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Monday, March 31, 2014

Around The Draft: Austin Seferian-Jenkins

60 Prospects.  60 Days.  The toll is ...well it's not bad, but life gets in the way.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6'6, 265) started the offseason as potentially the best TE in the draft, and now he's slid past the 28 pick into, at times, the late 40s.  A physical and gifted receiver, he's chosen to have surgery on his foot after he was medically not cleared to participate in the combine, which has caused him to take a near-freefall.

So, the classic way of handling Seferian-Jenkins is via tape. He won't be able to workout.  With that and his other issue (a DUI before the start of the year, Seferian-Jenkins was involved in a single car accident after being more than twice the legal limit in Washington), he's a variable - a wild-card.  He won the Mackey Award in '13 after an even better 2012, so it's not unrealistic that he came out as a Junior.

So the positives on tape are great.  He's a massive but reliable receiver who finds the holes in zones regularly, a natural fit for the Coryell offense.  He looks the part, he has good enough athleticism for his size, and he has good hands.  His routes are good.

The negatives, injury and questionable decision making off the field aside (and you could argue both of those are single data points), are what I'd call nit-picky. They're the difference between being an above average starter and a star, on paper.  He doesn't have elite deep speed, and it doesn't help him that he hasn't been able to quantify that in workouts.  He's massive, but he could be a better blocker and a little more physical a receiver.  He's a high-ceiling player, though.  Not every good TE runs a 4.5 and played basketball a good deal in college (though a lot of those players have excelled in this offense).

Another wild-card, Seferian-Jenkins' surgery was in North Carolina.  There's no statement that it was Dr. James Andrews, Carolina's physician who also happens to be among the greatest of his peers in football surgery, however.  Andrews isn't afraid of the press by a long shot, so it feels like it would've been publicized if so.

That surgery was at the end of February, expected to sideline him 8 weeks.  So his workouts, if he's ready in two weeks to workout, would be on the eve of the draft.  At best, he's somewhat unknown as far as his measurables.  Who knows what you're getting?

I've suggested in the past that a TE pick is very possible.  It was last year with Tyler Eifert.  In this system, the TE has a lot of potential; and in this ball control type O, two guys on the field that can block or go out for a pass?  Pretty delightful.  I don't argue that the offense has been lost without Jeremy Shockey, by any means.  I think Greg Olsen by himself is enough, and that for the money put out, the team probably benefits more from that individual player getting a lot of balls versus splitting them with another player.  That player, who could be Seferian-Jenkins, could let Olsen play more moving around, to the better for Olsen.

But, Olsen is missing that counterpart, to a point, the shorter receiver that lets him get deeper.  And, the team finds value in that blocking TE.  The team needs other things - OT, WR obviously, just on offense.  If Seferian-Jenkins is the best player, however, I can see a value in that.  It's not just OT or WR they're trying to improve, it's the entire offense.  To do that, you have to take the best value.  Hopefully, it's a steal at 60, if he's here.  That would be a real positive.  At 28, I can't see it.
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