I will admit, there is nothing sexy talking about massive in-line tight end prospects who will make rosters as goal line/short yardage options and combine for all of 6 receptions during their NFL career. Nevertheless, as boring as those guys can be, they always seem to be in high demand at the back end of the draft because it’s still a rare skill set.
However, what do you do with the massive blocking tight end who possesses the size/physique and athleticism to possibly make the move to left tackle in the NFL? One such prospect last year who I really took a liking to was Temple’s Steve Maneri. The 6-6, 270 pound kid was the best in-line blocking tight end I saw on tape and possessed a frame that could continue to get bigger. He went un-drafted in 2010, but spent the year on the New England practice squad as a developmental tackle prospect. He’s now nearly 300 pounds, is still a gifted athlete and might be the next gem the Patriots uncovered along their offensive line.
ICONYeatman is a perfect late round, developmental type prospect.
Fast forward to this year and we have a similar prospect in Maryland’s Will Yeatman. Yeatman is a 6-7, 275 pound kid with 34 ¾ inch arms who ran in the 4.7 range at the Terrapins pro day and posted a 28.5-inch vertical. Even more impressive was his grace/body control catching the football during position drills and his overall athleticism for a guy his size when asked to get down the field. Now, he had only 13-catches during the regular season, but Yeatman isn’t exactly the most seasoned of football players at this stage.
The reason. He’s a two-sport stud. Yeatman is a former All-American lacrosse player who was part of the U.S. National Team tryout pool selection team in 2010, which explains why a guy at his size is such a natural and coordinated athlete.
He’s since decided to commit himself to football and has made quite the impression on talent evaluators throughout the NFL.
Yeatman, much like Maneri is a physically imposing kid who has a frame that can continue to get even bigger. He displays natural bend when asked to sit into his stance, displays an impressive burst off the line for his size and really looked natural breaking down and changing directions as a route runner. Now, there’s no doubt that he’s still raw, as he lacks ideal hand placement into contact and will waste some motion on his punch as a blocker. However, watching the big man adjust to passes thrown his way and use his raw power to simply outmuscle ACC defensive ends this year was rather impressive.
Therefore, what do you do with the guy?
In my mind, you use a draft pick on him late. You give him every chance to get bigger and develop as a potential tackle in the NFL and see how quickly can he mature. And even if he doesn’t, you can always use him as a short yardage/goal line guy, which still isn’t a bad fallback. In my mind it’s a win/win.
When talking with an NFL scout this past week, he told me that if someone made him (Yeatman) a offensive tackle three years ago, the guy would be 310-pounds right now and could be a first round pick.
That’s how gifted an athlete he is.
The investment is marginal and the pay off down the line could be massive.