Pewter Report continues its annual draft preview listing the top players at each position and also offers up two Bucs' Best Bets, one in the early rounds and one in the late rounds. See where Pewter Report ranks the players and who they think makes the most sense for the Buccaneers. Up next are the tight ends.
WHAT THE BUCS HAVE AT TIGHT END
One of the many Buccaneers’ free agent acquisitions was former New York Giants and Oakland Raiders tight end Brandon Myers, who sits atop Tampa Bay’s depth chart heading into the draft. Behind him is second-year receiving tight end Tim Wright, who is coming off an impressive rookie season. Also on the team’s roster heading into Thursday’s draft are veterans Tom Crabtree, Steve Maneri, and Luke Stocker, players who will be fighting for a roster spot later in the year. WHAT THE BUCS NEED AT TIGHT END
Tampa Bay’s current roster has a surplus of tight ends that can catch the ball, but they don’t have a true dual-threat tight end that can make plays in the passing game in addition to factoring into the running game as a dominant run blocker. Brandon Myers and Tim Wright are good players, but if the right talent came along both players could find themselves behind a more promising player on the depth chart. This year’s draft class features a few well-rounded in-line tight ends that could be just what the Buccaneers need. BUCS BEST BET EARLY (1-3) – IOWA T C.J. FIEDOROWICZ
Fiedorowicz is a true in-line tight end with excellent blocking skills and the ability to make an impact in the passing game. Tampa Bay should be looking for an three-down tight end that doesn’t come off of the field, and that’s exactly what Fiedorowicz would bring to the table. Fiedorowicz looks like a third or fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, so the Buccaneers, who currently don’t hold a fourth-round pick, would likely have to use a third round selection in order to nab the Iowa tight end. It is also interesting to note that the Buccaneers have shown interest in Fiedorowicz, as they have had the former Hawkeye in for a visit during the pre-draft process.
BUCS BEST BET LATE (4-7) – CAL TE RICHARD RODGERS
Rodgers is a legitimate receiving threat at the tight end position. He is the type of player that is capable of exposing the seam and intermediate areas of the field. With some added bulk and technique coaching, the California product could be strong blocker for a team that is willing to work with him. That team could certainly be the Buccaneers, as Rodgers has ties to new Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who thought very highly of him during his time at California. At one point, Tedford went on record saying that he thought that Rodgers would be the best tight end in the nation in 2012.
"In my opinion, Richard Rodgers is the best tight end in the country," Tedford said to John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle. "I know he's inexperienced. But you have a 270-pound guy who can run and block. He's got a bright future."
TOP TEN TIGHT ENDS1. TE Eric Ebron – North Carolina – Junior – 6-4,250 - 4.56
Ebron is a tremendous athlete for a 6-foot-4, 250 pound tight end. He ran a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash and that speed shows up on film, where he can separate from defenders and beat them in a footrace. He is a decent blocker with room to improve, but teams will be drafting him for his receiving skills. Ebron should end up a top-20 selection when it’s all said and done. Totaled 973 receiving yards and three touchdowns as a junior. 2. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Washington – Junior – 6-5, 262 - 4.56
Seferian-Jenkins is arguably the most complete tight end in the class, featuring excellent hands and blocking skills. He has a background in basketball and is the prototype tight end that teams are looking for in today’s NFL. The Washington product reportedly ran a 4.56 40-yard dash in a workout with the Jets earlier this month, which is his first reported 40-yard dash because he couldn’t run at the Combine or Pro Day. Seferian-Jenkins has first round talent but issues off of the football field issues stemming from a DUI arrest could cause him to slide to the late second round. Tallied 36 receptions, 450 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. 3. TE Jace Amaro – Texas Tech – Junior – 6-5, 265 – 4.69
Amaro is a big, athletic tight end that makes his money as a receiver. Blessed with a huge frame and great athleticism, Amaro can separate from defenders and attack the seam. He works well in crowded situation and is fairly consistent with his hands. Blocking is somewhat of a concern, considering Texas Tech asked him to split out wide rather than playing in-line most of the time. Amaro racked up 106 catches for 1,352 yards and 7 touchdowns as a junior before declaring for the 2014 draft. 4. TE Troy Niklas – Notre Dame – Junior – 6-6, 270 – 4.85
Niklas is a big tight end with very high upside, but his game has some raw elements to it. As one of the more reliable blockers in this year’s draft, teams will love the fact that he can step in right away and be a factor in the running game. He also has good athleticism that allows him to line up at multiple positions. He needs to work on his hands and receiving skills, but he certainly has the tools to be a great all-around tight end. Posted 32 receptions for 498 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.5. TE C.J. Fiedorowicz – Iowa – Senior – 6-5, 265 – 4.73
