Austin Seferian-Jenkins: The Basketball Prototype Tight End of the 2014 NFL Draft

Strengths and Weaknesses: Receiving

There is a lot to like about Seferian-Jenkins as a receiver. He has the ideal measurables to be a big, downfield target over the middle. He tracks the ball well to make plays deep downfield, and is a terrific red-zone threat with his ability to box out defenders and leap up for jump balls.

He has tremendous hands with which he makes spectacular catches but rarely drops catches he should make. He also displays the ability to lay out for a catch, like he did in the following example versus Utah.

He compares favorably to New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski as a downfield receiver. While he does not have great top-end speed and will not make many defenders miss with lateral moves, he has enough athleticism to take advantage of his size. He is a nimble athlete who can hop over defenders on the ground, while he is terrific at lowering his shoulder through contact to lunge forward for additional yardage.

As a receiver, Seferian-Jenkins needs to focus on his route-running, and specifically on diversifying his routes. He runs a very good intermediate curl route, but his short routes are typically basic, while most of his deep routes are a straight fade up the field.

Seferian-Jenkins isn’t going to blow by many defenders off the line, and he isn’t going to make many of them miss in the open field. While he makes many receptions through traffic because of his size, he needs to become a better route runner to separate frequently at the next level.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Blocking

While Seferian-Jenkins physically looks like an offensive tackle, he has a ways to go technically. That said, his development as a blocker over the course of his sophomore season was very promising.

Seferian-Jenkins is a very solid blocker at the line of scrimmage. He does a great job getting his hands on his opponent and keeping them engaged. He anchors well from his lower-body base, and can effectively lock out his long arms on a defender. He does a great job of turning defenders away from a play at the line of scrimmage. He is also good at going low on cut blocks and affecting his opponent’s balance.

His best asset as a blocker may be his footwork and athleticism. He does a great job of keeping his upper body and lower body in sync, which he uses to move laterally as a blocker while keeping them engaged in his grasp.

The following example versus Boise State shows how he can uses his foot skills to his advantage to sustain a block as a lead run blocker.

While Seferian-Jenkins does a good job of moving his feet to sustain blocks, he needs to become better at picking up downfield blocks. While he doesn’t have a problem with the movement necessary to get in position for blocks, he often fails to pick them up when he is in position.

In the following example, Seferian-Jenkins had himself positioned between two Boise State defenders, yet failed to pick up a block on either of them. As a result, they combined to make the tackle on Washington running back Bishop Sankey.

While he uses his strength well to turn opponents at the line of scrimmage, he is not a drive blocker. He does not drive defenders effectively off the line of scrimmage, and gets driven back into the backfield more than he should. He also allows defenders to get inside of him too often, which can give up penetration for pass-rush pressure or tackles for loss.

Projecting Seferian-Jenkins’ Draft Stock

Most of Seferian-Jenkins’ on-field flaws are coachable. While he is an inconsistent player who didn’t always make a big impact for the Huskies in his sophomore season, he has the overall game to succeed as both a receiver and a blocker, with a rare physical skill set that simply cannot be taught.

With the proper development of an NFL coaching staff, Seferian-Jenkins has the potential to develop into an elite NFL tight end. But while Seferian-Jenkins can be taught to become a better player on the field, the NFL team who drafts him will also be counting on him to improve himself off the field.

Seferian-Jenkins is currently suspended from Washington’s football team following an arrest for driving under the influence in March. It is unknown whether his indefinite suspension will be lifted prior to the start of his junior season.

If Seferian-Jenkins is unable to return for part or all of his junior season, that will hurt his draft stock. Most importantly, however, Seferian-Jenkins must avoid making any additional off-field mistakes, and he must make NFL teams feel confident that he will not make similar mistakes going forward.

Before his arrest, Seferian-Jenkins was projected to be a top-15 selection in the 2014 NFL draft. His draft stock is now much more up in the air heading into his junior season, but should he declare for the draft, he remains a likely first-round pick and the top tight end in the draft class.

Seferian-Jenkins will certainly be stuck with the “high-risk, high-reward” label as a 2014 draft prospect. While he needs work both on and off the field, his potential as a prototype tight end should keep him high on many teams’ draft boards, assuming he does not run into any further off-field trouble.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Basketball, Prospect to Watch, Tight Ends, Washington

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