Do the Bucs covet a blocking tight end like this guy?
Time for a fat sandwich from Mugs Grill & Bar and a cold, frosty beverage. The Commish, NFL Draft guru Justin Pawlowski of WDAE-AM 620, has rolled out his first set of position breakdowns of potential draftees: wide receivers and tight ends.
A former Division I college player and current analyst on USF Bulls radio broadcasts, and a lifelong Bucs season ticket holder, The Commish ranks the NFL Draft hopefuls, serves up why he would and wouldn’t take a guy, and explains their potential impact on the Bucs, and who the players compare to in the NFL.
1. AJ Green – Georgia
6’4’’ – 211 lbs – 4.50
Top 5 pick
Why The Commish would draft him: Green is one of those rare receivers that comes out every couple of years. The first thing that stands out to me about Green is that he has unbelievable hands and ability to make the “wow” play. He runs nice routes and has a nice tall frame with long arms. His concentration, ability to beat press coverage, and body control are all great. I view Green as one of the safest players in this draft and a future star.
Why The Commish would stay away: There just aren’t a lot of things to dislike about Green. He was suspended for selling a game-worn bowl jersey for $1000, but who wouldn’t do that? He’s not a bad guy for that. I guess the one knock on Green would be his lack of elite downfield speed.
Impact on the Bucs: In your dreams.
Comparison: Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals
2. Julio Jones – Alabama
6’3’’ – 220 lbs – 4.39
Why The Commish would draft him: Jones has been a highly touted athlete going all the way back to high school, and he has handled all the publicity very well. His unique blend of size, speed, and power is enough to make any scout drool. When the draft process first started, I thought Jones would be ideal for the Rams 3-step passing game with Sam Bradford. Now, I don’t see any way that Jones lasts to the 14th pick. He should be dominant in the short passing game and in yards after the catch. Jones can also bust out the big play with his big time speed.
Why The Commish would stay away: The first thing that worries me is Jones’ health. It seems like every year Jones gets banged up and is limited. The other big concern is Jones’ lapses in concentration and drops. There aren’t many more things a wide receiver can do that are more frustrating than a dropped pass. Go ahead and ask the blocking icon about that.
Impact on the Bucs: He’s not a legitimate option for the Bucs, but should be dynamic for whomever drafts him in the top 10.
Comparison: Andre Johnson – Houston Texans
3. Jonathon Baldwin – Pitt
6’5’’ – 228 lbs – 4.50
Why The Commish would draft him: There are two things you just can’t teach in the NFL…speed and size. Baldwin’s size makes him a mismatch every time he steps on the field. Baldwin has shown a good work ethic on the field and in the weight room. He also showed a dedication in the classroom as he was on the Big East All-Academic team in 2009. With his huge frame, Baldwin is great at tracking the ball in the air and going up to get it.
Why The Commish would stay away: As much as I like Baldwin’s size and downfield speed, he isn’t very quick in and out of his breaks and struggles to get open. It’s hard to have overwhelming faith in a receiver that doesn’t get open. Route running and agility can be so underrated sometimes. Although the charges were dropped, Baldwin was arrested in the spring of 2009 for misdemeanor assault.
Impact on the Bucs: With bigger receivers like Mike Williams, Dezmon Briscoe, and Arrelious Benn already on the roster, I’m not quite sure Baldwin would be a good fit with the Bucs.
Comparison: Marques Colston – New Orleans Saints
4. Titus Young – Boise St.
5’11’’ – 174 lbs – 4.53
Why The Commish would draft him: Young is a big play waiting to happen. He did not display elite straight line speed, but he is as shifty as any receiver in this class. Young also displays traits of a great return man that he can and does use as a receiver. He’s got very soft hands, great vision, and has a great burst out of cuts.
Why The Commish would stay away: Arrogance and maturity issues are the main concerns I continue to hear with Young. His size is also a concern when comparing him to the other bigger receivers in this class. Also, although Young is very shifty as a receiver, I wonder if he has enough strength to beat press coverage.
Impact on the Bucs: The Bucs missed on Desean Jackson a few years back by just a few picks and settled on Dexter Jackson instead. The Bucs do have a need for speed at the receiver position, but I would only think about Young if he fell to the Bucs pick in the 2nd round.
Comparison: Desean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles
5. Torrey Smith – Maryland
6’1’’ – 204 lbs – 4.43
Why The Commish would draft him: I know speed isn’t the only thing, but it kills. Smith is loaded with speed all over the field. He reaches his top speed quickly off the line of scrimmage and does an excellent job at locating the ball in the air and making big plays down the field. I love Smith’s character as he was the oldest of 7 children to a single mom growing up, and at a young age had to become a father figure to his brothers and sisters.
