Senior Tight End Rankings
DraftBreakdown contributor Jeremy Hyde unveils his latest rankings, this time of the senior tight ends.
1. C.J. Fiedorowicz – 6’7” / 265 – Iowa
With impressive size and strength at 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, Fiedorowicz functions as an extension of the Iowa offensive line. Hawkeyes linemen are historically well-coached under Kirk Ferentz, and Fiedorowicz appears to have benefited from his teaching as well. He is truly an elite level blocker at the tight end position. He plays with leverage and power in the ground game, consistently dominating defenders at the point of attack, and forcibly steering them away from running lanes. While his role as a pass catcher is secondary to his role as a blocker in Iowa’s offense, Fiedorowicz is a solid athlete who shows great concentration and soft hands to make tough catches in traffic. He has impressive speed for his body type, but seldom stretches the field or runs away from defenders after the catch. Despite his overall lack of explosiveness, Fiedorowicz’s size and skill set are sure to be coveted by power running teams in the upcoming draft.
2. Arthur Lynch – 6’5” / 258 – Georgia
Used primarily as a blocking tight end during his first two seasons with the Bulldogs (redshirted in 2010), Lynch had just two career receptions entering his first season as a full-time starter. He combines a muscular 6-foot-5 frame with an old school blocking style, demonstrating the ability to move defenders off the ball, and aggressively working to seal the edge to allow running plays to the outside. In the passing game, Lynch provides Aaron Murray with a big target over the middle, and a physical runner who is tough to bring down after the catch. He will need to continue to build upon his productive finish (15 catches for 220 yards over his last five games) to the 2012 season, but Lynch’s ability to make an impact in both the ground game and the passing attack could help move him into the mid-round conversation with a strong senior campaign.
3. Chris Coyle – 6’3” / 222 – Arizona State
Coyle had a breakout year in his first season as the “3-back” in new offensive coordinator Mike Norvell’s offense, setting a new mark for Arizona State tight ends with 57 catches in a single season. He also led the team with 696 receiving yards and caught five touchdown passes. A moveable piece in the Sun Devils offense, Coyle lines up as an H-back, in the slot, and in a traditional inline position. He exhibits excellent quickness in and out of his breaks, making him a mismatch for opposing linebackers, and demonstrates a great feel for finding soft spots in coverage. His soft, reliable hands and ability to make defenders miss after the catch make him a valuable weapon in the passing game. Undersized, but reportedly heavier now than when he weighed in at spring camp, Coyle is a well-rounded H-back prospect who also contributes as a blocker for Arizona State’s talented backfield.
4. Kaneakua Friel – 6’5” / 250 – Brigham Young
Following a two-year LDS mission to South Africa and an injury-plagued sophomore season, Friel entered the spring of 2012 buried on the depth chart, only to emerge as the team’s starter due to a rash of injuries to those he played behind. He quickly cemented his place in the starting lineup with six receptions for 101 yards and two scores in BYU’s season opener, and went on to catch 30 passes for 308 yards and five touchdowns on the year. Friel can play from either an inline position or split out in the slot. He has the ideal frame and ample speed to work the seam, and possesses the power to run through tacklers after the catch. He needs to improve his blocking technique, as his hand placement is almost always outside the defender’s shoulder pads, but continued progress and consistency as a receiver will be the primary factors in determining Friel’s draft stock.
5. Justin Jones – 6’8” / 277 – East Carolina
Listed at 6-foot-8, Jones is easy to spot when watching the East Carolina offense. He is built like a wiry offensive tackle, but catches the football like a wide receiver. While he currently lacks the desired physicality to play inline at the next level, Jones is an advanced route runner who exhibits great leaping ability, natural hands, and a huge catch radius. He is not the most explosive athlete, limiting his ability to pick up yards after the catch, but he has surprising speed for a player his size. Jones is underutilized in the Pirates offense, so it would come as little surprise to see him excel at the next level in role better suited to his strengths. His ability to separate with both his speed and length, combined with his athleticism and receiving skills, will undoubtedly cause him to draw looks from NFL teams looking to develop the next mismatch tight end prospect.