2015 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Nick O’Leary

  • Receiving ability
  • Very clutch
  • Good third-down target
  • Natural, soft hands
  • Excellent down the middle seam
  • Red-zone weapon
  • Body control
  • Leaping ability
  • Makes contested catches
  • Can get separation from linebackers
  • Uses size to beat defensive backs
  • Smart at finding soft spots in zone
  • Built well
  • Quickness, surprises some defenders

  • Weaknesses:
  • Durability concerns
  • Needs to improve blocking
  • Not overly big
  • Not overly fast

  • Summary: The 2015 NFL Draft features a weak class of tight ends, but in the passing-driven NFL, there are plenty of teams that are in need of a pass-catching tight end. That helps O’Leary to potentially get drafted much earlier than he would in other years.

    O’Leary was a consistent contributor for Florida State over the last four seasons. He worked his way onto the field as a true freshman in 2011 with 12 receptions for 164 yards. While working with E.J. Manuel as a sophomore, O’Leary had better production (21-252-3). In his junior season, the Seminoles broke in new starting quarterback Jameis Winston and the passing game took off. O’Leary had 33 receptions for 557 yards and seven touchdowns for the year. He had three scores in the season opener to help Winston hit the ground running on his Heisman Trophy and National Championship campaign.

    2014 was the senior’s best season, and Winston relied on him more with an inexperienced receiving corps and Kelvin Benjamin in the NFL. O’Leary made a number of clutch catches late in games as Florida State had a lot of come-from-behind victories, including a win against Clemson when O’Leary was Mr. Clutch with Winston suspended. O’Leary totaled 48 receptions for 618 yards and six touchdowns in 2014.

    For the NFL, O’Leary is a receiving tight end who could be a solid contributor. He has excellent hands and is a good route-runner. O’Leary also operates really well running down the middle seam and has a knack for getting open. As a pro, he should be a weapon as a third-down receiver and red-zone target. His hands are extremely reliable and he makes plays in crunch time. O’Leary uses his size to beat defensive backs and can get separation from many linebackers.

    O’Leary could be best served in his role and may never be a true three-down starter. His blocking isn’t overwhelming for one. He also won’t burn good linebackers or safeties in coverage. O’Leary lack of speed could be seen in his slow Combine 40 time of 4.94 seconds. He is a polished player, but he won’t be play-making receiving tight end like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski or Vernon Davis. O’Leary would fit well with a team that has a quality blocking tight end to pair with him.

    Sources with teams believe that O’Leary could go higher than he should because this is a weak class of tight ends. O’Leary looks like a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

    Player Comparison: Heath Miller. There is a similar style of play between Miller and O’Leary. However, O’Leary is a poor man’s version of Miller. Both are skilled at working the middle of the field as receivers. Miller (6-5, 256) is bigger and more athletic. O’Leary won’t be as good as Miller, but he could be a quality contributor for many years.

    NFL Matches: New Orleans, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, New England

    There are a number of teams looking to add a tight end this offseason. The Saints could use a receiving element from the tight end position after trading away Jimmy Graham. O’Leary could be a fit with one of New Orleans’s third-round picks.

    Atlanta needs a better tight end than Levine Toilolo, as he didn’t prove to be the long-term replacement for Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons missed the future Hall of Famer, and O’Leary would be an immediate upgrade.

    The Browns lost Jordan Cameron in free agency, and O’Leary could be a quality replacement. Likewise, Denver lost Julius Thomas and Owen Daniels is not a long-term answer. O’Leary could be the best direction the Broncos have to go at the end of the Round 3.

    The Texans took a tight end in the third round last year, but C.J. Fiedorowicz is a blocking tight end. Houston wants a receiving tight end to pair with him.

    In the AFC East, the Bills could both use a receiving tight end. Buffalo needs a tight end who can be a passing weapon for its quarterback. The Bills cut Scott Chandler, and it could make sense for them to reunite E.J. Manuel with a college teammate.

    The Steelers could draft O’Leary as an understudy to veteran Heath Miller. New England has a star tight end in Gronkowski, but O’Leary could be an option to fill the role that Aaron Hernandez occupied.


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