PROSPECT ONE: AUSTIN SEFERIAN-JENKINS, TIGHT END, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
Charles Clay finally had a breakout season in 2013 and put together one of the best seasons a tight end has ever had for Miami. His play earned him the starting spot in 2014. But behind Clay on the depth chart is a great deal of uncertainty. Michael Egnew has done little in two seasons to make fans believe he's anything but a bust. Dion Sims had a few catches and a game winning touchdown as a rookie, but was mostly asked to block and didn't do much else. Perhaps one or both of those players can have a breakout season much like Clay. However, expecting that would be risky.
Most teams are looking for multiple receiving threats at the tight end position now, desiring to create mismatch issues for the defense. Miami could use an additional receiving threat at tight end to pair with Clay, giving quarterback Ryan Tannehill another weapon in his arsenal. Since free agency has dried up for the most part, it is now time to look to the draft to fill these voids.
I began watching film of Austin Seferian-Jenkins in 2013, whilst watching film of my favorite draft prospect from that draft, Desmond Trufant. I saw a player that would give Tannehill a big time target across the middle of the field, down the seam, and especially in the red zone. It was expected that ASJ would be a top 10 draft pick in this upcoming draft. However, as with many prospects, his draft stock fell due to a variety of reasons. Still, he is considered by many to be the second best tight end in this class, and could be a prospect the Dolphins could target.
Many fans are looking at Eric Ebron to fill the second tight end spot for Miami. The issue with him is he could easily be drafted well before Miami picks at 19 and the Dolphins would likely have to move up to draft him. That's not a particularly good idea in a deep draft. Secondly, Ebron's hands are much too inconsistent for a prospect of his caliber (he has a really high drop rate, as you'll see later). Unless Ebron falls to Miami at 19, Miami will have to look at another prospect at tight end if they wish to draft that position. Why not ASJ?
Here's the lowdown on Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Height: 6'5 1/2"
Hand size: 9 3/4"
Arm length: 33 1/2"
Career stats: 146 catches, 1840 yards, 21 touchdowns in 3 seasons
Great size for the position
Good body control
Long arms and a wide catch radius
Tough to bring down with arm tackles
Decent strength for the position (20 reps of 225)
Good athlete; played basketball for the Huskies
Off the field issues; suspended for one game after being arrested for DUI; served a one day jail sentence
Lacks elite deep speed
Average to below average blocker, though has shown improvement in that area
Doesn't always play up to his size
Not particularly elusive in the open field
Doesn't generate much YAC (yards after catch)
Foot injury prevented him from participating at the combine and his pro day
Greg Peshek of rotoworld.com wrote several articles this offseason highlighting several metric analyses of various positions. His analysis of the tight end position yielded several interesting points regarding ASJ. First of all, ASJ did a significant portion of his work in college on wide receiver screens. Nearly 26% of all of his receptions were screens. However, he did most of his damage in the intermediate to deep range, with nearly 43% of his receptions being 11 yards or longer. On average he caught the ball 8.8 yards from the line of scrimmage, which was second among the tight end prospects (Troy Niklas has more. Look for him in this series.) ASJ had the lowest drop rate of all the tight ends with 5.41 %, compared to Ebron, who had an alarming 11.43% drop rate.
Here are three videos of Seferian-Jenkins. The first two are highlight videos which shows him at his best. The third is game film.
What He Brings To The Dolphins
The asset he brings to the Dolphins first and foremost is size. At 6'6" and 262 pounds, he is an imposing figure for defenders and a massive target for Tannehill. Right now, Miami's biggest target of their primary contributors is Clay at 6'3". With his size, ASJ becomes an immediate red zone target for Tannehill. Even the most accurate quarterbacks sometimes need a big target to bail them out. Tannehill doesn't have a target that he can simply throw it up to and let the receiver go get it. ASJ becomes that target. While ASJ doesn't have elite speed, you can see from the videos that he has no issues getting open deep. If Lazor's offense uses more tight ends working the seams as expected, then ASJ becomes that secondary threat along with Charles Clay and a player that will get the ball into the end zone.
Where Miami Will Have To Draft Him
Seferian-Jenkins could be a surprise pick at 19, but more than likely he'll end up in the second round. It is possible that he could fall to Miami's spot at 50, but he will probably go before that. So how will Miami get him? Just follow along with this scenario...
There have been rumors that one or more of the quarterback prospects in this class could fall on draft day. Let's say that one of the top prospects, like Johnny Manziel falls to 19. He has had a visit with the Patriots and it wouldn't be a stretch to envision them drafting him as the heir apparent to Brady. Houston will probably take Clowney first overall and would love to see Manziel drop to 33. It's also possible that the offensive tackle targets and other targets like C.J. Mosley that Miami want are off the board at 19. So in this situation, Miami is sitting there at 19 with most of the players they want off the board. They have no need to draft a quarterback here. Houston decides they cannot risk another team taking Manziel ahead of them, or another team like Jacksonville or Oakland trading ahead of them. So they call up the Silver Fox and offer their 2nd, 3rd, and 5th round picks to Miami in exchange for the 19th overall pick. Since this is a deep draft, Miami could use the extra picks. Houston has a pretty good roster and would consider it a great draft if they acquired Clowney AND Manziel. Miami would be trading out of the first round, but would have 3 additional picks in a deep draft to load up at various positions. Miami could then draft ASJ with the 33rd pick.
I understand this scenario is unlikely, but Miami trading out of the first round is not. The Dolphins have depth at some positions, but not others. Acquiring more picks would be helpful in rebuilding and retooling this roster. It could begin with a big time tight end target in Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Coming up in part two: a look at an unheralded, but promising offensive line prospect.