The Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed to upgrade their offense heading into 2014, and they didn't shy away from that need on the first two days of the draft, despite having a veteran defensive coach like Lovie Smith captaining the ship. In fact, selecting big, strong receivers like Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins may indicate that Lovie Smith knows he needs a better offense, and he's using his experience as a defensive coach to pick players he hates trying to match up against.
We've already taken a closer look at Mike Evans, and you can read my breakdown of the former Texas A&M star here. Now we'll turn our attention to Seferian-Jenkins, the Buccaneers' second-round selection who boasts an impressive frame, and equally impressive tape.
What He Does Well
Everything. Is "everything" an acceptable answer?
You want your tight end to stay in and block? ASJ has you covered. You want a red zone threat? ASJ can do that. You need 6 yards on third-and-five? ASJ is all over it.
That's not to say he's a perfect prospect, but I struggle to see a major hole in his game.
As far as blocking is concerned, Seferian-Jenkins is the best tight end I have seen in a while. He's big and strong enough to dominate college defensive linemen, but is also a smart blocker capable of disengaging a block and getting to the second level to make an extra block in the running game.
He's such a good blocker that his college team, which didn't have a ton of great receiving options, would keep him in to pass block to help protect their quarterback. Hopefully the Buccaneers don't do this too often, but he's certainly capable of it.
When Seferian-Jenkins did go out to receive a pass, he was a big, formidable target that could be thrown to in spite of coverages. He's so tall, and has such big arms and strong hands that he's open all the time. Any time a linebacker was on ASJ, he was wide open. Any time a defensive back was on ASJ, he was pretty much open. At one point, I saw Boise State TRIPLE TEAM Seferian-Jenkins, leading to a wide open receiver in the end zone for the Huskies.
He's versatile, as well. Seferian-Jenkins lined up as an in-line tight end, as well as in a "move" tight end role off the line of scrimmage. He'd line up in the slot on a regular basis, as well, and even spent some time in the backfield as a fullback. He presents unique benefits at every spot.
Where He Can Improve
For Seferian-Jenkins, the primary concern is turning his athleticism into separation and yards after the catch in the NFL. Two of the most lofty comparisons for ASJ are Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski, but to reach those heights, ASJ must harness his athletic ability better, and be a cleaner, sharper receiver.
Being athletic enough certainly is not the issue for ASJ:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins ran for the Bucs a couple weeks ago and he clocked in the mid-4.5s in the 40.— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) May 10, 2014
The issue is, this speed doesn't show up on tape as often as you'd like. Similar to Jordan Matthews and Mike Evans, ASJ looks slower on film than he does in shorts.
That's not to say he's not capable of playing at that speed, and if he can, he's a freak of an athlete on the same level as Calvin Johnson and Vincent Jackson (when he was a rookie running in the mid 4.4's).
However, Stephen Hill is another example of a big, tall, strong athletic freak who couldn't translate that size and speed into production at the NFL level. Being big and quick is no guarantee of NFL success.
As for the other concerns about ASJ, he does have some injury concerns (stress fractures are a big deal, hopefully his has fully healed), and his DUI arrest is a red flag, although it appears he's made himself better through the process.
How He Fits the Buccaneers
Like Evans, ASJ fits perfectly.
The Buccaneers didn't have an in-line blocking tight end who was also a threat in the passing game. Now they have a player with the upside to be dominant at both aspects of being an NFL tight end.
Jason Licht and Lovie Smith obviously wanted to add size and speed to their offense, and they've done so in impressive fashion, giving whoever lines up at quarterback a new pair of targets with huge catching radii and surprising quickness.
Seferian-Jenkins is the type of prospect that comes with risk of being a frustrating waste of incredible God-given gifts, but if he can put it all together, he's also the type of prospect who dominates his position for a decade. Let's hope that Lovie Smith and Jeff Tedford can get the most out of him, because the sky is the limit for the Bucs' newest tight end.