RD3 #37/#101: TE Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech

SpokaneSoxFan

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I'm really liking these picks, but I don't understand why they keep trading down to get them. Just about everyone of them has seemed to be a bit of a surprise. Get Anthony Gordon in the 4th or 5th round and it's been a hell of a draft!
 

SMU_Sox

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Some shades of Hernandez with how he was lined up / utilized
When I look at a tight end projection I look for elite flashes. Keene was used as an FB, inline guy, and sometimes flexed out but that was rare. Like Lynn Bowden he would also take some QB duties. With Keene he had 3 bad habits as a blocker all of which are correctable and he does have perfect reps to counter them: 1) gets overextended (head and upper body get too far out in front of toes and defenders can toss him while he is off balance) 2) ducks his head into blocks, and 3) in space but also pops up inline he can be a lunger. I’ve seen worse. His good reps as a blocker are usually when he has a favorable angle but I’ve seen him drive DLs to the ground on goal line runs. He flashes v good blocking ability but he needs work on his technique.
Like Asiasi Keene plays at a frenetic pace. Keene has nice YAC/RAC ability. He’s a high caliber athlete and it shows when he has the ball in his hands. Both Asiasi and Keene give you that which is exciting. Keene can handle sweat-leaf roles as a runner too.
Keene’s biggest issues are both coachable: inline blocking technique and route running. Keene’s routes are rough. He was underutilized as a receiver at Virginia Tech though and probably didn’t have that area of his game coached up enough.

Aside from Kmet Keene has the highest ceiling of the TEs. Keene is a phenomenal athlete. Year 1 he can handle FB duties and will be a contested catch weapon. Year 2-3 (or 4-5) he could develop into a complete TE and top 20 guy at the position. Will he get there? Who knows. Tight ends are the hardest to project to NFL success. You need to just keep taking shots at them.
 
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Gator4MVP88

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I watched every game he played his three years at VT. He started as a true freshman and left early so he's still very young entering the NFL. He had obvious improvement each year.

What I can say is he's a better blocker than you would think, and was really good at setting the edge on off tackle running plays. He played on some not so great teams with limited talent around them so it was easy to spot how good he was. When I heard he declared for the draft I knew we were losing our most important if not best player on offense.

He had a monster game against Miami that included flat out embarrassing transfer/former VT player Trevon Hill on a few blocks. He also earned the nickname 'Rambo'.

I'm biased but excited about this pick, and to see how he develops in the NFL.
 
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EL Jeffe

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@SMU_Sox , I know we talked about Keene a bit in the draft forum a few times over the past few months. Don't you get a Dawson Knox vibe from him? Really underused in the passing game but the physical traits to be a weapon in the NFL. Their athletic profiles are similar. I was too low on Knox last year, which made me appreciate Keene more this tear when I studied him. He requires projection, but I liked the traits and profile a lot.
 

Cellar-Door

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I slept on it..... I still hate everything about this pick. Traded way too much, which alone would annoy me. But honestly, his athletic profile, and skillset seem entirely indistinguishable from Hollister who we traded away for a 7th. This just seems like an egregiously bad use of draft resources. Would he have fallen to 125? Maybe, maybe not. If he does great take him there and take someone at 129. If he doesn't, no real loss.
 

Super Nomario

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Love Dalton Keene. Here's my writeup:

For my TE Superlatives at ITP, I called him the Best After the Catch and the Most Intriguing. Really interesting physical skill set. Underutilized in a passing offense that started threw different quarterbacks this year and averaged 44 rush attempts / 25 pass attempts a game.

Maybe my favorite game of his was against North Carolina. The Hokies had some backfield injuries, so Keene lined up at halfback a lot of the game, which gives you a hint as to how athletic he is at 6'4" 250+ pounds. He was a RB in high school. He got carries and even did some pass protection on third down. Later in the game the starting QB (I think VT's second QB of the year already) got hurt and another guy came in, who basically ran the ball every down. So he was lined up in the backfield but mostly lead blocking for the QB.

