There is little doubt that Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the top tight end in the 2014 NFL Draft, and because of his incredible athleticism and his ability to both block and catch, he may be the most anticipated tight end prospect in the history of the league. He likely will become the third tight end since 1999 to be drafted in the top 10.
Seferian-Jenkins is a member of two groups of players who have been consistently successful in the NFL: tight ends with basketball experience, having played for the Huskies during his freshman season, and tight ends drafted out of Washington. Seferian-Jenkins should be the the eighth-straight starting Huskies tight end to be selected in the NFL Draft. However, through his first two college seasons, he has already broken the school records for career receptions, yards and touchdown receptions, and single-season receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. His basketball experience puts him in the company of esteemed tight ends such as Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham, and it is very evident in his playing style, as he frequently jumps high up in the air to make difficult catches.
As good of a player as he is, Seferian-Jenkins does have his fair share of concerns. This past March, he crashed his car late at night on UW’s campus and had to be taken to the hospital. He received a DUI and it was revealed that his blood-alcohol level was 0.18 percent, more than twice the legal limit. He ended up being suspended from spring practice and had to spend a night in jail. Seferian-Jenkins has been very apologetic and seems to be very dedicated to repairing his reputation, but this incident will likely remain as a black mark on his resume.
With his size, receiving ability and basketball experience, it’s easy to compare Seferian-Jenkins to Graham. As similar as the two players are, Seferian-Jenkins seems to have even more skill. Unlike Graham, Seferian-Jenkins is a very good blocker. He also seems to be more adept at making plays at all areas of the field, as compared to Graham, who makes the most impact in the end zone.
At this point, it would be a shock if Seferian-Jenkins is not taken in the first half of the first round. While he has had enough issues to scare NFL teams, he has the skills to be one of the most complete tight ends ever, and scouts will be drooling over him as the draft approaches.
- Very good receiver and catches the majority of the balls that come his way.
- Rare athletic ability, can jump sky high to make difficult catches.
- Great size and quickness.
- Makes it extremely difficult for defenders to take him down.
- Has lined up all over the field in college and has the potential to be a matchup nightmare as a pro.
- More than capable as a blocker, not a road grader, but can open holes and is better at doing so than most starting NFL tight ends.
- Only 20 years old and has ample time to improve athletically and grow as a player.
- Has played some defensive end at Washington; has legitimate pass-rushing ability and has been quoted as saying that he wants to become a “dominant pass rusher.” He could provide an NFL team with some emergency defensive line depth.
- Could have a hard time adjusting to more complicated routes in the NFL, generally runs only streaks downfield and short screen routes with Washington.
- Recently suffered fractured pinkie which has kept him from practicing; it will be important to see if this injury affects his receiving ability.
- Off-field concerns due to DUI arrest this past offseason.
While he has built a great reputation in his first two seasons at Washington, this year is still important for Seferian-Jenkins. First and foremost, he needs to stay out of trouble off the field. In addition, he must show that his finger injury has not impacted his catching ability, and he needs to continue to make big plays. Along with quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey, Seferian-Jenkins could be part of one of the most electrifying offenses that Washington has had in a very long time.
2014 Draft Projection: 1st round