Every year we get stunned when a team takes a player like Tyson Alualu at 10 (the Jaguars) or Christian Ponder at 12 (Minnesota Vikings) so this year I thought I would see if I could highlight some of the players who could go much higher than anyone expected. Today that player is Stanford Cardinal TE Coby Fleener.
Fleener is a massive target at 6’6″ with 33 3/8″ arms, and 10 inch hands, and showed off straight line speed running a forty yard dash in the 4.45 range at his Stanford Cardinal proday, he also had 27 bench press reps at the combine, at his proday he also registered 37″ vertical and a 9’8″ broad jump. Impressive numbers for a guy who is 6’6 and nearly 250 pounds.
Fleener though is not just a guy big on measurables. In 2011 Fleener had 34 receptions for 667 yards and 10 touchdowns, pretty big numbers for a college Tight End. In 2010 he had another 7 touchdowns, so he also produces on the field. Fleener is a terrific receiver, but has dropped a few passes from time to time. He also is a willing, but unspectacular blocker. Fleener has a good feel in zone coverage. He has been a player who has had a few nagging injuries and had to come out of some games which is a concern.
Fleener has separated himself as the best tight end in this class, but the question is just how high could he end up being drafted. A month and a half ago no one on twitter would commit to Fleener in the first round and never higher than San Francisco or the Giants at 32nd overall. But that was before he showed off terrific speed. With the success of big, fast targets like Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Jimmy Graham could there be a team in the top 20 who gets excited about Fleener.
What about the Buffalo Bills? Scott Chandler is an average at best wide receiver and they have no second TE worth writing home about. Could they consider him at 10th overall?
The Chiefs are a team with few major needs, but they have a tight end coming off an entire missed season and could consider Fleener in round one a 11th overall.
The Philadelphia Eagles haven’ had a really good TE in a long time even though Brent Celek played well down the stretch last year they pick at 15th.
The Jets are looking to add another pass receiver to their offense, though most have assumed that would be a WR, what about Fleener. The team has publicaly stated their desire to get back to running the ball, if they were to add Fleener they could run two tight end sets successfully. They could also use Fleener to develop some more wrinkles for their new toy. The Jets make some serious sense.
The Chargers could be looking for an eventual replacement to Antonio Gates that seems like a long shot.
Lastly in the 10-20 range the Chicago Bears have gotten rid of Mike Martz so the argument that they don’ need a good tight end is no longer valid. I’m sure Jay Cutler would love to have a better player at tight end to throw the ball too. The WR class is deep, and the TE class is very shallow. Adding Fleener could help he Bears out next year.
One thing is for sure, if there is a team that likes Fleener in the top 20 they could draft him and easily justify their selection. 6’6 250 pound Tight Ends who run 4.45 forty yard dashes don’t grow on trees, and in today’s N.F.L.they are a necessity more than they are a luxury.
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