I described him and Asiasi as "alpha blockers" - seemed like every time it was a big situation, they ran Keene's way. Even though he was underutilized in the passing game, the coaching staff seemed to view Keene as one of their best players, consistent with what @Gator4MVP88 said above. Really interesting prospect.

I slept on it..... I still hate everything about this pick. Traded way too much, which alone would annoy me. But honestly, his athletic profile, and skillset seem entirely indistinguishable from Hollister who we traded away for a 7th. This just seems like an egregiously bad use of draft resources. Would he have fallen to 125? Maybe, maybe not. If he does great take him there and take someone at 129. If he doesn't, no real loss.
Hollister's much smaller - 14 pounds lighter, with arms an inch and a half shorter. Hollister's a pure move guy. Keene can do a lot more in the blocking game.

I think Josiah Deguara was the canary in the coal mine here; once he went, Keene could go at any time.
 

Ale Xander

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Don't hate the player, looks to be fun to watch, the catch v. Pitt was amazing, hate how much we gave up to draft him.

Didn't see anything in that hl clip against Clemson, rest of the ACC was garbage last year. Didn't see blocks. He does seem to have an ability to get open, not sure how much of that is scheme/OC, because many of those he was WIDE OPEN. Seems to me he has a low floor, but YACABILITY is there.

Would have preferred they just hoped he stayed available and if gone, then take next player on the board, especially with Asiasi already drafted just before. Don't like the use of capital.

Hoping Nap comes in here and tells us he's can't miss
 

tims4wins

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Given the run on TEs today, seems the Pats were ahead of the curve. They may or may not have picked the right ones, but they clearly knew when to strike.
 

Cellar-Door

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Given the run on TEs today, seems the Pats were ahead of the curve. They may or may not have picked the right ones, but they clearly knew when to strike.
Yeah, I generally don't like the value of these TEs in these spots, but I do feel better about Keene based on the 4th. All these TEs going is pushing the players the Pats might have taken at 129 down to where 1 of them might even make it to 159.
 

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If they liked Keene (and because of what they paid to move up, I think it's fair to say they did quite a bit), they had a limited window. As @Super Nomario mentioned, once Deguara went, the Pats had Keene and Trautman left and they must have preferred Keene. In a sense, the Pats started the run by grabbing Asiasi - 4 of the those 14 picks were TEs.

The more I think about it, getting some size/completeness at TE was strategic on a number of levels. Beyond the additional blocking resources helping to keep Stidham et al upright, and beyond the ability of these guys to go get the ball on offense, more defenses (as discussed in a number of places here) are being built to try to morph into different looks without requiring large scale sub packages. I think that's great (and you can see BB continuing to do so - it's in his DNA), but BB also recognizes where that approach is vulnerable. I think an offense that is capable of switching to a power running game (especially in the playoffs), has an advantage. I don't mean on a game by game basis, I mean to be able to audible to a smash mouth play because you've got TEs always in the game that are capable of it. I think we saw this during the last Pats superbowl championship run. I think BB (and McDaniels) favors this style in general, if you look at the types of TEs he's had - going all the way back to Bavaro. He's always tried to bring in complete TEs (not that the rest of the league hasn't). We all saw what kind of destruction he was able to unleash with Gronk and he who shall not be named, I think he saw this draft and moment in time (new QB, virus impact - especially with limited ST and possibly an irregular season upcoming) as a chance to re-establish the twin towers at TE. Maybe it doesn't pan out this season because "inexperienced youth", but I bet that's the direction we see from the offense over the next 2-3 years.

And if this train of thought is even close to where BB is, then I don't see this as an an absurd overpay to get back in to grab Keene - rather the price to get where he wants to be.
 

