Tight ends top the bill in 2014

June 4th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

Not many tight ends look this good in the open field

It’s round about this time of year you formulate a man crush. Not that you can’t move on to others. This isn’t a marriage. No commitment. Merely a crush. Things can change during the season. But for now, you just want to see more.

Having successfully negotiated the whole ‘franchise quarterback’ problem, 2013 was a fairly pleasant draft to follow for Seahawks fans. No needlessly heated debates. For whatever reason, quarterback conversations don’t tend to be civil among fans. I’ve never quite worked out why.

2014 will hopefully be a similarly pleasant journey. And it’s a journey that starts with a pair of tight ends from the PNW.

Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Oregon’s Colt Lyerla are intriguing for a number of reasons. They’re big, unnaturally athletic players. They’ve both played other positions for a few snaps. And they both have some baggage.

While the NFL media fawns over the read option and whether it’s just a fad, the reality is guys like ASJ and Lyerla are the ones changing the game. They take bigger, faster, stronger to a whole new level. These types of players are just as important as the #1 receiver these days. It’s why we’re starting to see more and more tight ends appearing among the leading receivers in the league.

The Seahawks don’t really have a guy like that. Zach Miller is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and showed that in the second half of last season. Yet he’s slightly more orthodox. He’s a classical type who blocks well and offers a solid target for the quarterback. He’s not the Gronk, though. Or Jimmy Graham. Or Antonio Gates. Or Vernon Davis. You get the picture.

Seattle doesn’t necessarily need a player like that, but they’re in a position where they can get picky about which luxuries they want to invest in. So who knows, maybe they’ll be in the market for a nice complimentary target to their current group next April?

My interest peaked with ASJ and Lyerla when I saw them playing different positions. Seferian-Jenkins lined up at defensive end and didn’t look out of his depth. Lyerla took some snaps at running back and appeared surprisingly smooth and productive. I mean, when have you see a tight end run the ball, let alone run the ball well? We’re talking about explosive, difference making athletes here. The type you have to game plan for. And that’s exciting.

But then there’s the baggage. Seferian-Jenkins was cited for a DUI earlier this year, while Lyerla went on a bizarre Twitter rant about conspiracy theories regarding the Sandy Hook tragedy. Clearly in both cases, that’s some bad decision making. Neither comes off particularly poorly in interviews. It could be a case of ‘lesson learned’ and move on. Yet you feel obliged to remember this when reviewing both players ahead of possible entry into the NFL.

Both should get the chance to produce within a wide open PAC-12. The Oregon offense shouldn’t miss too many steps minus Chip Kelly, while Washington will hope to take a leap forward in 2013. When football returns in September, these are two players to keep an eye on. But you knew that already.

59 Responses to “Tight ends top the bill in 2014”

  1. Davison Phipps says:

    Aaron Hernandez has taken handoffs as a conventional running back for the Pats.

  2. Miles says:

    I had no idea who Lyerla was before this post. Now I’m seriously interested in what this guy can bring. Talk about being gifted to do just about anything an offense could ask you to do; seems like an offensive coordinator’s wet dream. We’ll see how the season plays out, but wow, I would love to see the Seahawks take him based on this tape.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Very exciting prospect… intrigued to see more this year.

    • Trudy Beekman says:

      Just watched both of these, and have to say Lyerla was far more impressive. Looked much more fluid than ASJ, but I do remember seeing a lot of ASJ watching tape on Lotulelei last year and he came up with some big catches. If Lyerla can really demonstrate body control and using his frame like Chris Harper does, he’ll be long gone by the time the Hawks pick at 32.

      I looked on the NFL Draft Scout page, and ASJ and Lyerla were 1 and 2 for the Junior draft class so it will be interesting to see if they both declare. Also am interested in seeing what the top seniors this year look like. Could make for a very deep class if they all declare and the Seniors are any good.

      • Beanhawk says:

        Barring some sort of freak injury or an incredible decline in production (and even then I would say he will still go pro), Lyerla will assuredly enter the draft this year. Around the Oregon program this is an unspoken fact virtually etched in stone.

