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Dustin Keller, TE

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 242 | College: Purdue
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A semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end, Keller has come a long way since arriving on Purdue's campus as a 185-pound wide receiver in 2003.

Keller goes down as one of the school's top tight ends and earned team Most Valuable Player honors as a senior, the first tight end to receive that honor since Dave Young in 1979.

It was sort of a natural process that brought Keller to Purdue, as most of his relatives had attended the university. His mother, Maureen, and grandmother, Linda Orr, are Purdue graduates. His grandfather, Dale Mulvey, played on the 1952 Purdue football team that won the Big Ten Conference championship. Brothers, Dwight and Drew, also attended Purdue. His great-grandfather, Robert P. Siskind, was an electrical engineering professor at the university. Purdue offered Keller its final scholarship in 2003 to keep him from signing with Toledo instead.

At Jefferson High School, Keller was named one of the top 50 receivers in the nation by Street & Smith's and added first team All-State as a senior. He was runner-up for the state's Top Receiver Award and a finalist for Indiana "Mr. Football" honors. He was also named Area Co-Offensive Player of the Year by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

As a senior, Keller set state records with 113 receptions for 1,804 yards (16.0-yard average) and 22 touchdowns. He participated in basketball and track and field. He captured the state high-jump championship as senior, clearing 6'9" in a steady rain, after finishing second his junior year with a personal best of 6'10".

The lanky receiver spent the 2003 season with the scout team at Purdue. His body continued to develop in the weight room and he showed up at 2004 spring camp at a chiseled 235 pounds. While his new frame earned him a letter, he appeared mostly on special teams in nine contests, earning his first career start in the Ohio State game. He finished 2004 with only five catches for 102 yards (20.4-yard average), but two of those grabs were touchdowns.

Keller continued his role as a reserve tight end and special teamer in 2005. A right knee sprain kept him out of the Minnesota game, as he saw action in 10 games. He grabbed 13 passes for 128 yards (9.8-yard average), finding the end zone three times.

Keller cracked the starting lineup for 12 of 14 games in 2006. He earned All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention, finishing third on the team with 56 receptions for 771 yards (13.4-yard average) and four touchdowns. He had one solo tackles and gained 39 yards on three kickoff returns (13.0 avg). An right shoulder (AC joint tear) injury suffered in October would hamper him the second half of the season, but he toughed it out, playing in every game. After his junior campaign, he underwent surgery to repair the shoulder damage.

At 248 pounds, Keller was ready to establish himself among the nation's top tight ends in 2007. He was an All-American honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly, team MVP and All-Big Ten Conference second-team choice. He hauled in a career-high 68 passes for 881 yards (13.0-yard average) and seven touchdowns, also scoring on a fumbled rushing attempt while making three solo tackles and returning a kickoff 15 yards. He ranked fourth nationally among tight ends with an average of 5.23 receptions per game and fifth with 67.77 receiving yards per game. His 68 receptions are the second-most in school history among tight ends, while his 731 yards rank third.

In 46 games at Purdue, Keller started 26 contests. He hauled in 142 passes for 1,882 yards (13.3-yard average) and 16 touchdowns. He recovered a rushing attempt in the end zone for a score, posted four solo tackles and gained 54 yards on four kickoff returns, finishing with 102 points scored and an average of 42.09 all-purpose yards per game.


