Speed is expensive. A fast car will run you at least $40K, unless you’re cool with some American muscle car without any options and a dashboard made of plastic and Jolly Ranchers (which make for sticky buttons during the summer).
In the NFL, the price for speed is skyrocketing. Mike Wallace, a faster receiver than Larry Fitzgerald (he ran a 4.28 at the NFL combine), wants a larger contract than Fitzgerald’s 8-year, $120 million deal. Peace out, Mr. Wallace. Hopefully (for you) Ben Roethlisberger avoids arrest and/or ankle injury in 2012.
Coby Fleener is a large tight end who runs faster than 99.9% of humans who are also six feet, six inches tall. For that reason, he was widely considered a late first, early second round selection. It all seemed to set up perfectly for the 49ers, who just happen to be stationed in that area of the NFL Draft.
However, that was back when Fleener’s blend of size and speed (estimated at 4.6 – 4.7 in the 40) was simply very, very good. Now it’s ludicrous, as Fleener ran a 4.45 at Stanford’s Pro Day on Wednesday. Fleener’s now known as a guy with the ability to separate from any defender, not just linebackers and some safeties. As a result, he’s separated his draft stock from that of every other tight end coming out of college.
All those mock drafts that had Fleener going to the San Francisco 49ers at pick No. 30 need to be updated, and fast. For all the talk about how the NFL has turned the page to the Era of the Tight End, there aren’t as many great tight ends out there as people think.
I couldn’t find the 40-times for everyone, and that information can vary depending on where you look, but the point is this: the kind of height and speed Fleener possesses is exceedingly rare at the position. Three of the top 10 tight ends (Witten, Gonzalez and Gates) have played in at least 130 games. Combine (no pun intended) all that with every team wanting the next Graham or Gronk, and Fleener’s going to probably ride that wave into the top 20.
Fleener down! Fleener down! Will he move down in the Draft? Eh, probably not.