  3. @AuRrevoirBrandon says:

    Unless they were to waive Zach Miller after next season, I honestly don’t see the Seahawks selecting a TE before day 3. I think Willson is very promising and I think they’ll give Anthony McCoy another shot once his Achilles is healed up.

    Although its extremely early, I think the main targets for next years draft will be DL and WR. Red Bryant is very expensive and if he doesn’t return to form he could be out, also Bennett is only on a one year deal, Avril is on a 2 year deal, and Clemons is aging and still unhealthy. I think the Hawks will want to address this issues aggressively along with WR. Sidney Rice is expensive and notoriously injury prone, and Golden Tate will be a free agent. If those two left, I think the Hawks would target an elite WR in the draft, perhaps Lee, Watkins or Coleman?

    • Michael says:

      McCoy is a free agent so there are no guarantees he is back, especially given his injury. The Patriots have Gronkowski and Hernandez…there’s nothing wrong with having more than one good TE. I expect the Seahawks to resign Tate and release Rice given their ages, Rice’s contract, and the fact that I expect Tate to have a better year than last year. TE was arguably a need this year…we’ll see how well it was addressed with the addition of Willson.

      • Trudy Beekman says:

        The thing w/ these type of TE’s is that they can be viewed as a WR. You might only need to carry 4 WR’s if you have a Miller/Lyerla/McCoy, but you also have the flexibility to play them as a FB or RB. Pretty sick.

  4. kigenzun says:

    Odds are Colt Lyerla will be available with the Seahawks #32 pick, while Austin Sefarian-Jenkins will more than likely be gone top 25.

    • Ryan says:

      saying that now has no weight to it. who knows honestly barkley turned out to NOT be a top 15 lock. But I would be just fine with either of them at 32!

    • Trudy Beekman says:

      Based on the above video, Lyerla looked like as elite a TE as I can think of coming out of college. Another year of tape like that in an offense as prolific as Oregon’s that he knows even better should produce a pretty monster stat line. The way he moved makes me think he’ll test very well at the Combine, probably better than ASJ, and that could push him up firmly into the 1st Round.

  5. JL says:

    Sadly, neither will probably be around by the 32nd pick

    • Miles says:

      Hey we can always trade up. We already have eight picks and we stand to add more with notable roster cutdowns to be made during preseason.

      • Miles says:

        Nope, sorry we have seven. I forgot about the 3rd rounder. But still, I think we’ll be in a good position to trade up next year.

  6. kigenzun says:

    I was thinking it will actually fall pretty similar to Eifort (mid1st) and Ertz (early2nd) in this years draft.

  7. Kenny Sloth says:

    This speculation is all for naught. Willson’s gonna lead all tight ends in TD’s this year.

    • SunPathPaul says:

      That would be AweSome!

      I’m startring to see that they need to adapt their #1-#2-#3 type of thinking into more of a circular process.
      Like with our TE’s. Miller, Willson, McGrath… seems these 3 R most likely to play. When you take away the linear 1-2-3, and put them into a circle, it becomes how to use each ones special talents to feed the circle. I could see Willson, the fastest, drawing DB coverage, whilst McGrath has more of a blocking smash mouth style. The rotation in this light could take a life its own…

    • Rob Staton says:

      That’s a giant leap of faith for a 5th round pick nobody had heard of a few weeks ago.

  8. Eburg says:

    I see Colt as a similar athlete to Vernon Davis. ASJ is more of the Graham type player. I’d personally kill for either on the Hawks, imagine another weapon for dangeruss.
    Watching ASJ destroy cover 2 and mlb is amazing and a thing of beauty

  9. Hay stacker says:

    Hey rob, quick question, what do you think of Matt Austin as a Wr? I watched the real rob report and he was in it. I didn’t even know we signed him. Also I’m sorry for those Winston guy fans but after watching the real rob report I hope he doesn’t make the team this year. He just seems like a guy that is clueless about everything… Just my opinion

  10. EranUngar says:

    This is quite a meaningless excersize….We are the seahawks, not the 49ers.

