2014 NFL Draft by Position: Tight EndPosted on April 17, 2014 by Will Grabill
Though the Ravens re-signed Dennis Pitta to a 5 year, $32 million contract, there is still turmoil at the tight end position. The consistently under-performing Ed Dickson signed a 1 year deal with the Panthers, and the Ravens subsequently brought in 2 time Pro-Bowler Owen Daniels. The team has expressed a desire to run more two TE sets, so greater depth is necessary to have a sufficient rotation. Here are profiles of players the Ravens could target at tight end in each round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
1ST ROUND: ERIC EBRON, NORTH CAROLINA
The consensus top tight end falling to the Ravens at 17 would be a surprise, but not impossible(Could Eric Ebron Fall to the Ravens?). Ebron is big tight end standing at over 6'4" and weighing 250, but his true value is his exceptional speed given his frame. He is the ideal tight end in the modern NFL offense and would be a great compliment to Dennis Pitta in a 2 TE set.
2ND ROUND: TROY NIKLAS, NOTRE DAME
Tasked with replacing Tyler Eifert in the Notre Dame offense last season, Niklas played well but did not excel as a pass catcher. The distinction he holds over the other top tight ends is that he has value as a blocker, something crucial for the Ravens if they want to revive the run game. His above average blocking ability stems from his elite height and size and strength for the position. The Ravens would feel very good about snagging the best blocking tight end in the draft in the second round.
3RD ROUND: CJ FIEDOROWICZ, IOWA
The Ravens lack of presence in the middle of the field and the red-zone was a main aspect of the failure of the offense last season. Fiedorowicz has the physical tools and in-air body control to excel on short possession patterns and in the red-zone. Both of these areas were nonexistent in the Ravens 2013 offense.
4TH ROUND: ARTHUR LYNCH, GEORGIA
Lynch is a reliable tight end who has a knack for clutch catches and efficient blocking. In other words, he is a very safe mid round pick who can contribute as a blocker and possession receiver, but may never become more than a role player in an offense. The primary limitation to his upside is his modest athleticism, but he does a good job of maximizing his physical tools.
5TH ROUND: CROCKETT GILLMORE, COLORADO ST
Gillmore was a late addition to the Senior Bowl, but made the most of his time with good practices and a touchdown in the game. Though still raw as a receiver, he shows flashes of dominance that compliment his plus blocking ability. What Gillmore lacks in athleticism and speed, he makes up for with a desire for contact after the catch and crisp route running on short and intermediate routes.
6TH ROUND: XAVIER GRIMBLE, USC
Poor fundamentals and an injury plagues season limited Grimble's role in the USC offense last season. For every positive that can be taken away from Grimble's game, and equally large negative also appears. His long arms and large but soft hands should make him a great possession receiver, but his limited catch radius and inability to win jump balls refutes this claim.
7TH ROUND: COLT LYERLA, OREGON
Lyerla is the ultimate late-round sleeper prospect as he has fringe 1st round talent but quit Oregon's football team and was subsequently arrested for cocaine possession. He has elite top end speed and is extremely dangerous in the passing game, but is mostly non-existent as a blocker. If the Ravens front office feels they have a great enough support structure, they could bring in Lyerla who has the potential to be the second best tight end in the class.