Senior Bowl Sleeper: Central Michigan tight end Tyler Conklin

Taking a look at some of the best prospects in this year’s Senior Bowl, including Central Michigan tight end Tyler Conklin…

Looking through this year’s list of players who have accepted invitations to play in the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl, Central Michigan tight end Tyler Conklin is a potential diamond in the rough.

Conklin, a high school basketball star, is a 6-foot-4 tight end who, at 240 pounds, doesn’t possess the ideal size for an in-line NFL tight end, but has excellent ball skills and soft hands.

This is a player who has shown an ability to be a very tough red zone matchup, and a chess piece that can be moved all around the offensive formation. You get to see a little bit of that here:

Observations

First and foremost, I love the fact that Conklin catches the football away from his body, and doesn’t allow the ball to get into his chest before securing it. He has strong hands, and uses his skills as a former basketball player to bring the ball in like he’s receiving a pass in basketball.

Athletically, this is a player who looks really natural when running routes, but he could be more refined in that area. In the NFL, he’s going to need a quicker release off the line of scrimmage, and to work on his footwork in beating man coverage.

Where Conklin wins pretty consistently is in the size and length department. He’s not the biggest tight end in the class, but he makes defensive backs look small with his ability to box them out and use a broad catch radius to help the quarterback.

Conklin also shows even in just this one game tape that he is a willing and able blocker, but he almost catches defenders rather than trying to get to them first, and win with leverage. He would rather catch and re-direct defensive players than move them to a certain spot.

This is a player worth monitoring at Senior Bowl practices because he’s going to look impressive catching the football, but how will he hold up in blocking drills? How will his routes look when NFL coaches throw more complicated concepts at him?

Keep your eye out for this player, who is coming off of an injury and could really see his stock rise in the draft process.