On the surface, Maryland's Joey Haynos is a Ben Utecht clone, sort of.
If you are like me, you HATED the most recent Star Wars films. Attack of the Clones was especially dreadful. It was so bad I wanted to take hostages after walking out of the theater. Between Natalie Portman's fake crying and Hayden Christiansen's laughable "anger face," the very mention of the word "clone" will evoke a strong reaction from me akin to projectile vomiting.
So, why am I referencing projectile vomiting and Star Wars in a Who the hell will the draft 2008 write-up? Because Maryland's Joey Haynos is a Ben Utecht clone, folks. And I fully believe Bill Polian let Utecht go to Cincy because he intends to draft Haynos late in the draft.
Unlike Draft Tek, I do not think the Colts will draft a TE early. Guys like John Carlson and Dustin Keller are intriguing, but I would seriously lose my sh*t if Polian passed up Matt Forte or Chris Johnson for a TE, especially with a guy like Haynos available in later rounds. When looking for a #2 TE, the Colts are very particular. They are looking for a blocking TE. We've done profiles of Carlson and Kentucky TE Jacob Tamme, but neither of them are excellent blockers (especially Tamme). Haynos is an outstanding position blocker able to overpower lineman and linebackers.
A former walk-on, Haynos decided not to take basketball scholarships and focus solely on playing football. He started out as a lanky, 215 pound guy and after 4 years of college (and numerous hours in the renowned Maryland training facility) Haynos weighs in at 260 pounds, and very little of it is fat. At 6'7, he reminds virtually everyone of Ben Utecht. In fact, NFL.com's Combine analysis compares him directly to Utecht:
Compares To: BEN UTECHT-Indianapolis...Haynos is a better position blocker than Utecht, but like the Colts' tight end, he has the long reach, large hands and body control to secure a catch in a crowd.
Now, we can all debate the pros and cons of Ben Utecht. His pros were that he was an outstanding blocker and along the goal line and in the red zone, he could come through with a big catch. The cons were Utecht had trouble controlling the football, especially last season. He also got hurt. A LOT! He was so big, and played so tall, that when little guys would fly in and tackle him, he'd almost always stay down. Still, despite these cons, Utecht was a very serviceable TE, especially in short yardage, and finding a replacement is important. With Haynos, "replacement" is almost an understatement. They might have found Utecht doppelganger:
Does a good job of sinking his hips, but due to his tall frame, he looks a bit stiff when changing direction and will sometimes lose leverage as a blocker...Is good when he keeps his pads down, but when he gets too tall in his stance, his base narrows...Has improved his hand punch to counter the press, but needs to continue adding upper-body strength in order to defeat the jam at the pro level (needs better power to post up on the pro defender)...Has also shown marked improvement with his hand placement when blocking as a senior, but earlier in his career, he struggled some keeping those hands inside his framework and, when he got his hands too wide and narrowed his base, he was susceptible to the bull rush due to leverage issues.
The one area Haynos seems to deviate from Utecht is his ball control. Haynos was not known as a fumbler or a dropper in college. Haynos also has some decent speed, especially for a guy listed at 6'7:
Has the straight-ahead speed, arm extension and power to defeat the jam and prevent the defender from impeding his route...Flashes the initial quickness needed to get off the snap to gain advantage...Has the leg drive to generate additional yardage breaking arm tackles after the catch...Physical route-runner with the power to dominate larger defensive linemen and the has the short-area burst to separate from linebackers on underneath routes...Despite his tall frame, he does a good job of sinking his weight and keeping a good pad level to make proper body adjustments going for the ball in flight.
Smart, instinctive route-runner who runs crisp patterns, showing the body control to time his moves in the open...Very alert of the sideline and has enough acceleration to separate from the second-level defenders after the catch...Quick breaking off his routes when the quarterback is flushed out of the pocket.
If Haynos can learn to "play low," it will prolong his NFL by several years. Far too often, tall players are knocked out of the league because smaller guys can fly in there and damage legs, arms, ribs, and backs. That said, everything else about his receiving skills sounds excellent. He runs good routes, fights hard for the football, and has good initial quickness to get off the line separate from LBers and safeties.
Runs good crossing patterns, seams and short, inside routes with functional playing speed...Has the soft hands to catch outside his body's frame...Maintains good body control tracking the ball in flight and makes defenders fight for the ball as he uses his impressive reach to haul down the pass at its highest point...Uses his size to his advantage when going over the middle, doing a nice job of shielding the defenders from the ball.
But it is not necessarily Haynos' receiving skills that the Colts are interested in. It is Haynos' blocking that will provide the compliment to Dallas Clark that the Colts need when they go to their base 2 TE package. Dallas Clark is a fine blocker, and in some cases a dominant blocker. But Dallas' skills make a difference in the passing game. We can debate who is better, but it is clear that is that Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, and Antonio Gates are the three best TEs in football right now. However, unlike SD and Dallas, the Colts like to run a base 2 TE package. Sometimes, they switch to a 3 WRs package with Dallas Clark in the slot receiver position rather than down on the line, but most of the time the 2 TE is the base offensive package.
In the 2 TE, an important key is having a good blocking TE. For years, Ken Dilger filled this role until he retired in 2002. After Dilger, the Colts experimented with guys like Joe Dean Davenport until they finally settled on Ben Utecht, who manned the #2 TE spot for four years. The #2 TE is key because the Colts like to run the stretch run play (and other running plays) towards the stronger blocking TE. Since the Colts do not use a fullback (unless neat the goal line or short yardage), the #2 TE is responsible for blasting linemen and LBers off the line and sealing blocks to allow the RBs to get past the front line and into the second level. Haynos excels at doing exactly this:
Position-type blocker with a wide leg base and good balance...Shows the vision at the second level to be effective as a cut blocker, as he can position, change direction and sustain with good body flexibility...Will consistenly uproot the defender while firing low off the snap as a drive blocker...Shows the ability to reach and shield the opponents downfield.
He struggles some to gain leverage blocking in-line due to his size, but compensates with a strong hand punch and good hand placement.
Finally, what also stands out about Haynos is his competitiveness and character. He spurned some good basketball scholarships to play football. That tells me that this kid LOVES football, and works hard to succeed at it. He's known as a high character guy with top intangibles
, and if he went from 215 pounds to 260 pounds, that tells me he knows the work needed to get better in this league. Unlike watching Attack of the Clones again, I will not vomit if the Colts draft the Ben Utecht clone known as Joey Haynos. Haynos seems to have everything the Colts are looking for with a #2 TE, and he good develop into a better player than Utecht.