Detroit Lions: A tight end for every round

16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan (Getty Images)
16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan (Getty Images) /
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Central Michigan’ Tyler Conklin has great hands. He has been the team’s top clutch situation receiver for the last two seasons. He is a former basketball player, and that is reflected in his build. Conklin weighed in at 254 lbs and stood 6’3″ at the combine. In addition to his height, Conklin leaped 38″ up and 120″ broad. Conklin was among the top performers in the tight end group in every event but the 40-yard dash. conklin’s 4.8 speed is very apparent on tape, but so is his elite 3 cone and short shuttle. He has elite leaping ability.

Conklin’s route running is not entirely without nuance, but he will need to improve it to get on the field regularly with his lack of speed. He doesn’t use his body to box out defenders particularly well either, though he is game in a fight for a 50/50 ball. He does make spectacular catches regularly, and he wastes no movement catching the ball. Conklin is a natural hands catcher who does not lose his stride while making difficult catches. He is a willing blocker but by no means NFL ready. Conklin has some of the highest level body control in this tight end class.

Conklin is also a good locker room and community guy by all accounts. That really would have mattered to the previous coaching staff. It remains to be seen whether Matt Patricia will push off the field character as strongly as Jim Caldwell did. The constant references to the team as his family lead me to believe that he may.

Conklin started his career as a basketball player but after a single semester, he concluded that his future laid on a football field. He went to Central Michigan as a walk-on. Conklin missed the first five games of the 2017 season with a foot injury, but looked entirely healed and ready for the Senior Bowl. His 40 time will push his draft stock down, but Conklin’s other athletic traits will outweigh his only missing piece in the NFL. It will likely take a year or two, but Conklin will be a solid NFL contributor.