Cincinnati Bearcats tight end Blake Annen had a fairly quiet season. He caught just 16 passes for 183 yards and a pair of touchdowns. I chalk that up to a couple of factors. First of all, Annen was transitioning from a spread offense under Butch Jones to a pro-style offense for the first third of the season under Tommy Tuberville and Eddie Gran. He’s just not built for playing close to the line of scrimmage and as such he barely came close to touching Travis Kelce‘s numbers from 2012. Secondly, with Cincinnati’s wealth of receivers in MeKale McKay, Anthony McClung, Shaq Washington, and Chris Moore, someone was bound to be the odd man out. Unfortunately that player happened to be Blake Annen. But that doesn’t mean the former ‘Cat is void of skills. Annen is an extremely athletic player and is why he should be a serious contender to get his named called during the 2014 NFL Draft.
Apparently Blake Annen is lightning quick. While he wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the Cincinnati tight end posted an impressive 4.41 Forty time at UC’s Pro Day in early March. For comparison, Clemson star wide receiver Sammy Watkins who will likely be the first wide out selected in the NFL Draft, ran a 4.43 Forty at the Combine. The drill has its critics but is the best, widely accepted evaluator of a prospect’s pure speed as they approach the Draft. It’s a shame that Annen didn’t have the opportunity to put that on display more in 2013.
Combining his speed with his sure hands and Blake Annen is a tight end built for spread offenses. Again, he didn’t have many chances to put those hands on display with UC quarterbacks targeting their wealth of options on the outside. But when Annen was given those opportunities it was many times in traffic or while being hit, and most of those times he pulled down the pass.
- Run blocking
Blake Annen’s resume is sorely lacking. I believe through no fault of his own. Regardless, his 16-183-2 line isn’t going to blow the socks off of NFL GM’s or fans. As mentioned above, scouts need to focus on his raw athleticism and by all indications that has created interested in the Cincinnati tight end. Even so, Anne’s resume is going to hurt his chances of getting drafted.
So too will his run blocking abilities. Annen is a tight end built for a spread offense. After all, he was recruited and eventually signed by Butch Jones and his staff. Annen is just too soft at the line of scrimmage and doesn’t drive through his defender using consistently proper blocking techniques. As such, it will cause teams with traditional NFL offenses to shy away from him.
I could easily seen Blake Annen getting drafted this weekend. 6’5″, 250 lbs tight ends who run 4.41 Forties don’t just grow on trees. NFL scouts just have to be drooling with the prospect of him taking the tops off of defenses down the middle of the field. I don’t think Annen goes on day one or two (maybe late day two). However Saturday might just be the Cincinnati tight end’s day as I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets his name called sometime during rounds 4-7. Expect teams with spread offenses (Saints, Patriots, Eagles, etc.) to give Annen a call as they could surely find a fit for him in their system.
Here’s some of him against the Purdue Boilermakers.