2013 Preseason All-American Projections: Tight Ends

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2013 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and this coming fall’s stars could be the headline players next April for the 2014 NFL Draft.

First-Team Tight End: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

Seferian-Jenkins was edged out for last year’s First-Team All-American honors by Stanford tight end Zach Ertz. Both players had excellent campaigns with Ertz being a high second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Seferian-Jenkins returns to the Huskies and is undoubtably the best tight end in college football. He is an extremely rare athlete with the upside to turn into a star tight end in the NFL.

Seferian-Jenkins totaled 41 receptions for 538 yards and six touchdowns in 2011. It was an stellar debut and the freshman worked well with first-year starter Keith Price. Seferian-Jenkins continued his great play with a superb sophomore campaign despite Price having some struggles. Seferian-Jenkins caught 69 passes for 852 yards and seven touchdowns. Once again, defenses really struggled to matchup against him.

The 6-foot-6, 266-pound Seferian-Jenkins is too fast to be covered by a linebacker. He has rare speed for a large tight end and is extremely athletic. His basketball background can be seen in his agility and fluid route-running. Seferian-Jenkins’ great size makes him too big for a defensive back to cover as he can push them around and box them out for catches. Even if they run with him, Seferian-Jenkins can make catches over them.

Seferian-Jenkins hurt his draft stock and ability to win 2012 postseason honors with a DUI arrest this spring. Washington is waiting for the legal case to be completed before it decides on the junior’s status for the season opener. If Seferian-Jenkins lands a suspension, it will probably be a short one and he will have plenty of season left to prove to be the First-Team All-American.

Second-Team Tight End: Eric Ebron, North Carolina

The Tar Heels tight end is a superb athlete who has the potential for a massive junior season. Injuries forced him into double duty last year. He was the team’s second-leading receiver and also served as a pass-rush specialist coming into the game at defensive end. Ebron figures to take on a more prominent role for North Carolina in 2013 with an experienced quarterback and Giovani Bernard in the NFL.

Ebron hauled in 40 receptions for 625 yards and four touchdowns in 2012. He is very fast running through the secondary and is excellent attacking the middle of the field on slants and seam routes. Ebron operates well as a slot receiver. He needs to work on his hands and route-running, but he has great potential.

Ebron also flashes some impressive blocking ability. There are times when he rocks defenders and gets them on roller skates. Ebron (6-4, 245) has a lot of upside and could give Seferian-Jenkins a run as the First-Team All-American selection.

Third-Team Tight End: Colt Lyerla, Oregon

The Ducks have a dangerous weapon in Lyerla, but Oregon’s offense doesn’t give him the opportunities he would see in most offenses. The 6-foot-5, 246-pound Lyerla is extremely explosive as a receiver and his speed takes defenses by surprise. The Ducks focuses on getting the ball to their runners, but when the team needs a big play through the air Lyerla is an effective weapon.

Lyerla caught 25 passes for 392 yards and six touchdowns last year. The sophomore also ran the ball as a power back and totaled 77 yards on 13 carries. He was a real red-zone weapon in 2011, scoring five touchdowns despite catching only seven passes for 147 yards.

Perhaps Oregon will get Lyerla the ball with a more experienced quarterback and losing another running back to the NFL. Lyerla is capable of big production if the Ducks give him more targets.

Honorable Mentions: USC tight end Xavier Grimble, USC tight end Randall Telfer, Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, Wisconsin tight end Jacob Pederson, Florida State tight end Nick O’Leary, Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch and BYU tight end Kaneakua Friel.

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