SMU_Sox

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@SMU_Sox , I know we talked about Keene a bit in the draft forum a few times over the past few months. Don't you get a Dawson Knox vibe from him? Really underused in the passing game but the physical traits to be a weapon in the NFL. Their athletic profiles are similar. I was too low on Knox last year, which made me appreciate Keene more this tear when I studied him. He requires projection, but I liked the traits and profile a lot.
I was a big Knox fan last year. I think it is a good comparison but Knox was used more as a receiver even if the Ole Miss offense didn't throw it his way enough. I think Keene plays with more intensity than Knox. I liked Knox as a blocker

I had some issues with the tradeup as well but they are usually good knowing/predicting what other teams are in on a guy and when they have to pull the trigger. Of the people I have talked to about this here I think we all wanted a mix of one of Kmet/Trautman/Asiasi with Keene. I can imagine them running a lot of 12 personnel in year 2. Lots of play action too. Bully-ball works if you have tight ends and WRs who can win 1:1 matchups and are good blockers. Imagine Harry, Keene, Asiasi, and fill in the blank all contributing in 2021. That's a lot of meat up front. They also picked up a 6th round guard who is a major people mover. Like Keene when Michigan wanted to run they ran it behind Onwenu.

3 of the guys they drafted have better tools than they are complete players right now or have unique hybrid kind of roles. Uche will likely play some ILB and OLB. He will blitz up the middle or even take some reps as an edge rusher. Or he drops into coverage. You never know what Uche is going to do. Dugger ideally will be able to play the star role, is athletic enough to play the money role, could handle split deep zone, and... look there isn't much you can't project him to do minus single high. Again this is a projection and a best case scenario after several years. Keene can handle all TE roles but will need time to get there. BB took 3 extremely athletic guys who need additional time to become solid contributors but is going to bank that they can develop them. All three guys are potential game changers if they hit.
 

Super Nomario

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Cross-posting so as not to distract from the love-fest Develin deserves:
Hmm guess he [Vitale] is, I had only seen him in GB where he did a lot of lead blocking and pass pro, but looking him up, he has much better athleticism numbers than I would have thought from seeing him there. So yeah, looks like he's more of a versatile Fullback than a pure mauler like Develin.

Makes me think even more something I said in the other thread... that the offense is going to move back to a lot more 21 personnel (used it a ton in 2018, far far less last year) and maybe Vitale and Keene give it a bit more receiving threat and mismatch options.
I think it's going to be (or at least the intention is that it's going to be) something between 21 and 12 personnel. Develin was an absolute hammer as a lead blocker, but not really a threat in the passing game. Aaron Hernandez was an outstanding receiving TE but only an adequate blocker. A guy like Keene or Vitale isn't going to be the point-of-attack blocker Develin was or the receiving weapon Hernandez was, but he can offer something in between. He can line up in multiple spots and impact the run game and pass game in a variety of ways. Keene even got handoffs out of the backfield in a pinch. If Asiasi can lock down the conventional TE role, the second guy can be a Swiss army knife, maybe not excelling at anything in particular but making an impact by doing a variety of things: lead blocking, doing normal in-line tight end stuff, chipping and releasing, tunneling behind the line from an H-back position, to catch a screen pass, the odd backfield alignment, etc.
 

Super Nomario

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(Again cross-posting)
This makes a ton of sense to me. I think we're getting to the point where you can get a good sense of what they want to do, and it looks like they want to have a bunch of h backs and TEs and FBs and big receivers help Stidham with an offense that combines the run and what's predominantly going to be a short passing game--and they likely saw only a small number of players who they were confident could contribute at hback, so they went and grabbed one they liked asap when the other guy they liked was drafted.
One of the things teams pay for in the draft is scarcity: there aren't a lot of players Keene's size with his athletic profile, so if you want that skill set, you might have to spend a third even though the tape says fifth or whatever. Belichick talked about this in one of the Holley books with respect to Sebastian Vollmer, that he wasn't a second-round pick on tape but if you want a guy like that with crazy athleticism for being 6'8", you might have "overpay."

To take another example from this year's draft, I don't think many pundits had a second-round grade on A.J. Dillon, but if you're interested in that skill set - he ran a 4.53 40 at 247 pounds - there's no plan B if you don't get him, because there's no one else like that. And I think the nature of the Kipers etc. of the world is they talk to a bunch of teams who have all kinds of grades on him because some teams are interested in that skill set and some aren't, but he invariably gets drafted higher than expected because of the scarcity of the skill set and because the team that values him most really values him.
 

