NAME: Kendall Blanton
POSITION: Tight End
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 11
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 260 lbs
Route-Running – Big-time throttle-down as a route runner into his breaks. Doesn’t drop the pad quickly and shows very little deceptive footwork to throw off defenders in man coverage. Slow out of his breaks, patterns are often rounded off. Doesn’t seem to possess a great feel as a receiver for where routes should break.
Ball Skills – Flashes of high-point ability and the ability to adjust outside his frame for tough catches. Have seen full extension high point grabs and have watched him go low to dig out poor throws as well. Still, unneeded jumps when he catches the ball at times suggests a lack of confidence in his hands and has dropped a few despite minimal targets.
Speed – Long strider with some build-up speed, but doesn’t have the easy access burst to allow him to separate at the top of the route. Slow push off the line of scrimmage into his routes. When he opens up, he can test linebackers up the seam. Bet he runs in the 4.7s and the 10 isn’t anything to write home about.
Run Blocking – Poor technique as an in-line blocker. Lunges into contact and drops his eyes. Winds up his punch which allows opponent to get hands on first and gain early control. Lacks the strength to really handle defensive ends even on simple seal blocks. Does a good job of working down to the second level and latching on to contact, staying under control in approaching his target. Technique varies some and he can get tossed by smaller defenders who bring the fight to him and get inside his pads. Struggles to stay on and finish, but seems fairly physical. Has flashes of good technique against smaller defensive ends that reveals promise. When defenders try to slip by him, does show enough athleticism to adjust quickly and get enough of them to keep the play on schedule.
Contested Catch – Just 44 catches over the past three seasons, and not many catches or targets could be described as contested. Made one nice adjustment around a defender in the Oklahoma State game this year, digging out a low throw from Lock for a touchdown. Has the length, strength and high-point ability to project well in this area.
YAC – Haven’t seen anything from him in this area. Not elusive or explosive post-catch. Tried to hurdle a defender against Georgia, and it did not go well. Don’t expect him to ever be more than a fall forward guy post-catch.
Separation Quickness – Minimal separation out of his route breaks. Seems to lack the flexibility to drop his hips, sink quickly and explode out of his break. Upright, rounded patterns make him fairly easy to mirror. Doesn’t sell vertically or force defensive backs to open up early. Looks like he’s walking through patterns at times. Inability to separate with his feet has led to push-offs at the top of his routes.
Pass Protection – Not heavily utilized as a pass protector in the games I studied, but actually handled his business far better here than in the run game. Gets knocked back initially by power, but good job sinking his hips and re-directing his hands inside. Will update as I see more Missouri games.
Competitive Toughness – Nothing stands out tremendously in this regard, and he works diligently as a blocker despite his flaws. Is he overly physical or aggressive? No, but I have a hard time criticizing his play temperament based on what I’ve seen either.
Athleticism/Size – Outstanding size and length for the position, with a well-built frame and vines for arms. Athletic testing will be critical to his draft stock, but doesn’t appear to be a standout athlete or particularly fast from his tape.
BEST TRAIT – Size/Length
WORST TRAIT – Separation Quickness/Route Running
RED FLAGS – None
If you were going to create a tight end in Madden, he would probably look exactly like Blanton. If you were going to draft a tight end in real life, he would probably play very little like Blanton. The chiseled 6-foot-6 tight end is going to wow teams with his length and frame at the Shrine Game, but he’s a non-explosive athlete with little production as a receiver due to his inability to get open.
Billed as a blocking tight end, Blanton actually struggles consistently as an in-line blocker, and has received plenty of opportunity as a receiver, even from a flexed position in the slot. If he tests well, I can see a team taking a late day three flier on developing him to be an adequate depth tight end.