2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Jeremy Sprinkle/TE Arkansas – 6’4/7 252

The Good

– Used as a traditional in-line, Y tight end, rare to see in college spread offense, comfortable out of a three point stance and often did
– Excellent run blocker who plays with leverage and lower body strength/leg drive to generate movement and ride out DEs in the run game
– Proper hand placement, uses length to create space, and shows ability to re-punch his hands
– Experience in pass protection and uses length to run EDGE guys up the arc though lacks lateral movement
– Physical player on chips before releasing into pass protection, team guy and old-school mentality
– Sure-handed receiver who catches away from his frame

The Bad

– Below average athlete and doesn’t seem to be even as fast as his time speed (4.69)
– Slow out of three point stance and stands too tall coming out
– Won’t be able to separate on his own in the NFL and will have to be schemed to get him open, mostly off playaction
– Not going to offer much as a receiver and isn’t a vertical threat
– Lack of burst makes it difficult for him to cross face of DL on reach blocks in the run game
– Could/should he make position switch to the OL?
– Weird off the field issue to get checked out/into
– Average production in college

Bio

– Two year starter
– Career: 71 receptions, 921 yards, 11 TDs
– 2016: 33 catches, 380 yards, 4 TDs
– 16 career tackles, played on special teams early in career
– Suspended for 2016 Belk Bowl for trying to shoplift at the Belk stole, stole $280 worth of items despite being given $450 gift card from Belk to buy whatever he wanted
– Brother was offensive linemen in college

Tape Breakdown

Sprinkle is a pretty easy dude to breakdown big-picture. He’s a really good blocker, maybe the best one in this class but that’s all he’s going to give you.

He understands leverage, hand placement, and leg drive, and it all comes together on this play to end in a pancake against a defensive end. Pretty impressive stuff.

I could show you ten different clips like that from the three games I watched and those three games were all I needed to see – plus watching him live at the Senior Bowl and at the Combine – to figure out who he was. He’s one of the few tight ends to be asked to pass protect a ton and the Razorbacks used a ton of 12 personnel. So the learning curve is much less than a lot of these guys.

But he’s a non-athlete. About as fast as a Yugo and his 40 time isn’t reflective of his field speed or lack thereof. He’s slow out of his stance, stands straight up, and his build-up speed is just below average.

And that lack of burst hurts him as a run blocker too. Reach blocks are one of the most difficult to execute but Sprinkle’s unable to cross the face of the inside shade DE end, letting him penetrate and give backside pursuit.

And there’s that weird footnote about what happened at the Belk Bowl. You can read a little more here but I gave the basics of it. Dumb thing to do, not really going to hurt his stock, but you can bet teams are going to/have asked him about it. Bizarre.

He could stay at tight end and be a pure-blocker as a #2 tight end. He’s taller than David Johnson but they could have similar career arcs. Also reminds me of the San Diego Chargers tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, who was their primary blocker for years and years.

I also wonder if some team could try to convert him to becoming an offensive linemen. Jason Peters was a TE in college. Keavon Milton, a Steeler on a futures’ contract, was a tight end who became a guard. Sprinke also compares to Chris Hubbard, who was a tackle in college, but is used as that 6th offensive linemen in Pittsburgh. So lot of names I’m throwing out, most of them who won’t inspire a lot of confidence.

There’s certainly value at tight end, especially in today’s age where you don’t find a lot of strong blockers at tight end. But that value is capped pretty low and he’ll never be a starter in the league.

Projection: Mid-Day Three (5th-6th Round)

Games Watched: vs Mississippi State (2015), at TCU, at Texas A&M, Senior Bowl

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris GodwinNate GerryJordan WillisStacy Coley
Zay JonesJimmie GilbertGlen AntoineTarell BashamDuke Riley
Rayshawn JenkinsChad KellyTrey Hendrickson

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Spencer Krick

    If the Steelers go towards more of a blacking TE, I would prefer Kittle.

