NFL draft: Dallas Morning News: Tight ends: McCoy weighs in as prospect
By Rick Gosselin
The Dallas Morning News
Anthony McCoy envisioned himself running free in the open spaces of the Los Angeles Coliseum, busting up small corners and scoring touchdowns for Southern Cal.
Then reality intervened.
"I came in as a wide receiver but I was overweight," McCoy conceded. "I came in at 265 thinking I could be the next Mike Williams at SC. I wanted to be like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice and guys like that. But I just couldn't keep my weight down low enough to do that."
So the Trojans moved him to tight end, where his size could be of better use. Instead of lining up against 5-9, 180-pound cornerbacks, he found himself facing 6-5, 270-pound defensive ends. McCoy had to learn how to block and had a great set of teachers — the Southern Cal defensive linemen.
"I learned a lot from getting my butt knocked down by Lawrence Jackson, Sedrick Ellis and Kyle Moore," said McCoy, of the NFL draft picks he played against in practice. "They taught me what I needed to do — be more aggressive at the point of attack."
The pass-catching part of his game came easy. McCoy snagged 22 passes for 457 yards last season — a staggering 20.8 yards per reception.
"I bring a different dimension to the game," he said. "I feel I can bring similar things that tight ends like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates do. But I don't like to compare myself to them. I'd like to be better than them."
Fendi Onobun, Houston
Onobun left his hometown of Houston to pursue a college basketball career at the University of Arizona. He played for four years but started only three games. He returned home and used up his final bit of eligibility in football for the Cougars last fall, catching only two passes. But he ran a 4.45 for NFL scouts at 252 pounds and is viewed as a superb developmental project.
Tight end is the deepest position on the offensive side of the ball with quality pass catchers into the fifth round and blockers into the seventh. Miami (Fla.), OU and Pitt all have two draftable tight ends.
Player School Ht. Wt. Noteworthy
Jermaine Gresham Oklahoma 6-5 261 DNP in 2009; knee injury
Rob Gronkowski Arizona 6-6 264 DNP in 2009; back injury
Anthony McCoy Sou. Cal 6-4› 258 15.9 yards per career catch
Dennis Pitta BYU 6-4› 245 3-time All-Mountain West
Tony Moeaki Iowa 6-3 245 All-Big Ten in 2009
Aaron Hernandez Florida 6-2 245 Mackey Award winner
Jimmy Graham Mia (Fla.) 6-6 260 Former basketball player
Andrew Quarless Penn St. 6-4 254 Three-year starter
Mike Hoomanuwanui Illinois 6-3› 264 Blocker/catcher combo
Garrett GrahamWisconsin 6-3 243 16 career touchdowns
Brody Eldridge Oklahoma 6-4 › 261Also started games at center
Dorin Dickerson Pittsburgh 6-1 226 4.40 speed in the 40
Ed Dickson Oregon 6-4 249 Converted defensive end
Nate ByhamPittsburgh 6-3› 268 All-Big East in 2008
Colin Peak Alabama6-5 254 Transfer from Georgia Tech
Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
Gresham only started one year at Oklahoma and didn't play last fall — so he obviously made an impression on the NFL that one season. That was 2008, when Gresham caught 66 passes for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns. He came off the bench to score 11 more TDs in 2007. Gresham considered turning pro in 2009 and would have been a first-round pick in that draft. But he returned to make a final run at a national title. A knee injury cost him that shot but didn't damage his draft stock.
MISSING IN ACTION:
When's the last time the top two prospects at tight end — at any position, for that matter — did not play a snap of college football the previous fall? Gresham suffered a knee injury in fall camp, and Gronkowski missed 2009 following off-season back surgery.
ALL IN THE FAMILY:
Mickey Shuler's father, Mickey, was a third-round draft pick of the New York Jets in 1978 who went on to play 14 NFL seasons with the Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. He caught 462 passes for 5,100 yards and 51 touchdowns. Gronkowski's brother Dan spent his rookie NFL season in 2009 on the practice squad of the Detroit Lions.
There were 12 tight ends in the 2009 draft who caught at least 100 passes in their careers. There are only six in the Class of 2010. Dennis Pitta left BYU as the school's all-time leading receiver regardless of position with 221 catches. Ed Dickson left Oregon as the school's all-time leading receiver at the tight end position, as did Jeron Mastrud at Kansas State and Andrew Quarless of Penn State. A list of tight ends in this draft with 100 career catches:
TIGHT END SCHOOL REC
.Dennis Pitta BYU 221
Ed Dickson Oregon 124
Garrett Graham Wisconsin 121
Jermaine Gresham Oklahoma 111
Aaron Hernandez Florida 111
Jeron Mastrud Kansas State 106
A STRONG CONNECTION:
Max Hall started for three years at quarterback for BYU and in each of those seasons, Pitta was the All-Mountain West tight end. Pitta caught passes in 43 straight games and set a school season record with 83 receptions in 2008. Hall and Pitta were clearly on the same page. But that's to be expected. They have been brothers-in-law since July 2008. They married the Gissel sisters.
Brody Eldridge, Oklahoma's other tight end, is considered the best blocker at this position. The Sooners thought enough of his blocking skills to start Eldridge at both guard and center last season when injuries battered their blocking front. He also started some games at fullback in 2008.
Tony Moeaki was off to a terrific start in 2007, catching 14 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns in his first three games. But he suffered a broken hand in that third game and was forced to wear a medical redshirt. Then he was in and out of the lineup in 2008 with a series of injuries (concussion, hamstring, fractured foot). He also missed three games in 2009 with a sprained ankle. "I'd never been hurt in high school or my first two years at Iowa," Moeaki said. "I feel fresh and healthy now. If you erased my memory and woke me up, I wouldn't be able to tell you that I've been hurt before."
BEST OF TEXAS
Fendi Onobun, Houston
The Houston product started one game in his college football career — his final game in the Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force. But he spent the previous four winters playing basketball at Arizona. His best games were nine points against Arizona State and six rebounds against Oregon State, both in 2006. But Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez have opened the NFL door for basketball players.