were second-most among all RBs this weekend, and his broad jump was top five. But he's not so fast that he can outrun an entire defense. He needs a more lunch-pail mindset. Comparable: The Bernard comp is in the air, folks! Sankey is a pass-catcher and pass-blocker who should be able to slide in as somebody's third-down back right away. For diversity's sake, though, I'll compare him to Shane Vereen, with the thought that he needs to get more consistently decisive before early-down work comes his way.
• Two big kids are going to enter the mix to be somebody's goal-line back right away. Jeremy Hill (LSU) has all kinds of character red flags for off-field behavior, but he's 6-foot-1 and 233 pounds of thunder with better-than-expected feet. He also tends to get a little upright for my liking, inviting big hits that in the NFL will probably bring him down (and potentially injure him). But when he gets a head of steam going, and does lower that pad level, he is one tough guy to bring down. Meanwhile, Andre Williams (Boston College) is a couple inches shorter than Hill but weighs the same and generates a whole lot of power himself. Williams fails to make defenders miss; he'll get what's blocked, maybe run over someone, and that's it. He's also completely untested in the receiving game, but touchdowns could be in his future, too, given the right situation. Comparables: If Hill gets his character concerns under control, his impressive feet give him more upside than Williams. Neither guy is likely to turn into Steven Jackson overnight, but Hill has that kind of potential. The downside for these players is probably Shonn Greene.
• Other names to know: Terrance West (Towson) was massively productive at the FCS level, and is the kind of squat, thick player whom you'd say has "an NFL body." He doesn't have explosion at a carry's outset, but once he gets free he's got some shiftiness for a 225-pound back. In the right situation, he could be an Alfred Morris type. ... Lache Seastrunk (Baylor) strikes me as one of those Big 12 RBs who racks up massive stats because defenses are awful and running lanes are huge. He's plenty fast and athletic enough as a prospect, but I feel like we've never really seen him make NFL runs out of Baylor's wide-open spread attack. ... Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. (Florida State) were part of a crowded national championship backfield and never had to shoulder a major load in college. Freeman is the smaller, quicker player who can be a game-breaking component in a committee, while Wilder is huge and upright and a beast who creates concussions in opponents and himself. ... Charles Sims (West Virginia) is a quick player for someone who's 6 feet and 214 pounds, and is already an accomplished pass catcher, too, plus is considered by scouts to be the best pass-blocking RB in this draft. But he's another guy who runs too upright, and he doesn't display power for someone his size. ... Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky) is a Rashad Jennings type, coming from a small school without great athletic talent, but he has some nice size and the attitude that he'll bloody someone's nose on every run. He'd be a nice fit as a big complement to a quicker back, perhaps in a zone-blocking system. ... James White (Wisconsin) was a perpetual understudy in college, first behind Ball and then Melvin Gordon. He's shifty, but he just isn't big or strong enough to make anything happen unless he can run past a defender. It's unlikely an NFL team would use him as more than a complement. ... De'Anthony Thomas (Oregon) has a big name, but if you think LaMichael James is struggling to find a place in the NFL because of how small he is, wait until you see Thomas, who's 20 pounds lighter. He's only going to be a gadget player as a pro. ... Jerick McKinnon (Georgia Southern) raised eyebrows running a 4.41 this weekend, after leading all RBs by benching 32 reps and finishing second in the vertical and long jumps. He's a bit too small (5-foot-9, 209 pounds) to race up draft boards the way previous workout freak Ben Tate did a few years back, but he'll wind up in someone's camp this summer for sure. ... Isaiah Crowell was once a highly coveted recruit at Georgia, but legal and drug troubles landed him in hot water. He's got all the talent you could want at 5-foot-11 and 224 pounds, and tried to rehab his image playing at Alabama State the past two seasons, but it's unknown if NFL teams will take a chance on his character concerns.
• '13 Rookie Review: My two favorite draft-eligible wideouts at this time last year were Cordarrelle Patterson and Keenan Allen, and that doesn't look too shaky right about now. Allen took advantage of injuries on the San Diego Chargers' depth chart, and after Week 4 was a top-10 fantasy wideout. Patterson spent the early part of the year on special teams, but by season's end was a deadly deep threat and even made plays as a ball carrier. The rest of last year's rookie WR class, though, grades out as "incomplete." Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Hunter, Robert Woods, Aaron Dobson and Terrance Williams all were drafted ahead of Allen, and all had moments of brilliance, but they weren't reliable fantasy assets. Each, of course, has a potentially bright future. There don't appear to be any massive busts at the top of last year's class, and players like Kenny Stills, Marlon Brown, Kenbrell Thompkins, Ace Sanders and Da'Rick Rogers showed promise. But counting on rookie wideouts to be definite fantasy starters is usually a pretty shaky game.
