SQ NFL Draft Preview: TE MyCole Pruitt
The Sports Quotient’s annual NFL Draft Preview series continues. This week, the focus is on tight ends. Today’s prospect is MyCole Pruitt, TE out of Southern Illinois.
MyCole Pruitt had a productive college career, capped off by a stellar senior year. After catching between 43 and 49 balls in each of his first three seasons, Pruitt exploded for 81 catches, 861 yards and 13 touchdowns in his final year, highlighting his reliable hands and nose for the endzone.
Pruitt has necessarily played against the best competition, but he was always the focus of the opposing team's game plan. In a game against a good Purdue team last year, he caught 10 balls for 136 yards.
The number one pro for Pruitt is that he has good hands. All the scouts praise him for it, and if you watch his game tape you will realize that he is a natural hands catcher that can bring down balls in traffic.
Pruitt is also a crafty route runner. Although he is not always the best at actually getting separation from better defensive backs and linebackers, Pruitt is quick off that line and can read defenses well enough to be able to slip into holes.
His measurables all also very good. Pruitt started to get more press after his outstanding performance at the combine. He ran a 4.58 40, totaled 17 reps, had a 38 inch vertical, a 118 inch broad, ran a 4.37 20 yard shuttle and a 11.68 60 yard shuttle. Besides the bench reps, he led all tight ends with his results in the various drills. For comparisons sake, Jimmy Graham ran a 4.56, had a 38.5 vertical, 120 inch broad and an 11.76 60 yard shuttle (the two have very similar combine numbers). Pruitt also is 6'2'' and a strong 250 lbs.
Although Pruitt killed it in the 40 yard dash, his in game speed leaves a bit to be desired. He doesn't seem to run all that fast in pads which could be a problem in the NFL where defensive players are faster and yards after the catch matter that much more and are much harder to come by.
In addition, although Pruitt is crafty in terms of finding holes in defenses and getting off the line of scrimmage in press coverage, he is not too good in actually separating from coverage and running clean routes. He will definitely need to improve here to have success in the pros.
A last criticism is that Pruitt is not a very good run or pass blocker. In today's NFL, this is becoming more and more commonplace for tight ends, but it is still important to note because tight ends do in fact need some aptitude for blocking in most systems.
When Mike Mayock 's pen writes, mountains shake. As recently as just a few days ago, most draft sites had Pruitt as being around the eighth best tight end prospect. However, in Mike Mayock's most recent positional rankings, Pruitt had jumped up to third, prompting several people—including ourselves—to go back and take a closer look at this guy. When all is said and done, I'm not overly impressed by Pruitt. By all means, he is a good player and should be able to find a way to contribute in the NFL. I see him as worthy of maybe a mid-to-late two.
It's hard to say where Pruitt will go. This tight end class is not very good, which could end up helping or hurting him. Teams with a need could try and snatch him up because there just aren't that many trustworthy options, but teams could also just not value the tight ends in the draft this year and let him slip. I think that late in the first round, teams that could decide to go with Pruitt could be winners like the Broncos or Patriots. The Broncos would be a great spot for Pruitt. If Julius Thomas leaves, then Manning can have a sure hands catcher on his team, and if there's one thing Manning can help his receivers learn to do, it's run routes. The Patriots are always in the market for good weapons in the passing game, and at the end of the first round, Pruitt could make sense.