Has good speed and acceleration to get up to speed and challenge vertically. Shows burst to separate on the crossing routes over the middle. Consistently catches the ball with his hands. Has very good body control and can adjust to the ball in the air to make the grab in traffic. Tracks the deep ball well and will lay out for the tough grabs. Does a nice job on the back-shoulder throws. Will use his body to get position on the slant over the middle. Runs hard after the catch and will drag defenders and fight for extra yards there. Is effective getting position on the edge when working as an inline blocker or H-back. Does a nice job getting position as a blocker in space. Has ability to block the undersized safety or linebacker, lock on and show leg drive to get push on the stretch play.
Needs to play with better pop and leverage as an inline run blocker. Struggles to get position consistently on the edge, and doesn't play with good hand placement off the snap. Will drop some balls from time to time when he doesn't look the throw in.
There isn't much to dislike about Fleener's game except he's an underwhelming blocker. But in Stanford's offense, he typically gets the job done. His value at the next level is going to be as a pass catcher that has the speed to challenge downfield. He's not going to be the most dynamic tight end, but he can build a good rapport with a quarterback and be a very reliable pass catcher down the seam or in the middle of a defense. He can improve as a blocker as he fills out his frame and becomes more effective working inline.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/17) at Arizona: 1 target, 1 rec., 20 yds, 6 YAC, 0 TDs
(10/8) vs. Colorado: 3 tgt., 2 rec., 41 yds (20.5 avg), 9 YAC (4.5 avg), 0 TDs
(11/12) vs. Oregon: 9 tgt., 4 rec., 56 yds (14.0 avg), 16 YAC (4.0 avg), 0 TDs; 1 drop
(11/26) vs. Notre Dame: 6 tgt., 4 rec., 97 yds (24.3 avg), 37 YAC (9.3 avg), 2 TDs
(1/2) vs. Oklahoma St:
2011: 13 GP/5 GS, 34 catches, 667 yds, 19.6 avg, 10 TDs
Fleener is going to be a good NFL tight end, he just probably won't be a great NFL tight end. He's the type of guy that if he's your secondary option, you can be content with his production. But he'll work best in an offense that will allow him to be the third option that is very good at moving the chains on third downs, working in the redzone, and providing seam-stretching big plays downfield. He reminds me a lot of Greg Olsen. And like Olsen, he'll probably never be more than an average blocker, but it's not going to matter all that much because of how effective he is catching the football. He'll be a reliable option for some team over the middle that won't scare teams like a Vernon Davis or Antonio Gates, but will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. He'll work best in an offense where he can be split out wide, work at H-back, and have another guy work primarily as the inline tight end. He's played in a multiple-TE offense at Stanford, and a team that uses a lot of 2-TE sets like Carolina does with Olsen will be the ideal fit for him. He's the type of guy that is more than capable of catching 50-60 passes in a given season and be a potential Pro Bowl player in any given year. He just won't be an elite tight end that is mentioned among the best at the position. But he'll have a long productive career and be an integral part of somebody's passing game.
Greg Olsen, Panthers.
Fleener will work here because he can ably fill Gonzalez's shoes as a third down and redzone specialist in the coming years. He can come in right away and be a functional H-back, and with a year to learn under Gonzo and add some strength he should be ready and able to slide in immediately and be a productive starter in 2013. As a rookie, he'll be an upgrade over Palmer, not in the blocking department, but as a receiver, and be a guy capable of coming in and given the Falcons 20-30 catches as a rookie. He'll work well as a third target for Matt Ryan that can be dangerous on third downs with two outside threats in Jones and White. And while he lacks elite speed, his ability to challenge down the seam vertically will make him very effective in Koetter's vertical offense. He would be a fixture for years to come in Atlanta's offense.
Fleener doesn't have elite potential, but any team at the end of the first round will not regret taking him because he'll have a long, productive career as a pass catcher. He'll offer the most value going somewhere between picks #25 and #40.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Body Control: 8.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.