Opportunity knocks at every corner in the NFL Draft. Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead has had some success taking risks with questionable prospects. But is Central Michigan TE Tyler Conklin worth the risk?
When healthy, Conklin is an intriguing, versatile tight end prospect. He utilizes his speed to his advantage, especially when gaining separation on routes. Conklin uses every inch of his 6’4” frame anywhere on the field but more notably on tight sideline plays. His footwork on the sidelines makes him a solid target for quarterbacks. Despite sustaining an injury last season, Conklin still compiled 504 receiving yards and five touchdowns in just eight games.
Conklin is a decent pass-catching tight end, but he’s also an effective run blocker. His hand placement is instinctive and efficient. He uses his patience and power to help divert defenders, which helps with speedier and shiftier defenders.
The biggest risk with Conklin is his recent injury. Conklin sustained a fractured foot in the early part of the 2017 season and wasn’t the same when he returned. His speed noticeably diminished, and he appeared limited in his production. When evaluating his potential, scouts must use his tape from 2016 for now. The 2018 NFL Combine will tell us much more of what he’s capable of post-injury.
The injury hampered Conklin’s speed, but that great initial burst has never been there off the snap. Conklin tends to sit and wait for the football instead of attacking it. His adjustment to passes are awkward and slow as well. He must be more consistent with his hands. While his blocking technique is solid, his frame is not muscular enough to compete on the NFL level.
Conklin’s injury came at a bad time, because it will place a hint of doubt in scouts. His junior season shows he has potential, but he will likely need a lot of coaching. Conklin needs to be a more consistent pass catcher, and he will also need to bulk up if he wants to be considered a blocking tight end. Conklin must improve on his numbers during the NFL Combine in order to increase his draft stock. Until then, teams will likely select him in the fourth or fifth round.
The Rams did interview him during the Senior Bowl, so there is some level of interest. Conklin wasn’t the only tight end prospect interviewed during the Senior Bowl. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the Rams took a chance on a tight end prospect in Day 3 of the NFL Draft.