RetractableRoof

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(Again cross-posting)

One of the things teams pay for in the draft is scarcity: there aren't a lot of players Keene's size with his athletic profile, so if you want that skill set, you might have to spend a third even though the tape says fifth or whatever. Belichick talked about this in one of the Holley books with respect to Sebastian Vollmer, that he wasn't a second-round pick on tape but if you want a guy like that with crazy athleticism for being 6'8", you might have "overpay."

To take another example from this year's draft, I don't think many pundits had a second-round grade on A.J. Dillon, but if you're interested in that skill set - he ran a 4.53 40 at 247 pounds - there's no plan B if you don't get him, because there's no one else like that. And I think the nature of the Kipers etc. of the world is they talk to a bunch of teams who have all kinds of grades on him because some teams are interested in that skill set and some aren't, but he invariably gets drafted higher than expected because of the scarcity of the skill set and because the team that values him most really values him.
Nice post, you've explained this well - much better than I've been able to... and with good examples as well.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Nice post, you've explained this well - much better than I've been able to... and with good examples as well.
Agreed!

The other aspect to remember is about fit: teams run different systems and have different scouting profiles and criteria and these impact assessments and valuations. For example, for many years the Pats have liked bigger edge players than many, so their grade (and the scarcity of the required physical package) will be different than other teams. That can cut in either direction in any one draft but also contributes to variance between public mocks and Patriots selections
 

Saints Rest

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I was a big Knox fan last year. I think it is a good comparison but Knox was used more as a receiver even if the Ole Miss offense didn't throw it his way enough. I think Keene plays with more intensity than Knox. I liked Knox as a blocker

I had some issues with the tradeup as well but they are usually good knowing/predicting what other teams are in on a guy and when they have to pull the trigger. Of the people I have talked to about this here I think we all wanted a mix of one of Kmet/Trautman/Asiasi with Keene. I can imagine them running a lot of 12 personnel in year 2. Lots of play action too. Bully-ball works if you have tight ends and WRs who can win 1:1 matchups and are good blockers. Imagine Harry, Keene, Asiasi, and fill in the blank all contributing in 2021. That's a lot of meat up front. They also picked up a 6th round guard who is a major people mover. Like Keene when Michigan wanted to run they ran it behind Onwenu.

3 of the guys they drafted have better tools than they are complete players right now or have unique hybrid kind of roles. Uche will likely play some ILB and OLB. He will blitz up the middle or even take some reps as an edge rusher. Or he drops into coverage. You never know what Uche is going to do. Dugger ideally will be able to play the star role, is athletic enough to play the money role, could handle split deep zone, and... look there isn't much you can't project him to do minus single high. Again this is a projection and a best case scenario after several years. Keene can handle all TE roles but will need time to get there. BB took 3 extremely athletic guys who need additional time to become solid contributors but is going to bank that they can develop them. All three guys are potential game changers if they hit.
(Again cross-posting)

One of the things teams pay for in the draft is scarcity: there aren't a lot of players Keene's size with his athletic profile, so if you want that skill set, you might have to spend a third even though the tape says fifth or whatever. Belichick talked about this in one of the Holley books with respect to Sebastian Vollmer, that he wasn't a second-round pick on tape but if you want a guy like that with crazy athleticism for being 6'8", you might have "overpay."

