Coby Fleener, NFL Draft 2012: Moving From One Strength To Another

It's likely Atlanta Falcons have resigned themselves to knowing 2012 will be their last season with stalwart tight end Tony Gonzalez. Since arriving in Atlanta he has been one of Matt Ryan's favorite targets, and a key reason the offense has been able to run so smoothly with Ryan under center. In 2013 and beyond it will be imperative that the Falcons have a TE who is waiting in the wings and ready to take on the role of being a featured part of the offense.

Enter Stanford TE Coby Fleener who has made himself one of the premier tight ends in the draft through his stellar play, reliable hands and proving himself to be the perfect pro-style pass catcher to support Andrew Luck.

At 6'6" and 247 lbs he is a big, powerful, primarily offensive TE who will need to bulk up and little to become a premier blocker. However, after putting up 27 reps at the scouting combine he's already shown that he has the strength to develop these skills. What I see on film is an ability to catch in traffic, and fight for hard yards that separates the great TEs from the average ones.

Mocking the draft did a great tape breakdown of one game vs. Notre Dame. In this they say:

His size and athleticism should create big mis-matches in the NFL. Corners and safety's will have trouble tackling him, while linebackers will have trouble covering him.

I agree with this assessment. I think in a draft that is rather bereft of really good talent at the TE position it will be up to a team to draft a prospect with the athleticism you want, and coach up some of the other abilities you want to see from an ideal TE. This plays directly into the Falcons' hands as Fleener could very well be available when they pick in the second round.

National Football post think even more highly of him, as they grade him at 7.0, which is a first-year starter grade. They say about Fleener:

An impressive pass catcher who can win both down the field and underneath vs. man coverage. Has the frame and flexibility to develop into a solid blocker as well and looks like a future starting caliber NFL TE.

Should the Falcons find themselves is a position to be able to select him I think it would be foolish to pass him up. There is a virtue in being able to move from strength to strength at the TE position, especially when your signal caller uses his TE as much as Matt Ryan uses Gonzalez.

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