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2015 NFL Draft Profile: Southern Illinois TE MyCole Pruitt

The redshirt senior made a splash at the combine. Let's check out what exactly NFL scouts love about him.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

MyCole Pruitt was seen by many draft nerds as an under-the-radar prospect for the 2015 NFL draft for much of this offseason. Those "sleeper" labels went out the window after the combine in February.

Pruitt had arguably the best combine out of any tight end in the draft, posting the fastest 40-yard dash (4.58) and highest vertical jump (38 inches). That got the NFL's attention. Once the scouts and GMs turned on the tape, they realized Pruitt can ball too.

Pros

Pruitt was the most productive tight end in the FCS over the last two years. Last season alone, he had 81 catches, 861 yards, and 13 touchdowns, leading all FCS tight ends in each category (He got those numbers with some absolutely dreadful QB play by the way, but that's for another day).

Aside from being supremely athletic, Pruitt is a very smart player, specifically when it comes to running routes and understanding defenses.

Watch how he freezes the safety in that gif. The safety bites on the double move because Pruitt had run about 20 short out routes from the slot prior to this play. Pruitt recognized that, and used it to his advantage. Smart play, excellent execution.

Pruitt has excellent hands, pretty good ball skills for a guy his size (6'2" 251-lb), and shows some potential to be a pretty good in-line blocker (more on that in a second). Combine that with the the football IQ he flashes, and you have the makings of a pretty solid #1 tight end.

Cons

I mentioned that he has potential as a blocker. Right now, that's about all it is. When he wants to, he can move a DE off the line of scrimmage and get a good push. Other times, this happens:

If he really commits to it (and adds 10-15 pounds to his frame), he can be a fine enough blocker at the next level, but it's never going to be his strong suit - which is fine. What is more concerning is what seems to be a lack of effort at times. When a play is clearly not designed for him, or it's obvious that the QB isn't looking at him, Pruitt tends to shut down on routes. One play I saw, the QB did end up throwing to him and it got intercepted and ran back for a touchdown.

That is the type of thing that NFL teams are able to become way more informed about than we are, having the opportunity to talk to coaches and teammates. There are myriad of things that we can't see that might be going on behind-the-scenes.

Conclusion

Pruitt dominated in college because he was just so much bigger and more athletic than everyone else. Now he has to prove that he can get open by running clean routes and finding holes in the defense.

I see Pruitt as possibly sneaking into the later part of the third round. This tight ends class isn't particularly strong, so I think a team will jump at the opportunity to get one that shows a ton of potential, even if he has his shortcomings.