Positives: Has a cut, defined frame with good muscle tone, tight waist and hips, good arm reach, very large hands, adequate bubble and defined calves and thighs … Runs good straight-line routes and can sink his pads to settle underneath, but is best when used on the move … Has good field vision and comes back for the ball when the quarterback is in trouble … Has the large hands to reach for and pluck the ball, but lacks good consistency in this area … Looks more like San Diego's Vincent Jackson (oversized wide receiver trapped in a marginally-sized tight end's body), but shows good suddenness of the snap when he is able to escape the press cleanly … Gets in and out of his breaks with just a little hesitation, but will sometimes take false steps … Plays with the proper flat-back pad level and runs light on his feet, building his acceleration nicely … Hard worker in practices and in the training room, displaying impressive strength (has good power, but needs to show more desire to use it in his blocking technique) … Has very good athletic ability and shows good explosion in his initial step off the snap … Uses his quickness more than power to aid in his in-line release and, even though blocking is the weakest area of his game, he has the foot speed and balance to wall off defenders when the effort is there … Can separate and stretch the field down the middle and shows the vision to locate the void and settle underneath … Has the timed speed to quickly run the seam, showing good timing in avoiding second-level defenders … Does gather at the top of his route, but also flashes the suddenness to separate in the short area … Good on the short, five-yard bend-out, but must extend his hands better on shallow crossing patterns … Can vertically stretch the field, but that is sometimes negated due to his marginal ability to track the deep throws … Does a good job bending and adjusting for low throws (not as good going for the ball above his head) … After the catch he has the ability to make the first guy miss and has decent run-after-the-catch acceleration … Shows awareness and instincts in the passing game, but is best served when he aligns at multiple spots … Flashes good explosiveness running with the ball after the catch, but needs to use his power to run over defenders and break arm tackles … Has the second gear to gobble up the cushion and get behind a lethargic defender … Knows how to use his frame effectively to shield defenders from the ball (fumbling is not an issue).

Negatives: Has marginal size for the classic tight end position and is best used in a move-oriented (H-Back) formation to get the best out of his ability … Must totally revamp his blocking technique, as he spends too much time catching defenders with his hands and will generally get those hands outside his frame, allowing the opponent to make a quick move over his outside shoulder … Must do a better job of anchoring and running his feet when asked to block in-line, but he also does not possess the raw power to hold his ground firmly at the point of attack … It is not as if he lacks courage, but he does tend to shy away from contact going for the ball in a crowd … Does have concentration lapses catching the ball, as he gets off-kilter when he hears footsteps closing on the play … Has adequate hands, but would be much better if he would extend for the ball outside his frame better (lets the ball absorb into his body too much, resulting in quite a few drops when he double-catches) … Has good leaping ability, but needs to develop timing to win more jump balls (prefers to catch the ball in stride rather than reach and pluck it) … Better in the short area, as he has trouble tracking the ball in flight on deep routes (does not swivel his head well to look the ball in over his shoulder) … Also a poor cut blocker, as he fails to execute good angles to get out and neutralize second-level defenders … Can retain plays, but despite good academics and knowledge to play multiple positions, he needs more than a few reps to retain … Must improve his footwork, as he will take false steps in transition and sometimes breaks off his route too early … His weight-room strength fails to translate to the football field, as he generates just a passing hand jolt and will get held up by a strong press, as he does not get good hand placement in attempts to separate at the line of scrimmage … Has good timed speed, but runs a bit erect, lacking crisp cutting ability to come out of his breaks cleanly … Has had minor injury issues, but will play through pain (played with a shoulder tear for the second half of 2006, but still caught 37 passes in his final eight games after sustaining the injury) … Despite his quickness, he is not considered a deep threat that can challenge the secondary often (adequate cutting ability is the main culprit).

Compares To: ERIC JOHNSON-New Orleans … As a move-oriented H-back, Keller will bring decent value in the middle rounds of the draft. Like Johnson, he is really more of a big possession receiver. He doesn't love to block and doesn't show great desire to combat for the ball in a crowd. He uses his body well to settle in the soft areas on the field and does a good job working back to the quarterback on broken plays. When he gets a clean release off the snap, he shows the light feet to get into his routes. Still, he needs to show better cutting agility out of his breaks. If your team has a physical blocker at this position and you're looking for a complimentary intermediate-range receiver, Keller could fill that role. If you are looking for a complete, physical blocker at the position, you might be looking elsewhere.

Career Notes

Tied with Jim Beirne (1965-67) for 12th on the school's career list with 142 receptions … His 142 catches rank third in Boilermaker annals among tight ends, topped only by Tim Stratton (204, 1998-2001) and Dave Young (180, 1977-80) … His 1,882 yards receiving placed him 10th overall on the school's all-time record list and second among Purdue tight ends behind Dave Young's 2,316 yards … Keller's 16 touchdown catches are the second-highest career total by a Boilermaker tight end, behind Dave Young's 27 … His 68 receptions in 2007 rank tied with Randall Lane (1998) for 16th on the school's single-season list and rank second to Dave Young (70 in 1980) on the Purdue tight end chart … In 2007, Keller became the first tight end to earn team Most Valuable Player honors since Dave Young in 1979.

2007 Season

All-Big Ten Conference second-team selection by league coaches and media … Semifinalist for the Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end … Team MVP and winner of the Pop Doan Award -- Offense (top performance against Indiana) … Started all 13 games, ranking second on the team with a career-high 68 receptions for 881 yards (13.0-yard average) and seven touchdowns … Ranked fourth in the nation among tight ends with an average of 5.23 receptions and fifth with an average of 67.77 yards receiving per game … Recovered a fumbled rushing attempt for a score and recorded three solo tackles … Also gained 15 yards on a kickoff return … Gained over 100 yards receiving in the Toledo, Ohio State and Central Michigan (Motor City Bowl) games.

2007 Game Analysis

Toledo … Keller opened the season by converting all three of his catches into first downs, including hauling in a career-long 80-yard touchdown bomb from QB Curtis Painter at the end of the first quarter … Record Watch-Keller's 80-yarder was the longest catch by a Purdue tight end since Len Dawson fired a 95-yarder to to Erich Barnes vs. Northwestern in 1955.

Eastern Illinois … The Boilermaker tight end grabbed four passes for 58 yards and a pair of touchdowns, capping a second quarter 7-play, 86-yard series by grabbing a 37-yard pass from Curtis Painter and on the next series, Painter finished the 11-play, 62-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring lob to Keller.

Central Michigan … Keller followed with four receptions for 80 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown with 0:45 left in the first half … He also tackled Chaz West in the third quarter after the defender picked off a Desmond Tardy pass and returned it 12 yards to the CMU 22.

Minnesota … The tight end had a quiet day, gaining 38 yards on four catches, with two grabs good for first downs.

Notre Dame … Keller snatched five passes for 36 yards, beating a pair of defenders to get to Curtis Painter's 14-yard touchdown toss with 2:25 left in a 33-19 victory … The tight end also tackled Tom Zbikowski after the safety intercepted a pass at the Purdue 35, dragging down the defender for a 2-yard loss.

Ohio State … The Boilermakers fell to OSU, 23-7, but it was not due to a lack of effort on Keller's past, as the tight end produced five first downs among his seven catches, registering the fourth 100-yard receiving game (101 yards) for his career … Still, Keller was not happy about his performance, due to the loss. "Each week, we'll usually find some-thing weak in the opponents' defense and just keep attacking and attacking. There's no weakness there," he started while referring to Ohio State's defense.

Michigan … Keller followed with four more first downs, as he gained 68 yards on seven catches.

Iowa … The tight end only caught three passes for 33 yards, but one was good for a 14-yard first quarter touchdown that ended a 77-yard, 12-play drive.

Northwestern … Keller did a lit bit of everything vs. the Wildcats, as he caught six passes for 33 yards, recovered a fumble, made a solo tackle and returned a kickoff 15 yards … A 33-yard run by tailback Jaycen Taylor set up Purdue's first score. On a third-&-goal from the Northwestern 1-yard line, Taylor fumbled into the end zone, but Keller recovered to give the Boilermakers a 7-0 lead with 5:29 left in the first quarter … In the third quarter, the tight end took down Eric Peterman at the NU 29 on a 10-yard punt return.

Penn State … Keller gained 45 yards on five receptions, with three grabs resulting in first downs.

Michigan State … He followed with seven catches for 51 yards.

Indiana … The Purdue tight end closed out the regular season with 81 yards on six grabs and despite a 27-24 loss, Purdue qualified for post-season action … "We're bowl eligible, but if it happens, it happens," Keller stated after the game. "Whether we deserve it or not, I don't know. We will see what happens. Without a doubt, we want to play in a bowl game. Nobody wants to be part of the very few teams that coach Tiller didn't take to a bowl game."

Central Michigan (Motor City Bowl) … Facing the Chippewas for the second time in 2007, Keller finished his career by grabbing seven passes for a career-high 151 yards … He brought the crowd to its feet at the end of the first quarter, hauling in a 62-yard touchdown bomb from Curtis Painter.