    Who will be available or not at the 32nd pick is not the way we build a team. Yes, from time to time we do get a 1st round pick and draft a guy but this is not what we do best. We build a team on late round picks, guys who are thankfull for the chance, will do anything they are told and will be easy to mold into what the coachs envision they should be.

    We have better starters from 3-5th rounds then from the 1st. we are a 3rd darft day team.

    So, as intresting as those amazing game changers are – we have a year to find those late round gems that will be the corner stones of future rosters.

    However, Willson was a TE to watch a year ago…buy the end of the year he was a rarly used 2nd TE, a reach at the 5th round or in short – a valuable seahawk to be. So, keep us upodated if any of those guys have an unaccepted serious drop in standing…anything outside the top 100 will do….

    • Dobbs says:

      I think it’s safe to say they can find value anywhere in the draft, but your best bet for success is always your highest pick.

      • EranUngar says:

        Usually that would be right.

        However, in the past 3 years we got – Carp(2011), Irvine, trade for our 1 st round….we got Chancelor,Sherman, K.J for our fifth.

        Lets stick with what we do best rather then what we do worst…

        • Trudy Beekman says:

          It also got us Okung and Earl Thomas. The fact is they have taken many more shots at Day 3 guys, and have smartly drafted guys that have athletic upside and fit their scheme well. Not taking a look ahead to guys that could be good value at any point in the draft where the Hawks will be picking is silly.

  11. James says:

    I love to follow the draft, but I would gladly give up our R1 #32 pick again for another 24 yr old All Pro player. Of course, coming up with the money for another Percy Harvin type contract is another matter……

  12. Jake says:

    Colt Lyerla please and thank you…

    Similar game to Delanie Walker actually. I think Walker could really be a stud outside of Vernon Davis’ shadow. For as much credit as Harbaugh gets for his multiple TE offense, he seems to pigeon hole them as a “blocker” or “receiver” first and foremost. Davis was the “receiver”, so Walker lost out. If he unleashed them more, similar to how the Patriots have with Gronk and Hernandez, that offense would have opened up even more. But none of us want them to get better, so I’m glad they didn’t.

    I’m curious to see how much Morrah factors into the 2nd TE spot there, he’s no slouch when healthy.

    • Michael says:

      I’m slightly disappointed to see Walker leave the 49ers. He is very talented, but given his drop rate, I’m not sure they aren’t better off without him.

  13. Michael says:

    I can’t even watch the film of Lyerla. The caption, “Not many tight ends look this good in the open field” almost makes me sick. If he ends up a Seahawk, I’ll probably be excited, and I’ll certainly cheer for him, but I can’t even stand to look at those uniforms.

    • Miles says:

      Haha. What did you think when the Seahawks drafted Walter Thurmond then?

    • Andrew says:

      Sorry, I actually had the same problem watching ASJ but it had more to do with UW’s blocking (or lack thereof) than their uniforms. Lyerla as a Seahawk would be freaking fantastic. His blocking was surprisingly good and man can he be a target in the passing game!

  14. Ben2 says:

    Correction “two players to keep an eye on” not “two players TWO keep an eye on”

  15. Colin says:

    With the salary cap issues coming in the next few years, it’s possible we say goodbye to Zach Miller soon, though I expect them to release Sidney Rice before Miller.

    • Miles says:

      Zach Miller’s cap number actually goes down in the next two years. Like, way down. His contract is built to be taken to its expiration. Sidney Rice on the other hand is going to cost a lot of money and I don’t see the Seahawks paying him all of it. He could possibly be gone before the 2014 season. Which is a shame because we don’t really have anybody who can play his position the way he does, nor do we have a lanky, aggressive X receiver.

      • Attyla the Hawk says:

        “Sidney Rice on the other hand is going to cost a lot of money and I don’t see the Seahawks paying him all of it. He could possibly be gone before the 2014 season. ”

        Why would we think this?

        There are many candidates for trimming salary other than RIce. If I had to harbor a guess, it’d come from the combined salaries of Red Bryant and Chris Clemons. If it was to be Rice, I would have expected us to get his successor this year. Instead, we added several Clemons successors and Bryant’s successor. Given age and productivity, I would expect us to continue to pay a 28 year old WR as opposed to two 30 something DEs.

