By Brady Henderson
Tight end is becoming an increasingly specialized position in the NFL, one at which not many play every down and few excel at more areas than one.
New England’s Rob Gronkowski is one of the exceptions. He’s become the gold standard at the position. And according to Matt Williamson, a former NFL scout who now works for ESPN, Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the closest thing this year’s draft has to Gronkowski.
Williamson, a guest on 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” Monday, said that of the top three tight-end prospects – Seferian-Jenkins, Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro and North Carolina’s Eric Ebron – the former Husky is “the most Gronk-like” because of his ability to be an every-down player who can line up with his hand in the dirt and a capable run blocker in addition to a receiving threat.
“I’m thinking he’s a top-50 pick for sure,” Williamson said, “and maybe even a late-first, early-second guy.”
Seferian-Jenkins won the Mackey Award last season after catching 36 passes for 450 yards and eight touchdowns, widening his lead as the most prolific tight end in school history.
He missed the season opener while serving a suspension for an offseason DUI arrest. Williamson believes that NFL teams will look past that if they determine throughout the scouting process that it was a one-time mistake and not indicative of a serious problem.
“You actually have to sit down with the young man,” he said. “When I was scouting for the Browns, you go there and you talk to secretaries and strength coaches and janitors and if a lot of them are telling you, ‘He’s a fine kid, he just screwed up,’ then it’s a lot easier to brush that off.”