Tight End - Texas A&M
Combine Height: 6-6
Combine Weight: 259
Combine 40 Time: 4.68
Caught 49 balls (tops on the Aggies) for 587 yards and four touchdowns.
Bennett is perhaps the most complete tight end in this year’s draft. While he isn’t the pure deep threat of, say, Purdue’s Dustin Keller or Michigan State’s Kellen Davis, he’s an adept pass catcher who can be used in motion, from the slot, or right on the line of scrimmage. And he’s not a liability in the running game, either; in fact, he’s a capable and willing blocker who can stay on the field in short-yardage situations. He also uses his size as a weapon against smaller defensive backs downfield, and as a former basketball star (he declared for the NBA draft but was given a second-round grade so turned his attention to the NFL) Bennett has plenty of athleticism.
Just being on the field is key for rookie tight ends, as they generally don’t contribute much if anything during their initial campaign. And if Bennett augments the typical pedestrian production of first-year tight ends with a few goal line looks because he remains on the field in goal line situations… all of a sudden that pedestrian production isn’t so pedestrian any more.
The first round is expected to be tight end-free in 2008, though stranger things than the Seahawks or Packers reaching for Bennett at the end of round one have certainly taken place. It’s more likely Bennett goes off the board in the second round, with the aforementioned clubs as well as the Bengals, Saints, Vikings, and Colts potentially interested.
Yes, rookie tight ends traditionally do little. But consider that Heath Miller is the only rookie amongst first-round tight ends this decade to haul in more than three touchdown catches, and that Bennett’s more complete game is likely to put him on the field in goal line situations. And that four of Miller’s six scores as a rookie came from eight yards out and closer. So if there is any rookie tight end with immediate upside this season, and if Bennett winds up in a tight end-friendly offense like the Packers or Seahawks… he may be the exception that defines the rule.
Bennett’s long-term upside may be even brighter than his immediate potential, if only because he’s only recently switched his focus from hoops to football. Again, the key for Bennett is landing in the right situation… but his ability to block as well as catch may mean there are more “right situations” for him than for more one-dimensional tight ends.