The 2017 Orange Bowl takes place on December 30th at Hard Rock Stadium, between the 10th-ranked Miami Hurricanes (10-2) and the sixth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers (12-1). One of the key players for the Badgers will be senior tight end Troy Fumagalli, who will be playing his last game for Wisconsin before entering the 2018 NFL draft.
Fumagalli, who had part of his left index finger removed mere days after being born due to Amniotic band constriction, will end his collegiate career with the second-most receptions and receiving yards of any TE in school history. Only former New York Giant Travis Beckum has more than Fumagalli’s 132 grabs for 1,596 yards.1 Fumagalli was recognized as being one of the three best TEs in the nation, as he was named as a finalist for this year’s John Mackey Award. He eventually lost out to Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews.
Fumagalli’s Freshman and Sophomore seasons saw him catch 42 passes for 500 yards, with a single touchdown to his name. He surpassed all of these numbers in the 2016 season, in which he had 47 receptions, 580 yards, and two touchdowns. He started 2017 off with a bang, finding the end zone in each of his first three games of the season. However, he was unable to sustain this production, and over the remainder of the season, he scored just once. He still takes 43 catches for 516 yards and the four scores with him into the Orange Bowl.
COMPARING TROY FUMAGALLI TO THE 2018 CLASS
Fumagalli’s receptions and receiving yards were the most on the Badgers in 2017. His production may seem somewhat disappointing, but the Badgers were one of the more run-happy offenses this past year. They attempted almost 45 rushing attempts per game, for nearly 230 yards, but 114 teams attempted more passes per game than the 22.4 thrown by the Wisconsin quarterbacks.
Fumagalli is the fourth-ranked TE according to NFL Draft Scout. The table below shows how Fumagalli ranks against the four other members of their top five.
|Mike Gesicki||Penn State||6'6||252||18.9||14.6||30.0|
|Dallas Goedert||South Dakota State||6'5||260||27.4||30.2||20.0|
|Jaylen Samuels||North Carolina State||5'11||228||23.3||16.8||25.0|
Not terrible numbers, but far from stats that would blow your socks off. But still, this was the limit placed on him by the offense he was in. By being part of this offense, he was able to showcase that “other” skill that TEs need to show proficiency in, namely run blocking. He showed himself to be more than adequate in this area, lining up a large percent of the time as an inline blocker.
COMPARING TROY FUMAGALLI TO THE PROS
At 6-foot-6, Troy Fumagalli stands favorably against some of the most prominent TEs currently in the NFL. Below, we can see how he compares to these players in other notable categories.2
|Player||Height||Weight||40 Yard Dash||College Games||College Recs||College Yds||College TDs|
While his college numbers are by far superior to most of these players, it should be pointed out that he did play a lot more games than some of the other players on this list (with the notable exception of O.J. Howard). This large sample size actually hurts him in one category, namely touchdowns. He had only two more touchdowns than Jimmy Graham, despite playing more than three times more games.
He does trail the above group in one very important score, however. Speed. While the above is only an estimate, the need for speed cannot be understated in a modern TE. In his article regarding the Combine Drills that matter most for the position, the first indicator that Kevin Cole looks at is the 40 time.
In the TE prospect model created by Phil Watkins, speed was also vitally important in determining if a prospect had a chance to become a viable NFL starter. Fumagalli, a touch lighter than his colleagues already in the NFL, will have to bulk up a touch to overcome his lack of speed, especially considering the second most important drill for Cole’s model is the bench press.
As already mentioned, Troy Fumagalli is the TE4 according to NFL Draft Scout. He’s one of five TEs currently ranked on CBS. He has accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl, where he will look to impress upon the coaches that he is more than just a steady blocking option. NFL Draft Scout has him currently projected to go in the fourth round of the draft, and given his blocking pedigree, he could certainly find a niche for himself as the second TE on a roster that likes to utilize multiple players at that spot.
According to Sharp Football Stats, the three teams that have used 12 personnel the most this season have been the Ravens, the Jaguars, and the Eagles. The Ravens Ben Watson is 37 and will be a free agent at the end of the year, the Jaguars can save $3.5 million if they cut Marcedes Lewis this offseason, while the Eagles will probably be saying goodbye to both Trey Burton and Brent Celek this spring. All these teams could be worth watching when it comes to Troy Fumagalli.