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Jonathan Bales Staff Writer April 13, 2012 8:21PM EDT
In the first two installments of my “NFL Draft Spotlight” series, I provided scouting reports on running backs Trent Richardson of Alabama and David Wilson of Virginia Tech. Today, I’m hopping over to tight end to analyze who most consider the top player at the position: Stanford’s Coby Fleener.

Scouting Report

At 6’6,” Coby Fleener possesses ideal height for the tight end position. Many people think he should add weight to his current 244-pound frame, but I’m not so sure. Fleener is a motion player, not an in-line tight end who excels in the run game. He’s versatile enough to play all over the field, including in the slot, out wide and as an H-Back. It’s his speed and explosiveness, which make him an elite talent. Need to see this speed yourself? Check out the 39-second mark in the clip below.

Fleener is one of the best route-running tight ends I’ve ever studied. He explodes off the football and utilizes deceptive head and shoulder movements to gain separation. You can see that at the 2:18 mark below, when Fleener runs a little Stick-9 route from an in-line position. There is no wasted motion whatsoever. After the catch, Fleener will fight for extra yards (see the 1:05 mark).

As both a pass-catcher and blocker, the primary area of concern for Fleener is his physicality. He sometimes struggles to get off a press, and he needs to work harder to fight through coverage. At the 33-second spot, you can see Fleener run a short dig against a cornerback with inside leverage. The play isn’t there and the ball shouldn’t have been thrown, but Fleener needs to fight through the cornerback to at least break up the pass.

As a blocker, Fleener could stand to add some strength. He utilizes pretty good body position, but he often overextends and rarely drives his feet. Again, I wouldn’t ask Fleener to add too much size, as this could compromise what he does best: get vertical and make big plays as a receiver.


Reminds me most of. . .

Jimmy Graham. This is high praise, but I really think Fleener is headed in that direction. Both players are tall, lean, athletic specimens who can consistently beat defenders from a variety of spots on the field.

Most Likely Destinations

San Francisco, New York Giants, Indianapolis, Cleveland

Fantasy Outlook

Fleener has superstar Fantasy potential. He’s not the best blocking prospect in this draft class, but we don’t score points for pancakes, do we? In 2012, Fleener’s value should skyrocket if he goes to the Giants. With Eli Manning throwing to him, he could be a Top 12 tight end as a rookie. There is a solid chance he could reunite with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis as well. Regardless of his destination, Fleener should be the top rookie tight end in fantasy drafts.

If you are a dynasty owner, Fleener has to be an awfully enticing prospect. You could make a legitimate case for Fleener going among the top eight tight ends in such leagues.

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