When scouting NFL Draft prospects, there are always players who "jump off the tape" to me more than others. Why? It's tough to say. Draft scouting is a subjective field and there are hundreds of variables to consider. Within, there are going to be different biases and different priorities in terms of which skills or tools to look for at the different positions among evaluators.
This series of short scouting reports will aim to pick out a play, or a couple of plays, that jumped out to me as representations of why I am in a certain prospect's corner. It's incomplete evaluation, but meant to highlight what a player can do and why those skills might project to the NFL level.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington: 6'5, 265 pounds
Seferian-Jenkins is an interesting case. Originally projected to one day be a top-10 pick after his freshman and sophomore seasons, he fell off production-wise in 2013 and had several off-field incidents that hurt his stock.
He's currently slated as a second- or third-round pick by many outlets, but as former NFL Scout Russ Lande wrote recently, "Seferian-Jenkins will definitely be selected before the second round is over and could sneak his way into the bottom of the first round. For teams that still ask their tight ends to block at a high level, he is the tight end they will likely look toward, as his ability to dominate defenders at the point of attack is rare for a player with his receiving skills."
"ASJ" has a rare combination of fluid athleticism, body control and size, and while he may be frustrating to watch on tape at times, he is still a high-ceiling prospect.
The thought that comes to mind when I watch his tape from 2013 is that Seferian-Jenkins, at times, looks like he's loafing about, but that might just be a product of his particular gait. He's so smooth for his size, he often looks like he's jogging, but he eats up a ton of field. Watch these two throws to him up the seam, a role he'll assuredly be asked to play in the pros.
The bottom line
Seferian-Jenkins is a huge target with excellent body control, an oft-overlooked aspect to athleticism. He might not have breakaway speed or explosive acceleration, but he has the tools that every NFL coach looks for. Washington believed in his athleticism in space enough to feature him on screens. Past the ability as a move tight end though, his potential as a complete Y tight end who can line up and block in-line, but still get down the field to catch passes, is enticing.
Final note: When building their NFL Draft boards, scouting departments watch every single snap of a particular draft prospect's season. Within those hundreds of snaps, there are likely some great plays and some bad plays, and a multitude of nondescript plays in between. Scouts must determine how consistently a player can display the good traits and figure out how easily coaches can mitigate or coach out the bad. This report is just a jump off point.