Summary: Fleener has been a consistent producer for Stanford over the past few seasons. He was second for the Cardinal in receiving in 2011. Fleener caught 34 passes for 667 yards and 10 touchdowns. Throughout the season, he was a steady and reliable receiver for quarterback Andrew Luck.
In the NFL, Fleener should be a good target to exploit the deep middle of the field. He was very skilled at running routes down the middle seam. He uses his length and hands to make tough catches in the center of the field. Fleener has underrated quickness to get downfield and find soft spots in zone coverage. His size is a real mismatch for defensive backs, while linebackers struggle with his quickness.
Fleener is a well-rounded player. He blocks well in the ground game to help open holes. It is obvious that he has been coached up on blocking technique. He could use more power and bulk to be an effective blocker in the NFL. If he can't add weight, power running teams may not view him as a three-down player, and think of him only as a receiving tight end. For the next level, Fleener could be a good fit in a zone-blocking ground scheme.
Player Comparison: Owen Daniels. Daniels has been a reliable receiver for the Texans. He has totaled 299 receptions for 3,649 yards and 20 touchdowns in his career to this point. Fleener probably won't be a prolific receiver like Antonio Gates, but he could definitely be a reliable receiving target like Daniels.
Both Fleener and Daniels weigh in the 240s. They are lighter tight ends, but both have good blocking technique. Daniels was the first pick in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft, and clearly there are a lot of teams that made a mistake in passing on him. Fleener should go earlier in the 2012 NFL Draft, and he could be a steady tight end in the pros in the mold of Daniels.
NFL Matches: Buffalo, San Diego, Denver, Atlanta, Kansas City
Fleener could be a good fit many pro offenses, so he is an option for the majority of teams in the league. Buffalo has tight end Scott Chandler entering free agency, and Fleener could make a good pair with Chandler if he is re-signed. The Chargers have to start preparing themselves for Gates to be done playing, and could use some depth behind him in case of injury.
The Broncos could use a receiving tight end for Tim Tebow. A tight end like Fleener could exploit linebackers and safeties focused on the Denver ground game. The Falcons need to think of a long-term replacement for Tony Gonzalez. The Chiefs could use another tight end as Tony Moeaki missed the season with an injury. Fleener could be a target for any of these teams on the second day of the 2012 NFL Draft.
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