The 2017 draft may not be as filled with superstars as it was billed to be, but the depth is outstanding. There is no position for which this truer than tight end. With Antonio Gates and Jason Witten riding off into the sunset and Greg Olsen and Delanie Walker on the wrong side of 30, the timing couldn’t be better.
The impact of this class is already being felt in our community. The clearest evidence is shown in our April startup ADP where there are three rookie tight-ends in the top-11 at the position. Unfortunately we don’t have a substantial amount of historical ADP data to parse through, but I’d eat my shorts if that wasn’t a first. Looking more specifically at rookie drafts, those same three players (O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, and David Njoku) are all top-16 in ADP. There will be more than one draft this summer where they all end up off the board in the first round.
If we dig a bit deeper, there are four more tight ends in play in rookie drafts. Bucky Hodges and Jake Butt are likely to be drafted from the late second into third, with Adam Shaheen, and today’s subject, Gerald Everett looking like late third or fourth rounders. (To be fair, our mocks are populated with writers who are in more of a tizzy over Shaheen than most, including, I suspect, the NFL. Unless things break perfectly for the Ashland product, he isn’t likely to be drafted in most leagues, but I digress.)
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On the good end of things, we have a 92nd percentile burst score, 83rd percentile SPARQ, 89th percentile college dominator rating, and 80th percentile agility score. His speed score, catch radius, and bench press also impress. When we move away from athletic measurements, the results are a bit cloudier. Everett is small for the position, has shortish arms, and hands smaller than mine. Really. And I’m a shade under 5’8”.
To be fair to Everett, NFL stud Jordan Reed is shorter, lighter, has the same arm length, and scored much worse in every measurement other than agility score. I don’t think the Redskins’ stud is an exact comp by any means, but we’ve seen a smaller joker tight end work in the NFL before, so Everett’s limitations aren’t necessarily a nail in his career’s coffin.
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
As with pretty much every college tight end, Everett didn’t hang gaudy counting stats during his time at UAB. That isn’t to say his 2016 numbers weren’t very good when taken into context. Among FBS tight ends, Everett’s 49 receptions ranked sixth in the nation. His 717 yards was fourth best and his 14.6 yards per catch was sixth among those who caught at least 30 passes.
Turning back the clock a year, Everett put up 41 catches for 575 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015. It was nice to see him improve in nearly every area year-over. I’m also heartened by his posting two years of very good production, keeping him from being saddled with a dreaded one-year-wonder tag.
When we direct our focus to Everett, the on-field product, there are a few things that become immediately apparent. Before you watch his 2016 performance against Georgia Southern, keep an eye out for them:
- He plays a ton of snaps at h-back. This doesn’t mean he will be relegated to that position as a pro, a good thing considering how little it is used in the NFL. It does, however, point to his versatility. To that point, Everett scored four rushing touchdowns in his college career.
- Pay specific attention to his routes, especially digs and outs. He does not make quick, crisp breaks, instead rounding them off routinely. More suddenness and subtlety will be required to fool NFL defenders.
- Aside from cut blocks, which he throws more than any player I’ve ever seen, he seems lost when it comes to blocking. There are numerous occasions where Everett looks like my grandmother trying to find her car in the mall parking lot, standing there blank faced, as hulking SUVs move purposefully around her.
Moving past the points I mentioned above, what I see when I watch Everett is a raw, athletic, hungry receiver. When he has the ball in his hands, Everett is a nightmare to handle one-on-one – he is big enough to truck safeties and fast enough to smoke linebackers. The middle of the field is his playground and with some spit and polish, there are very few defenders, even in the NFL, who will be able to stick with him.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Everett’s basketball background. As you will no doubt hear five or six times from the television crews during their draft coverage, he, like Antonio Gates before him, was a basketball player before he ever started catching pigskins. You can see flashes of it on film, as Everett uses his body extremely well for such a raw player. This is such an underrated skill to excel at, especially for a guy who is a bit smaller than you’d like for the position.
I have held the stance for a while now that the smart money is to skip the top-three tight ends in this class, instead opting for one or two of the less-heralded, much cheaper, options. Depending on landing spots and draft capital, I could see any one of Everett, Hodges, or Butt being the first non-big-three tight ends taken in rookie drafts. If, as some have suggested, Everett finds himself off the board in the second round of the NFL draft, I’d even be willing to take a shot in the second of our drafts. At that point, it is well worth the gamble he will do what Gates did and turn a combination of high-end athleticism and basketball prowess into a sterling fantasy career.
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