To take another example from this year's draft, I don't think many pundits had a second-round grade on A.J. Dillon, but if you're interested in that skill set - he ran a 4.53 40 at 247 pounds - there's no plan B if you don't get him, because there's no one else like that. And I think the nature of the Kipers etc. of the world is they talk to a bunch of teams who have all kinds of grades on him because some teams are interested in that skill set and some aren't, but he invariably gets drafted higher than expected because of the scarcity of the skill set and because the team that values him most really values him.
I find these few statements, culled from two different super-knowledgable posters, to be a really interesting take on BB's supposedly random reaches. We've spoken at great lengths in the past about BB's ability to strategize against an oppenent's tendencies, to take away their strengths. Some of this likely comes from his ability to glean knowledge developed over the years through scouting and film work.
When it comes to the draft, knowledge of what others are going to do is the ultimate strength as it allows you to know exactly where you need to take the players you really want. To use a couple extreme examples: if you like Tom Brady a lot but you also know that no one else values him higher than a 7th round pick, then taking him 199 is not a reflection of your value of him, it's a perfect use of resources to get him at the last possible moment. On the flip side, if you view Sebastian Vollmer as a 3rd round talent, but you know that Team X might take him at pick #60, then you need to pick him at #58 to get him.
It's like the old joke about being able to run faster than a bear, you don't need to be able to do that, you just need to be able to run faster than the slowest person in your party.
I think this might explain many of BB's "reaches." The fact that some -- Mankins, Vollmer, DMcC, -- work out, while others, too numerous to mention, may be more a simple result of the variances inherent in the draft and not a condemnation of the method.
 

Super Nomario

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if you like Tom Brady a lot but you also know that no one else values him higher than a 7th round pick, then taking him 199 is not a reflection of your value of him, it's a perfect use of resources to get him at the last possible moment.
I think a lot goes into it. In this particular case, Scott Pioli has talked about the thought process re: Brady and suggested it was more about need. They thought Antwan Harris could fill a role on the 2000 team, while Brady would be no more than the fourth QB (which he was), so they took Harris first. I don't think they had any special insight he would still be available at 199; they were just willing to take the risk because they already had three quarterbacks on the roster. Once you get down that far in the draft, your intelligence about who teams like is much more suspect.

On the flip side, if you view Sebastian Vollmer as a 3rd round talent, but you know that Team X might take him at pick #60, then you need to pick him at #58 to get him.
One of the points Belichick makes in the Holley book is that you don't always know. Sometimes you judge it right and you did need to take Vollmer/whoever then. Sometimes you're wrong and you really could have had him with a later pick. You're dealing with uncertain information.

It's like the old joke about being able to run faster than a bear, you don't need to be able to do that, you just need to be able to run faster than the slowest person in your party.
I think this might explain many of BB's "reaches." The fact that some -- Mankins, Vollmer, DMcC, -- work out, while others, too numerous to mention, may be more a simple result of the variances inherent in the draft and not a condemnation of the method.
DMac is another guy that comes up in the Holley book. They zeroed in on him but thought most of the league saw him as a second round pick. So they traded back in the first round (maybe twice even?) and then they had another opportunity to trade back. The Jets were behind them and they were pretty sure the Jets would take a cornerback and they also thought it was more likely to be Kyle Wilson than DMac ... but they still decided it wasn't worth the risk and just stayed put and took McCourty. The Jets did take Wilson FWIW.

I like that story because you can see the preparation was very good, the intelligence was very good, they had everything analyzed correctly ... and ultimately, they still made the decision on gut feeling as much as cold hard facts. I think that kind of sums things up with the draft.
 

bakahump

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Anecdotally it also seems like BB is never on the outside looking in on runs. It actually seems like he usually starts them or trades up quickly to get the guy he wants.
Runs are bad from the aspect of if your at the end your getting everyone else leftovers and you may be forgoing a player you want (and fits your board) because your "Scared" into taking that Center Now...while they are still some decent ones left.

All this is anecdotal. I wonder what you guys think? And Maybe BB just "avoids" runs if he can (and when his board doesnt line up with them).
 

EL Jeffe

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One nitpick, because this one always bothers me. Sebastian Vollmer was the 58th pick of the 2009 draft; he was listed as the #62 prospect in Rick Gosselin's 2009 top 100 prospects rankings. Gosselin compiled his rankings based on conversations with NFL general managers, personnel directors, pro and college coaches and scouts. Gosselin was (and I suppose still is) legitimately plugged in. 2009 Internet Draft Experts weren't clued in to Vollmer, but the NFL certainly was. Vollmer went essentially exactly where NFL evaluators felt he should go.