        Also, just because Rice is expensive now, don’t dismiss the potential to resign him. Obviously when this contract clears, he’s not going to be commanding 9 million a season. When this contract is up, he’ll still be in his prime. We could resign him to a 3 year deal after this one is up and he’ll be younger then Clemons is right now when that expires. His numbers aren’t what they were when we signed him, but scheme and team will never allow for that result anyway. His bargaining position relative to the rest of the league is going to be severely curtailed.

  16. James says:

    Do my eyes deceive me, or have they given this new kid, Arceto Clark, our #12 jersey? Check out the photos from practice the past couple of days. I’m not sure how I feel about that. If they have run out of WR #’s, couldn’t they just give him 00 or something?

  17. mjkleko says:

    While Lyerla and ASJ are clearly a cut above the rest of the players at their position in the Pac-12, I for one will be keeping a close eye on how the battle for playing time at tight end for USC progresses. Xavier Grimble was a top recruit coming out of high school (yes, big surprise, I know), and at times has flashed dominate play and will be a RSJr in 2013. Early reports out of spring practices have indicated the talented sophmore Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick may warrant increased play time, and when you throw in the gifted Randall Telfer, suddenly you’re looking at one of the most competitive position battles in the nation.

    Cope-Fitzpatrick is obviously there for a season or two more, yet if Grimble plays well and still has his playing time cut into, I could see him making an early jump to the NFL. Could he find himself a target of the Seahawks in the later rounds, a player who could be developed almost step for step like Anthony McCoy? Regardless, tight end will be an interesting position to pay attention to at USC.

  18. Bob Dole says:

    As a U of O student I’ve seen quite a lot of colt and let me tell you he’s pretty remarkable. Solid hands, good in space, and a competent blocker. I’ve played basketball with him a couple times and what is most notable about him is the size he has in his lower body. His legs are massive and that strength shows up in both blocking and running over tacklers with the ball in his hand. Should see a significant uptick in snaps this year as well.

    • Don says:

      As another U of O grad and Quacker backer, count me in on signing Colt.

      Go Ducks and Hawks

  19. Attyla the Hawk says:

    Having watched the limited footage, I’m inclined to think of a different possibility:

    Lyerla as fullback.

    He’s not as violent a blocker coming from the backfield. But he does show seriously amazing feet. I’d harken back to a FB of Seahawks yore: John L Williams.

    Lyerla has explosive speed, coupled with a natural bend which allows him to keep leverage on the move. He also shows excellent lower body strength. But his feet are extremely lively. In a typical blocking scheme, he looks like his heart isn’t into the level of violence you’d want to see from a FB. You don’t see him lay Vontae Leach/Bruce Miller type blocks. Or even Mike Robinson type blocks. But he is a guy who can block on the move and create seams.

    He’d be a distinct mismatch for any pass play coming out of the backfield. Or any time he motions out wide. He’d be a FB that could play seamlessly in a 21 or 22 package. Now that I think about it, you could just as easily put him in an 11 or 12 and move him around that way as well.

    John L was an amazingly productive FB for Seattle particularly in the passing game as he was a good receiving FB with some elusiveness. Lyerla definitely could fit that niche quite well. Definitely better as a receiver, but not as physical a blocker.

    For zone stretch plays, I can see Lyerla being excellent at that. He has quickness and fluidity and strength to get a good hook on an end, or to earwig onto an inside shoulder for a cutback lane. He doesn’t look impressive as a drive blocker, but when he does engage a guy, he is quick/strong enough to stay on the block and not let his man loose.

    I can definitely see the appeal Lyerla would have for an offense such as ours. He’s very much an explosive athlete who can be used in a myriad of roles and positions. A player who, if we were so inclined, could allow for us to run no huddle/up tempo, while keeping nearly the entire playbook open with unchanged personnel.

    His feet and leg strength are as impressive as they are an odd pairing. Usually you don’t see that kind of agility with that level of power. And you typically don’t see that in a player who can stay low at full speed. He runs with a very natural forward hunch while balanced over his feet.

