Name: Jeremy Sprinkle
Position fit: In-line or “move” tight end
Stat to know: Ranked 13th in the TE draft class with an 81.0 receiving grade in 2016.
What he does best:
- Consistent hands — only dropped five catchable passes combined over the last three seasons.
- Added nearly 50 pounds to 210-pound high school frame, aiding his finishing 2016 with a pass-blocking grade greater than 80.6 in 11 of 12 games.
- Sharp cutting and decisive out of his routes.
- Quick enough to gain separation from linebackers off the line of scrimmage.
- Can use his big frame to win at the catch point.
- Athletic enough to win when lined up in the slot — 12th-highest yards generated per route run from the slot the last three years compared to draft tight ends.
- Thrives on quick cutting routes — at least 20 percent of all targets on quick outs to the flat and 25 percent on crossing routes each of the last three seasons.
- Athleticism displayed to attack the defenses second-level after collecting four of five catchable targets of 20 yards or more (averaging 26 yards per reception) since 2014.
- While his grading improved in 2016 as his pass protection snaps doubled in back-to-back seasons, over the last three years Sprinkle has averaged the 95th-ranked per-snap pass-blocking grade among draft tight ends.
- 13th-lowest run-blocking grade per snap, last three years, versus draft tight ends.
- Questionable lateral strength and balance in preventing quick outside moves.
- Unable to increase receiving totals in 2016 despite nearly doubling his passing snaps.
- Delayed offensive advancement could be the result of his backfield snaps dropping from 183 in 2015 to 2 after accumulating 25 percent of his total targets out of the backfield during 2015.
Player comparison: Julius Thomas, Miami Dolphins
Sprinkle, like Thomas, hasn’t displayed the lateral strength to maintain ground when run-blocking. Both provide adequate technique in pass protection and can be a reasonably dangerous red-zone weapon with above-average ability at quarterback. Consider that with QB Brandon Allen leading the offense, throws to Sprinkle generated a 128.8 passer rating in 2014, 122.0 in 2015, but witnessed a drop-off to 99.5 with Austin Allen under center in 2016 — Sprinkle’s “down” year.
Bottom line: Sprinkle has added the necessary bulk to play inline at the next level but, to see the field with any regularity, he will need work on his leverage to improve his blocking. He has the hands to be a threat in the passing game and significant special team experience (11 solo tackles in 2014-15 combined) that will allow him the roster time to improve his blocking mechanics.