We wrap up this series of reviews from Pro Football Focus with the Denver Broncos third round draft pick, tight end Jeff Heuerman out of Ohio State. We've review their positive grades for Shane Ray, their negative grades for Ty Sambrailo, and even some promising notes from the Broncos seventh round selections.
Heuerman sets up nicely as a blocking tight end with tons of potential in the passing game, but don't look for him to contribute too much in 2015. This is a "win from now on" kind of draft pick from John Elway and company. Three years from now we may very well see this kid take over for Owen Daniels to split time with Virgil Green - provided he progresses as Gary Kubiak hopes.
Pro Football Focus wasn't too sure what to think of the selection either, giving pretty much a non answer in their analysis of the his future potential:
A case where his overall grade was below that of some other prospects in this class, in part because he graded negatively as a receiver and wasn’t a significant part of Ohio State’s passing game. Heuerman saw a pass go his way on just 11.3% of his routes and for the season he accounted for less than 6% of the team’s total targets. Therefore you might have to project a bit more when evaluating his ability as a receiver.
Fortunately, they dug deeper in their signature stats section:
He has the athleticism to threaten the seam, which is backed up by his testing numbers and a 17.9 yard per catch average in 2013, but that hasn’t necessarily translated to route running yet. When he was targeted, Heuerman displayed the ability to extend away from his body and adjust to sub-optimal ball location. Take a look at his catches against Maryland (3Q, 6:51), Cincinnati (1Q, 11:40), and Indiana (3Q 6:04, 4Q 10:15) for examples of this. He certainly looks like a natural catcher – one who didn’t drop a single pass last season and gained a first down or touchdown on 10 of his 17 receptions.
What’s most impressive about Heuerman is his blocking, where he graded very well on both screens and runs. Probably the best inline run blocker in this class, he routinely solo blocked opposing defensive ends and held his own. This was evident in games against Cincinnati (4Q 5:51), Michigan State (4Q, 7:58), and Illinois (1Q, 11:30). There were issues in pass protection at times (mostly against Virginia Tech) and letting more powerful players into his chest (Illinois 2Q, 14:24), but he also flashed the strength to not only seal defenders but drive them off of the ball for vertical movement (Rutgers 1Q 7:36, 2Q 15:00).
Signature Stat: Heuerman gained just 0.99 Yards per Route Run last season, ranking 26th among his peers.
Jeff Heuerman seems to be the anti-Julius Thomas. A guy who is a monster run blocking tight end, but doesn't really get open in the passing game. Route running and run blocking are both things that can be taught, but as we saw with Julius Thomas, the player has to want to do their job and do it well.
Despite the lack of production in the passing game, Heuerman is considered to possess some unique athletic skills at his position and the potential is certainly there. It would certainly be nice to see him develop into a Rob Gronkowski kind of player. A Bronco fan can dream right?
What do you think Broncos Country?