Irvin: Impressive workouts reaffirm tight ends’ value in NFL

Editor’s note: Michael Irvin, a Hall of Fame receiver and an NFL Network analyst, watched all the tight ends work out Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine and shares his thoughts.

INDIANAPOLIS — This might come as a surprise to you, but I’m going to say it anyway: In my opinion, tight ends are the most incredibly gifted and talented athletes on the football field.

There’s no fat on these guys, and to be 250, 260 pounds and have 4.49 speed is incredible.

Think about what tight ends are expected to do in today’s NFL — having to be good in the run game and pass game, having to understand both schemes, having to be good at catching like a receiver.

See, back in the day, you had your big receiver and your fast receiver, your blocking tight end and your receiving tight end. Now teams are looking for that guy to be Rob Gronkowski, because the salary cap dictates that you can’t pay for all of those guys individually.

Why do I bring this up? Because the tight ends who worked out Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine showed that this league is going to continue down that path. These guys were incredible.

I thought Clemson’s Dwayne Allen, Oklahoma’s James Hanna and Missouri’s Michael Egnew really cemented themselves as being more than capable to play in the NFL. Their numbers in the drills were phenomenal, and both of them did a good job catching passes.

And then, of course, there was Georgia’s Orson Charles. Man, can this kid play. But I’ll tell you what, forget his physical gifts. This kid showed me something else.

This game is too hard not to have guys like Charles on your team. Because when you play in this league, and it hurts, and you’ve got problems at home, and you’re feeling down, you need somebody who is going to pick you up. Charles was doing that all day in his group. He was the one revving those guys up, motivating them to go hard.

It was really special to see that up close.

All in all, I’ve got to say it was a good day for the tight ends.

— Michael Irvin

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