Greg Olsen, TE, Miami Hurricanes

by Cameron Graszl on February 26, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT

 


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.

Background

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.

Positives

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 change-of-direction skills. 

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.

Negatives

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.

Draft Placement

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.

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About Cameron Graszl

Cameron has been with KFFL since 2006.

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