If you’ve taken the time to study any of the 2020 tight end draft class, you’re probably just as confused and frustrated as I am. I don’t think there is a clear-cut top TE this year. I bet you can ask 10 different people who they’d rank as the TE1 and you’d probably get 10 different answers. I have a few favorites of course, and I’d like to introduce you to one today.
Enter Dalton Keene, the former Virginia Tech Hokie tight end.
Dalton Keene was a bit of a Swiss Army Knife type of offensive player during his time at Virginia Tech. He was used all over the formation in a variety of roles and it’s that versatility that I’ve become somewhat infatuated with. In fact, I think he could be a late-round hidden gem for a team like the Dallas Cowboys who are ushering in a new era at the tight end position.
2020 NFL Combine Weigh-in & Results
Measurements – HT: 6’4″ | WT: 253 | Arms: 32 1/4″ | Hands: 9 3/4″
Results – 40 yd dash: 4.71 | BP: 21 | VJ: 34″ | BJ: 125″ | 3 Cone Drill: 7.07 | 20 yd Shuffle: 4.19
At 6’4″, 253, Dalton Keene possesses the prototypical size the NFL is looking for in their tight end prospects, but he’s much more than what meets the eye. In fact, he was the top performer amongst the TEs at the Combine in the broad jump (10 feet, 5 inches) and the 20 yard shuffle (4.19s). He was even one of three TEs asked by NFL teams to perform running back drills.
Sound intriguing yet? Yes… No? Well, let’s continue…
During his time at Virginia Tech, Keene showed his Swiss Army Knife versatility by performing as an in-line blocker, a wingback, a slot receiver, a running back, a fullback, and even as a personal protector. Unfortunately his numbers weren’t as flashy – he had 59 catches for 748 yards with eight touchdowns in three years – but he looks much better on film than his numbers would indicate, particularly his career average of 12.7 yards per catch.
I don’t know about you, but Dalton Keene is definitely somebody I’m hoping the Dallas Cowboys take a late-round flyer on. The later part of the draft is where you’re looking for certain intangibles to develop and I absolutely believe Keene fits the criteria. In fact, I think he could be hard for the Cowboys to keep off the field as a rookie due to their current depth at the position.
The trio of Blake Jarwin, Blake Bell, and Dalton Schultz doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence right now. Jarwin has shown flashes of being a playmaker in the passing game, but other than that it’s pure speculation he can be a consistent every down player. As far as Bell and Schultz are concerned, I wouldn’t expect them to be anything more than depth and shudder at the thought of either one of them having to start.
Dalton Keene may not be a Day 1 starter, but I firmly believe he brings more the table than Blake Bell or Dalton Schultz. If I were the Dallas Cowboys, I’d seriously consider bringing him in and let him compete for playing time. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if he carves out an early role for himself. It would be unwise to bet against “Rambo”, as his former teammates nicknamed him.