Not many people were surprised to hear Washington Huskies tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. Seferian-Jenkins is coming off a Mackey Award-winning season, which goes to the nation’s top tight end, by hauling in 36 receptions for 450 yards and 8 TD’s.
Even before the 2013 season, most were assuming this would be his last season in Seattle. Then, with the resignation of head coach Steve Sarkisian and the pending graduation of QB Keith Price, it was all but certain.
Seferian-Jenkins received a second round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee, so it’s hard to necessarily say he made the wrong decision, but I don’t believe he made the best decision. In my opinion, I think he should have stuck around for his senior season.
I understand where people are coming from by saying he made the right decision to take the money and run. Price is gone, Sarkisian is gone, and the new coach coming in (Chris Peterson from Boise State) doesn’t use tight ends a whole lot. Heck, out of the 329 receptions hauled in by the Broncos this year, only 20 were made by tight ends. Plus, by staying, he could get injured and totally ruin any draft capital he may have accrued. I get it.
But get this — there could realistically be three tight ends taken before Seferian-Jenkins in the 2014 NFL Draft. If he sticks around and waits for the 2015 NFL Draft, he’s nearly guaranteed to be the first tight end taken. Eric Ebron (North Carolina) and Jace Amaro (Texas Tech) are widely ranked higher than Seferian-Jenkins in most draft communities. Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz could also sneak ahead of Seferian-Jenkins. In the 2015 NFL Draft, it would be Seferian-Jenkins by a wide margin at the top, with only Xavier Grimble (Southern California) and Nick O’Leary (Florida State) providing competition, and both of those guys may not stick around for their senior seasons either.
If you go back and look at the past five NFL Drafts, the third and fourth tight ends taken ranged from 47th overall (mid-second round) to 110th overall (middle of the fourth). The first tight end taken each of those years all are right around the mid to late first rounds.
What’s the difference financially between being the third or fourth tight end taken versus being the first? San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green was the fourth tight end selected in 2012 (110th overall), and signed a four-year, $2.6 million dollar contract with a little under $500 thousand dollar signing bonus. Meanwhile, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, who was the first tight end selected in the 2013 NFL Draft (21st overall) signed a four-year, $8.2 million dollar contract, with a $4.3 million dollar signing bonus. That’s a massive difference.
Would there be a risk of injury by coming back next year for Seferian-Jenkins? Of course, but there’s been a risk of injury for Seferian-Jenkins ever since he first started playing football, just like any and all football players. Price will be gone, yes, and that’s a big blow, but Cyler Miles is primed to take over the signal calling duties, and many believe that he’s already better than Price. Sarkisian will be gone, along with his tight end-friendly scheme, but Peterson is a very bright offensive mind. He’d find ways to get the ball to his best playmaker, just like any good coach does.
Still, even though I think Seferian-Jenkins should’ve stuck around for one more year, I do believe he’ll be a very solid pro. At 6-foot 6, 270-pounds and with an impressive skill set, he certainly fits the trendy role of big and athletic tight ends in today’s NFL. It will be interesting to see how well he runs and how well he interviews (questions pertaining to DUI and inconsistent effort particularly).
Even more interesting will be to see where he lands on draft day.