• Maybe you're the kind of person who likes to be a contrarian. Everyone likes a movie, so you pooh-pooh it. But it would take a pretty sour son of a gun not to love Sammy Watkins (Clemson). He's a former track star who ran 4.43 at the combine, he's a breakaway threat in the uniform, his hands are solid, and he actually runs routes. Sure, there are plenty of plays on tape where Clemson just flung it to him in the flat and let him run. But check out a play against Georgia at about the 25-second mark in this clip. Watkins sees soft coverage and fakes an in-breaking route, threatens the corner deep, then cuts decisively toward the sideline. That kind of instinctive, practiced footwork makes me believe he'll have an early impact. Comparable: Watkins doesn't have traditional No. 1 wideout height: He's 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds. That and his speed earn him comparisons to Torrey Smith, which I understand. Except Watkins is a savvier player coming into the league. He's instinctive finding spots in a defensive zone, he high-points the ball, and he maintains balance and runs hard through the catch. I think Watkins is a bigger, more downfield-oriented Percy Harvin with just as much quickness.
• Mike Evans (Texas A&M) is a different kind of prospect from Watkins, but he could have as big a rookie-year impact. The 6-foot-5 and 231-pound Evans is already a scary red-zone threat, and he made a ton of deep-ball plays with Manziel flinging it to him. He's a fly pattern or back-shoulder throw waiting to happen, with solid 4.53 speed. You don't see a ton of complex footwork out of Evans on tape, nor do you see him on many in-breaking routes, which makes me think he might have a steep learning curve to begin his pro career. But that doesn't mean he won't score a bunch of TDs right away. Comparable: This one is easy. Evans is Vincent Jackson. You don't look at V-Jax and think "burner," but he consistently makes plays down the field with long strides and a big body that boxes out defenders. Remember, though, that Jackson didn't bust out until his fourth season in the league, though to be fair he was coming out of Northern Colorado, which doesn't exactly play in the SEC.
• In his sophomore season, Marqise Lee (USC) caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and was a consensus All-American. Unfortunately, his junior year was a disaster, as Lee missed three games with a left knee injury and managed only 57 catches for 791 yards. That means he's now flagged with durability concerns, and at the combine he ran only 4.52, which is mildly alarming for a guy who's 6 feet and 192 pounds. In this case, though, I'm more willing to believe the tape than worry about the stopwatch. Did he have some hands problems this past season? Yup. Did he struggle with consistency as defenses focused on him? Yup. But one thing I feel confident saying is that Marqise Lee is explosive. He may not end up as one of the NFL's elite burners, but I think he has enough straight-line speed and wiggle to threaten defenses deep. Comparable: Is Victor Cruz "merely" a slot receiver? Well, he does run about two-thirds of his routes from the slot. But he also was a respectable 22nd in average yards at the catch among 85 qualified wideouts last year. I say Lee can have a Cruz-like big-play impact on his NFL franchise.
• Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State) is even bigger than Mike Evans -- 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds -- and is only a little slower (4.61). As the kid who caught the BCS-winning TD pass, Benjamin's highs have been incredibly high, and he ran more varied routes than Evans did in '13. But Benjamin has bad lapses with his hands. Really bad. Meanwhile, Allen Robinson (Penn State) is kind of the anti-Benjamin: At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, he's a pro-ready wideout with fine hands. Robinson is a thick, reliable possession receiver who can make things happen after the catch, though he'll probably never be the big-play threat Benjamin might be. Comparables: Benjamin has a whole lot of Plaxico Burress in him. Remember, before his late-career return as a red-zone threat, Plax could do it all, once leading the league with a 17.3 yards at the catch average. As for Robinson, any time a big guy without deep speed rises in the draft, he gets compared to Anquan Boldin. In fact, Robinson is bigger than Boldin was coming out of college, and more accomplished to boot. But he should aspire to Anquan's excellent career.
• I'll give you a couple other smaller, faster guys. First comes Brandin Cooks (Oregon State), who ran the fastest 40 (4.33) among all WRs this weekend. At 5-foot-10 and 189 pounds, he'd better be fast if he wants to play on the outside. He was the '13 Biletnikoff winner, coming in with an FBS-leading 1,670 receiving yards, but can he beat good man coverage in the NFL? Odell Beckham (LSU) is 5-foot-11 and 198 pounds and ran a respectable 4.43 (same as Watkins) and has a thick frame, giving the impression that he could have a future on the outside. But as players under 6 feet, both of these guys would definitely be non-traditional split ends. Comparables: Cooks' arrow is pointing up, and the Steve Smith comparisons are flowing freely. But Smith comes equipped with one of the nastiest chips on his shoulder that you'll ever see, and it contributes to his ability to get off the line against much bigger men. Still, if that's Cooks' upside, it's a great goal. As for Beckham, who's got a little more size but a little less speed, I like Cecil Shorts as a comp.
