Originally posted by DRUSTOPO:Thanks for this piece.
I really think our #2 TE needs to be a solid blocker first, pass catcher 2nd. Our coaches love multi dimension players who can line up anywhere and keep the defenses guessing. Ertz, Eifert, Reed and Escobar are excellent receivers of balls, but lack the size and strength to put their hand in the dirt and take on a 280 DE. Can they be coached up to block and add size after a couple years? Sure they could, over time, but that would have been a better idea LAST year with a #3 TE. Since Celek has hands of stone, we really need a solid blocking TE who can also catch, one we can plug in THIS season. I think 2 players fit that mold better than the rest, Kelce and Vance McDonald.
Vance McDonald, TE, Rice Height: 6-4. Weight: 267. Arm: 34 1/2. Hand: 10.18. 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2013): 3-4
He mostly played in the slot at Rice, but he has strength ( 31 reps was tops for TE at the combine - and more than most Olinemen ) and the size ( 267 ) to be an effective inline blocker. He also was the top performer in the Broad Jump, 3 cone and 60 yard shuttle....so he's not just a big meathead, he's athletic too. I think his size, strength and athleticism will allow him to adapt to inline blocking pretty quick.
Here's NFL.com's breakdown =
Strengths Used all over the formation but mainly as a slot receiver. Smooth athlete, comfortable in space for someone his size. Engages with good hand placement when blocking, uses body to shield off running lane. Very long arms, flashes using them to his advantage when run blocking. Sticks to the latch even if jolted on first contact. Flashes driving smaller defenders to the ground. Fluid mover after the catch, natural with the ball in his hands, reads upfield blocks and cuts off of them. Plenty of receiver screens, shows patience and strength to finish off runs. Snap-to-whistle player, known to make multiple blocks on the same play. Comfortable with bucket catches. Quickly turns upfield and makes the most of each play. Can make contested catches. Hands catcher away from his body.
Weaknesses Lacks strength on first contact. Majority of blocking took place in space, no inline, which could show in NFL. At least one drop or bobble per game, occurred even more often at the Senior Bowl. Most occur when he has to adjust or move off his stationary spot. Other times when the ball gets there quickly, unexpected targets. Would like to see him high point more frequently.
NFL Comparison Todd Heap
Bottom Line Despite being built like an inline tight end, the majority of McDonald's experience is in the slot. This certainly helps his comfort blocking on the edge and as a receiver who picks up yards after the catch. In fact, McDonald is still learning how to use his frame effectively. Teams could view the Rice product as an inline prospect or as a Joker mismatch, but either way McDonald should be selected on the second day.
I believe his versatility and size make him a perfect fit as our #2 TE. He already knows how to run routes and work in space, he also has big hands and long arms ( assets in the Red Zone ) if he can adapt to inline blocking, he would be a great weapon for our team.=
I love what Vernon Davis brings to the table; unmatchable speed and great blocking strength. What he lacks is what McDonald brings: smooth, clean routes and the ability to work in space. That is the component that has been missing from the passing game the past two years.
Every good passing team needs a TE that can read the defense and get quickly into space opened by a blitzing LB. That space is almost always an area that a good TE can quickly occupy and the QB can quickly spot thereby taking advantage of the blitz instead of being defeated by it. Davis has still not learned to do that and likely will not learn it at this point in his career. The fact that the FO moved up to grab this kid shows they are aware of Davis' weakness and chose to bring in someone with strength in that area rather than trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.
Again, good analysis and nice to see the FO agrees with the 'zone...again.