In a deep, talented tight end class, the Cleveland Browns would be smart to be in the market and the Mountain West has a handful of interesting options.
For the 2019 NFL Draft tight end class, two conferences stand out among the rest. The SEC, which isn’t a surprise given the level of play it has every year, and then the Mountain West, which isn’t quite at that level. The Mountain West churns out its share of players every year, but they have a nice group of tight ends coming out this year with three participating in this year’s scouting combine and the Cleveland Browns might want to take a look.
All of them may end up day three picks, but they all have excellent production for the position and some interesting traits on tape. And because they aren’t on rosters boasting quite as much talent as much of the SEC, they seem to get more opportunities to be featured in their respective offenses, which helps get them a little bit of the spotlight and is a big reason they will be at the combine.
Two of three also participated in this year’s edition of the Senior Bowl, giving them another opportunity to get an apples to apples comparison against better competition. While the format will be vastly different, participating at the combine will let them stand shoulder to shoulder with players from bigger conferences and demonstrate they are just as good, perhaps better than their more highly recruited counterparts.
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Kahale Warring, San Diego State
- 31 receptions for 372 yards (16.1 percent) and 3 touchdowns in 12 games in 2018. Warring did not participate in team’s bowl game.
Nevertheless, Warring did a little bit of everything at San Diego State, but while his production is good, it’s heavily weighted in one game against Nevada where he caught six passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. This begs the question of whether or not this game was an outlier or evidence he shouldn’t been a more featured part of their offensive attack.
Warring looks like he can be a full service tight end with continued development, playing inline or in space. He’s a competitive blocker, who has shown the ability to drive opponents off the ball. His short area quickness and body control allow him to generate separation, able to stick his foot in the ground and re-direct effectively.
His stance could stand to improve as his weight is too far back. It would allow him to fire off the ball faster and with more power and speed, whether it’s in the run or passing game.
Josh Oliver, San Jose State
- 56 receptions for 709 yards (22.6 percent) and 4 touchdowns in 2018.
Oliver is a player that was used in every way possible in the Spartan offense. They knew what they had and they were willing to move him all around in their offense to give him opportunities. Inline, as an H-back, in the slot and a good amount isolated out wide.
Most of the time as a blocker, he’s looking to seal opponents from the play and despite his strength, doesn’t generate a great deal of power as a drive blocker. In space, he does a nice job of picking up moving targets.
What makes him stand out is his ability as a receiver. Much like David Njoku in Cleveland, the Spartans were not afraid to let him box opponents out as a jump ball type receiver. He’s also explosive off the line and can make plays up the seam.
Dax Raymond, Utah State
- 41 receptions for 456 yards (15.5 percent) and a touchdown in 2017.
Raymond is a player who gives everything he has as a blocker, but just doesn’t seem to have enough sand in his pants and will overpowered when he’s squared up on a block. He has the length to be an inline tight end but unless he gets significantly stouter, he’s going to be limited to an H-Back role. Raymond can chip and get guys on the move reasonably well.
What stands out about Raymond are his hands and catch radius. He tracks the ball well and will go get it, showing great hip mobility to contort his body on awkward passes. Raymond does a great job using his body to create space and executes flag routes about as good as anyone, able to box opponents out while tracking the ball out in front of him.
His route running needs to improve and some of that might be due to the fact he needs to get stronger to be able to make better cuts. At that same time, it also may suggest he’s faster than his play would suggest and he’s just not getting it to show up on the field, which is an area of weakness that needs to be addressed.
As a bonus, here’s one more Mountain West tight end that won’t be attending this year’s scouting combine, but is worth keeping an eye on when it comes to pro day.
Tyree Mayfield, Wyoming
- 21 receptions for 341 yards (21.6 percent) and 2 touchdowns in 2018.
Wyoming has a number of productive players eligible to be drafted this year. Unfortunately a few have been in the news for less than ideal reasons as of late. Mayfield doesn’t have the length to play tight end in the NFL. He would be an H-Back but he looks thicker than his listed measurables would suggest.
Mayfield’s has decent hands and is a threat after the catch. His blocking is more effort than results and another reason he should never play inline is his awful stance. If he can get better in terms of blocking, he might be an option that can be a lead blocker on the rare occasion a team wants to use a fullback. As it is, he largely functions pulling across on counter and wham type actions.
Mayfield may not end up being drafted and will be someone trying to earn a roster spot as an undrafted free agent. The fact he’s got experience on special teams could go a long way in helping him make a team.