Missouri has produced some very good players in its history that have had a lot of success in the National Football League, but no one has been better than Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, Sr. Winslow, who was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the first round (13th overall) of the 1979 NFL Draft, redefined the tight end position. Not only could Winslow block and provide protection for his quarterback, but he also had the speed to be a vertical threat in the passing game.
The Tigers feature two tight ends in their offense today that are considered to be two of the best at the position in the collegiate ranks. Senior Martin Rucker and junior Chase Coffman have the skills to be elite performers at the next level and have displayed their dynamic abilities while sharing the load in Missouri's high-powered offense. With an offense that features one of the best quarterbacks in the country, junior Chase Daniel, Missouri has averaged 40-points a game this season.
Missouri is currently ranked 13th in the country and their success is a credit to the offense's ability to post astronomical numbers. The Tigers offense may lose a lot of its potency next season, especially if some of their underclassmen, Coffman and Daniel, decide to enter next April's draft. If Missouri continues its impressive play this season and climbs up the rankings in hopes of a possible high bowl bid, the decision for Coffman and Daniel becomes much clearer.
Here's a look at Missouri's potential draft class and where I project them to
land next April:
TE, Chase Coffman (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 1st-2nd Round
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 245
Coffman is a great all-around tight end who has the complete package. He's a tremendous pass catching tight end who has excellent instincts. He gets a fluid release off the line of scrimmage, runs solid routes, and finds an opening over the middle to give the quarterback a reliable target. He has soft hands and uses his body to his advantage to shield defenders away from him. He's an outstanding athlete who makes smooth adjustments to errant throws and is able to make tough catches in traffic. He breaks down well as a blocker and has great technique in pass protection. He stays square to the opposition and keeps the defender in front of him. He struggles at times in running situations, but is able to hold his own. Coffman is only a junior and he may decide to stay at Missouri for his senior season. But if he enters next April's draft, he'll be a late first- or early second-round selection.
TE, Martin Rucker (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 2nd Round
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 255
A big, physical tight end, Rucker is a polished tight end who presents a mismatch for defenses. He's got great size, good speed, and is very athletic. He gets a good release off the line of scrimmage and runs good routes. He has strong, soft hands and makes tough catches in traffic. He has great eye/hand coordination and makes a majority of his receptions with his hands -- he doesn't catch the ball with his body. He doesn't have elite speed, but he's able to get vertical and make plays downfield. He has a solid burst off the line and is quick into his blocks. He's a good blocker, but has to work on his technique. Rucker is a solid tight end who will be a great offensive weapon at the next level. He's a great asset for an offense and a player a quarterback can rely on. He's a solid second-round pick for a team looking for an instant starter at tight end.
C, Adam Spieker (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 2nd Round
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 305
Spieker is a big, tough, physical interior lineman who is a tremendous leader. He has a wide base, stays square to his defender and drives off the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. He delivers a devastating initial punch that jolts defenders. He has strong hand placement and solid technique and can hold the opposition at the line without any penetration. He has good lateral movement and is able to take on multiple defenders. He understands everyone's assignment on the offensive line and makes good decisions signaling blocking schemes. Spieker's leadership ability and fundamental game are key attributes for being a solid player at the next level. He's the top center in the country and a likely early to mid-second-round draft pick.
QB, Chase Daniel (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 225
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Daniel is a smart field general who possesses a great feel for the game. He's a teriffic athlete who's able to escape the pocket and make plays on the run. He displays great touch and accuracy on his throws and delivers the ball with a quick release. He shows patience in the pocket, buys time with his legs and waits for receivers to get open. He has a nice sense of timing, leads receivers in the short field and can air the ball out vertically for big gains. He has good speed and picks up positive yards on the ground. Daniel is in the mold of a Drew Brees. He doesn't have ideal height, but he's a smart player who makes accurate reads and is able to find passing lanes through the trees. Daniel is only a junior and it appears he'll stay in school for his senior season. But if he declares for the 2008 draft, he'll be a third-round selection.
WR, William Franklin (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 3rd-4th Round
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 205
Franklin is a good receiver with nice speed and reliable hands. He has a lot of skills and can beat you on intermediate routes or vertically. He's a strong, physical receiver who doesn't shy away from contact. He gets off the line really well and runs good routes. He makes tough catches in traffic and shows consistency catching the ball. He's a solid downfield blocker and will sacrifice his body for his team. Franklin is a good receiver who's been a consistent performer through his career. He offers a team at the next level a quality third receiver in an offense and may develop into a No. 2 receiver. He's an early second-day pick.
CB, Darnell Terrell (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 205
Terrell is a big, physical corner who has good instincts and awareness in the secondary. He jams receivers at the line of scrimmage and stalls their release. He uses his big frame to his advantage in coverage and matches up well with bigger receivers. He takes good angles and has good closing speed. He has good ball skills and will also defend against the run. He has to improve his footwork and position himself better in coverage. He struggles against speedy receivers, but impedes their progress at the line of scrimmage. Terrell is better suited to play safety in the NFL. He has a lot of skills and is physically imposing. He has a chance to develop into a nice player and will be a mid-round selection.
OT, Tyler Luellen (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 5th-6th Round
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 295
A very talented, tough offensive tackle, Luellen has played through various injuries during his collegiate career. He has great size and good lateral movement and positions himself well in protection. He has good hand placement and is able to fight off fast defensive ends. He's alert and patient, but he's also a nasty blocker who finishes off defenders. He extends his hands effectively and provides the quarterback with reliable blind side protection. He has to work on his upper-body strength and his run blocking. Luellen is an interesting mid-round selection who is still developing. He has good overall skills, but he has to stay healthy and get stronger.
DT, Lorenzo Williams (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 6th Round-UFA
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 295
Williams is a very good pass rushing defensive tackle who plays with a high motor. He gets off the snap quickly and gains leverage on the opposition. He plays low to the ground and is able to wiggle through the line, get in the backfield and make plays. He has good lateral movement and a strong inside move. However, he gets fatigued as the game goes on. He depends on his quickness off the line and doesn't shed blocks well if the opposition jolts him first. Williams is a good lineman who can make plays in the backfield but is most effective as a situational player. He can give a team a spark but isn't an every down tackle at the next level. Williams will be a late-round pick or a possible undrafted free agent.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.