The New Orleans Saints have the 27th overall pick in next month's 2018 NFL Draft, and with the annual event now just 4 weeks away, the team appears to be poised to address one of their biggest positions of need: the tight end position.
As most Saints fans are probably aware by now: New Orleans "took a run" at former Saints and Seattle Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham, but he ultimately chose to sign with the Green Bay Packers on 3-year $30 million-dollar deal. The Packers 'out-bid' the Saints for Graham's services, according to several reports.
In the end, the Saints were simply just not willing to go above the $10 million a year premium; while the Packers quickly swooped in and decided to "pony up the bucks" for the stand-out red zone target. Nevertheless, Graham seemingly was the only free agent tight end that the Saints targeted.
They did actually express interest in former New York Jets TE Austin Serfarian-Jenkins. but he never met with the team. Ultimately, Serfarian-Jenkins signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With all of the "good" TE's that were available in Free Agency now 'off the board', the Saints undoubtedly look to be waiting to address the position in next month's Draft, which this year just happens to be a slightly bit deeper class at the position than normal.
There are two tight ends in particular at the moment that a large portion of 'Who Dats' who follow the Draft closely each year, would love to see end up wearing the Black and Gold with the 27th overall pick: South Dakota State University tight end Dallas Goedert (pronounced GOD-ert) and Penn State University tight end Mike Gesicki.
If the Saints actually decide to fill the need at tight end with either player, which one is the better "fit" in the Saints high-powered offensive attack?
This morning, I'll take a quick look at the two players and compare them, before rendering my verdict at the end of the article......
DALLAS GOEDERT, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
When you watch film of Goedert, the first thing you see is how athletic he is. Not every 6-foot-5, 255 pound man can move like he can. Goedert has often been compared to Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce throughout the Draft process so far.
Goedert is a strong red zone threat, "chain-mover" and an every down mismatch. As comparisons go: Kelce and Goedert are very similar in height. but NFL scouts have said they’d like to see Goedert put on some more weight.
Goedert has a good frame, but lower body strength is important. Throughout his 4-year college career, he was dominant at times for the Jackrabbits. In 2016, Goedert racked up 1,293 yards on 92 catches, with 11 touchdowns in 13 games as a junior.
His senior season last year saw his numbers decrease slightly, but yet they still were still "game-changing", with 72 receptions, 1,111 yards and 7 scores. The Jackrabbits game plan revolved around Goedert, doing everything they could to get him the ball. Goedert even had 4 carries for 15 yards and a touchdown as a fullback on a few plays.
Goedert's ball skills are excellent, and he can work all three levels of an NFL defense with dominance. His ability to make spectacular catches is the reason fans from some NFL team will love him on Day #1. Goedert didn’t always need two hands to come down with every ball, and a few of his well-documented, circus-like, one-handed grabs are the stuff associated with the legends of the sport.
He plays the game like a big wide receiver and has a knack for finding holes in a defense and getting open. But because he is from a "small school", it is yet to be determined if the lack of competition that he had at SDSU will translate to the NFL. Nevertheless, his ability to be a dominate red zone target will be his strong suit in the NFL.
The lack of film of his pass-blocking could be one of those factors that has him fall to the Saints at #27. He wasn’t asked to do a lot of traditional blocking; and when he did block, it was out in space or downfield and he has bad tendencies to grab and whiff on 2nd level blocks. Goedert's NFL role will certainly be one of a receiving tight end, not an every down guy but a passing threat and will have to work on his blocking technique.
Bottom line: Goedert could become Jimmy Graham, Part Deux (that's 'Part 2' for our English-speaking readers) for the Saints. I believe Goedert is a late 1st round pick, or a 2nd round steal.
MIKE GESICKI , PENN STATE
Mike Gesicki and Dallas Goedert have very similar games, almost identical. But beyond ANY shadow of a doubt: Gesicki is hands-down, the more "athletic" out of the two.
Going into his first season at Penn State, Gesicki was a Rivals.com High School All-American Top 15 prospect at tight end, state of New Jersey Player of the Year, his high school’s all-time basketball leading scorer, the state "slam dunk" champion and a 4-time letter-winner in volleyball. All these awards demonstrate his breath-taking athleticism.
At Penn State, Gesicki used his big body and soft hands to catch 48 passes for 679 yards and 5 touchdowns last season as a senior. These numbers don’t compare to Goedert, but keep in mind: the nations top player, RB Saquaon Barkley, was in the Penn State backfield and the Nittany Lion offense was centered around his abilities in the running game.
Gesicki's route running ability is better than Goedert's, and he has better strides and can create separation. Watching his film of his past two seasons, you won’t find a single time that he drops a catchable ball. He has the best hands out of any tight end in this year’s draft. His ability to high point passes and make catches with defenders draped on him makes him one of the top prospects in the draft.
However, Gesicki is 10 pounds lighter than Goedert, which may be considered a negative. He is very thin for an NFL tight end and must fill himself out in the weight room (or if he ends up in NOLA: he might want to hit the supply of beignets at the Café Du Monde).
In the run game, he doesn’t use his hands well and struggles to sustain blocks on legit edge rushers. His strength his below average and the club that drafts him will put him in the weight room right after he steps off the plane. Both Gesicki and Goedert struggle in the blocking game, although both could improve in the right system and with some proper coaching technique.
Bottom line: Gesicki is probably THE most athletic TE in the entire class and is essentially a giant-sized wide receiver playing the TE position. But he needs to bulk up a bit more and his blocking skills are far below average, which very well could become a major liability for him once he gets to the professional level.
Which brings us to......
WHO'S THE BETTER "FIT" FOR THE SAINTS — GESICKI OR GOEDERT?
"With the 27th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select....Dallas Goedert, tight end, South Dakota State."
If Dallas Goedert falls into New Orleans' lap, then they shouldn't hesitate to pick him — especially if there’s not anyone else that they like more.
Goedert has more NFL upside than Gesicki because of his red zone threat, and he’s stronger physically. Gesicki tends to get pushed off routes, while Goedert dominates his match-ups and will be an NFL mismatch on Day #1.
Gesicki will likely be a mid-2nd round pick, but if the Saints decide to go elsewhere at the 27th pick (like an EDGE pass-rusher), they could potentially trade back in to the 2nd to select the Penn State alumnus (remember: the Saints do not have 2nd round pick due to a trade up with the San Francisco 49ers last season to pick University of Tennessee RB and eventual NFL Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara).
The Saints struggled on 3rd down and in the red zone last season, and Goedert would be a huge help. He would open up the seams downfield on 3rd down, and catch back-shoulder fades from Drew Brees in the redzone just like in 2011 (when Brees would just throw an "alley-oop" to Jimmy Graham for an easy 6 points).