Why The Commish would stay away: Much like Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was out of Maryland a few years back, Smith is a very raw receiver who still has a lot to learn. He must become a better route runner and learn how to beat press coverage. He is a vertical threat, but struggles with quickness and agility in and out of breaks in underneath routes.
Impact on the Bucs: Smith might be someone the Bucs take a look at if he lasts to their pick in the 2nd round. Smith’s speed is something the Bucs would like to incorporate into their offense, but Smith’s limitations might force the Bucs to stay away and address other needs.
Comparison: Darrius Heyward-Bey – Oakland Raiders
6. Leonard Hankerson – Miami
6’2’’ – 209 lbs – 4.43
Why The Commish would draft him: There’s something about Miami receivers and the ability they bring. Hankerson has the size and showed off some nice speed at the combine. I like his long arms and strong hands that allow him to make some impressive catches. Hankerson has been around for a while, so he’s a mature player with good leadership skills. He also displays a good physical nature to his game and is not afraid to go over the middle.
Why The Commish would stay away: The main issue with Hankerson heading into the NFL is his lack of ability to get separation and get open. He lacks burst, quickness, and agility in and out of his breaks. These weaknesses also hurt him in runs after the catch and in the return game. Hankerson is a possession receiver with some speed, but probably won’t be a big play receiver in the NFL.
Impact on the Bucs: Hankerson is an intriguing player who has seen his stock raise in this process so far. Remember, the Bucs don’t just need any type of receiver. If they get one, it will be a receiver of the quicker and shiftier variety.
Comparison: Donald Driver – Green Bay Packers
7. Jerrel Jernigan – Troy
5’9’’ – 186 lbs – 4.46
Why The Commish would draft him: Jernigan can be special at times with the ball in his hands. He is a wide receiver in the body of a running back. He is very strong for his size and has great vision and balance. He should be a very good contributor as a returner. Coming from a small school in Troy, Jernigan possesses the work ethic it takes to be great. He also is very tough and durable for a man his size. As for his receiving ability, he possesses nice soft hands and is a quick receiver who accelerates well in and out of his breaks.
Why The Commish would stay away: Jernigan’s going to be pretty raw as a receiver and need to learn a lot when it comes to running routes in the NFL. His size and overall strength are a concern as they might limit his role in the NFL. Jernigan will have a tough time beating press coverage and might be forced to be a slot receiver in the NFL.
Impact on the Bucs: This sounds about right for the Bucs. Jernigan is the shifty, quick, and speedy receiver the Bucs are looking for. With Jernigan’s ability after the catch, you have to wonder if he’ll have a future in the “Wildcat” in the NFL as well. Jernigan should be available to the Bucs in the 2nd round, but I doubt he makes it to them in the 3rd round.
Comparison: Steve Smith – Carolina Panthers
8. Greg Little – North Carolina
6’3’’ – 231 lbs – 4.53
Why The Commish would draft him: Little is a special receiver with a great blend of size and speed. He was one of those players from North Carolina who missed all of 2010. Little is anything but little. He is a very powerful player and runs with purpose with the ball in his hands. He is a former running back with the natural ability to grab the ball out of the air. Watching Little on film, he just looks the part of a number one receiver. Hopefully, you know what I mean by that!
Why The Commish would stay away: Sitting out an entire season is always worrisome even if Little showed up in great shape to the combine. He is raw as a route runner and still has a lot to learn about getting open in the NFL. He doesn’t really have the burst to make big plays with his feet. Also, at the combine, Tony Pauline of SI.com reported that Little was caught in a lie by multiple teams and that he might not even be drafted. Tony Pauline was the only person to report this.
Impact on the Bucs: I really like Little as a player on the field, but I don’t think he’s a great fit for the Bucs. His lack of speed is a shortfall in the area the Bucs need most.
Comparison: Hakeem Nicks – New York Giants
9. Randall Cobb – Kentucky
5’10’’ – 191 lbs – 4.46
Why The Commish would draft him: I like Cobb for his quickness and good understanding of underneath routes. He seems to know where and when to sit done in the soft part of a zone. His quickness is also an asset after he catches the ball as the first defender rarely brings him down. Cobb was a former duel-threat QB in high school, so the Wildcat becomes a major option with him. No pun intended with “option”.
Why The Commish would stay away: Cobb does have the quickness, but he is much better underneath than he is at getting deep. His lack of size might force him down to the slot a majority of the time. Cobb is a solid player, but not an elite player, yet.
Impact on the Bucs: I like the quickness, but the I feel the Bucs need the quickness mixed with some deep speed to loosen up a defense. With that being said, Cobb would be a bad option in the 2nd/3rd round. I’d prefer 3rd round though!
