With the start of the NFL Scouting Combine just two days away, we continue to preview the position groups traveling to Indianapolis. Today we take a look at the tight ends, which will be part of the first group of players that arrive on Tuesday.
All in all, the depth of the tight end position in this year's draft is lacking a bit. However, of the players attending the Combine, there's no question who's at the top of the pack. With a young player in Richard Rodgers and a solid but unspectacular veteran in Andrew Quarless manning the position in Green Bay last season, Ted Thompson could feasibly look for additional help to bolster the position in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Maxx Williams, Minnesota
Projected combine measurements (from NFL Draft Scout): 6'4", 250 pounds, 4.85 40
Williams is in this slot pretty much by default - he's the only tight end this year who really has a chance to go in round one. A redshirt sophomore, he has shown a knack for the big play in his two years of playing time. 13 of his 61 career receptions have been touchdowns, and he averaged over 16 yards per catch.
The Golden Gopher is also the most balanced tight end in the draft as well, and did good work blocking for running back David Cobb. He does have a knack for the highlight-reel catch though, making him a great weapon up the seam or in the red zone.
Jesse James, Penn State
Projected combine measurements: 6'7", 254 pounds, 4.89 40
That height instantly screams "red-zone target", and though he wasn't a prolific touchdown machine, James certainly has the ability to become that in the NFL. Opponents were able to focus on him in 2014, as he was the only established receiving weapon on the Nittany Lions' roster, but he still finished third on the team in receptions and yards and led the squad with three receiving scores.
Blake Bell, Oklahoma
Projected combine measurements: 6'6", 263 pounds, 4.87 40
A converted quarterback, Bell made a name for himself first under center before moving to tight end full-time in 2014. He responded well, though the Sooners' passing game was sporadic at best. But much like James, Bell's size and background as a signal-caller make him an intriguing prospect, and he performed well in Shrine Game practices as well.
Wisconsin fans will remember Owen Daniels as a tight end who started at quarterback and has had NFL success; Bell could follow a similar trajectory.
Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
Projected combine measurements: 6'5", 255 pounds, 4.68 40
Heuerman has been a tight end his entire career, isn't from a small school, and doesn't have any off-the-field issues to report. So why is he in the Wild-Card category here? It's because of an ankle sprain he suffered in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Though he played through it during the rest of that game and in the National Championship win over Oregon, the injury did force him to drop out of the Senior Bowl.
Whether Heuerman can actually test at the Combine will remain to be seen, and that's the big reason he's listed here. His production also dipped in 2014 from that of his 2013 junior season, but he fought through other nagging injuries during the rest of the season as well. His toughness is not a question, nor is his leadership, and he will likely impress NFL teams during the interview process.
Here's the full list of tight ends attending this year's Combine: