College Spotlight: Tuesday Afternoon Prospect

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Let's head out West to see who's on T.A.P. today.

Last October I introduced the first and last tight end featured on Tuesday Afternoon Prospect. Would you believe that very article still holds the record for the most comments in the T.A.P. series? Of course it does, because Eric Ebron is a popular name around these parts, especially if you like homegrown talent and Tarheel football. Affinities and affiliations aside, the prodigious UNC tight end made a great deal of sense at the time, and still does. Unfortunately, I'm not very confident he'll be available 28 picks in. But maybe today's standout prospect will be. He is none other than Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Some of you may already be asking why the Panthers would take a tight end when there are greater needs. I get it. The right side of the offensive line is a mess, the secondary lacks talent and the receiving corps is practically devoid of play-makers. It's certainly cliche' to say this, but Seferian-Jenkins might very well be the best player available. General manager Dave Gettleman certainly isn't afraid to go that route, and he proved as much when he selected two defensive tackles in the first two rounds of the 2013 NFL draft.

Consider the fact that blocking specialist Ben Hartsock is about to become an unrestricted free agent and is also on the verge of turning 34 years old. From the outside looking in, the Panthers already seem to have plans in place to supplant the respected veteran. Did you know that less than three weeks ago the team signed D.C. Jefferson, a 2013 seventh round pick who was released last November by the Arizona Cardinals? Like Hartsock, the 6-Foot-6, 262-Pound former Rutgers tight end is known for his blocking prowess and little else. But Seferian-Jenkins gives you the best of both worlds.

The former Washington Husky is a gifted inline blocker(see 2nd video below) who uses his thick 6-Foot-6, 276-Pound frame to dominate defensive ends and linebackers alike. Seferian-Jenkins' ability to regularly stifle and drive defenders backwards is a large reason why teammate Bishop Sankey finished the 2013 season with the 4th most rushing yards and the 6th most touchdowns in the nation. From a blocking standpoint, I believe the 21 year old early draft entrant possesses the strength and technique to immediately be every bit as effective as Hartsock has been for the Panthers.

As you would expect from a guy his size, Seferian-Jenkins has a gigantic catch radius and he uses that genetic advantage very well. The Washington native also has extremely soft hands, and he uses them to catch almost everything in sight. College defenders were rarely successful when attempting to re-route him and I expect that to mostly continue in the NFL. His size, strength and sneaky quickness off the line of scrimmage puts any defender looking to jam him in an awfully tenuous position.

If Seferian-Jenkins wants to have a career that resembles a similarly sized player like New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, he will need to improve his coverage awareness. Because of his size and athleticism alone, he has an inherent advantage facing man to man coverage, but he occasionally struggles to find the open holes in zone coverage. From this point on, It is imperative that he learn how to better recognize those soft spots in order to maximize his vast potential. Although Sefarian-Jenkins isn't blessed with the same level of speed as the aforementioned Ebron, he has plenty enough to thrive as a chain moving, red-zone weapon. Despite being forced to operate in a run heavy offense led by a shaky quarterback, he still managed to put up some very respectable receiving numbers(see below).

Can you envision what a player of Seferian-Jenkins caliber could do for Cam Newton and this team as a whole? No offense to the reliable Hartsock, but he offered zero impact in the passing game. In fact, he didn't even record a single catch last season and only had two receptions the year before. Needless to say, the threat from an equally formidable blocking and pass-catching tight end would do wonders for a team who frequently struggled to move the ball last season. He and Olsen would be a headache to scheme against for years to come. If Seferian-Jenkins is there, I say draft him and never look back.

Please take the time to view the three videos I've posted below. It will be well worth your time. The first one is an interview that he did with the media concerning his DUI charge last March. He alleviated some of my own concerns about the dubious incident by answering the questions both humbly and articulately. Now he must do the same with decision makers over the next few months. Keep in mind that the newly acquired aforementioned Jefferson had a DUI only a couple of months ago and the Panthers signed him anyway. Of course, I do understand the difference between taking a chance on a free agent signing at a minimum rate and the risk of drafting a potential off the field hazard in the first round. Gettleman will just have to decide if it is a risk he is comfortable taking. As for the second video, it will give you a good idea of what Seferian-Jenkins can do for any run game. The last one is a highlight reel that emphasizes his unique capabilities as a pass catcher.

What say you CSR? Be sure to tell me and everyone else what you think about my latest mock draft located at the very bottom of the page as well.

Year Games Receptions Yards Yards/Reception Touchdowns
2011 13 41 538 13.12 6
2012 13 69 852 12.35 7
2013 12 36 450 12.50 8




Carolina Panthers Mock Draft 4.0

Round Prospect Height Weight College
1st TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins 6' 6" 276 Washington
2nd WR Jared Abbrederis 6' 1" 189 Wisconsin
3rd CB Keith McGill 6' 3" 214 Utah
4th WR Donte Moncrief 6' 2" 226 Ole Miss
5th OT Justin Britt 6' 6" 315 Missouri
6th CB Ross Cockrell 6' 0" 183 Duke
7th FS Jamea Thomas 5' 10" 190 Georgia Tech
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