NFL Draft Scout:
Kendricks is the fourth straight Wisconsin tight end expected to be drafted, following Owen Daniels (2006, fourth round, Texans), Travis Beckum (2009, third, Giants) and Garrett Graham (2010, fourth, Texans). The success he's seen as a pass catcher was no surprise, as he earned recognition as one of the top wide receiver prospects in the nation (and an outstanding long jumper in AAU and high track) out of high school.
His contributions were limited in his first two seasons, however, redshirting in 2006 and playing in only one contest the following year after moving from receiver to tight end in the spring. As a sophomore, Kendricks got into eight games, making six catches for 141 yards and played in the team's Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State despite sitting out the last month of the regular season with a broken fibula. In 2009, he started nine games, caught 29 passes for 356 yards and scored three touchdowns (including 7-128 in the Champs Sports Bowl win over Miami (Fla.) Kendricks also rushed seven times on reverses (called "H-arounds" by offensive coordinator Paul Chryst) for 102 yards on the year.
Despite Kendricks' All-American and first-team All-Big 10 senior season (43-661-5), some scouts will discount his ability to be a playmaker at the next level because of his average speed and lean frame. His ability to stretch defenses with length, and underrated willingness to block, could earn him at least frequent usage in two tight-end sets at the next level -- if not a starting job.
Release: Gets off the line in a hurry, providing a legitimate deep threat down the seam. Adept at block-and-release (though strong linebackers can get him off his route), gets out into space on bootlegs. Sidesteps defensive ends and uses stop-go move to free himself of nickel backs and linebackers at the line. Will hop at the snap before moving at times when lined up in the slot. One-gear runner, though, without the breakaway speed to separate from NFL nickel backs and safeties off the line.
Hands: Has the hands of a former wide receiver, snatches passes away from his frame and tracks balls over either shoulder. Extends to bring down high passes and is quite adept going down and getting his hands underneath low throws over the middle. Has dropped a few passes during his career, needs to improve his concentration when hearing footsteps and make the grab before running upfield to be considered an elite prospect. Wins jump balls with nice vertical and length.
Route running: His quickness and size gives offensive coordinators the flexibility to run him down the seam, over the middle, in the flat and down the sideline. Difficult for linebackers to stay with him over the middle and almost always has a height mismatch against defensive backs. Finds the soft spot in front of linebackers on crossing routes. Quick feet and fluid hips for cuts, though some out routes are rounded off. Aware of the sideline, grabs out routes then stops to proceed upfield.
After the catch: One of the few tight ends in recent memory that has the speed and elusiveness to earn carries on reverses. Good straight-line speed (though not elite), body control and balance for the position. Catches-and-runs like a large receiver. Change directions in mid-stride and is able to cut inside oncoming defenders to avoid their tackles. Hangs onto the ball in traffic. Runs tougher than expected, carrying tacklers a few yards when possible, though he lacks great lower body strength and better defenders get low to win the leverage battle against NFL defenders.
Blocking: Gives good effort as a run blocker from the H-back or moving tight end spots, has better upper-body build than expected given his frame. Understands blocking angles to create rushing lanes. Walls off backside ends when in motion, can set his feet and anchor. Blocks inside from motion near the goal line, willing to make contact and keep legs churning to move his man back. Lacks the strength to block NFL ends in-line, however, and is shed by smaller, stronger defenders in the open field after initial contact because they knock away his hands. Crosses his feet at times when fighting off edge rushers from three-point stance, will struggle to recover at the next level.
Intangibles: Has taken over as leader among skill position players as a senior. Coaches lauded him for his preparation before their 2009 bowl game. Left fibula broken while blocking on run play in November 2008, returned for bowl game.
National Football Post:
Positives: Athletic... Plays faster than timed speed... Gets off the LOS quickly... Good short area quickness... Reaches top speed quickly... Can get separation... Good flexibility, body control and balance... Good receiver... Finds holes in zone coverage... Adjusts to the ball well... Good but inconsistent hands... Can stretch the field... Good receiver... Physical... Runs hard... Does not go down easy... Strong stiff arm... Will break some tackles... Breaks down reasonably well and can generally hit a moving target... Takes good angles... Plays with reasonably good leverage... Coming from a run-first program that has produced many quality tight ends in recent memory... Well-rounded player... Could also be considered as an H-Back, fullback and slot receiver... Selected All-Big Ten first team for the 2010 season... Was one of the fastest tight ends in the shuttle and put up 25 reps on the bench at the combine.
Negatives: Has a tendency to tip his breaks... Makes some catches with his body... Inconsistent concentration... Had several drops during combine workouts... Adequate in-line blocker... Doesn't play to his weight room strength... Doesn't generate much power... Can be pushed back and can be driven off the ball.
Lacks ideal size for the position, but is an impressive motion man who can be moved around the offense and routinely create mismatches in the pass game. Exhibits a good initial burst off the line with his hand in the ground. Takes a positive first step into his routes, cleanly is able to slip defenders and accelerates quickly down the field. Runs well vertically, has the ability to consistently threaten the seam and looks natural adjusting to throws and plucking the football away from his frame. Is an above-average route runner at this stage who exhibits the balance and body control to quickly get out of his breaks and accelerate away from man coverage. Has a tendency to start to drift into his routes and will show his breaks a bit early, but uses his frame well to shield defenders from the throw. Also, possesses a good feel for zone coverage, knows how to find soft spots and quickly get his head around in search of the throw. Demonstrates the coordination and body control to consistently adjust to the throw and displays soft hands when asked to reel in the tough grab.
