Earlier in the offseason, I decided to use the Freak Score Calculator to identify some young tight ends who had the athletic potential to develop into elite players at the position. The logic was simply that most elite tight ends are also elite athletes, so it makes more sense to work backwards from the athleticism side of the equation. I found some promising candidates.
Of course, I’m not perfect. There were a number of young TEs that I failed to include, so today I’m going to look at a few more to see if I missed any potential diamonds in the rough. Hopefully you find the results just as interesting as the first time. If not, well… it’s a sequel. What did you expect? The Dark Knight?
Like last time, I’ll start by showing the freak scores of some known elite TEs:
|Rob Gronkowski||78||264||4.68||83||Julio Jones- 84, Andre Johnson- 82|
|Jimmy Graham||78||260||4.56||93||Calvin Johnson- 100, Stephen Hill- 90|
|Aaron Hernandez||74||245||4.64||67||Alshon Jeffery- 67|
|Vernon Davis||75||254||4.38||102||Calvin Johnson- 100|
|Jordan Cameron||77||254||4.59||84||Julio Jones- 84|
|Julius Thomas||77||246||4.68||70||Justin Hunter- 70|
|Jason Witten||78||264||4.65*||86||Vincent Jackson- 89, Julio Jones- 84|
|Antonio Gates||76||255||4.6*||82||Andre Johnson- 82|
|Tony Gonzalez||77||247||4.54*||85||Darrius Heyward-Bey- 85|
This is just for reference and to show that, yes, most elite TEs are elite athletes.
On to the good stuff:
|Joe Don Duncan||75||268||4.79||68|
- Brandon Bostick may be the Packers TE to own. His score is actually identical to that of supposed freak Colt Lyerla, though admittedly Lyerla outperformed Bostick in other workouts. Both are superior athletes to Richard Rodgers. He may never be an elite TE, but he could have a lot of utility if he wins the starting job.
- Reportedly, David Ausberry was running with the first-team at OTAs. Given his elite athleticism, he has a lot of potential to break out. Considering how little competition for targets there is in Oakland, he may very well do so this year. Definitely a guy to keep an eye on.
- Demetrius Harris has supposedly added a great deal of muscle and weight this offseason. If you assume he was able to keep his same speed while doing so, then he’s an absolute freak. But it’s more likely that he’s gotten slower as well, and after the Dion Jordan debacle, I’m a bit worried about players who show up to camp looking like a completely different guy. He also has to contend with Travis Kelce, who is both more athletic and highly drafted. Keep a tab on Harris, but don’t expect much.
- Chris Gragg is promising, but he also has to compete with Scott Chandler and Tony Moeaki in what projects to be a run-heavy offense. He’s also competing with Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Mike Williams for targets. If he does break out, it probably won’t be this year.
- Joe Don Duncan and Jake Murphy both have uninspiring athleticism. One seems to be unsigned, the other is, at best, the Raiders third-string TE. Ignore both.
- Charles Clay has been productive in the NFL, but it’s extremely unlikely he ever ascends to elite levels.
- I mostly included Zach Sudfeld because he’s getting positive buzz in training camp… again. If for some reason you’re letting that excite you, pump the brakes immediately.
- A lot of really smart people are big on Gavin Escobar this year. For fantasy purposes, James Hanna is actually the guy we should be rooting for, as he’s the far superior athlete. Hanna has the second highest weight-adjusted agility score since 2006, a must-know measurable for TEs. He also has an above average score on the Phenom Index. He’s basically the ultimate sleeper breakout candidate because he has both an established veteran in Jason Witten and another breakout candidate in front of him. As much as it’s possible to engage in arbitrage on deep sleepers, Hanna is Escobar arbitrage.
One TE I didn’t profile is Erik Swoope, simply because I couldn’t find any measurables I was confident were valid. I wrote about his chances here.
Well, there you have it. Through two editions, my favorite candidates to ascend to elite status are Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ladarius Green, Luke Willson, Coby Fleener, Adrien Robinson, David Ausberry, and James Hanna. All of these guys have at least one blemish, but I’m panning for gold, not examining diamonds.1 I’m sure there’s at least one TE I’m forgetting, so feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter @TheHumanHuman.
- Yeah, yeah, I know I said I was looking for diamonds in the rough earlier. I’ll mix all the metaphors I want. (back)