  • Donte Williams

    yeah im waiting on profile on him and Ashland those are my two choices at TE

  • Spencer Krick

    Kittle’s profile up, and it’s fun. Plenty o’pancakes!

    I’m eager to see one on Ashland as well.

  • Donte Williams

    i totally forgot i had to go look at it and was like oh yeah i remember viewing this one yeah last month you can tell so many of these profiles i have looked at one reason i love SNR they give me more insight of these players in the upcoming draft

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Thanks Alex. That really was a bizarre story from the bowl game. As soon as I read about it, I took him off my list to draft. I don’t see that the Steelers have a need for this type of TE. There are way better and more intriguing TE’s out there. Speaking of which, are you going to be doing a profile for Jake Butt? I know he’s coming off an injury, but he had good production prior to that and if they still have Green and James, there isn’t a big need for him to be ready at the beginning of this season.

  • Jaybird

    It’s going to be weird rooting for this guy- “great hands Sprinkles”, ” nice moves Sprinkles”

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Pass

  • Spencer Krick

    All the more reason to draft Jake Butt.

  • steelburg

    This guy could easy replace David Johnson, not to mention he has way more upside. Arkansas used Sprinkle the same way we used David Johnson last year. Even though Sprinkle isn’t considered a top notch athlete his game is very similar to Rob Gronkowski. In your article you don’t give this guy enough credit for how good of a receiver he is. Sprinkle is a red zone nightmare if used right. You can line him up at FB or TE in the red zone and he catches the ball really good from either spot not to mention he blocks well from either spot.

  • Alex Kozora

    He had a lot of red zone touchdowns but that doesn’t make him a nightmare. Wide open for most of them.

  • Sdale

    Draft em both…Butt-Sprinkles

  • steelburg

    If your predictable in the red zone as on offense your going to struggle big time. Example if we bring David Johnson in the game we are running the football 95% of the time. If we bring Roosevelt Nix in the game we are running the ball 95% of the time. Now throw Sprinkle into the mix you can line him up at either TE or FB and he can block just as good as Nix and Johnson but he has hands just as good as Green and James. You can motion him from FB to TE and he can also win up the seam. He is a mismatch against most players due to his size, the amount of production he had in the red zone isn’t by accident. You mix a strong running game with a utility TE like Sprinkle and run a ton of play action in the red zone that will make for some impressive red zone numbers in that area. He could be a real weapon and a bargain in the late rounds just as long as he stops doing bone headed stuff.

  • Alex Kozora

    His red zone production wasn’t beating anyone. It was off playaction, off boots, schemes that got him open. The Miss State game is a perfect example. Three red zone TDs…wide open each time. He has good hands but he isn’t a threat to outrun anyone. And being “big” isn’t a rare trait for a tight end.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    The dude tried to shoplift himself an entire wardrobe 😂

  • Rocksolid20

    Would love to find a TE that can get wide open often . Why is that a problem ?

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Pass, the lack of receiving ability is a show stopper for me.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    YUUUUPPPPPPP!!!!!!

  • Andrew

    Anyone think the Ashland TE will fall to us in the Third?

  • PaeperCup

    I am liking kettle more and more…his combine showed. so much quicker than I expected, and he seems very confident in his pass catching abilities. On top of being a solid blocker

  • PaeperCup

    FYI Ashland is the school, Shaheen is the player. Very intrigued by him too, although they say his blocking isn’t where you’d want it to be for a guy his size. Not too unlike Clemmons Leggett

  • PaeperCup

    There’s a place for that type of TE, but I agree, I think we could use someone who can add to the pass game

  • Alex Kozora

    He is getting open based on scheme. Nothing he’s doing himself. Being open isn’t a trait. It’s how you get open that is important.

  • Rocksolid20

    Your reply makes little to no since .If it’s scheme , why wouldn’t we be running that scheme if it gets a player open ?!