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PFF scouting report: Cole Hikutini, TE, Louisville

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 26: Cole Hikutini #18 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Name: Cole Hikutini

School: Louisville

Position: Move tight end

Stat to know: 69 percent of his targets in 2016 came on either out routes, crossing routes or hitches.

What he does well:

  • Shows quick on hitch routes.
  • Settles into the soft spot of zones.
  • Speed looks good enough to stretch the middle of the field.
  • Athletic enough to be a mismatch against plodding linebackers in the passing game.

Biggest concerns:

  • Sloppy route-runner, a bit slow out of breaks.
  • Allows defenders through his back.
  • Too reliant on basket catches, would like to see him attack the ball out of the air more consistently.
  • Bothered by close coverage, not a great contested catcher.
  • Questionable catch radius.
  • Sets up way too high on blocks.
  • Keeps his hands too close when he’s setting up his blocks, fails to lock onto blocks as a result, easy for defenders to shed.
  • Struggles to locate assignment at second level.
  • Takes poor angles when blocking on the move.
  • Tendency to lead with his shoulder into blocks rather than squaring up and using his hands.

Player comparison: Tim Wright, free agent

Wright’s ineffectiveness as a run-blocker – prior to him getting injured – was likely one of the primary reasons why he sparingly saw the field as he transitioned from wide receiver to tight end during his rookie minicamp. When Wright is on the field he’s a legitimate receiving option on passing plays, but rarely is he the focal point. Hikutini is going to enter the league in a similar spot. Hikutini is a fine receiving option, but he isn’t an overly dynamic player who offenses can build around; and at the same time he needs a tremendous amount of work as a run-blocker, and until he shows great improvements in that part of his game he may struggle to see the field.

Bottom line: Hikutini shows some potential as a receiving option, but as of now he’s not dominant enough in that aspect of his game to makeup for how much he’d likely struggle as a run blocker. Hikutini will likely need to show that he can contribute on special teams initially if he’s going to have a shot at making a game-day roster; and if he can make strides as a run-blocker he could be a decent move tight end down the road.

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