Wisconsin TE Travis Beckum (dailycardinal.com)
As the 2009 NFL Draft approaches, the editorial staff at Buffalo Rumblings will begin profiling draft prospects that may end up being potential targets of the Buffalo Bills. Matt takes up back to the offensive side of the ball to by profiling Wisconsin's Travis Beckum.
One of the positions of need that has been clearly stated by the Rumblings community this year is a pass-catching tight end. Today we'll look at Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum.
While I never watch college football, let alone the University of Wisconsin, the bloggers over at SBN's own Big Ten Football blog The Rivalry, Esq. sure do. Here's what grahamfiller10 and Law Buckeye had to say about Beckum. And just recently, SBN added a brand new Wisconsin blog, Bucky's Fifth Quarter, and their Editor Adam Hoge has also given us some great information. I'll differentiate by their initials.
Travis Beckum- Tight End, Missouri
6'4", 230 lbs., 4.61-second 40 yard dash
Strengths: Force in the passing game
Beckum is the epitome of the freakish new TE/WR hybrids that are becoming popular. But he holds a trump card: He has amazing body control and route running ability. I imagine Beckum running complicated NFL routes seamlessly and making catches with linebackers draped all over him. - G.F.10
Beckum is a small frame, big bearing tight end, more akin to a wideout. It's this reach and mobility that contributes to his prowess in the slot. I saw Travis play in person, when Ohio State visited Camp Randall last October. What impressed me was his ability to make difficult grabs over the middle -- particularly in closing coverage. Still, it's hard to discount his variability. Beckum displays solid awareness -- and reach when the ball is over or underthrown. His flexibility allows him to roll off hits, translating to yards after the catch. - L.B.
Beckum's catching ability is probably his greatest strength behind his athleticism. He was a surehanded receiver throughout his college career and Wisconsin's top receiving weapon during his junior and senior year. He can make tough catches and rarely drops the ball. - A.G.
Weaknesses: "TE/WR hybrid"
He was mainly in the slot - Wisconsin's offensive set (which loves TE blocking) would often place other TE's in three point stances during heavy sets. I'm sure you can find tape of him in 3 pt, but teams like Wisconsin have about 6 blocking TE's on the roster. He isn't weak, just never was put in that situation. - G.F.10
Beckum's blocking abilities will be tested in the NFL as he rarely ever received a tough blocking assignment in college. Wisconsin usually employs two tight ends, one to block and one to catch. By Beckum's senior season, he was split out wide just as many times and he was bunched on the line. Beckum could block downfield when he didn't have the ball and he will be much better than a lot of pro wide receivers in that regard. - A.G.
NFL Comparison: Dallas Clark, Indianapolis; Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay
Faster and more athletic than Clark according to scouts. Beckum's a catch-first tight end with [Winslow's] kind of speed and athleticism.
Unsung (or Under-utilized) Ability: Physicality
He was a highly rated high school linebacker whose athleticism convinced Badger coaches to switch him to tight end. So he's not just a pretty boy tight end who doesn't want to block (although the Badgers did not pound the ball behind him). - G.F.10
Has only played 2 1/2 seasons at tight end after entering as a OLB and having a fractured fibula sideline him for the last five games of the 2008 season (Wisconsin running back John Clay rolled up on the back of Beckum's leg while the tight end was blocking downfield in front of him. - A.G.)... "If Beckum would have come out last year he probably would have been a first round pick." - New Era Scouting... "...stock has fallen after the broken leg and lower numbers, but Beckum was a victim of awful quarterback play last season" - A.G.
Does he fit the Bill?
Overall, I won't quarrel with the draft predictions -- Travis' elite talent level lands him as high as the third round, but a disappointing senior season, and questionable durability, keep him from breaking into the top three at the position. Still, he's a bargain pick, and an invaluable punch in the gut when defenses seal off the run. - L.B.
Of all the hybrid TE/WRs, Beckum seems to have some of the best blocking skills. I love the fact he played linebacker and isn't averse to some contact. He is my favorite second-tier TE prospect in this draft. If the Bills haven't picked a TE by round 3 and he is still on the board, I would hope the Bills step up and take this guy. Don't let his 4.61 40 time fool you. He was at "80%" from his healing leg. He can run a legit 4.55 or faster, putting him in line with Jared Cook's blazing time.
Collected Scouting Reports for further information:
Many thanks to the bloggers from The Rivalry, Esq., grahamfiller10 and Law Buckeye, as well as Adam Hoge from the brand spanking new Bucky's Fifth Quarter blog for their insight.