• Other names to know: Only one WR in this draft can claim to being Jerry Rice's cousin, and that's Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt). A 4.46 runner at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, Matthews took on the iron of the SEC and kept on ticking, racking up 112 grabs during his final season and impressing at the Senior Bowl. He may not be a "sudden" athlete, but he's a gym rat with tons of knowhow. ... Davante Adams (Fresno State) played with Derek Carr in the spread, which doesn't doom him to an unproductive rookie year (after all, Terrance Williams had the same collegiate affliction), but it does mean he has to prove he can work in tighter quarters. ... Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss) ran a 4.40 this weekend, which is mighty fast for someone known as a "size" guy at 6-foot-2 and 221 pounds. Moncrief also produced huge broad and vertical jumps. But folks who watched Ole Miss know how frustrating Moncrief can be: He just didn't get open that much in college, or fight hard for the ball on every target. ... Jarvis Landry (LSU) pulled a calf in his 40, so his 4.77 time is irrelevant, but it's not a great look for a guy who doesn't have size and wasn't thought to be super-fast. Still let's just say he is capable of making spectacular plays. ... Paul Richardson (Colorado) ran an impressive 4.40 and ensured he'll be drafted, but he had durability problems in college and was a one-trick pony as a deep threat.
• '13 Rookie Review: We were supposed to see several rookie TEs emerge last year, but despite four men going in the first 55 picks (Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz, Gavin Escobar and Vance McDonald), it was another season where you were better off just leaving the rookies alone. This is a very difficult position to play in the NFL. In fact, it was Jordan Reed -- the sixth TE drafted -- who made the most fantasy noise with a strong five-week midseason skein, but Reed suffered a Week 11 concussion and missed the remainder of the season. Joseph Fauria, Mychal Rivera, Ryan Griffin and Luke Willson made an occasional box score dent, but weren't really rosterable in fantasy leagues. In '14, it's fair to be skeptical of all the TE draft prospects I'm about to mention, but there are a few interesting ones.
• Eric Ebron (North Carolina) appears to be a consensus first-round pick, which is the same thing we were saying about Eifert last year. We'll just have to hope Ebron lands on an NFL team that's willing to give him a starting job right away. He ran 4.60 this weekend after measuring 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, a combo that makes him enticing as a seam-stretcher. I don't love that a couple of his signature highlights involve him leaping over would-be tacklers, but his tape also features plenty of bowling defenders over, which is what you want from a man his size. He's also an enticing red-zone target. Plus Ebron can block well inline. Comparable: I'm not quite there on the Vernon Davis stuff. Davis ran 4.38 for heaven's sake! Greg Olsen is a similar-sized player and a great athlete perhaps one level down from Davis, so he's my comp for Ebron.
• Last year, Jace Amaro (Texas Tech) set a single-season NCAA record for most receiving yards by a tight end, then he came to the combine and impressed folks by benching 28 reps with long (34-inch) arms. Maybe he can eventually be an NFL-caliber blocker at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds after all, despite the fact that he played out of the slot almost exclusively in college. To begin his career, expect him to be teamed with a veteran who can lead the way as a run blocker and pass protector. But Amaro's arrow is pointing up after an impressive weekend. Comparable: I'll say Jermichael Finley. Like Finley, Amaro falls just short of elite separation skills, but he has size that will nevertheless make him a handful when he runs routes into the defense's second level.
• Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington) didn't work out in Indy because of a fractured foot and apparently will miss his pro day, too. That will probably cost him in the draft, though at 6-foot-5 and 262 pounds with a strong pedigree as an inline blocker and a red-zone threat, ASJ will certainly hear his name called. And Troy Niklas (Notre Dame) did all the drills except for the 40, and graded out as folks expected: a mountain of humanity who won't wow you with agility or separation, but someone who could turn into a beastly inline blocker. Comparables: Neither Seferian-Jenkins nor Niklas is likely to become an NFL offense's primary seam weapon. Instead, their ceilings are probably the more "traditional" TE position, with catches over the middle and looks in the end zone. Marcedes Lewis and Brandon Pettigrew may be the best models here.
• Other names to know: C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa), Crockett Gillmore (Colorado State) and Arthur Lynch (Georgia) also fit the mold of the big TE who won't remind anyone of Jimmy Graham. (Daniel Graham is probably more like it.) But in the right situation, each could eventually become a red-zone weapon. (To be fair, Fiedorowicz was underused in college and could have more potential than I'm giving him credit for here.) ... Colt Lyerla (Oregon) had a tremendous weekend in terms of measurables, but his character questions are massive. If he gets drafted, he'll unquestionably be on a short leash.