Exhibits a willingness to block as a motion man, takes good angles into contact and can consistently kick out defenders on contact on the move. Now, isn't going to drive anyone off the football in the run game and is rarely run behind, but is athletic and long enough to quickly get around reach blocks and seal off the edge.
Impression: Looks like the next talented Wisconsin tight end to come out of the program. Lacks ideal size, but can be a tough cover in the pass game and knows how to get around blocks and seal in the run game. I don't think if he will ever be a legit starting "on the line Y" in the NFL, but he certainly has the ability to make his way onto the field and create plays in the pass game at a variety of positions.
It's not a wide receiver, but he's still a good potential big target for Sam Bradford.
Strengths: Kendricks is a good athlete with acceleration, speed and hands to make big plays as a receiver and blocker. Once he gets moving he can accelerate to full speed fast and has gets separation deep down the seam. He flashes the quickness to burst out of cuts to separate from defenders. He has good hands and, combined with concentration and body control, has shown the ability to adjust to catch off-target passes. He is a competitive runner after the catch and has a good stiff arm. He has good strength and blocks much bigger than his measured size. Is an aggressive on down/side blocks and can drive DL down the line of scrimmage to open up holes. He is productive as the lead blocker in the hole when he lines up as fullback. No doubt he’s smart because he lines up in a variety of spots (H-back, TE, FB, slot WR) and does not make mental mistakes.
Weaknesses: Kendricks is a bit of a “tweener” as he lacks ideal size for an in-line tight end, but plays best from that alignment. While he has good build for an H-back, he is not as effective blocking out in the open field as he is in-line. While he has good speed in routes and can get open, he is an upright route runner and looks mechanical running routes, so he will struggle to consistently get separation vs. NFL defenders. Against tight man-to-man coverage he does not use his body well to shield defenders, which allows defenders to stay right on his back. He does not do a good job of working back to the QB or catching the ball away from his body vs. tight coverage.
Bottom line: Kendricks is a two-year starter at tight end/H-back for the Badgers. He is undersized for a true on the line of scrimmage tight end and lacks the speed to compete as a wide receiver at the next level. He has a long torso build with shorter legs. He is a good overall athlete with good play speed, good lower body flexibility, and good agility in his play. He does a consistent job of leading through the hole, striking, and sustaining blocks downfield against members of the secondary. However, despite being a productive in-line run blocker, he lacks the bulk and the strength to be a power run blocker at the point of attack in the NFL. He shows only average overall awareness as a receiver. He looks like a robot in his routes, after showing good initial quickness in his release. Overall, Kendricks reminds me a lot of former Badgers tight end Travis Beckum. Beckum has really struggled to establish himself as a productive NFL player, which is why I cannot give Kendricks a high grade. In time I believe Kendricks will become a contributing H-back, but will never be elite.
Pick Analysis: Steve Spagnuolo adds arguably the most athletic tight end in the draft to his lineup. He is a legitimate vertical threat with the size and speed to stretch the defense. He also is a capable blocker with the strength to control defenders at the point. Although the Rams still need to add another receiver, Kendricks gives Sam Bradford a dynamic weapon to target over the middle.
Rams take TE Lance Kendricks in second round
BY TOM TIMMERMANN
STLtoday.com | Posted: Friday, April 29, 2011 6:02 pm
The Rams chose tight end Lance Kendricks from Wisconsin with the 47th pick overall in the second round of the NFL draft.
"We think he'll be a valuable weapon in this offense," Rams GM Billy Devaney said. "Everybody was excited about the thought of this guy being here. He went about the range we thought he would. We thought about moving up to get him, but it got to the point, he was within range, so we said, let's wait and he was there when we picked. We feel fortunate.
"He's really athletic, he's got great hands, he's extremely smart. He can run, he has good speed. We can use him in a lot of ways, on the line off the line, in the backfield. There are a lot of places we can use the guy."
"He gives you the flexibility to do some different things," coach Steve Spagnuolo said.
Kendricks said he was surprised to be chosen by the Rams, who had spoken to him only once. He came to Wisconsin as a receiver before becoming a tight end, so he feels he can play more than one position.
"I would say I'm pretty knowledgable (about being a receiver)," he said. "I came in as a receiver, and as I went on with my career, I got moved to tight end, but I still did a lot of recevier work. I'm pretty knowledgable about it.
"I take a lot of pride in things such as blocking. I can line up in the slot or as a true tight end. I take lot of pride in that."
He said he's lined up as a slot mostly to go in motion for a blocking assignment. He also said he needs to work on his running after the catch and being more elusive.
Kendricks had 43 catches for 663 yards as a senior and was a finalist for the Mackey Award as one of the nation's top tight ends. He averaged 15.44 yards per catch.
Kendricks is 6-2, 241 pounds.
He's considered an aggressive player with good hands, though his body seems more like a receiver than a tight end.
NFLdraftscout.com ranked him the second-best tight end in the draft. He ran a 4.65 in the 40 at the combine. He was projected in most draft forecasts as a third-round choice.
Kendricks has had a brush with the law. While in college, he caught driving a moped with his alcohol level over the legal limit. "We talked about that," Devaney said. "We feel fine about the person."
The Rams have one more pick tonight -- in the third round, No. 78 overall. Devaney said the Rams had talked to teams about moving up, but there were enough players that they were still high on available that they felt they could stay where they were.