By Alex Kozora
Our focus has shifted to the offseason and for the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on several draft prospects. Some of these players the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at and others will be top players that will be off the board before they select. All to make you as prepared as possible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Breakdown of a low profile prospect. Cincinnati tight end Blake Annen.
Blake Annen/TE Cincinnati: 6’4/1 247
- NFL size and appears to have long arms
- Intriguing triangle numbers (4.41 40 at Pro Day)
- Above average burst off the line
- Fluidity in his routes and a good athlete
- Soft hands
- Toughness, willing to go across the middle and absorb a blow
- Upper body strength asset as a run blocker
- Finishes his blocks, plays to the whistle
- Lots of experience as an in-line and lead blocker
- Versatile, lined up in multiple spots (“Y”, H-Back, slot)
- Potential, lots of room to grow
- Doesn’t play to his timed speed
- Raw and little use as a receiver
- Asked to run a simple route tree (flats, curls, seam)
- Minimal production and only one year of starting experience
- Feet go dead in run blocking, will fall off his blocks
- Must work to shoot his arms and use his hands better as a run blocker
- Can get lost in space when run blocking, better in a booth
- Appeared to have played less than half the snaps on offense as the starter
- Only 10 career starts
- 2013: 16 catches 183 yards 2 TDs
- Three career catches prior to senior season
- Recruited by Cincinnati, Akron, and Indiana
Annen has earned buzz for his workouts. Did not receive an invite to the NFL Combine but posted a 4.41 40, a 34 inch vertical, and ten feet in the broad at the Bearcats’ Pro Day. Those numbers would have been first, tied for third, and tied for third at Indianapolis. Greg Gabriel called it a “strong workout.”
Despite his little usage, he flashed enough as a vertical threat. Against FCS competition so difficult to judge speed, but he still gets behind the defense en route to a 49 yard catch.
Best catch of the year probably came in Week One. Takes a shot in the end zone, losing his helmet in the process, but holds on for the score.
Most of what I got to see from Annen came as a blocker. The Bearcats’ ran a ton of 10 personnel as their base, leaving no room for a tight end. When he was in the game, it was part of their heavy, run-minded package. Asked to lead block and pull a ton. But gives him an experience that’s becoming unique to college tight ends, most of whom are now asked to stand up and run routes.
Has the size to handle all the dirty work he did. Strength as a run blocker and can move around smaller defenders. Competent cut blocker, too.
Lined up in a two point stance off the line in the clip below.
H-Back here, cutting the end.
Despite his experience, still shows a lack of technique. Leads with his shoulder and doesn’t shoot his arms into the defender.
Can’t help but think whoever clocked his 40 time shaved a tenth of a second off. Does move well for his size but certainly not in the low 4.4’s the numbers suggest.
Nondescript career who was stuck behind Travis Kelce in 2012 before finally getting a crack at serious playing time. As noted, had just three catches before 2013 and his time in 2010 didn’t even warrant a mention in his bio on the team’s page.
Word I used before and feel is appropriate for Annen in “intriguing.” A decent athlete who will hold his own as a blocker, even if he still has to be refined. Guy that has never really been given a fair shot. In a weak tight end class, he’s worthy of a late round pick.
Projection: 7th Round
Games Watched: vs Purdue, vs Northwest State, vs North Carolina (Bowl)
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Stanford ILB Shayne Skov/a>
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner
Boston College RB Andre Williams
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers
Colorado State DE/OLB Shaquil Barrett
Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio
Tennessee T Antonio Richardson
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
West Virginia DE Will Clarke
Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
Virginia T Morgan Moses
Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt
Mississippi WR Donte Moncrief
Central Florida QB Blake Bortles
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
North Carolina DE Kareem Martin
UCLA OLB Anthony Barr
South Carolina CB Victor Hampton
Clemson WR Martavis Bryant
Fresno State WR Davante Adams
Texas DE/OLB Jackson Jeffcoat
Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
TCU CB Jason Verrett
Louisiana Tech NT Justin Ellis
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk
Rice CB Phillip Gaines
Coastal Carolina RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr.