Reporting Nate Griffin
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HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) The 2013 NFL Draft provided several options for the position of tight end. It turns out, tight end was a position of need for the Houston Texans. Former Notre Dame TE, Tyler Eifert, considered the best tight end prospect in the draft, was the only TE taken prior to the Texans making Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins their first selection with the 27th pick of the first round.
Still, General Manager Rick Smith and Head Coach Gary Kubiak had a couple of good NFL-sized tight ends right in their own back yard in Rice’s Vance McDonald, drafted by the San Francisco 49’ers in the second round, and Luke Willson, drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 5th round.
However, the Texans rolled the dice and addressed positions of dire need before drafting an under-the-radar prospect in 6’6” 247-pound, Ryan Griffin out of UConn. Griffin could be the steal of the Texans draft class. If so, what a roll. Yes, Griffin is the third TE behind Pro-Bowler Owen Daniels and 3rd year up-and-comer, Garrett Graham.
But, what was missing from the Texans offense in 2012 was a legitimate red-zone-target. They sorely miss Joel Dreessen, also a 6th round pick, who was their red-zone-target-extraordinaire and an excellent blocking tight end. He parlayed his 2011 performance of 353 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns into a multi-year deal with Peyton Manning and John Elways’ Denver Broncos. The Texans are still looking for a replacement. Griffin could help to fill that void.
REALLY GOOD RUNNER
The highlight of Griffin during UConn’s in-game action indicates that he’s got the skills the Texans covet. He comes to the Texans after compiling 1500 career receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 48 games for the Huskies. While at UConn, Griffin showed the ability to turn a short pass into a big gain as his long of 74 indicates in the video.
This past week at training camp somewhat allowed the Rookie to showcase those talents and turn heads while the Texans number-two tight end was absent.
“Garrett (Graham) happened to be sick a couple of days. So, I got some reps with the 1’s and it’s good getting that timing down if I were to get in,” says Griffin. “So, the quarterbacks have been playing great this camp and it’s a different world from college – tighter windows, you got to get your head around, and really get it done.”
Griffin’s ability didn’t go unnoticed according to the Texans Head Coach.
“I think he surprises how well he runs,” says Kubiak. “We knew he was a good physical player. I think he runs better than we might have thought initially. So, that was a plus.”
The Texans like their tight ends to have good blocking skills, especially since, in 2012, they ran the football 69% of the time. That’s not a secret, by the way, and Griffin knows that. Therefore, in addition to his ball skills, he is ready to handle the task.
“I’m here to do whatever they ask me to do,” says Griffin. “So, if Koobs, (Kubiak), wants me to block, if he wants me to kick field goals, I’ll do that. So, the fact that I can run routes, I can do it. But, if he needs me to block, I’ll do that too.”
“We’re excited,” says Head Coach Gary Kubiak. “To get a talent like that, (in the 6th round), we feel very good about it. He fits the mold of what we’ve had here that have been successful for us. Would like to keep some of this weight on him – he’s got good size. But, he’s been impressive.”
Kubiak mentioned keeping weight on his rookie tight end which definitely means blocking assignments. It’s known that NFL tight ends are extensions of offensive linemen anyway. So, while most receiving types such as tight ends and wide receivers would rather catch the ball, Griffin knows there’s no avoiding the job assignment of blocking.
“I’m just a rookie out here. I’m not expecting anything crazy. I’m just here to do what they tell me and maybe down the road, if they feel like I can catch the ball, then I can catch the ball. But, right now, I’m just trying to keep my ears open and mouth shut!”
That’s a noble workmanlike concept that should turn out well for Griffin.
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