  20. Dan says:

    Is the tight end class suposed to be deep next year? Because if so, that seems like too much of a coincidence with the cap situation pertaining to Miller’s contract.

    • williambryan says:

      There is no Miller contract situation. His cap number almost cuts in half next season. It miller isn’t on the team in 2014 or 2015, it won’t be solely because of his contract.

    • mjkleko says:

      Yeah, getting rather tired of reading this. Miller’s contract was designed to have 2013 be his most expensive year, a calculated move that would pay the talented TE top money, yet not restrict the team from resigning important core players in 2014 & 2015. The “pig in the python” as it’s been described before.

      Miller will be one of the rare free agent signings in the NFL that completes his contract and that’s a credit to JS and the front office for targeting young players in FA.

  21. John_s says:

    Don’t know if this was posted but here’s a vid of Colt Lyrla doing a 62″ box jump. Pretty impressive anytime especially for a guy his size.

    http://youtu.be/gk0CxGPdxvo

  22. Miles says:

    Unrelated, but…

    The Buffalo Bills just released Tarvaris Jackson. I know we all were talking earlier this offseason about who should back up Russell Wilson, and most of you wanted Jackson before anyone else. I don’t know how the Seahawks feel about Jerrod Johnson, though I think they feel pretty confident about Quinn’s standing in this offense, but Jackson could be a smart pickup. He knows the offense on some level. He has a chip on his shoulder after being mostly inactive the last two years. And he’s familiar with the environment here. Would he be better than Brady Quinn? I think most Seahawks fans would prefer Jackson over Quinn. Jerrod doesn’t have much experience; is he worth keeping in camp? Should the training camp competition be between Jackson and Quinn exclusively?

    Thoughts guys.

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      I was getting the impression that PC has been impressed with Johnson in OTAs.

  23. kigenzun says:

    I am a Seahawks fan and I prefer both Brady Quinn(@#2) & Jerrod Johnson(@#3) to Tjack(at all lol). I believe we counted quite a coup to get a 7th from the Buffalo out of him, and the QB starved Bills just released him for nothing. ‘Nuff said.

    • Miles says:

      But if you’re looking at it from a performance standpoint, Brady Quinn put up horrendous numbers last year with the exception of one game. Jerrod Johnson has no regular season NFL experience. Recently, when our QB Coach Carl Smith was asked who was winning the QB battle, he said something along the lines of “Well, Brady Quinn just has more experience.” That makes it sound as though the QB competition is really just a formality at this point; Quinn should have the job come September barring anything drastic.

      But that drastic thing could be T-Jack, who didn’t put up great numbers for us but played better than most expected. He threw for 14 touchdowns and managed the offense well. Obviously there’s drawbacks to his game, particularly he can’t pull through in the clutch and he doesn’t have a good deep ball, but there’s always going to be drawbacks to a backup QB.

      I really expected some T-Jack support here. Isn’t there anyone out there who thinks T-Jack is our guy?

      • Connor Jackson says:

        I love the fact that TJack is coming back Miles. As a 2nd string QB… Yes please! Add in the fact that he has great chemistry with the locker room and this is a great get.

  24. Connor Jackson says:

    First time I’ve seen anything on Colt Lyerla. Once again Rob has given me a guy to be amazed by. Count me in the Lyerla bandwagon… even over ASJ and that is because Lyerla displays more versatility and to me he looks like a better and more willing blocker. Because my cousin is best friends with ASJ I know that going to UW he was asked to play on the line instead of TE and he didn’t really like the idea of blocking. Also, I’m not worried about either of the “baggage” that’s talked about regarding these players. All my buddies are conspiracy theorists… and when you watch the youtube videos they are pretty convincing. Not to mention that Pete Carroll is a huge government conspiracy theorist himself. When it comes to ASJ… the DUI does not define who he really is. Character isn’t a major red flag with him… cocky yes… but bad character no. Already imagining Lyerla in Seahawks offense. I wish we had like 4 first round picks ha. I want CJ Mosley a lot too.