Stanford tight end Coby Fleener made headlines at Stanford’s pro-day last week, running times in the 4.4-4.5 region at 6-6, 247lbs. He missed the combine due to rehab on a high ankle sprain picked up in the Fiesta Bowl.
Pass-catching tight ends that can stretch the field are en vogue at the moment, largely thanks to Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. You’ll hear a lot of talk about how Gronkowski only ran a 4.65 in the combine in comparison, but it’s worth noting he’s 20lbs heavier than Fleener. Even so, he doesn’t necessarily have to be as spectacular as Tom Brady’s favorite target to be a success.
The Seahawks have placed a lot of emphasis on the tight end position since Pete Carroll’s arrival in Seattle, drafting Anthony McCoy and then signing Zach Miller to a $34m contract. Unfortunately, despite the teams best efforts, they’re yet to find any legitimate production from their TE’s. Miller managed just 25 receptions for 233 yards last season with zero touchdowns. John Carlson similarly struggled for production in 2010, while both Cameron Morrah and Anthony McCoy have battled injury and inconsistency.
Of course, a lot of this is down to the emergency blocking responsibilities during multiple injury crises on the offensive line. Even so, it appears the position remains one of serious priority. The Seahawks hosted Jacob Tamme and Visanthe Shiancoe recently, while they reportedly had interest in Washington’s Fred Davis (a former USC Trojan) before he was franchised by the Redskins. Pete wants a TE.
So the hunt is on to find a greater compliment to Miller. It’s been apparent from day one of the Carroll era that he wants to use a lot of 2TE sets. The offense is being built around the run, so having a lot of 2TE formations is no real shock. Finding TE’s who can block well and also get downfield quickly and help exploit play-action will be crucial moving forward. Considering the free agent market has so far failed to provide a solution, there’s a possibility the Seahawks will look to draft. That doesn’t mean Seattle will necessarily take a tight end early, but if the right one is available – who knows?
Fleener’s stock-busting performance last week probably secured his position in round one. San Francisco would like another tight end, so would the New York Giants. In fact there are multiple teams from Philadelphia at #15 onwards that could draft the guy in the first round. If there are GM’s and coaches out there looking for their version of ‘the Gronk’, they might take a chance on ‘the Fleen’.
But what if he slips through the cracks, and actually makes it to the top of round two? After all, prior to his workout nobody really expected him to be a first round lock. I’ve touted him as a firm second round prospect, as have a lot of other mock drafters (can we use that as a word?). Seattle’s priorities in rounds 1-3 are likely to center around DE, RB and LB – and I think it’s almost certain a pass rusher will be taken at #12. Beyond that? Maybe things are a little more flexible, especially if value matches need. Fleener falls into that category and for that reason he’s one to keep an eye on.
As expected, the Seahawks didn’t receive any compensatory picks today. Last year’s free-agency splurge on the likes of Sidney Rice, Robert Gallery and Zach Miller ended any chances of that happening. For a full list of what the NFL dished out, click here.
It means the Seattle currently only has six picks in the 2012 draft – their own choices in rounds 1-4, a 6th rounder and a 7th rounder acquired from Oakland for Aaron Curry. They traded their 5th choice to Buffalo as part of the Marshawn Lynch deal and their original 7th choice to Detroit for Tyler Polumbus.