Greg Olsen, a junior tight end with the Miami
Hurricanes, has declared for the 2007 National Football League Draft. Olsen
hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Hurricanes tight ends Jeremy
Shockey (New York Giants) and Kellen
Winslow Jr. (Cleveland Browns), who went on to
star in the NFL.
Olsen, the son of a high school football coach, was honored as a USA Today
and Parade First-Team All-American his senior year at Wayne Hill High School
in New Jersey. He was also rated third overall in an ESPN listing of the top
100 players in the nation and was one of three finalists for Gatorade National
Player of the Year honors. Olsen initially enrolled at Notre Dame before transferring
to Miami for the 2003 season.
Olsen didn't play during the 2003 campaign after suffering a shoulder injury
in training camp. Olsen's bad luck continued in 2004 when he missed several
games due to a broken bone in his left wrist. He did play in nine games in 2004,
including two starts. He caught 16 passes for 275 yards (17.2 yards-per-reception
average) and one touchdown.
Olsen broke out a bit in 2005, when he started all 12 games for the Hurricanes.
He totaled 31 receptions for 451 yards (14.5 yards-per-reception average) and
caught four touchdowns. This season earned him All-Atlantic Coast Conference
Honorable Mention. His 2006 campaign was Olsen's best season, as he proved capable
of being the focus of the Hurricanes' aerial attack. Despite missing the better
part of two games, he still totaled a team-high 40 receptions for 489 yards
and one touchdown. He was an All-ACC First-Team selection and was named the
Hurricanes' Receiver of the Year.
Olsen has prototypical size for an NFL tight end.
He's 6-foot-5 7/8, 258 pounds with long arms and a frame that can hold more
weight. He isn't as purely explosive as Winslow Jr. was coming out of Miami,
but he combines adequate quickness with enough straight-line speed to challenge
the seam and make some plays down the field.
Olsen also runs solid routes underneath and has a good feel for reading zone
coverage. He knows how to settle into the soft spots and wait for his quarterback
to find him. Olsen is a natural receiver with soft hands, and he uses his big
frame to shield the ball from defenders. He can high-point passes with his long
arms and will be a dangerous target in the red zone.
Olsen played basketball in high school and is very athletic for a man his size.
He has the body control to adjust to poorly thrown passes and possesses good
Olsen is also a physical player. He has good strength to beat press coverage
at the line of scrimmage. He's shown the toughness to work over the middle of
the field and make catches in traffic.
Olsen also shows the skills to be a quality open-field runner. He has the vision
to find running lanes and the power to run through arm tackles.
Although Olsen needs work in this area, he has enough base strength to become
a solid in-line blocker, being quick and agile enough to fit on moving targets
at the second level. Olsen also offers special teams value. He has experience
as a long snapper and has served on the Hurricanes' kick coverage units.
Olsen is quick enough for a tight end, but he doesn't always appear to play
to his timed speed (4.51 40 time). He lacks the true quick-twitch acceleration
to consistently make explosive plays.
Olsen also needs to improve his concentration. Despite having natural hands,
he has shown a tendency to lose focus and let balls get into his pads, leading
to drops. There have been some questions as to his reliability in third-down
situations. He has good leaping ability, but needs to improve his timing on
jump balls. Durability is a bit of a concern with Olsen missing time in three
of his four college seasons.
Olsen will need to improve on his blocking if he wants to become a fulltime
starter and balanced player at the next level. He should probably add some weight
to maximize his potential in this area, and he would really benefit from some
hard work in the weight room. He needs to develop better technique, requiring
a lot of work in blitz recognition and pass protection. He also needs to display
more desire and aggression in his run blocking.
Olsen is a quality prospect from a major college program that has a proud recent
history of producing top talents at his position. Olsen also showed that he
could succeed with far less complimentary talent than Shockey or Winslow had
when they played for Miami. He is generally rated as one of the top two tight
ends in this year's draft.
Olsen is considered a borderline first-round talent, but his most probable
draft position is in the top half of the second round. Going to the
Chicago Bears with the 31st selection is his best chance
of sneaking into the first round. There are several teams at the top of the
second round who may be interested in Olsen, and either the Minnesota
Vikings (41st pick) or the Buffalo Bills (43rd
pick) are possible destinations. It's difficult to see him falling much further
than the middle of the second round.
Olsen is a work in progress as a blocker, but he has enough physical gifts
to be an excellent tight end in the NFL. He's a big,
tough player who should be able to make an impact as a receiver early in his
career, and he can also contribute right away on special teams.
About Cameron Graszl
Cameron has been with KFFL since 2006.
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