Cole Patterson continues our series of looking at the New York Jets undrafted free agents. Make sure to give Cole a follow on Twitter and check back tomorrow for Connor Rogers‘ look at TE Chris Pantale. Also check out this great opportunity to help NYC Education, while giving yourself a chance to win 4 Super Bowl tickets this year!
Name: Mike Shanahan
Position: Wide Receiver/Tight End
Size: 6’4″ – 241 lbs
40 Time: 4.81 seconds
Vertical Jump: 30.5″
College Career: Shanahan played wide receiver at Pitt, playing in every game during the 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons and 11 games in 2009. In 2013, Shanahan’s senior season, he caught 62 balls for 983 yards and 6 touchdowns. Those stats were good for 15.9 yards per reception. Shanahan left Pitt as 5th all time in career catches with 159 and 9th in yards with 2,219. He was named to the 2012 All-Big East Second Team and to the Big-East All Academic Team four times, speaking to his intelligence. Had Shanahan played tight end instead of wide receiver he may have received even more accolades for his accomplishments.
Scouting Report: Both scouts and Shanahan knew that the Pitt alum’s best chance at NFL success was a switch to the tight end position. His combine numbers and style of play do not translate well to the wide receiver position at the professional level. They do, however, translate favorably to the tight end position and are comparable to this year’s Zach Ertz (4.76 40 yard dash and 30.5″ vertical). Shanahan runs slightly faster on tape than he did at Pitt’s pro day and makes up for what he lacks in speed with precise route running and quick cuts.
He put on around 10 pounds to break the 240 mark, a good playing weight for a NFL tight end. Shanahan was a possession receiver at Pitt and already understands how to work the middle of the field well, a task he will often be given as a tight end. Shanahan was a highly regarded prep school basketball player and turned down numerous offers, choosing the gridiron instead. Like other ex-basketball stars (Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham, etc.) Shanahan’s pedigree can be seen in how he attacks the ball at the highest point and sets up defenders. The main knock on Shanahan is inexperience at blocking. As a wide receiver the blocking he was asked to do at Pitt is nowhere near the level of blocking that is expected from a NFL tight end.
Where He Fits: John Idzik has made it clear that the New York Jets UDFA’s will make a strong push for roster spots in 2013 and that they will play a key role in filling out the depth chart. At no position is this more the case than at tight end. The Jets tight end depth chart is one of the weakest in the NFL, sporting such names as: career back up Jeff Cumberland (the penciled in starter), Rugby convert Hayden Smith, and Konrad “the Garbage Man” Reuland. Every one of these names is a question mark. Cumberland is one dimensional, Smith is still learning the game, and Reuland is a decent run blocker at best. While camp cuts and available free agents are still a possibility to bolster the tight end position (a topic I hope to dedicate a full article to in the near future), I believe that Shanahan will show in camp that he deserves to make the final cut and even compete for the starting job. As I stated earlier, his combination of strong hands, polished route running, and measurables already puts him ahead of the other tight ends on the roster. In interviews Shanahan has expressed a willingness and desire to improve his blocking fundamentals. If he can show any aptitude in this area, he should be pushing for playing time.