Back to Dalton Keene, if there's one things that worries me, it was his Kentucky tape in the Belk Bowl. Those SEC kids really overwhelmed Keene physically. I watched four of Keene's 2019 games, and Kentucky was by far his worst tape. In fairness, it was just one game, but a lot of it was ugly and it was against a more physical and athletic opponent than he was used to dealing with in the ACC (and I say that as a UVA fan). Keene was a speed bump on a handful of plays, where the Kentucky kids went right through or by him. He did hold his own on a handful of blocks as well, but his win rate wasn't that of a 3rd round TE. He'll get stronger, and you hope he'd be able to adapt and adjust to his opponents, but it's still a data point that you can't just dismiss.

I didn't have much of a beef with Asiasi as TE2 because I think he showed NFL power and explosion. While I had Keene on my list of binkies, I wouldn't have. taken him ahead of Trautman or Harrison Bryant. Bryant in particular sort of fills the same role as Keene, but Bryant was highly productive and held his own in the Senior Bowl. Keene could end up being a really fun player, but I do worry about his functional strength and power. I don't see how you watch that Kentucky game and not have some worries.
 

BaseballJones

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One nitpick, because this one always bothers me. Sebastian Vollmer was the 58th pick of the 2009 draft; he was listed as the #62 prospect in Rick Gosselin's 2009 top 100 prospects rankings. Gosselin compiled his rankings based on conversations with NFL general managers, personnel directors, pro and college coaches and scouts. Gosselin was (and I suppose still is) legitimately plugged in. 2009 Internet Draft Experts weren't clued in to Vollmer, but the NFL certainly was. Vollmer went essentially exactly where NFL evaluators felt he should go.

Back to Dalton Keene, if there's one things that worries me, it was his Kentucky tape in the Belk Bowl. Those SEC kids really overwhelmed Keene physically. I watched four of Keene's 2019 games, and Kentucky was by far his worst tape. In fairness, it was just one game, but a lot of it was ugly and it was against a more physical and athletic opponent than he was used to dealing with in the ACC (and I say that as a UVA fan). Keene was a speed bump on a handful of plays, where the Kentucky kids went right through or by him. He did hold his own on a handful of blocks as well, but his win rate wasn't that of a 3rd round TE. He'll get stronger, and you hope he'd be able to adapt and adjust to his opponents, but it's still a data point that you can't just dismiss.

I didn't have much of a beef with Asiasi as TE2 because I think he showed NFL power and explosion. While I had Keene on my list of binkies, I wouldn't have. taken him ahead of Trautman or Harrison Bryant. Bryant in particular sort of fills the same role as Keene, but Bryant was highly productive and held his own in the Senior Bowl. Keene could end up being a really fun player, but I do worry about his functional strength and power. I don't see how you watch that Kentucky game and not have some worries.
What do you think Belichick thought when he viewed that tape?
 

EL Jeffe

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What do you think Belichick thought when he viewed that tape?
I think he likely viewed the Kentucky game as a single piece of the puzzle. That Keene was a 20 year old TE/H-back who struggled with the physicality of an SEC defense, but that he'll get stronger as he matures. I don't think Keene is any less powerful than Jacob Hollister was, and Hollister obviously saw the field in NE. I thought Hollister's NFL win rate in blocking was terrible, and I was genuinely shocked with how much blatant holding he got away with at the point of attack. I'm sure Belichick has a plan in mind for Keene (as he does with every player), and I don't expect point of attack blocking being much of a part of that plan in his rookie year. From there, you hope he can develop enough strength, power, and technique to get by. But I do think Keene has a lower ceiling as a blocker than I'd prefer. His strength will be as a receiver, but unfortunately almost all of his VA Tech catches were manufactured touches. It takes projection to see him run NFL routes, but the athletic ability is there.
 

