MOBILE, Ala. -- Let's be honest: The next Antonio Gates or Rob Gronkowski isn't at the Senior Bowl this year. At this point, onlookers would be happy to have the next Dennis Pitta or Kyle Rudolph. Those kinds of tight ends might be in the mix.
Through three practices, there doesn't appear to be a tight end worth a first- or second-round pick. That's not to say there isn't a good player or two in town, but it does suggest that when Cincinnati's Travis Kelce opted not to come to Mobile, the excitement over players at the position went out the window.
Nonetheless, here's how the six tight ends stacked up through a trio of workouts each:
- Mychal Rivera, Tennessee. A strong Wednesday practice pushed him past Vance McDonald as the best tight end candidate, but it took a little time. Like McDonald, he's a downfield receiving threat pretty much in the mold of Aaron Hernandez, albeit without the girth. Wednesday saw Rivera get the best of Georgia safety Shawn Williams on a deep post pattern from Tyler Wilson before connecting again with Wilson on a leaping grab down the seam with a defender on his rear.
- Vance McDonald, Rice. With Kelce out, most of the early buzz fell on McDonald after he made some nice catches on Monday. Since then he's had some drops including one on Wednesday. Ultimately, he's viewed as a vertical threat with some really nice measureables. He's 6 feet 4 1/8 with 10-inch hands, 34 ½-inch arms and a nearly 82-inch wingspan. That's the kind of make-up for a seam-breaker that can freeze strong-side linebackers and safeties alike. Just don't expect him to win any awards for his blocking.
- Michael Williams, Alabama. For a guy who's got incredible size (6-5 3/4, 269 pounds) and played on three National Championship teams, you'd expect a higher ranking. But from the start of Senior Bowl practices, Williams struggled as a receiver. He had a number of drops Monday including one in an individual drill. As a blocker he's tough to beat and that sets him up to be a physical second tight end who could show up as a short-area end-zone target. A team will see his size and experience and get enamored with him enough to spend a third-round pick.
- Nick Kasa, Colorado. Kasa has had some moments where his athleticism is on display. But with little experience as a tight end, he showed signs of being raw. He's better at blocking and seems to be more of a long-term project than a short-term fix.
- Ryan Otten, San Jose State. It looks like he can run as he entered the week with what is believed to be the fastest 40-yard dash time of all the tight ends. Some of that quickness showed up at times but he was described by an analyst as a "slow-twitch guy," basically suggesting he can't separate from linebackers. Tack on some suspect blocking and he doesn't sound like a quick contributor to the pros.
Jack Doyle, Western Kentucky.The consensus on Doyle is that he lagged in speed compared to his competition. He can probably fill in as a second tight end and could stand to get stronger and fill out his 6-5 frame but there's not a lot to get excited about otherwise.