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Michael Egnew, NFL Draft 2012: Tumble of a TE Lock

Twelve months ago with Blaine Gabbert at the helm of the Missouri offense it was believed that Michael Egnew would be the first tight end off the board in the 2012 draft. The 6'6" pass catching threat was drawing lofty comparisons to Vernon Davis, the standout pass catcher from Maryland who was selected 6th overall in 2006.

Then something happened- Egnew's senior season. Without Gabbert under center to lean heavily on Egnew his deficiencies as a player were magnified. As such he's now seen as a decent athlete, but not very fluid and a tight end without much skill as a blocker. This severely limits the perception of his ability to grow in the NFL and improve these aspects of his game- in short, there are questions whether he has the tools to really improve, rather than seeing immense upside.

That being said, he's currently trending as a 4th or even 5th round selection, which at that point it might be worth it for the Falcons to take a flier on him to stretch the field, if nothing else. This is one area where Egnew can cause some damage, an athletic mismatch with an OLB trying to cover him in man coverage. This is where he and Gabbert managed to carve up teams in 2010. With an accurate QB like Matt Ryan he could be a valuable addition to the offense as a change of pace guy in some specific two-TE sets. However, it's highly unlikely Egnew could ever be an eventual replacement for Tony Gonzalez.

Prior to the 2011 season Mocking the Draft did a profile on Egnew which projected him as a 2nd round pick in the upcoming draft. Clearly this has since been superseded, and he is now seen as a far more flawed prospect. The National Football Post are listing him as the 8th best TE in the 2012 class, as they go on to say:

Has a long frame and the skill set to learn to play with his hand on the ground, but is going to need time. Isn't the type of dynamic athlete either to simply out run NFL defenders and looks limited in the type of routes he's going to be able to separate in. More of a vertical threat guy who needs to adjust to the ball in order to make plays.

National Football Post

Michael Egnew will be a boom or bust prospect who could add something as a 2nd or 3rd TE, but I wouldn't rely on him to be the answer as a full time starter. If the Falcons chose to carpet bomb the position like New England did a couple of years ago then he could warrant being the second TE taken by the team.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.