Pros: Has good hands and natural instincts for a receiver. Shows good body control and adjusts well to the ball in the air. Does a good job attacking the ball in the air and can make the catch in traffic. Shows good concentration. Is a nice route-runner with decent burst.
Cons: Struggles as a blocker as he lacks strength and gets no push when he faces linebackers and defensive linemen. Tends to shy away from contact when asked to block bigger defenders in the front seven. Doesn’t have great speed to make the conversion to wideout, and doesn’t always get good release off the line.
Overview: Beckum was sidelined early in the year with a broken leg injury. Still managed 23 catches in 6 games. He plays a role in Wisconsin’s offense that is a combo slot WR/H-back. He’s a classic tweener that plays like a wide receiver, but stuck in the body of an undersized tight end. Concerns are whether he has the speed to play receiver, and the size to play tight end.
NFL Forecast: His success will largely depend on the scheme that he plays in. In the right scheme, that doesn’t mind a subpar blocker at the tight end position, he can more than make up for it with his receiving ability. Ideally, he’ll be used the exact same way that Dallas Clark is in Indianapolis as basically a slot receiver. Until this off-season when he opted to bulk up in hopes of sticking at tight end, I really liked Beckum as a project at wide receiver. Frankly, I think he would have done much better to lose weight and get down to the 225-pound range and tried a go as a wide receiver in the same vein as Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson. He’s not as fast or explosive as either of those two players, but he could have done well as a pure possession receiver. As a tight end, he’ll never be more than a below average blocker. He just has no real interest there, and he’s just perfunctory at best. But if a team uses him more as an H-back and slot receiver role, he could be a very valuable asset in the passing game in the middle of the field since corners had such trouble matching up with him due to his size. He’s a boom or bust player, that if a team tries to make him into something he’s not, which is an every down in-line tight end, they will get little return on their investment. But if they just basically try to use him as an oversized slot receiver, they should get a big return.
ATL Forecast: Really for the Falcons, he could fit in nicely as a H-back that lines up in the slot or off the line. He’d make an ideal complement to guys like Hartsock and Peelle, who are better blockers than receivers. But unless the Falcons were planning on really using him more as a slot receiver, he doesn’t make a lot of sense for him. I think if they fully committed to making him into a wideout, I think he could eventually surpass Michael Jenkins as the complement to White, since he’s more of a natural receiver than Jenkins.
Value: Unless a team planned on using him as another Dallas Clark, I would not take him on the first day. In such a scheme, he would be a good pick late in the first, but few teams run that scheme besides Indianapolis. Due to him coming off injury and his "tweener-ness" it's probably safet to take him in the fourth round.
Scouting Reports of tight ends in the 2009 NFL Draft.
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