Class Review: Daniel Graham and Jeremy Shockey headline this class. Shockey is almost a sure bet to be a Top 20 pick, and maybe possibly go much earlier than that. Graham will definitely be a first round pick, but probably won't go until the last 10 or so picks of the round. Jerramy Stevens finishes off the triad of talent, and will likley be selected at some point in the second round. The level of talent drops off slightly, but there should be several prospects that will go in the next several rounds that are similar in ability. Randy McMichael, Doug Jolley (BYU), Chris Baker, Darnell Sanders (Ohio State), Derek Smith (Kentucky), Matt Schobel (TCU), Terry Jones, Tracey Wisrtom (Nebraska), Robert Royal (LSU), and Justin Peelle are probably the best of this "third-tier." Likely many of these players may last until the fifth and sixth rounds. After that there should be some nice talent in the sixth and seventh rounds. This class is pretty deep.
(6'3" 243) Colorado (4.55)
On paper, Graham does not have prototypical size. But Graham plays much bigger than his size. If he was 3 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier, he would be the top tight end selected in this draft. He is an excellent receiver with soft hands, and knows how to get open. He does not have great speed, but is quick and can get downfield. He is also a very capable blocker. He won't rank among the top blockers in the league, but blocks better than most 260-pounders in this class. He's good enough in that area to be an every-down tight end right away. He'll only get better as a blocker, since most NFL teams will probably want him to add some more muscle. He is probably the best all-around tight end to come out for a long time, but probably won't be ranked higher than guys like Bubba Franks because of his lack of size. If I believed in drafting tight ends high, then I would definitely take Graham. Problem with Graham is that he probably won't be significantly better than he is now. He just be more polished, and maybe only a step or two better than he is now.
(6'5" 255) Miami FL (4.6)
Shockey is probably the best receiving tight end to come out since Tony Gonzalez. Shockey definitely has the talent to be one of the top receiving tight ends in the league like Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe, and could possibly be better. And depending on whether your offensive scheme prefers receiving ability to blocking ability, that's why Shockey ranks much higher than Graham by most people. But Shockey is a very weak blocker. He is not all bad, but he blocks quite poorly for a player his size. He needs a lot of work there, and why I don't rank him above Graham is that he'll have to be pulled in running situations until he becomes a better blocker. His size allows him to eventually learn to be a capable blocker, so his upside is much higher than that of Graham. Shockey is a great receiver and simply dumbfounds me with his sticky hands. But until he becomes a better blocker, he's not a better player than Graham.
(6'7" 259) Washington (4.75)
Among the people in this class, Stevens may have the most upside. That's a big feat considering that Shockey is in this class. Stevens is an excellent receiver, and based off that area alone he could be a mid-first round pick. His size makes him very intriguing since he's a huge player that could be a power forward in the NBA. But Stevens is awfully soft for a giant. He's not physical at all, and blocks like he weighs 225 pounds. Once he becomes a better blocker, and he needs to be, he could be the best player in this class. He's not a deep threat, but can get there. But he's a better intermediate receiver. He hurt his foot early in the season, and decided to come out early. That was a mistake, he was probably reading the reports on the internet that had most as the best tight end in the country prior to his injury. That was probably true, but he should have come back with a solid senior year, so that he could have been a top first round selection in 2003. Although he is similar to Shockey in abilities, what keeps Stevens from being a first round pick is his off-field concerns. He's had too many run-ins with the law, and very few can be overlooked. He should be a very early second round pick, but his off-field concerns may drop him until the late second round.
(6'3" 247) Georgia (4.8)
I like McMichael as a lesser Daniel Graham. He is very similar to Graham in abilities. He has good hands and is a pretty good blocker despite lack of size. But McMichael is at least a step or two below Graham in both areas. Like Graham, McMichael does not have abundant upside and potential. He'll become a better blocker and be a solid receiver, but may never rank among the best in the league in the latter area. He has good speed and can get deep.
(6'3" 258) Michigan State (4.8)
Baker could be a good starting tight end in the NFL. Baker plays like an H-back, but has strength and size to be an every-down tight end. Once he learns how to use his strength better, he could be a solid tight end. His hands are good, if not great. Baker has good upside, but I really don't think he'll ever be a great blocker. I think he should be a good pro, but I don't think he'll reach his upside.
(6'4" 255) Oregon (4.7)
Peelle is nothing special as a player, but he's a nice all-around tight end. He has good hands and is a pretty good blocker. But he's not great in either category. He was a favorite target of Harrington at Oregon. Pelle is nothing special, but pretty solid. I'm not sure his upside is great. I think he can be a decent or above average starter, but nothing more.
(6'3" 263) Alabama (4.85)
Jones has upside and is a nice all-around tight end. He has good strength to be a solid blocker. He has good size to be an excellent blocker, but has much room to grow in that area. His hands are solid, if not special. Unfortunately, he did get used much in college in the passing game. In the past three seasons, he's only had 29 catches, which is less than what most of the top candidates had this year. Because of this, there may be a high learning curve for him to become a solid receiving threat despite solid hands. He is not very quick, and will have to work the short routes in the passing game. He has potential, but reminds me a little too much of Reggie Kelly, who only became a marginal starter.
(6'3" 243) N.C. State (5.0)
He has good hands, and is a decent blocker, but won't overpower anybody at the next level. He fits best as a H-back and will probably never be a starter unless he goes to a pass-oriented offense. He lacks speed, which hurts his stock as a prospect. He is a decent prospect, who projects as a quality reserve, but nothing more.
(6'4" 261) Iowa State (4.8)
Banks is a nice H-back prospect with decent hands and decent blocking skills. He is not great in either area, and probably never will be. He is a nice backup prospect who could be a capable #2, but will never be a starter unless he really improves.
(6'2" 250) Michigan (4.9)
Seymour's biggest problem is his lack of speed. His speed on the field is about the same as an undersized offensive linemen. Seymour's best attributes are his sure hands and blocking ability. He does not have great hands, but capable of pulling in most passes. His lack of speed will make strictly a short-route receiver. He should be a decent #2 or #3 tight end because of his blocking skills and capably being a target in the redzone, but he's nothing special.
(6'2" 255) Colorado State (4.9)
Ochoa is just an average prospect. He has decent hands and will catch most passes, but lacks pure receiving skills. He is a pretty good blocker, but not overpowering. Ochoa could possibly make it as a reserve blocker, but nothing more.
(6'4" 275) Tennessee (4.95)
Finlayson is a third offensive tackle because of his solid blocking skills. His hands are not bad, but they are not very good. He could be a nice target in goalline situatoins, but nothing more. He should stick somewhere as a reserve blocker.
(6'3" 255) Syracuse (4.95)
Manley is a pretty good blocker, but is average at best as a receiver. He lacks speed and receiving skills. He'll be strictly used as a blocker in the NFL. But his blocking skills are not great, but will have to really impress in order to stick in the NFL.