Colts.com takes a closer look at the 19 tight ends invited to this year’s NFL Combine. The 2013 combine takes place Indianapolis and begins on Feb. 20, spanning six days. The tight ends invited are as followed:
Tight Ends (19)
*Indicates eligibility remaining
Justice Cunningham – South Carolina
-At 264 pounds, Cunningham is known for his blocking but did catch 40 passes over his final two seasons in Columbia, including a six-catch, 108-yard performance in a 38-35 win over Tennessee this past season.
Tyler Eifert – Notre Dame
-Eifert, the 2012 John Mackey Award Winner, falls next in line of the successful Notre Dame tight ends to move onto the NFL. Known for his spectacular ball skills, Eifert hauled in 113 passes in his final two seasons in South Bend and was split out as a wide receiver numerous times this season.
*Zach Ertz – Stanford
-Like Notre Dame, Stanford seems to have found a tight end pipeline that has moved on to the NFL. With Coby Fleener gone to the next level, Ertz turned in an All-American season with 66 catches for 837 yards.
*Gavin Escobar – San Diego St.
-Escobar leaves San Diego St. with one year of eligibility remaining, but not before turning in three All-Mountain West seasons. His finest season came in 2011, when Escobar hauled in 51 passes for 780 yards and seven touchdowns.
Joseph Fauria – UCLA
-The nephew of 13-year NFL veteran Christian Fauria (Seattle, New England, Washington, Carolina), Joseph brings a six-foot-seven-inch frame to the next level. This past season, Fauria caught 46 passes for 637 yards and 12 touchdowns as UCLA earned a berth in the Pac-12 Championship.
Matt Frustenbrug – Maryland
-Frustenburg didn’t put up the receiving numbers (60 catches in four years) that many of the other tight ends invited to the combine did. Injuries forced Maryland to move a linebacker to the quarterback position this past year and that contributed to just 16 catches for Frustenburg in 2012.
Chris Gragg – Arkansas
-Gragg made the move from wide receiver to tight end early in his career in Fayetteville. In the first two games of his senior season, Gragg had a pair of seven-catch games but an injury suffered in late September only allowed him to play in two SEC games in 2012.
D.C. Jefferson – Rutgers
-At six-feet-six-inches and 250 pounds, Jefferson was primarily a blocker at Rutgers but did record 100+ receiving yards in each of his four seasons playing for the Scarlet Knights.
Nick Kasa – Colorado
-Kasa is an intriguing prospect to scouts after he was a defensive end for the Buffalos until making the position switch this past offseason. He hauled in 25 catches for 391 yards as a starting tight end in 2012.
Travis Kelce – Cincinnati
-Setting school tight end records in 2012, Kelce was a frequent target in the Bearcats offense, catching 45 passes for 722 yards this past season.
Philip Lutzenkirchen – Auburn
-Lutzenkirchen’s last name is frequently the main discussion when his name pops up but his game can do some talking as well. He was a key part of Auburn’s National Title run in 2010 and the dual threat tight end is now recovering from a torn labrum he suffered in October.
Vance McDonald – Rice
-Despite missing three games during his senior season, McDonald still caught 36 passes for 458 yards. During his final three seasons with the Owls, McDonald was a prime red zone target with 15 touchdowns.
Ryan Otten – San Jose St.
-Of all the tight end prospects at the 2013 combine, it’s Otten who possess the best statistics. In his last two seasons with the Spartans, Otten caught 99 passes for 1,481 yards and helped San Jose State to an 11-2 record.
Chris Pantale – Boston College
-Even with missing the first half of the 2012 season due to injury, Pantale still turned in another consistent and productive campaign. For the fourth straight year, Pantale caught at least 21 passes.
*Jordan Reed – Florida
-Just like fellow Connecticut native and current New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, Reed excelled in a variety of roles for the Gators. He is not the biggest of tight ends at the combine (six-feet-three-inches and 243-pounds) but caught 45 passes for 559 yards in his junior season.
Mychal Rivera – Tennessee
-Built in a similar mold to Reed, Rivera joined his fellow Volunteers skills position players in a productive offensive system. Rivera turned in a 10-catch, 129-yard performance in a double overtime loss to Missouri in 2012.
*Dion Sims – Michigan St.
-Used mainly as a blocker during his first three seasons in East Lansing, the 285-pound Sims showed he can catch the football as well, hauling in 36 passes for 475 yards in 2012.
Jake Stoneburner – Ohio St.
-The Buckeyes frequently turned Stoneburner’s way once the offense reached the red zone. Of Stoneburner’s 53 career catches, 13 went for touchdowns including 11 in his final two seasons in Columbus.
*Levine Toilolo – Stanford
-At six-feet-eight-inches and 265 pounds. Toilolo was a matchup nightmare for defensive coordinators trying to stop Pep Hamilton’s offense. Toilolo caught 49 passes in his last two seasons in Palo Alto, with 10 of those going for scores.
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