Matt Waldman is once again covering Senior Bowl practices and continues his previews of the skill position players in attendance with thoughts on the tight ends
Tight end is a difficult transition from Saturdays to Sundays. Few tight ends have the all-around skills to become playmakers at the line of scrimmage and the vertical receiving game, which means that the position has five sub-roles embedded within its evaluation:
- Slot receiver
- Perimeter vertical threat
- Shallow zone receiver
- Line of scrimmage blocker
- Special teams
Most of these players can compete for 1-2 of these sub-roles. Some have 2-3 of these skills and a few are legitimate five-tool players.
What we probably won’t see enough of this week is in-line blocking. Even what we see in this area will not compare to the demands they’ll face against the advanced technique and athletic ability of professional defenders.
It’s why buzz about tight end performance in practice should have some restraint. Here is what I am seeking from each of these tight ends competing in Mobile this week.
Dax Raymond: Targets above his helmet were problematic for Raymond. I haven’t seen him face a lot of physical coverage prior to the catch point. If he can show up in these two areas, the potential for him to develop into a usable NFL receiver becomes more viable. As a blocker, Raymond overextends his frame against more powerful opponents. Any improvement he can demonstrate with his technique will also be helpful.
Donald Parham: Tall tight ends always intrigue but that back problems can also come along with that extreme height if that player is expected to work in-line. Parham is a tall wide receiver playing a tight end role. How well he can strike, anchor, and move his feet in-line will help us see his developmental potential if he has the type of frame to add 20-25 pounds of muscle. A small school player, there’s always initial concerns about him competing with the intensity and athletic ability required of major college athletes. This week will help us see where he stands.
Drew Sample: A competent (if not good) in-line blocker and short-area receiver, this week’s practice should reveal if Sample has more range to his receiving game that Washington didn’t exploit. His suddenness as a route runner and ball carrier are question marks.
Foster Moreau: His attack of targets has often been too passive and he hasn’t dropped his weight deep enough into route breaks. If he can show more with his hands’ technique at the catch-point and execute more explosive breaks, Moreau could elevate his standing as more than a physical contributor in the run game and short passing game.
Josh Oliver: I haven’t seen Oliver yet.
Tommy Sweeney: I think there’s some potential for Sweeney to be an underrated player in this class that’s dominated by junior prospects. I want to see how well he competes downfield against tight coverage and determine if he can earn enough separation that every downfield target isn’t against tight coverage.
Bookmark the RSP 2019 Senior Bowl Page to find practice reports, videos, and podcasts covering the practice week and the players.