While Tyler Eifert is immensely talented, his durability will always leave doubts. Eifert has missed more games in his career than he has played, which is why he was only re-signed to a one-year deal this offseason. Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah both are set to hit free agency in 2019, too. That means tight end could be a position the Bengals are eyeing in the 2018 NFL Draft.
One of the top rated prospects at the tight end position in this year’s draft is Penn State’s Mike Gesicki. Towering at six and a half feet tall, Gesicki gave his quarterback an easy target over the last two seasons. He led the Nittany Lions’ offense in receptions and was tied for the lead in touchdowns. If the Bengals are serious about fixing the offense, Gesicki is a prospect the team will want to consider. But, it will come with a likely Day 2 draft pick.
Weight: 252 pounds
College: Penn State
Projected Round: Second Round
Receptions: 129 career; 54 in 2017
Yards: 1,481 career; 563 in 2017
Touchdowns: 15 career; 9 in 2017
40-yard dash: 4.54
Bench press: 22 reps
Vertical jump: 41.5”
Broad jump: 129”
3-cone drill: 6.76 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.1 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 11.33 seconds
First and foremost, Gesicki has hops. In addition to his 6’6” frame, he can high-point the ball as well Julio Jones or DeAndre Hopkins. Playing basketball and volleyball in high school has helped him develop the ability to extend every inch of his body to make a perfectly timed grab. His leaping abilities help make him seem even taller, as if he wasn’t big enough. When Gesicki lines up, he demands attention because of the aerial threat he is.
Not only can his hands reach higher than anyone else’s, but they are the perfect combination of soft and strong. He doesn’t drop the ball and he is strong enough to make contested catches. Once he gets a full head of steam, he can run routes all over the field. He is most dangerous up the seam, but he also run shorter routes near the line of scrimmage and longer routes up the sideline. The Bengals might consider going with Gesicki to boost their passing game, which is the reason they drafted John Ross in the first round last year. Imagine him out there with Eifert in 2018?!
His route running is not perfect, however. His lanky frame does not move quickly. He lacks explosiveness, so he needs a few steps to really get into his routes. Once he reaches top speed, he can run his routes just fine. But if he is jammed at the line of scrimmage, he will basically be taken out of the play.
As much of a lateral contribution Gesicki would add, he would do little to help the running game. His run blocking is hit-or-miss; either he makes the key blocks that the backs squeeze past or he blows his assignment that ends up in a loss on the play. Because of his inconsistence in the run game and his lack of quickness, he brings little to the table in short-yardage situations. That’s actually quite similar to Eifert.
While he would provide a deep passing weapon, his short yardage weaknesses diminish his value as a starter. Gesicki would likely be best utilized as a second-string tight end in long-yardage packages to start off his career. And with that said, someone with this limited of a skill set might be a bit of a reach in the second round of the draft.
Considering the Bengals are waiting to see if Eifert can stay healthy in 2018, Gesicki is unlikely to end up in Cincinnati. But, the team who gets him will likely use him much like the Bengals use Eifert. He could shine in the right situation.