Welcome to the preview of what is the most underrated position when it comes to fantasy football and scouting future prospects in your leagues … it’s the tight ends. These players can often make or break your season. If you find a gem, you get a major boost to go alongside your top selections. If you end up picking some busts, then you are scrambling to make up the missing points week after week. So, where do you start when it comes to finding that roster-changing player? Yep, it’s the NFL draft.
In the forthcoming days, I will breakdown my top 10 tight ends in the 2014 NFL Draft.
2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington (6-6, 262)
I’m a bit higher on Austin Seferian-Jenkins than others, but I see great potential for the tight end out of Washington. Durability is a major question when it comes to Austin’s ability at the next level. While he appeared in all 26 games in his first two seasons, he missed major time due to injury since. He broke a pinkie finger and had surgery on a stress fracture in his left foot that he did not know about until doctors found it during the combine medical tests (which shows he has a high pain tolerance). He was a top-end producer at Washington, getting more than six touchdowns and 450 yards in all three seasons. His big year was in 2012 where he grabbed 69 passes for 852 yards and seven scores. Last year was a disappointment with all the injuries, but he still caught eight touchdowns.
Seferian-Jenkins is a prototypical tight end prospect in terms of size and measurables. He has a great frame and has long arms. There are issues with his physique, but it is nothing more than him needing to hit the weight room more. His ball skills are some of the best in the draft (including wide receivers). He has a big catch radius with his size, long arms, and great hands; this combination allows Seferian-Jenkins to post up in the opposing secondary and reel in big catch after big catch. I’m really impressed by his ability to win 50-50 balls against opposing defensive backs by understanding how much of a mismatch he really is (see highlight film later). Like Ebron, there are some issues with drops (nothing that cannot be corrected).
Seferian-Jenkins does have good top-end speed at his size and ran a 4.75 40-yard dash in the past. He is a smooth route runner that can break off his routes quickly and adjust to the quarterback. He has a good feeling at finding holes in the defense and uses his body well when he finds those holes in either zone or man coverage. He is not the most elusive player at the tight end position due to his size, but he has shown the ability to make his defender miss in the open field and to continue rumbling toward the end zone.
Seferian-Jenkins may have some great upside in his physical abilities on the field, but it is his actions off the field combined with his personality that has teams concerned. According to reports, multiple teams said that his combine interviews were underwhelming and unconvincing to them. He does not show great passion on the field and has shown a lack of competiveness at some points during games. This leads to inconsistent blocking (he can be really good when he feels like it) and inconsistent effort depending on the play call. And there is also the DUI from the incident where he wrecked his car in 2013.
Seferian-Jenkins can be a NFL force if he wants to. He has the size and ability to make defenses pay. The questions surround his injury proneness and his motivation. I like his great upside and would take a chance on him in the second round as a first round talent.
Seferian-Jenkins’s highlight video: