For all of our harping on the glut of clichés around draft time, there are some we just can’t shake. The tight end position has been deemed the young quarterback’s best friend for eons it seems.

The 2012 draft has one marquee tight end available, Stanford senior Coby Fleener. The emergence of athletic, vertical threats at the position has seen scouts flocking towards unconventional players who don’t fit the prototypical blocking, hand down tight ends of yesteryear. Fleener was a highly regard basketball player coming out of high school who quickly became future #1 pick Andrew Luck’s favorite red zone target.

At 6’6″ and 247 pounds with a recorded 4.45 40-yard dash time, Fleener looks to follow the trend set by Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and the “elder” statesmen, Antonio Gates.

Vitals

Height: 6’6

Weight: 247 Pounds

Class: Senior

Born: September 20, 1988

Combine Numbers

40-yard dash: 4.45 (tailwind) 4.51 (headwind)

Vertical jump: 37′ inch

Broad jump: 116′ inch

Bench Press: 27 reps at 225 Pounds

Arm length: 33 3/8 inches

Hands:10 inches

Due to an ankle injury, Fleener only completed the bench press at the combine. The other numbers are from Stanford’s pro day.

College Stats

2011: 13 GP  34 REC  667 Yards  19.6 YPC  10 TD

2010: 13 GP  28 REC  434 Yards  15.5 YPC  7 TD

2009: 13 GP  21 REC  266 Yards  12.7 YPC  1 TD

2008: 12 GP  13 REC  176 Yards  13.5 YPC

What the experts say

National Football Post

A tall, athletically put together tight end with a leaner frame, but has the ability to add more girth as he matures. Is natural sitting into his stance. Fires off the ball low and doesn’t waste any motion getting into his routes. Does a nice job exploding off the line and can get into his routes quickly. Is a good straight-line athlete when asked to run vertically down the field. However, it’s his savvy that really makes him a tough cover. Knows how to use a subtle head/shoulder fake in order to set up defenders and does a nice job changing gears as well.

Walter Football

Fleener was sidelined with an injury and couldn’t run at the Combine, although he did put up an impressive total on the bench press. With some disappointing performances from other tight ends, Fleener has moved into the top ranking at the position. The need for tight ends could push him into the first round.

Tony Pauline

Scouts, coaches and general managers were amazed at the athleticism displayed by tight end Coby Fleener. Despite a gimpy ankle he played to his 4.5 speed during drills. Fleener caught the ball well and easily extended to make catches in the end zone. He was constantly on balance and practiced with tremendous body control. Did Fleener do enough to secure himself as a first-round pick? The opinions of many leaving the workout was Fleener is not a three down defender as his blocking is a liability. If a team is looking for a one-dimensional pass catching tight end at the end of round one, then he’s your guy.

A rare tight end with extensive experience playing in a pro-style system. Fleener is not only a polished route runner and pass catcher, he is also a respectable blocker capable of staying on the field as an every-down playmaker.

MockingTheDraft

Regardless of where in the 4.4 range Fleener’s time was and the fact that it may have been aided by the wind, that type of speed is incredible for a man his size. Having already checked out as a fringe first-round prospect on tape, Fleener’s workouts are sure to boost his stock. In a relatively weak tight end class, Fleener appears to be a lock to be the first player at his position off the board, and that very well could come in the first round.

While far from an intimidator, Fleener does a nice job of helping to seal the edge when operating as an in-line blocker, showing enough strength, leverage and a solid base considering he’s a former wideout. Looks to get involved down field and will block multiple defenders on a single play when he can. Understands his role as a blocker and doesn’t shirk from it.
Mike Mayock

Mayock’s stopwatch read 4.51, but it’s still a very fast time for a 6-foot-6, 247-pound human being. “That is flying at 247,” said Mayock. Mayock also reported that Fleener had a 37-inch vertical and broad jump north of 10-feet. “They’re extremely athletic numbers,” Mayock added. “Those are defensive back, wide receiver-type numbers.”

A blistering 40 time coupled with an excellent overall performance at his Pro Day has vaulted Fleener up the draft board. Teams have seen the threat posed by big, fast tight ends who are almost impossible to cover. Once expected to go in the second round, Fleener has moved himself into the first round.

Happy long weekend everyone. More profiles next week.

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