BaseballJones

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I think he likely viewed the Kentucky game as a single piece of the puzzle. That Keene was a 20 year old TE/H-back who struggled with the physicality of an SEC defense, but that he'll get stronger as he matures. I don't think Keene is any less powerful than Jacob Hollister was, and Hollister obviously saw the field in NE. I thought Hollister's NFL win rate in blocking was terrible, and I was genuinely shocked with how much blatant holding he got away with at the point of attack. I'm sure Belichick has a plan in mind for Keene (as he does with every player), and I don't expect point of attack blocking being much of a part of that plan in his rookie year. From there, you hope he can develop enough strength, power, and technique to get by. But I do think Keene has a lower ceiling as a blocker than I'd prefer. His strength will be as a receiver, but unfortunately almost all of his VA Tech catches were manufactured touches. It takes projection to see him run NFL routes, but the athletic ability is there.
So then his Kentucky tape probably didn't worry Belichick too much, right?
 

EL Jeffe

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So then his Kentucky tape probably didn't worry Belichick too much, right?
I understand what you're driving at, but we have no idea how much it did or didn't worry him. Every player has warts, and there's always reasons why a guy doesn't work out. For Keene, I think there are real concerns with his functional strength. If Keene doesn't work out, maybe you can look back to the Kentucky game and say, yeah, I think I can see that. Maybe he overcomes those concerns and has a great career--I certainly hope he does. I mean, if we want to pretend like every prospect is a perfect 10 destined to be a first ballot HOFer, we can do that. But I'm 100% sure Belichick sees the pros and cons of every player and takes them into consideration. He drafts the players he feels good about, but feeling good about a player doesn't mean you don't also see the downside and potential pitfalls. They're always there, you just try to work around them. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't.
 

BaseballJones

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I understand what you're driving at, but we have no idea how much it did or didn't worry him. Every player has warts, and there's always reasons why a guy doesn't work out. For Keene, I think there are real concerns with his functional strength. If Keene doesn't work out, maybe you can look back to the Kentucky game and say, yeah, I think I can see that. Maybe he overcomes those concerns and has a great career--I certainly hope he does. I mean, if we want to pretend like every prospect is a perfect 10 destined to be a first ballot HOFer, we can do that. But I'm 100% sure Belichick sees the pros and cons of every player and takes them into consideration. He drafts the players he feels good about, but feeling good about a player doesn't mean you don't also see the downside and potential pitfalls. They're always there, you just try to work around them. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't.
I think the point is that BB obviously watched all the tape on Keene. I'm sure he saw some things in the Kentucky game that he didn't like, but he chose Keene instead of Trautman - a prospect many people considered to be superior. Doesn't mean BB is making the right call, but clearly he saw enough that he liked to override any concerns the Kentucky tape may have raised.

So I'm not saying your point is invalid. I'm just saying that I'm sure BB saw the same thing and decided that he was still the best guy to pick.
 

DJnVa

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Dec 16, 2010
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I mean, if we want to pretend like every prospect is a perfect 10 destined to be a first ballot HOFer, we can do that.
No one is doing that. But we can't also pretend that every prospect dominates every day. If could have just been a bad game. Maybe he was under the weather that week. Things happen and I'm sure he was asked about that game. And bowl games are just different animals anyway.
 

EL Jeffe

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Aug 30, 2006
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No one is doing that. But we can't also pretend that every prospect dominates every day. If could have just been a bad game. Maybe he was under the weather that week. Things happen and I'm sure he was asked about that game. And bowl games are just different animals anyway.
No, I misread his argument. It sounded like he was saying since Belichick drafted Keene, Belichick couldn't have been worried about the Kentucky game. But he clarified what he meant, and I have no beef with his sentiment.

Like I said, the Kentucky game was just one data point and you can't read too much into one data point. But it's still a data point that exists, and it's worth looking at how a TE handles a fast, aggressive SEC defense.
 

