University of Albany tight end Brian Parker has scheduled a visit with the Cincinnati Bengals, according to multiple reports. Philadelphia will hold a private workout with Parker on Monday, while the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills (who visited with Parker during a regular season practice), and Seattle Seahawks are a handful of teams that sent scouts to Albany.
Head coach Greg Guttaso praised his graduating tight end for being an excellent blocker and a respectable pass catcher. "I think he’s got great potential," said Gattuso via Laura Amato with the Saratogian. "There’s just not a lot of human beings who can block a defensive end and then run down the field and make the catches he’s capable of. His combine numbers have been outstanding so there’s a few teams that are really on him and I’m glad to see that," said Gattuso. "I told him the other day, you've got to go in there and be physical. You know you can run, you know you can catch, they’re going to want to see you block one of these dudes on the end that can rush. He’s a good player."
Parker generated 39 receptions for 500 yards receiving and scored five touchdowns last season.
It's clear that the Cincinnati Bengals are doing their due-diligence in preparation of the 2015 NFL Draft -- especially at tight end with coach Jonathan Hayes hitting several locations to scout prospects. Based on the reports that we've caught (and that number could be significantly higher), we have Hayes scouting Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams, Iowa State tight end E.J. Bibbs, SIU tight end MyCole Pruitt, and Iowa's Ray Hamilton.
And where Hayes didn't personally attend (at least publicly identified), other scouts and coaches have. Maxx Williams is universally viewed as the best tight end this year and most project that Clive Walford (University of Miami) will go next after Williams. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was on hand during University of Miami's Pro Day last week.
Jeff Heuerman was an attraction at Ohio State Pro Day with a majority of Cincinnati's staff in attendance. Coaches also attended Rutgers' Pro Day where they individually met with Tyler Kroft. Depending on the source material that you're using, these four are viewed as leading tight end prospects this year.
Clearly the Bengals need to inject something new into their tight end position. Despite having Jermaine Gresham on their roster, the team drafted Tyler Eifert in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft anyway. As expected, they didn't rush to re-sign Jermaine Gresham, who recently underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc -- as has been documented countless times, this is a marriage that's clearly headed to divorce; though neither side is willing to completely close the door. Cincinnati has also expressed interest in free agent tight ends Anthony Fasano (signed with the Tennessee Titans) and Rob Housler (visited on Thursday with a contract offer from Baltimore in his pocket).
Even if the Bengals draft a tight end this year -- and we think that they will -- it would be silly to suggest that it'll happen in the first round (we said the same thing in 2013... just saying). What this boils down to is whether there are any first-round tight ends this year. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both say no -- neither featured a tight end in their most recent mock draft. Charley Casserly has Williams going to Green Bay and Rob Rang (March 28) and Pete Prisco (March 30) have Minnesota's Maxx Williams going late in the first round and well after Cincinnati picks.