Fiedorowicz is the best blocking tight end in this year’s draft class, but don’t discount his receiving abilities, as he is more than capable of working the intermediate and short areas of the field in the passing game. He has good athleticism for a player of his stature and shows excellent strength and technique as a blocker. Fiedorowicz is a true in-line tight end who has the game to step in right away and make an impact. Finished with 45 catches for 433 yards last year. 6. TE Arthur Lynch – Georgia – Senior – 6-4, 258 – 4.75
Lynch is a well-rounded tight end that NFL teams can plug-and-play. He offers very good blocking skills and a decent receiving game, but is somewhat limited by his athleticism. Compared to the other top tight ends in the class, Lynch doesn’t have much explosiveness to his game, which would have put him in the discussion as one of the top tight ends. Put up 30 catches for 459 yards and five scores as a senior. 7. TE Richard Rodgers – California – Junior – 6-4, 257 - 4.88
Rogers is a valuable target in the passing game, as he has wide-receiver like hands and route-running ability. He needs to work on his footwork technique as a blocker, but he has the tools to become an asset to a team’s running game. He should be a day three draft pick that goes somewhere between rounds five and seven. Racked up 39 receptions for 608 yards and one score as a junior. 8. TE Marcel Jensen – Fresno State – Senior – 6-5, 259 – 4.81
Jensen is a converted defensive lineman who made the switch to tight end early on in his college career. He offers great size (6-5, 259), receiving ability, and blocking experience as an in-line tight end. Jensen needs to play with some more aggressiveness and would benefit from more experience, but he has all the tools to become a successful NFL tight end. Totaled 26 catches for 353 yards and three touchdowns last season. 9. TE Crockett Gillmore – Colorado State – Senior – 6-6, 260 – 4.85
Gillmore is a big, strong tight end with decent receiving skills, but he is at his best as a run blocker. His athletic limitations hurt him in the receiving department, as he won’t be a seam threat and is sluggish to get downfield. He’ll likely be a number two tight end in the NFL that will primarily be a blocker, but can help move the chains on short and intermediate passing plays. Finished his senior season with 47 catches, 577 yards, and two scores. 10. TE Colt Lyerla – Oregon – Junior – 6-4, 242 – 4.56
Lyerla is one of the most athletically gifted tight ends in the 2014 draft class, but his draft stock is virtually non-existent because of non-football related incidents. Lyerla brings with him an incredible amount of off-the-field baggage, including an arrest for cocaine possession. He also quit the Oregon football program during the season, which raises even more cause for concern. If he can get his head on straight, he could be one of the biggest steals in the draft, but he’ll likely have to start his NFL journey as an undrafted free agent. Caught 25 passes for 392 yard and six scores in 2012. BEST OF THE REST 11. TE Blake Annen – Cincinnati – Senior – 6-4, 247 – 4.43
Annen is a very athletic tight end with great blocking skills. He wasn’t very productive, but he offers great upside as a potential late-round pick or as a free agent. 12. TE Xavier Grimble – USC – Junior – 6-4, 257 – 4.98
Grimble is a technically sound receiver with poor athleticism and blocking skills. His 40-yard dash time of 4.98 was disappointing and he never seemed to take off with Trojans. Caught 25 passes for 271 and two scores as a junior. 13. TE Rob Blanchflower – Massachusetts – Senior – 6-4, 256 – 4.81
Blanchflower is a solid receiving tight end who lacks skill as a blocker and is athletically limited. He missed out on an opportunity to play in the Senior Bowl because of an injury. Caught 27 passes for 313 yards and three scores as a senior. 14. TE A.C. Leonard – Tennessee State – Junior – 6-2, 252 – 4.53
Leonard is an extremely athletic receiving tight end prospect that lacks great size and blocking skills. A team could develop him in the mold of a Jordan Reed-type player. 15. TE Joe Don Duncan – Dixie State – Senior – 6-2, 268 – 4.83
Duncan is a talented receiver that has some upside as a late-round flier or free agent. He isn’t overly athletic but he plays with good technique and has decent size. Duncan also has an extensive injury history. Had a mega-productive senior year with 71 catches for 1,045 yards and 13 touchdowns. 16. TE Alex Bayer – Bowling Green – Senior – 6-3, 245 – 4.81
Bayer is a solid tight end with poor measurables and below average athleticism. He isn’t much of a difference-maker but his well-rounded game could land him on a roster. Had a productive 2013 season, totaling 37 catches for 593 yards and four scores. 17. TE Justin Jones – Eastern Carolina – Senior – 6-8, 272 – 4.85
Jones is a massive target that was academically ineligible for the 2013 season. He was hardly asked to block, but he has the frame to develop. Jones could be a red-zone threat if he fights his way onto a roster. Finished 2012 with 25 catches for 346 yards.
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