Comparison: Antwan Randle-El – Pittsburgh Steelers
10. DeAndre Brown – Southern Miss
6’6’’ – 233 lbs – 4.59
Why The Commish would draft him: With a frame like what Brown has, it’s hard to not like that on a receiver. The scary part is that his frame will allow him to continue to mature physically. Brown can stretch the field vertically too as he tends to gain speed as he works his way down the field. To go with his big frame, Brown has long arms and knows how to use his size and go up to get the ball. There might be a lot of potential with Brown.
Why The Commish would stay away: There are major red flags and question marks with Brown. We’ll start with his inability to stay healthy. As a freshman, Brown broke his leg so bad in the final game of the season that he had to miss the beginning of his sophomore year. He then missed more time in 2009 due to a shoulder injury. Finally, he missed 7 games this last season with a leg strain. Character is also a major concern as he has had his work ethic questioned and has had run-ins with coaches from Southern Miss.
Impact on the Bucs: A lot of potential here, but I would pass and I think the Bucs will do the same.
Comparison: Terrell Owens – Free Agent
1. Kyle Rudolph – Notre Dame
6’6’’ – 259 lbs – DNP
Why The Commish would draft him: Rudolph seems to be the complete package at tight end. I really like how athletic he is with his big frame. He has excellent hands and runs nice smooth routes. Rudolph also has nice long arms and is very good as a blocker. He has the ability, if healthy, to come in and contribute right away in the NFL.
Why The Commish would stay away: Health is a huge concern. Rudolph’s 2009 season ended early because of a shoulder injury and his season came to an end early last season because of a hamstring injury.
Impact on the Bucs: The Bucs have a need for depth at tight end, but pairing an oft-injured Rudolph with another TE with injury woes, Kellen Winslow, is probably not the best idea.
Comparison: Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Luke Stocker – Tennessee
6’5’’ – 258 lbs – 4.79
Why The Commish would draft him: Stocker’s the big blocker at tight end in this draft. He is a very good pass protector and excellent in picking up blitzes. Stocker also has real nice power in the run game. In the passing game, Stocker has a nice release off the line and reliable hands.
Why The Commish would stay away: Stocker is no threat in the pass game. He lumbers as he runs and will not break long plays.
Impact on the Bucs: With the possible loss of John Gilmore, the Bucs would have a need for a tight end that can assist in blocking.
Comparison: Jim Kleinsasser – Minnesota Vikings
3. Lance Kendricks – Wisconsin
6’3’’ – 243 lbs – 4.75
Why The Commish would draft him: Kendricks is a nice receiver with much better quickness than speed. He has soft hands and can be very reliable in the pass game. Kendricks lacks great size, but gives great effort in blocking and has nice toughness. I think Kendricks could deceptively attack the seem of an opposing defense.
Why The Commish would stay away: Kendricks lacks elite size for a tight end which has led to many nagging injuries. Kendricks has shown a tendancy to drop some very catchable balls.
Impact on the Bucs: This is the type of tight end I could see the Bucs target in the 3rd or 4th round. Kendricks is a solid tight end who would add nice depth for the Bucs.
Comparison: Fred Davis – Washington Redskins
4. DJ Williams – Arkansas
6’2’’ – 245 lbs – 4.67
Why The Commish would draft him: Williams is a threat in the passing game. Arkansas used him in many ways at tight end and split out as a receiver. Williams can definitely stretch the seem and add a dimension to an offense that might not be there. Williams has a great work ethic and was a leader for the Razorbacks.
Why The Commish would stay away: Williams does not have very good size. He also does not bring much as a blocker.
Impact on the Bucs: I could definitely see the Bucs targeting Williams in the middle rounds. He fits the mold of the type of player the Bucs look for and would give them the depth they need at the position.
Comparison: Aaron Hernandez – New England Patriots
5. Virgil Green – Nevada
6’3’’ – 249 lbs – 4.64
Why The Commish would draft him: I really like Green as a receiver. He has great speed and showed great explosion at the combine. Green had the highest vertical and longest broad jump by far of any tight end at the combine. His film shows him with excellent speed in the pass game and long arms with big hands.
Why The Commish would stay away: Blocking is not Green’s strong suit. He can get in the way of defenders and position himself well, but struggles to hold the block for any period of time. I also would like him to become a better route runner. He tends to rely on his athleticism to get open, which won’t work in the pros.
Impact on the Bucs: I like what I’ve seen on Green. I think he could be a very solid developmental tight end and add needed depth for the Bucs. I think it is realistic to think that the Bucs could target him in the 4th round and be able to get him.
Comparison: Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers