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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: TE Tony Poljan

  • The Draft Network
  • January 9, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY - TONY POLJAN

Tony Poljan went to Central Michigan to play quarterback and his career finished as a tight end at Virginia. Poljan opened the 2018 season as the Chippewas’ starting quarterback before making the switch to tight end and he eventually transferred to Virginia for the 2020 season. He had steady production in both 2019 and 2020, hauling in 33 passes for 496 yards and four touchdowns in 2019 and 38 receptions for 411 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. Poljan has the frame of a classic throwback tight end. He has the size needed to block in the trenches and challenge the middle of the field. He has sure hands and is extremely competitive. With that said, Poljan isn’t a dynamic athlete and he is tightly wound, which creates some challenges as a route-runner, winning after the catch, and producing big plays. As it stands, Poljan projects as a sound blocker that can settle in zone coverage and leak into space as a receiver while proving to be a reliable security blanket for his offense. 

Ideal Role: Developmental tight end.

Scheme Fit: 12-personnel heavy.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by: Joe Marino 

Games watched: NC State (2020), Virginia Tech (2020), Miami (2020), Duke (2020) 

Best Game Studied: Virginia Tech (2020) 

Worst Game Studied: Duke (2020) 

Hands: Poljan features secure, plucky hands and he routinely extends for the football outside of his frame. His hands are soft and the ball sticks to them. He had just six drops on 130 career targets.  

Route Running: Poljan is tightly wound and high-hipped, which presents some challenges when it comes to dynamic route-running. He lacks fluidity and separation quickness to consistently break away from coverage. Defenders are more than willing to crowd his frame, physically and cut off his angles because of the minimal risk that Poljan can pull away from them. He does know how to find space in zone and make himself available, but at the next level he’s likely going to be limited to leaking into space, working the seam, and settling into zones. 

Versatility: Poljan aligned primarily as an in-line tight end for Virginia, but Central Michigan gave him more opportunities to work from the slot and the backfield. Poljan’s frame was engineered to play in-line. He lacks the dynamic athleticism needed to be much of a threat from the slot. Poljan is a sufficient blocker. 

Competitive Toughness: Willing to make the switch from starting quarterback at Central Michigan to tight end, that transition speaks to his competitive toughness. Poljan is more than willing to block and exchange power in the trenches and battle for extra yards with the ball in his hands. With that said, adding more functional strength would be a benefit to his competitive spirit.  

Ball Skills: Poljan presents a massive catch radius to his quarterback and he showcases impressive body control at the catch point for his size. With that said, Poljan received zero targets in 2019 that were 20-plus yards down the field and didn’t haul in any of his six chances to do so in 2020. A converted quarterback, tracking, adjusting, and positioning himself to win at the catch point is a work in progress. 

Blocking Skills: Poljan is a sufficient in-line blocker and I appreciate his commitment to playing with leverage considering his tall frame. Poljan flashes when blocking on the move and he generally does well to execute under control. He had some impressive reps as a pass blocker where his length is a major asset. 

Football IQ: Poljan is new to playing tight end and that is apparent watching his tape. He often appears calculated as a route-runner. With that said, his quarterback background is an asset to him when identifying coverages and knowing where he can find space. His eight career fumbles on 83 receptions are concerning. 

RAC Ability: Poljan isn’t likely to be much of a factor after the catch in the NFL. He lacks the speed, agility, and twitch to make defenders miss and break pursuit angles. He is decisive and willing to be physical, but his long frame presents considerable surface area to defenders and he doesn’t have good contact balance. 

Pass Protection: Poljan has been surprisingly effective in pass protection where his length has proven to be a strong asset. He does well to fit his hands, extend his arms, compete to stay square, and steer rushers wide. He plays with good control at the point of attack as a pass blocker. 

Big-Play Ability: Poljan isn’t the type of dynamic athlete that can truly challenge the third level of the defense or create after the catch. He does have a massive catch radius which gives him a chance to extend vertically and come down with jump balls. Poljan had just one reception in college where he was targeted 20 yards or more down the field on 130 career targets. 

Prospect Comparison: Scott Chandler (2007 NFL Draft, Los Angeles Chargers) 

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Joe Marino: 68.5/100

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