MDD Staff Writer: Chad Pullen
I’m starting to think there is a revolution going on, or a renaissance at least at the TE position in college and pro football. Shannon Sharpe set the standard, Tony Gonzalez exceeded it, and Antonio Gates surpassed him.
Now, with New England employing two dynamic TE’s and Jimmy Graham out in New Orleans, with Jermichael Finley a major weapon at Aaron Rodgers’s disposal, it’s clear that talented young TE’s with great quarterbacks makes for a dangerous offense.
For the Pac 12 Championship game, I found two more potential players at the position that may make their way onto a team next season.
And in a theme to this college football season, the TE spot is blowing up with talent. I have been aware of the Stanford trio for most of the year, Dwayne Allen may be the best TE in the country, Orson Charles may want to argue that claim, and Michael Egnew may end up being the first one of the bunch drafted this season.
Add them all up, and include the 3 TE’s I have recently been scouting the past two weeks, and this may turn out to be the deepest position in the draft next April.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
- Easiest 30 yard TD run ever. No safeties, no LB’ers, all 11 defensive players lined up spread across the field, James makes one shift, finds the hole and is untouched to the end zone
- Runs a long sweep across the field, finds the seam and goes through it, 18 yards, untouched. This would be a theme often
- Scores a red zone TD, sweep outside, no one came within 5 yards of him. At this point, he has about 110 yards, and only 10 of it has any contact.
- Makes a nice play on a screen, again it’s an open space play for him, blockers ahead, picks up 25 yards without being touched til the tackle is made
- Scores a third TD, this time a defender got a glancing touch on his jersey as he strolls into the end zone
- On the plays that Oregon attempts up the middle, he is swallowed up routinely. No space, no runs, Marshawn Lynch he is not
- Late in the game, nets a 43 yard run, defender falling to the ground while being blocked gets his hand on James’s foot, untouched the next 40 yards.
- Really one of the strangest 200 yard rushing performances I have ever witnessed. It was either 20 yards untouched, or tackled for a 2 yard loss every play. Didn’t pick up more than 20 yards on runs up the middle unless they were gashed holes for him to go through. This is not going to work in the NFL.
- He does have speed, he does have shiftiness, but unless he learns to run for hard yards against multiple defenders grabbing him like he will see in the NFL, I don’t see him contributing much next level. He will get picked up, a team will take a chance on name only, but I don’t see him producing in a pro style offense any time soon. He’s going to feel what Steve Slaton felt after running in a spread offense through college.
David Paulsen, TE, Oregon
- Very nice agile catch and run. Hands catch, quick tuck and turn, leaps to avoid a defender going in low, takes 2 guys to bring him down, picks up an extra 5 yards after the tackle starts, tough run.
- Gets good solid blocks out in space on a WR screen. Seems to be a willing blocker, may need to add some strength for the next level however
- Wide open TD, catches it with his hands securely, doesn’t let it get to his body.
- He has an inaccurate QB, and a running offense, doesn’t get a lot of plays, but when his name is called, he has delivered, I like him as a mid to late round sleeper type player.
Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA
- Incredible size, 6-8 250 lbs, a Red Zone dream for an accurate QB, which UCLA does not have. I suspect much like Paulsen, he is in the wrong offense to showcase what he can do.
- Whiffed on a lead block on 3rd and short, need better effort there, needs to just hit anything he sees coming around the edge.
- Good hands catch on a high throw, only a 5 yard route, about 7 yards on the throw, with some mustard on it, gets his hands up and snatches it
- Terrific leaping hands catch at the end of the first half. Runs to the soft spot in the zone, turns and makes a quick catch as the QB had to rush the throw
- Draws a flag late in the game on the safety, had him beat, safety grabs him to prevent a big gain
- He will need some muscle. His legs are extremely long, almost difficult for him to crouch at the LOS. But he has hands, he has pedigree (his father is Christian Fauria a onetime Seahawk) I don’t know if he should come out this year, another year in college could really help him, but he has late round potential and will be a great red zone weapon someday
Nelson Rosario, WR, UCLA
- Another red zone weapon, this time on the outside. 6-5 and fairly well built.
- Holds his block well on a QB scramble
- Long TD catch, but made with his chest, wide open coming across the field, untouched into the end zone (major theme in a game that featured 80 points) Paulsen made his wide open catch with both hands, Rosario let his get to his chest, could have dropped that, would like to see him snatch those
- Long strider, not a burner, but long loping strides
- Comes back to the ball on a long sideline out route. Very good to see. If he waits, defender could deflect, he helped his QB on that, however, caught with chest…..
- Uses his body well on the next play to shield the defender on a back shoulder throw, again caught with his chest
- All these body catches, and then in the final moments makes a ridiculous one handed catch in the end zone, never even tucked the ball, straight palmed it the entire time. He should thank his gloves for that one
- He won’t be chosen all that early, but there is some potential in him, and his size demands at least a cursory glance. I would recommend his spend hours and hours in front of a jugs machine working on his hands
Patrick Larimore, MLB, UCLA
- Not much defense played in this game, of all of them, Larimore was the one defensive standout.
- Made plays downfield, in the backfield, side to side, he was everywhere. Every pile found him nearby
- Hustles into position for a fumble recovery
- Next series he catches a deflected pass for the interception and takes it back for a TD. Great play
- Had a shot later at another interception, but has LBer hands, still, another play around the ball
- Didn’t show great speed on his run back for a TD, but he did show up wherever the ball went all game long, so there is at least some speed there
- 6-3 250, still only a JR, he could benefit from another year in college, but he has good size, and a knack for being around the ball, could be worth investing a late round pick in or bringing in the UDFA route.