North Carolina Senior
Has good, strong hands and does a nice job snatching the ball out of the air. Usually does a good job securing the ball quickly before turning upfield after the catch. Gets a nice release off the line and shows decent speed and quickness. Can make the kickout block in space and does a nice job getting position. Shows some pop off the snap as an inline blocker, able to get position and help make the seal block on the edge.
Body catches at times, and can drop some balls before he can secure it. Isn't asked to do much as an inline blocker and rarely takes on a lineman on an island. Whiffs on some blocks on the edge at times.
Injuries have plagued Pianalto throughout his career, and if not he would have a much higher profile than he currently has. He has missed significant time in each of the past three seasons due to lower leg injuries. This past year, he broken his right fibula, and was UNC's leading receiver before he got hurt. He served as T.J. Yates' security blanket. He had 30 catches for 311 yards (10.4 avg) and 1 touchdown in 6 games. He dropped what could have been the game-winning TD at the end of the UNC-LSU game. As a junior, he had 33 catches for 334 yards (10.1 avg) and a score in 9 games, missing a big chunk of the season with a dislocated right ankle bone and a concussion. As a sophomore, he had 7 catches in 7 games, missing the end of the season with a broken left fibula. As a freshman, he was a starter off the bat, catching 24 passes for 204 yards (8.5 avg).
If Pianalto can stay healthy, and that's a pretty big if at this point, then he would make a solid No. 2 tight end and potential starter. He's got solid hands and is a nice security blanket. He is not going to be a vertical threat, but does a good job working the short field and intermediate routes. He doesn't often line up as an inline guy and would be best in an offense that will use him in the slot. The player I would compare him to is a slightly poorer man's Tony Scheffler. He's not as fast or big as Scheffler, but like Scheffler he fits best as a pass catcher and is not a guy you want wasting his time as a blocker. He can contribute as a blocker, and if developed enough so that you won't mind him performing that role. But he'll do his best work like Scheffler has in an offense that uses a lot of double tight end sets, and have him be a nice outlet option over the middle on the shorter routes. He'll fit best if he's playing across a bigger guy guy that might be a better option downfield. That's why Scheffler is a good comparison because he's playing across from a guy like Brandon Pettigrew. A good landing spot for Pianalto would be a place like Detroit or Jacksonville. I think he can potentially give you 30-40 catches a year in the right offense. He won't be a go-to threat, but a reliable option that can help move the chains as a third or fourth option. The key for him is whether or not he can stay healthy. If he can't, then it's hard seeing him still being in the league beyond three or so years. But if he can, then he can have a long productive career, mostly as a No. 2 option, but might be able to throw in a couple of good years as a No. 1 tight end.
Pianalto can fit the role that Palmer had last year, but probably has more upside as a receiver because I think he's a bit smoother athlete. He won't contribute a ton as an inline blocker, but can improve enough there that he can get away with it on several downs. But in Atlanta, he doesn't really have a great fit. He's not a good enough blocker to be that primary No. 2 guy and work inline like Peelle. And he's not quite a good enough receiver that he's an adequate replacement for Gonzalez as the No. 1 guy. Instead, he's like Palmer in that he can do a little bit of both and would be nice depth to have in case that No. 1 guy got hurt, but isn't a good enough blocker to be active most days. So he's probably a No. 3 early in Atlanta, with the potential to grow into a No. 2 down the road if he can improve his blocking.
He has the talent of a fourth or fifth round tight end if you didn't have the durability concerns. But since he does indeed have them, then you're better off waiting until the seventh round or potentially trying to snag him as an undrafted free agent afterwards.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Body Control: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.