2006 Season

Earned All-Big Ten honorable mention from the league's media … Started 12 of 14 games, coming off the bench vs. Indiana and Hawaii … Bothered since early October with a right shoulder AC joint tear that would require surgery after the season to repair, but he did not miss any game action … Finished third on the team with 56 receptions for 771 yards (13.8-yard average) and four touchdowns, ranking 11th in the Big Ten with an average of 55.07 yards and 4.0 catches per game … Returned three kickoffs for 39 yards and also recorded a solo tackle.

2006 Game Analysis

Opened the season with four receptions for 55 yards and three punt returns for 39 yards vs. Indiana State … Snared four passes for 37 yards and tackled Joey Hudson in the fourth quarter after the defender intercepted a pass for a 15-yard return vs. Miami (Oh.) … Made four catches for his first 100-yard receiving day, gaining 148 yards with a 60-yard score vs. Ball State … Had back-to-back 100-yard performances, totaling 119 yards on six grabs in the Minnesota clash … Gained 36 yards on five catches vs. Notre Dame and 34 yards on four receptions vs. Iowa … Followed with six catches for 91 yards and a 19-yard score vs. Northwestern … Added 37 yards on five grabs vs. Penn State and hauled in six passes for 69 yards, including 9- and 19-yard touchdowns vs. Hawaii … Caught one pass for 12 yards vs. Maryland in the Champs Sports Bowl.

2005 Season

Appeared in 10 games as a reserve tight end, sitting out the Minnesota contest with a right ankle sprain … Finished with 13 receptions for 128 yards (9.8-yard average) and three touchdowns.

2005 Game Analysis

Opened the season with 53 yards on three catches, including touchdowns of four and 34 yards vs. Akron … Had three receptions for 21 yards and a four-yard score in the fourth quarter of the Wisconsin clash … Closed out the season with 18 yards on three catches vs. Indiana.

2004 Season

Moved from wide receiver to tight end in the spring … Appeared in nine games, starting the Ohio State contest … Caught five passes for 102 yards (20.4-yard average) and two touchdowns.

2004 Game Analysis

His first career receptions came on a 47-yard touchdown toss from QB Brandon Kirsch vs. Syracuse in the season opener … Added 41 yards on three receptions vs. Ball State … Scored the game-winning touchdown on a 14-yard toss from Greg Orton with 1:33 left ion a 24-17 decision over Ohio State, his first career start.

2003 Season

Redshirted as a freshman, competing on the scout team as a wide receiver.

Injury Report

2005: Did not play vs. Minnesota (9/24) due to a right ankle sprain.

2006: Suffered a right shoulder AC joint team in the Notre Dame game (9/30), but continued to play the rest of the season, undergoing surgery in January, 2007.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.58 in the 40-yard dash … 430-pound bench press … 585-pound squat … 385-pound power clean … 37-inch vertical jump … 32 3/8-inch arm length … 10 1/4-inch hands … Right-handed.

High School

Attended Jefferson (Lafayette, Ind.) High School, playing football for head coach Fred Kutruff … Named one of the top 50 receivers in the nation by Street & Smith's and added first team All-State as a senior … Runner-up for the state's Top Receiver Award and a finalist for Indiana "Mr. Football" honors … Named Area Co-Offensive Player of the Year by the Journal & Courier … As a senior, Keller set state records with 113 receptions for 1,804 yards (16.0-yard average) and 22 touchdowns … Also participated in basketball and track and field … Captured the state high-jump championship as senior, clearing 6'9" in a steady rain, after finishing second his junior year with a personal-best of 6'10".


Organizational Leadership and Supervision major … Son of Maureen and the late Willie Keller, Jr … Father played basketball at Moorehead State College … Mother, Maureen, and grandmother, Linda Orr, are Purdue graduates. His grandfather, Dale Mulvey, played on the 1952 Purdue football team that won the Big Ten Conference championship. Brothers, Dwight and Drew, also attended Purdue. His great-grandfather, Robert P. Siskind, was an electrical engineering professor at the university … Born Dustin Kendall Keller on 9/25/84 … Resides in Lafayette, Indiana.


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