Super Nomario

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Nov 5, 2000
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I think he likely viewed the Kentucky game as a single piece of the puzzle. That Keene was a 20 year old TE/H-back who struggled with the physicality of an SEC defense, but that he'll get stronger as he matures. I don't think Keene is any less powerful than Jacob Hollister was, and Hollister obviously saw the field in NE. I thought Hollister's NFL win rate in blocking was terrible, and I was genuinely shocked with how much blatant holding he got away with at the point of attack.
Hollister really did not see the field in New England; I think he played fewer than 100 offensive snaps in both his seasons with the Patriots. So this might be more of a cautionary tale than a counter-example.

Keene outweighs Hollister by like 15 pounds (by Combine / Pro Day #s), FWIW.

I'm sure Belichick has a plan in mind for Keene (as he does with every player), and I don't expect point of attack blocking being much of a part of that plan in his rookie year. From there, you hope he can develop enough strength, power, and technique to get by. But I do think Keene has a lower ceiling as a blocker than I'd prefer. His strength will be as a receiver, but unfortunately almost all of his VA Tech catches were manufactured touches. It takes projection to see him run NFL routes, but the athletic ability is there.
I haven't seen the Kentucky game yet, but I did watch four other games and I didn't have play strength concerns. I had more concerns with Trautman, Bryant, and probably even Kmet in terms of blocking. The only guys I saw that I thought were better were Asiasi and Thad Moss, and I probably feel better about Keene's blocking translating than Moss's. I'll have to watch the Kentucky game and see what you're seeing.
 

tims4wins

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This is based purely on watching his highlights, but it seems like his hands are a strength. Nearly every catch I saw was away from his body, a lot of them were over his head. He doesn't just let the ball hit him between the numbers. That seems to be a positive. He doesn't require a perfect ball.
 

Kliq

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Mar 31, 2013
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This is based purely on watching his highlights, but it seems like his hands are a strength. Nearly every catch I saw was away from his body, a lot of them were over his head. He doesn't just let the ball hit him between the numbers. That seems to be a positive. He doesn't require a perfect ball.
I've become a fan based on his highlights. He has great hands, appears to be a good blocker and could be a YAC monster. He looks perfect for a McDaniels offense and looks like a bigger James White running with the ball; very intriguing player.
 

SMU_Sox

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Jul 20, 2009
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No, I misread his argument. It sounded like he was saying since Belichick drafted Keene, Belichick couldn't have been worried about the Kentucky game. But he clarified what he meant, and I have no beef with his sentiment.

Like I said, the Kentucky game was just one data point and you can't read too much into one data point. But it's still a data point that exists, and it's worth looking at how a TE handles a fast, aggressive SEC defense.
Hey, @EL Jeffe when my amateur-ass looks at prospect performance I look at vs SEC, vs Michigan, vs Ohio State, etc. I wish I knew how to do cut-ups and make videos to show common themes with him. Going to get on my soap-box for a second here but: individual prospects don't always get a ton of coaching on technical things like how to correctly block, how to rush the passer, learn counters and how to string pass rushing moves together. Look at Ed Oliver and Josh Jones at U Houston. Ed Oliver was the same player with the same lack of a pass rush plan in year 1 as he was coming out! Josh Jones footwork hardly changed from year 1 until he came out. Robert Hunt has basically only run inside and outside zone his entire college career. Reggie Robinson is a freak athlete and has natural press-man corner traits but didn't get shit for coaching at Tulsa. Even the bigger programs like Bama don't always do the best job of coaching up their guys or leave it to the players (some of that is by rule but that's another can of worms). Remember Jonah Williams last year? He had that excel spider chart of the edges he was going up against and what pass-rush moves they used the most.

I look forward to checking out that Kentucky game. I saw a lot of technical issues with his blocking which could impact his functional strength like if you have a narrow base that imapcts the amount of power you can generate. When his punch landed and everything lined up correctly I didn't notice any power issues. I think it's cool you found something else to look at, another piece of the puzzle, as you said. With Keene most of his tape wasn't cut-up, you had to go through full games which can be pretty time-consuming. Also, since there is no baseball or any live sports Keene vs Kentucky is prime-time viewing material. :)